What a tremendous Revel!

Written by Branden Barber

Topics: Coal

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The biggest Revel Ever! And a Revel with so much heart.

Thursday, Oct 18th 20077, we celebrated the Art of Activism at this year’s Revel, our annual awards dinner and wild party.

650 of our best enjoyed great fare: a locally grown organic dinner, organic wines and beers and organic cocktails – see, it’s possible – go organic! And the program. There were a few technical hitches at the beginning but we powered through. (Nothing stops RAN!)

To honor their courage and devotion to the environment, RAN presented World Rainforest Awards to coalfield resident and community organizer Marie Gunnoe; Bioneers founders and co-presidents Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons; author and environmentalist Paul Hawken; and film writer, director and producer Stuart Townsend. RAN also paid tribute to the life and works of Body Shop-founder Anita Roddick, who used the cosmetic store chain to support causes like saving the rainforests, ending animal testing, and promoting debt relief for impoverished nations. In addition, legendary Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir held his exclusive 60th birthday celebration at REVEL.

In accepting his award, Paul was able to do what RAN board member Jodie Evans said was the hardest thing for him – to accept our thanks, appreciation and love. Paul’s ability to inspire hope and courage is remarkable, and his awareness of the great, global movement he describes so beautifully in his book, Blessed Unrest, indeed makes us all feel that we are not only His words of thanks balanced out our own appreciation and he set the tone for a wonderful run of gratitude throughout the evening.

Maria, a self-described real coal miners daughter from the embattled coal-bearing mountains of Appalachia (which she told me must be pronounced Appa – la – cha), was grateful and moved us with her story of courage in the face of terrible odds – one woman with her two kids, an island in a sea of coal. No to Mountain Top Removal coal mining. Coal is over – fund the future.

in the middle we had a tribute to one of our very best friends – someone who didn’t live long enough and managed to achieve so much in the life she lived: Anita Roddick. It was such a terrible, unexpected shock when I learned of her sudden unexpected passing. Last year at Revel she rocked the house. This year, we pledged to do one more good thing in our lives because of her. If you aren’t aware of the work of Anita, check out www.anitaroddick.com. What a wonderful, profound…funny and loving and HUGE SPIRITED person she was. And she will always be, in our hearts. And she is missed, every day.

Nina and Kenny blew our minds with their outright, clear and loving appreciation for the work of RAN, while not a surprise, was verging on magical. Their creation and continuing stewardship of Bioneers is a wonder to behold – and anyone who attends this wonderful, powerful and important conference knows what I mean. If you haven’t been, go. If you’ve been, bring your friends. In fact, bring a CEO and a congressman next year. Bioneers is helping to shape our collective future with it’s evolving synthesis of our shared path and our growing, glowing network of movers and shakers, activists and visionaries, social entrepreneurs and activists. Kenny and Nina have made a significant impact on our ability to change the world for the better.

And then – and THEN – Stuart took the stage to accept his award for his terrific story – what John Sellers (of Ruckus) described as our retaking of history. The powers that want to maintain their status quo stranglehold on a world of outmoded, outdated, destructive business as usual on an increasingly globalized scale. Stuart’s film is a dramatic story of how the activists in Seattle at the ’99 WTO took to the streets to stop what is inarguably a dangerous trend – the exclusive parcelling out of our world and the old-boy network that thrives on destructive, exploitative commerce. Stuart accepted his award and as he did so, gave RAN an award. His acknowledgement of our work, our importance on the global stage and our great passion, was both validating and humbling. What a fine friend he is indeed.

And finally, a surprise award, for Jeremy Paster. Jeremy was one of the key organizers of the ’99 WTO protest and has been a great friend to RAN and the movement. He was diagnosed in 2006 with advanced metastatic prostate cancer at the age of 35. He was recovering from an operation when we announced this award – to recognize his great contributions to the world through his activism, his photography, his work and his spirit. RAN ED Michael Brune took the stage with Jeremy’s friends, Ilyse Hogue, John Sellers and Marianne Manilov. The three of them managed to gain the attention of the room – 650 people mind you – with Jeremy’s story. And while holding the space by telling stories of Jeremy (which I invite them to post on this blog) Jeremy was racing the the venue, having “escaped from UCSF”, in his own words. And after quite a few emotionally charged minutes, Jeremy made it to the party. Escorted by friends and family he was wheeled to the stage and stood to accept his award. And in accepting it, his humility and grace honored us. We are so very blessed by this very very fine man. If you’d like to learn more about Jeremy, visit www.jeremypaster.com. You can make a donation to help offset his significant medical expenses here: http://jeremypaster.com/donate/

Whew. Then I had to follow that – not an easy one. It was a truly remarkable, beautiful experience for everyone. But my job was simple. i was able to simply thank everyone for their being here with us and to enjoy the music that was about to begin.

And then Tea Leaf Green took over – with a rocking Grateful Dead tribute. Bob Weir took the stage and jammed with them until finally Bob was joined by none other than Sean Lennon, Harper Simon and Billy Kreutzmann and members of his band, Rat Dog. Tremendous!

And overall, the night was a great success. RAN made new friends, celebrated with old friends, honored excellent heroic people, and everyone had a blast.

And whoever won the ’71 Chateau Lafite in the silent auction – to your very good health!

See you at Revel next year…all of you. And bring your friends!

2 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. lani says:

    Yay, Jer!

  2. Shana says:

    Hooray! I’m so proud of you, Jer :D

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