“I’m Oglala Lakota Indian. I’ve been gifted with dreams since I was young. One was of going into this forest, when a doe came toward me in tears. I followed her to a clearing. One of her fawns was dying; the other was trying to get up. I looked around their habitat. It was contaminated. I told her, `I will not be able to help you, but I am going to find out who did this, and deal with them the best I can.’
“That dream has followed me over the years in health, land, and environmental issues. Last spring my daughter, 12, was diagnosed with cancer. But another dream showed me there was a plant in my area that would help her heal. So, when I look at all of us with our work, our sacrifices, there’s hope. You always have to have hope, because we talk about the children, the future generations. My dreams tell me there is hope for the future.”
Qing has stood virtually alone in opposing harmful development in China. Imprisoned for 10 months for criticizing the Three Gorges Dam, she was instrumental in pressuring the U.S. and the World Bank to withdraw dam support. But construction has begun, with possible financing by U.S. investment banks. China now forbids Qing to work as a journalist.
From her village in Germany, Schucking changed her country’s environmental awareness–and its policies–by exposing Germany’s link to the destruction of tropical forests worldwide. Her 1988 Rainforest Memorandum convinced local councils throughout Germany to stop using tropical timbers. She’s now set her sights on reforming global development institutions.
Kamel pioneered school programs and recycling projects grounded in modern science for a community of marginalized and exploited garbage collectors–or zabbaleen–in Cairo; the zabbaleen have prospered. By demonstrating the efficiency and revenue potential in recycling, Kamel is pushing industrialized countries to recognize wastes as a resource.
In 1982, Brown, a physician, was arrested and held in solitary confinement for his role in a nonviolent blockade of a dam site at the Franklin River Gorge, Australia’s last free-flowing river. Shortly after his release, he was elected to the Tasmanian Parliament, and eventually succeeded in saving the gorge. A leader of his country’s Green Party, Brown has fought tirelessly to protect threatened wilderness.
In 1978 Simmons, then a teenage teacher in Saint Vincent and the Grena-dines, a Caribbean island nation, initiated a community-based environmental movement to protect an endangered forest reserve. Today, focusing particularly on youth, he uses festivals, plays, and music to involve local villages, encouraging leadership training, local decisionmaking, and conservation education.
Gibbs’ efforts at Love Canal led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Superfund.” Considered the organizer’s organizer, she heads the Citizen’s Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes, where she helped 7,000 grassroots groups nationwide form strong local organizations, acquire the technical expertise to beat government and corporate interests, and press for environmental justice.