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From novelist to climate crusader: How one woman is working to put a stop to natural gas

By Tik Root Photos: Lauren Justice

Audrey Schulman stood in the middle of the sidewalk, her eyes fixed on the gas detector in her left hand. It was mid-August, and she hovered above a steel grate alongside Highland Avenue in Somerville, Mass. The detector was connected to a black wand with a cupped end, which she pushed into the ground like a toilet plunger, taking a reading.


Sharon Lavigne

Retired Teacher
Sharon Lavigne never imagined herself an environmental activist. The retired teacher had spent much of her life working with special education students in the St. James Parish public school system.

But the idea of another chemical plant being built in her parish, after she had lost acquaintances to cancer that she blames on industrial pollution, spurred her into action in 2018. She began organizing and educating neighbors on the risks, an effort that gained global recognition Tuesday when she was named the North American recipient of the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize.


Linda Zall

Environmentalist Scientist
Under the auspices of the CIA, Linda Zall established the MEDEA program in 1992.  Using reconnaissance satellites whose original job was to spy on threats to the United States, Zall and her team obtained images which provided a new understanding of climate change on a planetary scale.  Read more about Zall and her work in this NYTimes article.


Vanessa Nakate

Climate Justice
Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist justice activist, was named as one of BBC’s 100 Women in November, 2020.  She is the founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement, which works to amplify the voices of climate activists from Africa.  Read more about her call to action in Vogue magazine.


Maureen Raymo

Photo: Gary Tutte

Maureen Raymo is a paleoceanographer/marine geologist who focuses on the history and causes of climate change. She is the first woman to have received the Wollastan Medal of the Geological Society of London, an honor she shares with Charles Darwin and Louis Agassiz. Learn more about this astonishing woman in this
New York Times profile.


Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner

Climate Envoy of the Marshall Islands
Kathy is a Marshall Islander poet, performance artist, educator. She received international acclaim through her poetry performance at the opening of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York in 2014. Her writing and performances have been featured by CNN, Democracy Now, the Huffington Post, NBC News, National Geographic, and more. In February 2017, the University of Arizona Press published her first collection of poetry, Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter.


Saul Griffith


Saul Griffith is an inventor whose innovations span industrial design, technology, and science education. He founded and co-founded numerous technology companies based in the Bay Area. These include Treau, Sunfolding, Roam Robotics, Fablight, Wattzon, Canvas Construction, Makani Power (acquired by Google), (acquired by Autodesk), Squid Labs, Howtoons, Optiopia, and Potenco. He is currently Founder and Chief Scientist at Otherlab, an independent R&D lab that helps government agencies and Fortune 500 companies understand energy infrastructure and build transformational technologies that bring us closer to 100% decarbonization.


Peter Lang

On October 8, 2017, the worst fire in California’s history was destroying drought-ridden Northern California. The 400 acres of Safari West, a preserve and home to 1,000 exotic animals was in its path. All guests and employees were evacuated but founder, 76 year old Peter Lang stayed behind and saved all 1,000 animals although all buildings, including his home, were burned to the ground.  He received the 2018 American Red Cross Animal Rescue Hero Award.


Andrea Dutton

Andrea Dutton is a geological crime scene investigator trying to figure out and understand what has happened in the past, to better understand what could happen in the future, regarding sea-level rise and what that means for coastal cities. She is one of 25 people selected by Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone’s 2016 issue featuring 25 people who are changing the world.


Bren Smith

Ocean Farming
Bren Smith, GreenWave executive director and owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm, pioneered the development of restorative 3D Ocean Farming. A lifelong commercial fisherman, he was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “25 People Shaping the Future” and featured in TIME magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2017”. He is the winner of the Buckminster Fuller Prize and been profiled by CNN, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and elsewhere. He is an Ashoka and Echoing Green Climate Fellow and author of Eat Like a Fish: My Adventures as a Fisherman Turned Restorative Ocean Farmer.