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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2009
Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications
Activist & Author Lois Marie Gibbs
to Speak at GMC Convocation
POULTNEY, VT – In 1978, when Lois Marie Gibbs discovered that her child attended an elementary school built on top of a toxic chemical dump, she mobilized her neighbors to do something about it. The Love Canal Homeowners Association petitioned local and state officials, gathered data regarding birth defect and miscarriage rates and documented a range of illnesses. It took two years and many hard-fought battles against the government and corporate interests, but in 1980 President Jimmy Carter authorized funding to relocate all residents of Love Canal who wished to leave.
On September 3, Green Mountain College welcomes Gibbs as the keynote speaker for the College’s 2009 convocation at 4 p.m. on the Griswold Library Lawn. Her speech, titled “Love Canal Thirty-Plus Years Later: What Have We Learned and Where Do We Go From Here?” is open to the public. GMC will also award Gibbs an honorary degree of humane letters.
After her experience at Love Canal, Gibbs devoted herself to helping citizens organize environmental justice campaigns. In 1981, she created the Center for Health, Environment and Justice
(CHEJ), an organization that has assisted over 10,000 grassroots groups. Gibbs is now executive director of CHEJ and speaks with communities about toxic chemicals and children’s “unique vulnerability to environmental exposures.”
In her book Love Canal: The Story Continues
, published in 1998, Gibbs discusses contemporary issues regarding chemical exposures. She is also the author of Love Canal: My Story and Dying from Dioxin
. Known to many as the “Mother of Superfund,” Gibbs has been cited as an example of how an ordinary citizen can successfully organize a grassroots movement to challenge powerful corporate interests.
Gibbs has received many awards including the 1990 Goldman Environmental Prize, Outside Magazine
’s “Top Ten Who Made a Difference Honor Roll” in 1991, the 1998 Heinz Award and the 1999 John Gardner Leadership Award from the Independent Sector. In 2003, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.