Blue Hill resident Noel Paul Stookey, “Paul” of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, opened the Source Maine Sustainability Awards with a rousing live performance of “In These Times” – a song that speaks of being “faithful stewards” of the present, much like those honored at the virtual ceremony April 21.

That idea that individual action can make a difference is what the Source Maine Sustainability Awards have been about since the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram launched the annual event in 2015. Seven years in, going virtual in a pandemic year was a practical necessity. But it was also an opportunity to reach a larger audience – both in real time and in views of the recorded event.

The awards night itself, stripped of the physical handing off of hand-hewn wooden bowls as trophies and the socializing among eco-conscious attendees, was even more sharply focused on inspiring stories of Mainers doing more than their part to improve the environment for all of us.

“This year’s Source Award winners are notable for an extraordinary number of volunteers who are changing their communities for the better,” said Peggy Grodinsky, Portland Press Herald food editor.

Among them are Anne D. (Andy) Burt, the longtime climate activist from Edgecomb who has been producing films about climate justice with the “Down to Earth Storytelling” project; Carrie Mayo, an influencer with York’s EcoHomes, which encourages people to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with one recommended action per month; and Peter Dugas of Portland, a passionate speaker with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a national nonpartisan advocacy group working to enact federal policies to address climate change.

“I’m honored to share this with the other Source Award winners,” Dugas said. “I see us all as being part of an ecosystem, in a way, where we’re all working on different facets of this but have a common goal to preserve what we have in Maine.”

The other three honorees are missionaries of ideas at the core of sustainability.

Dr. Thomas Klak, an environmental studies professor at University of New England, could be described as the Johnny Appleseed of the American chestnut tree. Heather McCargo, founder of Wild Seed Project, has been propagating the idea of restoring biodiversity through choosing wild native plants. And Elizabeth McClellan, a nurse from Portland, founded Partners of World Health when she realized that American hospitals throw out literal tons of medical supplies that are crucially needed elsewhere. Partners for World Health has salvaged more than 3.5 million pounds of perfectly usable medical supplies since 2009.

“Recognition of this kind is vitally important because it shines a light on how we can do things differently,” McClellan said. “We can share abundance with those who need it and reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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