Karen Laramay and Cristina Paul were this year's winners of the Outstanding Green Citizenship Award at the 2015 SoRo Festival.
Karen Laramay is Head of the Science Department at Hamilton High School. All one needs to do is to walk into her lively classroom to know that she is a friend of the earth and is guiding her students to accept personal responsibility for caring for their environment in the years ahead.
As the SORO NC Green Team's representative on the Hamilton High School campus, she has co-sponsored our yearly E-Waste Drives, hosted the committee’s meeting, and worked with the Green Team on the Hamilton High School Environmental Science Project, in which students produced a town hall meeting featuring a panel of eight experts to debate the pros and cons of Proposition 37, the California ballot measure that would have required labeling of genetically engineered foods.
As a result of her sponsorship of the student Environmental, Garden, and Vegetarian Clubs, there is a flourishing garden at Hamilton High School which focuses on organic vegetables and California natives. “The Hami Garden” is supported and maintained by over 150 student and neighborhood volunteers.
Cristina Paul noticed that the trees along Venice Boulevard, which runs through the center of SORO NC's Zone 6, had been cut down due to the construction of the Expo Line. She went door to door with her petition asking people to help bring back these beautiful and environmentally important trees. The City will ultimately replace the trees that they had removed, but Cristina pressed on. She forged a partnership between the Helms community, TreePeople, and The Koreatown Youth & Community Center to donate and care for neighborhood trees and orchestrated a tree-planting event in her own neighborhood. Her work brought the neighborhood together, motivating them to plant 26 additional trees within the Helms community.
Her petition became the gateway to form The Helms Neighborhood Association. Since then, HNA has conducted freeway clean ups to keep the neighborhood looking beautiful. Cristina continues to motivate and lead her community by example, cleaning up graffiti and being one of the first to plant a low water, California native garden and install a grey water system and rain barrels.
As always, our hope is that by honoring environmentally-friendly businesses and individuals like Karen and Cristina, it will encourage others to emulate their work by doing their part in caring for our environment.