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Detroit RiverFront CEO Faye Nelson awarded Michigan’s top environmental honor; recycling pioneer Margaret Weber named grassroots hero

Jun 2, 2010
Detroit RiverFront Conservancy President Faye Alexander Nelson is slated to receive Michigan’s top environmental award, and Detroit recycling pioneer Margaret Weber has been named Michigan’s grassroots leader of the year.

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) announced today that Nelson is MEC’s 2010 Helen and William Milliken Distinguished Service Award winner and Weber is the recipient of the Council’s Petoskey Prize for grassroots leadership. The pair will be honored June 9 at the 12th annual Environmental Awards Celebration at the Omni Detroit Hotel at River Place, located alongside the new Detroit RiverWalk.

MEC annually presents the Milliken Award to a person who has made exceptional contributions to protect our state’s residents and natural resources. Since 2003 Nelson has led the nonprofit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy in acquiring, rehabilitating and energizing three miles of formerly blighted and abandoned land along the banks of the Detroit River.

The Detroit RiverWalk is now a spotless ribbon of parks, plazas, pavilions and greenways that is an anchor for the community and visitors. Eventually, it will span 5.5 miles, stretching from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park.

Nelson’s vision and tenacity helped hold together the diverse coalition of people, businesses and agencies that made the RiverWalk partnership a success. MEC President Chris Kolb said Nelson’s leadership on the RiverWalk project is a sterling example of how regional cooperation can help revitalize older urban areas.

“Creating vibrant core cities where people want to live, work and play is essential to the health of our great cities,” said Kolb. “Faye’s work has helped establish a healthy, environmentally friendly urban space that can be a catalyst for the city and for sustainable redevelopment.”

Margaret Weber, who lives in Detroit’s Rosedale Park neighborhood, will receive the 2010 Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership. It is awarded annually to citizen activists whose defense of Michigan’s natural resources is marked by extraordinary courage, commitment and creativity.

Weber founded the Rosedale Recycles drop-off site 20 years ago in her neighborhood, and her activism has only grown. She is coordinator of Zero Waste Detroit, a coalition that helped establish curbside recycling in the city. Zero Waste Detroit is committed to ending the expensive, polluting incineration of Detroit waste by adopting cleaner, less expensive options.

“Margaret has been an inspiring pioneer for recycling and for ending incineration in the city,” said MEC President Kolb. “And she has been a steadying, reliable influence for the diverse coalition of groups that have combined to bring pilot curbside recycling programs to Detroit for the first time in history.”

Tickets to the June 9 reception and fundraiser honoring the duo are $100. For information on the event, call 517-487-9539. For media inquiries, call 248-660-4300.

Past winners of the Milliken Award: Steve Hamp, Peter Stroh, Peter Wege, Marty Fluharty, Peter Karmanos, Congressman John Dingell, Congressman Vernon Ehlers, Mary C. Brown, Bunyan Bryant PhD., Lana Pollack.

Past winners of the Petoskey Prize: Debbie Romak, Alison & David Swan, Diane Hebert, Terry Swier, Michelle Hurd Riddick, Don A. Griffin, Lynn Henning, Carol Drake, Rusty Gates.
Hugh McDiarmid Jr., 248-660-4300
RELATED TOPICS: land use, MEC Member Groups
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