The presentation of the Richard Gienger Sempervirens Award for Lifetime Achievement has become a time-honored tradition within the Fall Celebration of the Environmental Protection Information Center . Past recipients of the award have included Karen Pickett of the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, Patty Clary of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, artist-activists David Simpson and Jane Lapiner, Richard Gienger, EPIC’s forest advocate and restoration policy expert, and last years recipient, film-maker and environmental troubadour Darryl Cherney. The EPIC Sempervirens Award truly has become something of an authentic, albeit idiosyncratic, hall-of-fame recognition for North Coast forest and wilderness defenders.
Thus, the board and staff of EPIC are proud to announce that this years winner is Rick Klein! Rick helped found the seminal global temperate rainforest protection organization, Ancient Forest International (AFI), after years of key contributions to environmental defense at home in the Redwood Region of California. The selection of Rick as the recipient of the 2012 Sempervirens Award is a recognition of the global significance of our home redwood temperate rainforest ecosystem. Through his role in directing AFI, Rick participated in the protection of hundreds of thousands of acres of Valdivian Temperate Rainforest in Southern Chile, an accomplishment that highlighted the exceptional natural and spiritual values of the worlds temperate rainforests, and held up a mirror to the equally significant and history making efforts that Rick supported for the ancient redwoods at home in Northwest California.
The presentation of the 2012 Sempervirens Award to Rick Klein will be a feature of the program at EPIC’s 35th Anniversary Fall Celebration on Friday, Nov. 2, at the Mateel Community Center in Redway . Tickets are selling fast and are available on line , at Wildberries and the EPIC office in Arcata, and Redway Liquors in Southern Humboldt.
To get ready for the big show, we were able have Rick on the EPIC Edition of the KMUD Environment Show , and then we also had a moment to catch up with Rick and get his insight about his work, the value of cathedral forests, and the importance of supporting EPIC.
–What is your earliest memory of EPIC? Any inspired stories? Any funny stories?
On the Phun Bus with PB and the SFP, Ruthanne, OB, Woods, Alison, Tom Hayden, the Land Trust on our way to Sacramento for the 2-4-D (herbicide) hearings in 1975. We stopped into a cafe. the waitress shouted “We don’t serve hippies!” “That’s OK honey,” said Alison “cause we don’t eat em.” Also dumping fish emulsion in the helicopter at the airport.
–What is a Cathedral Forest? Why are ancient forests essential to humans and our physical and spiritual wellbeing?
A forest that rises all around you, supporting the distant sky with immense millenial columns…these are groves of solace…inspirational living cathedrals that today, practically speaking, nearly no one on Earth is able to experience.
–What can we in Redwood Country most learn from our mirror rainforest region in Southern Chile?
Any place that is home to the oldest and largest organisms in known creation has to have something going for it. The greenhouses of the Goddesses. It so happens that only at 40 degrees North latitude and at 40 degrees South, where the shore of the western hemisphere breaks into hundreds of misty isles and fjords, do the most ancient of forests and trees, live. Chile has protected their monarchs from logging. Can’t we, who are supposedly richer and wiser than the rest, not protect our titans also? There’s only one percent left for God’s sake.
–With Ancient Forest International you have been involved with major conservation transactions in Chile, Ecuador, and California that have resulted in the protection of millions of acres of wild ancient forest. What is your advice to a person who is just now getting motivated to contribute to saving wildlands?
AFI’s motto is “In order to get largesse you must kiss largeass”…no, seriously…the first step in any wildlands acquisition strategy is to fall in love with the place you seek to protect. Then identify funders who target or support your chosen area. But the very first advice I ever got from a funder was: “people fund people…not projects!” That’s really true. Your passion must be credible. It’s a sales job. Of course the best, most effective, is to take the funder there to the place you are working to protect.
–What was your experience the first time you were really taken in by the majesty of the Redwoods in our bioregion?
In 1968 our commune, fresh from Minnesota in a big white psychedelic school bus, ate mushrooms in Rockefeller Forest, and we were never the same forever. “Living Trees! Wow!”
–Can you look back with satisfaction and say that you made a difference, that you contributed something that helped save some corner of wild earth from the relentless hunger of global development? Do you have any regrets?
Well, yes, I suppose I can…but the pride is in helping to build the coalition, the international team of impassioned activists who each and all were effective in their respective worlds. My regret is in not pushing harder for the ultimate realization of the Gondwana Sanctuary Project to legally declare all forests below 40 south latitude off limits to exploitation…just like the Whale Sanctuary. We had the alliances all in place. Ministers and NGO’s from Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Argentina, the US, England had all signed on. It was a huge effort, but the principles were simply worn-out, exhausted. Realizing a project is a long slogging haul, sometimes, and you just have to be prepared to put aside your life.
–What does it mean to you to win the Sempervirens award?
It is so truly humbling. I mean there are dozens and dozens of more deserving people. I quess they’ll just have to get old, like me. But to be among the awardees so far – Sharon, Cecelia, Patty Clary, Karen Picket, Lynn Ryan, Richard, Woods…true tireless warriors. What can you say?
Ted Williams used to say “If you don’t think too good don’t think too much.” Just make your activism an adventure, an impassioned trip. Nature favors bold beginnings and will supply you with an excellent team. Invite the world in. Be positive. You’ll win.
And remember, if you can’t, right now all alone, save that place or be that adventurer…then support one who will.
Thanks Rick for your words, and your support of EPIC. We are inspired to share this moment for recognizing your inspiration and your compass in understanding our responsibility to work for wild nature.
Don’t forget, EPIC will be holding 2 membership meetings  seperate from the Fall Celebration this year:
- Saturday, November 10th 2012 at Persimmons Garden Gallery in Redway from 12:00pm-2:00pm.
- Friday, December 7th at the EPIC Office in Arcata from 5:00pm-8:00pm.
Sempervirens Lifetime Achievment Award Recipients
• 2001 Cecelia Lanman
• 2002 Fred “Coyote” Downy
• 2003 Lynn Ryan
• 2004 Patty Clary
• 2005 Karen Pickett
• 2006 Robert “Man Who Walks In The Woods” Sutherland, Ruthanne Cecil, Marylee By The River
• 2007 David Simpson & Jane Lapiner
• 2008 Sharon Duggan
• 2009 Trees Foundation
• 2010 Richard Gienger
• 2011 Darryl Cherney
• 2012 Rick Klein