Destiny Watford of the Curtis Bay community in Baltimore, MD, just became the second anti-garbage incinerator activist to win The Goldman Environmental Prize, a prestigious award given annually to one leader from each continent. Rossano Ercolini, a school teacher from the town of Capannori in Tuscany, Italy, won the prize for Europe in 2013 for his efforts informing the public on the health and environmental risks of garbage incineration and for promoting zero waste.
Ms. Watford became an anti-incineration activist as a 17-year-old student at Ben Franklin High School. She and her student colleagues, assisted by United Workers of Baltimore, formed Free Your Voice, which released a series of videos and rap songs highlighting the callous danger posed by a proposed 4,000-ton-per-day facility planned for the heart of an already polluted community. These actions convinced local governments, school districts, and museums to drop their plans to purchase electricity from the proposed facility, eventually leading the Maryland Department of the Environment to rescind the facility’s permit in March 2016. The community is now pursuing a zero waste strategy for its residents and businesses.
The activism started at Ben Franklin High School acquired support from diverse groups and individuals in the Baltimore region including Physicians for Social Responsibility, Energy Justice Network, Environmental Integrity Project, Global Anti Incineration Alliance, ILSR, and numerous community organizations within Curtis Bay and Brooklyn Park neighborhoods.
- Background information on the victory over the proposed incinerator – ILSR
- This Baltimore 20-year-old just won a huge international award for taking out a giant trash incinerator – Washington Post, April 18, 2016
- Environmental Justice web page – United Workers
- Destiny Watford 2016 Goldman Prize Recipient North America – Goldman Environmental Foundation