Eco-Spirit award given to the late Alex Wylie
MIDDLEBURY — At its annual meeting on Sunday, Feb. 21, Spirit in Nature made its first-ever Eco-Spirit award presentation in honor of a local environmental leader who is no longer living. Alex Wylie, a farmer in Salisbury for 15 years followed by a long career with the Vermont Land Trust, who died last November, was recognized for her legacy of preserving Vermont’s agricultural landscape. Al Karnatz, Alex’s long-time friend, read excerpts from her journals that illuminate the intimate connection that she felt with the land that she tended. The plaque was accepted by Alex’s son, Peter Considine, and her granddaughter, Lucy Considine.
The Middlebury College Sunday Night Group (SNG) also received the Eco-Spirit Award. Diane Munroe, coordinator for Community Based Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, introduced the student group and outlined its 10-year history, influenced by Bill McKibben and faculty member Jon Isham. The group is active today as a forum for students concerned about environmental issues to get together and work toward solutions.
McKibben made an appearance via video at the award presentation at Ilsley Library in Middlebury, saying that his “connection to SNG is pretty deep,” in part because the people with whom he started 350.org are all graduates of SNG. He said that the achievements of the SNG over the years shows that “there are no borders as to what young people can be doing so long as it is infused with the right spirits — love, good humor and creativity.” In congratulating the Middlebury students who were in the room to receive the award he said “that spirit is as strong now as it ever was.”
Spirit in Nature (SpIN), a nonprofit organization based in Addison County, hosts the Interfaith Sanctuary of walking paths in forest land in Ripton that is leased from Middlebury College. SpIN Treasurer Gordon Cawood presided at the event on Saturday, and board member Craig Zondag presented the certificate. The Eco-Spirit Award is given annually to honor people whose lives are driven by an appreciation of the natural world, and who, as the award affirms, “lead us to a path of hope for the future of all life and nature on earth.”