Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at luncheon to recognize the recipients of the 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize today in the Capitol Visitor Center. The prize honors international grassroots heroes who make sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment. This year, the honorees come from the United States, Zimbabwe, Russia, Germany, El Salvador, and Indonesia. Below are the Leader's remarks:
“Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Welcome to the members of the Goldman family, and that Goldman family we all feel a part of. Welcome to the Goldman Prize awardees. Welcome to my colleagues in the Congress. I know they probably have been acknowledged, but some had to come through and go out.
“I want to make sure you all met Hansen Clarke of Michigan, a freshman Member of Congress. Thank you, Hansen. Our great Senator Boxer led us in great words of praise for the Goldman Prize, and she joins me in welcoming all of you here. And I was honored to be associated with anything Senator Boxer is involved in. Congressman McNerney from California, great environmentalist. Mike Thompson of California, great environmentalist. Former Chair and soon to be Chair again of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Rahall of West Virginia. Soon to be Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. Ed Markey, who is [soon to be] Chair of the Natural Resources Committee is here. I hope he met most of you. He had to move on to a hearing in his committee. A person who used to be the Chair of the Natural Resources and then the Chair of the Education and Labor Committee--and he will be that Chair again--Congressman George Miller.
“I mention their credentials and their association with our great state of California, which is very environmentally-minded as you know, and their credentials on their committees because we are very honored by their presence and what they take from this meeting and what they bring to it. They bring a commitment to preserving our planet and to doing so in a way that is healthier and creates jobs, environmentally sound, really honoring our moral responsibility to preserve God's precious creation, this planet.
“We come here with a great respect for the Goldman family. And that's where I would really like to focus my attention next. The Goldman family I have known for decades. We have had very happy times together. We've been through some sad times together. All of it, a source of strength to everyone who knows them. This magnificent family has been the source of more creative initiatives for our community, you need anything else but the Goldman Prize, the green Nobel.
“What was interesting to me is over time, Rhoda and Richard conceived this idea working with their children and their children's children and the rest, they--it evolved to a place where Richard realized that this was not only an environmental prize but it was a human rights prize. It was a reward for courage and risk taking in communities, to speak truth to power. So yes, it was a reward for what you all had done for the environment, but it was also a tribute to your courage to do so. And that's what the Goldmans were about. They were about courage. They were about getting a job done, people of action recognizing this important value to our society to the whole world. And that's why it's an honor to at least welcome them here to the Capitol, to welcome Doug. Thank you for your kind words of introduction, Doug and Lisa Goldman, my dear friends. And I love their children. John and Marcia Goldman--actually I should start with John, he's older, right? Nevermind. And Susan Gelman, who is here. And Susan, I have seen her children when they were born, and now they are grown up. I am seeing on here that they are saying Richard would be a great grandfather. I just can't believe that much time has gone by. We enjoyed the birth of their children.
“You really should know what you mean to all of us. Because of the introduction that is provided by the Goldman family of you to the world, because of the respect they have for you, for your imagination, for your courage, for your creativity in making the change that you do, and because we respect their judgment so much, you are very special to us forever more.
“I had the opportunity to meet some of you at the Fairmont Hotel the other day. I didn't tell you that, Goldmans, but I had the opportunity to meet them the other day. And I want to acknowledge all of them now.
“Hilton Kelley, from Port Arthur, Texas--I know he would be recognized later, but I want to give Congressional recognition. He returned to his hometown to fight pollution from neighboring refineries, reduce harmful emissions, and build a better quality of life for local residents. Congratulations, Hilton.
“Raoul du Toit, from Zimbabwe, coordinated conservation initiatives to help develop, maintain, and stabilize the black rhino populations in Zimbabwe.
“Dmitry Lisitsyn, from Russia--forgive me, Dmitry. I did have the honor of meeting Dmitry at the Fairmont Hotel the other day. He protected endangered ecosystems and marine life around Sakhalin Island from the dangers of dangerous energy expansion and oil drilling.
“Ursula Sladek, from Germany, is a champion for real renewable energy resources; in the wake of the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster, she remains an outspoken advocate for alternatives to nuclear fuel and power. Congratulations.
“Francisco Pineda, from El Salvador, led a grassroots movement against mining projects in El Salvador that could destroy his nation's shrinking water resources and its rural communities. Congratulations and thank you.
“Prigi Arisandi, from Indonesia, ignited a local drive to reduce and stop industrial pollution in his hometown's river - which provides drinking water to nearly 3 million people. Congratulations.
“These six leaders each addressed a critical challenge in their own countries and their own communities. In doing so, they changed the environment for the better - for themselves, for their neighbors, and for our planet. And for that, we are all in your debt.
“By the light of their example, living up to the mission and the vision of the Goldman Prize, we must work together - as legislators, activists, and human beings, philanthropists, human beings dedicated to our natural resources - to follow in their footsteps to create and preserve a cleaner environment for generations to come.
“We thank you, again, for your courage and for your leadership. We thank the Goldman family for their magnificent example to the rest of us, to, in our own way, recognize those who are making a difference.
“We had a lecture given to us yesterday, which I was thinking of when I was coming here today. We talked about the pyramid, that on the bottom has survival and the narrows up to success, which narrows up to transformation. And you, in the interest of survival, have achieved successes in your communities that are transformative, that are about transformation. And that, again, is about creativity. It's about innovation. It's about, again, respecting environmental justice, really, as a human right.
“So we thank you all. It is sort of melancholy because this is the first year that Richard has not been present. Not here. Last year, he couldn't come because we knew was going to be leading the way in San Francisco for the awards. But has not been with us in this sense. And so, it's an emotional time because he was a very, very special person. It was a very special marriage between Richard Goldman and Rhoda Goldman. She was one of the great ladies, whether it was the arts, whether it was--we used to meet in their house. Now I'm going back decades, long before I was in Congress.
“When we were trying to choose an artist to do the Holocaust Museum for San Francisco; lot of emotion involved. And we had the Holocaust survivors who would come to each of the meetings so that they could have a say in it. And they survived for a reason, they were survivors. They really had judgment, had a plan and they knew what they wanted. I say that to say it took an extraordinary amount of diplomacy, affection, love to wed this with the creative spirit of the artist we were introducing who had their own, who had their own ideas about how this should go forward. But it was one of the biggest examples I had seen of a combination of intellect and heart and effectiveness. Getting the job done and something we're very, very proud of, which would not have been possible without Rhoda's grace and leadership.
“And that's what this lunch is about - your leadership and making a difference in your communities. That's what the Goldman family and you all have in common. So congratulations on your leadership.
“I'm pleased to announce that we've been joined by another member of our California delegation, Congresswoman Jackie Speier who also represents the city of San Francisco and San Mateo in the Congress of the United States.
“So this for us is a special occasion. I know we're very proud of the fact that President Obama greeted each of you yesterday. I know that he was very excited about that as well because, again, you have an aura about you because of who you are and because of the Goldman prize. That makes it a cause for celebration and a very special occasion, indeed, when we can congratulate you in person. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you.”