WMU News

Environmentalist Huey Johnson offers 'Green Plan'

Oct. 4, 2002

KALAMAZOO-An internationally recognized environmentalist will be on the Western Michigan University campus for a public lecture and to receive a 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Huey Johnson was the recipient of the United Nations 2001 Sasakawa Environment Prize, a prestigious award considered by many as the world's highest environmental award. He will speak on "Green Plans: Green Prints for Sustainability," at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in Room 1301 of Wood Hall, with a reception to follow. WMU's Environmental Studies Program will serve as host for the event.

"Mr. Johnson does not dwell on how bad things in the environment are today, but rather on how good they can be tomorrow, if planned properly," says Dr. Harold Glasser, associate professor of environmental studies. Described as a visionary in developing systematic approaches to confront environmental problems, Johnson's strategies are long-term, holistic and integrated.

"The message he sends is that the ecological dilemmas before us are fundamentally solvable," says Glasser.

In 1985, Johnson founded the Resource Renewal Institute, which focuses on development and implementation of "Green Plans," or practical strategies for translating environmental sustainability into action and policy plans. Green Plans are currently used in New Zealand, Holland, and Denmark, and have begun to be implemented in the U.S, including Oregon, Minnesota and New Jersey.

"His strategy for promoting conservation, preservation and restoration on a global scale is helping to reshape the way we think about environmental problems, stewardship and ecological responsibilities," says Glasser.

Johnson grew up in rural Michigan and received a bachelor of arts degree in biology from WMU in 1956. In 1963 he became the only employee west of the Mississippi River where he served as Western Regional Director for the Nature Conservancy, an organization that seeks to preserve the diversity of life on Earth by protecting land and water resources. In the early 1970s he founded and presided over the Trust for Public Land, which acquires land to save open spaces for America's urban centers. Since 1972, the TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres in 45 states and has grown into America's fifth largest environmental organization.

Johnson also served as secretary of resources for the State of California under Governor Jerry Brown from 1978 to 1982. As the state's top environmental official, he established a 100-year resource investment plan for California, called "Investing for Prosperity," which channeled proceeds from the sale of publicly owned natural resources into programs designed to maintain and preserve the state's natural resources.

Johnson will arrive on campus Oct. 10 for the public lecture and to meet with faculty and students in the Environmental Studies Program. He will receive his Distinguished Alumni Award, Friday, Oct. 11, at a special dinner and awards ceremony set for 6:30 p.m. For more information on the Distinguished Alumni Awards, visit the WMU Alumni Association Web site at <www.wmich.edu/alumni>.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

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