Lady Bird Johnson, Rachel Carson and Women Conservationists Honored at the National Audubon Society Luncheon

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Our environment is as much on the minds of those who remember the pioneering efforts of Lady Bird Johnson in making the natural resources of America a priority during her tenure as First Lady, as the young filmmakers--Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglu -- who created the thriller The East, which opened in theaters this week. At the annual National Audubon Society Women in Conservation luncheon on Wednesday, Johnson's efforts were celebrated at The Plaza Hotel, with awards created by Tiffany's, and a fine meal worthy of the occasion: beet Nicoise salad, hand made pappardelle with wild mushroom ragout, and Meyer lemon meringue torte, vegetarian, to reduce the carbon and methane emissions released into the environment by high volume meat consumption. While far from the dumpster foraging featured in the movie, the menu underscored the philosophy of the Rachel Carson Awards, to protect all forms of life on Earth.

To that end, historian Douglas Brinkley spoke about FDR's encouraging citizens to be creative in preserving the ocean, the theme of Rachel Carson's first book, Under the Sea Wind, penned before her international best-seller Silent Spring. Marian S. Heiskell, was honored with the Inaugural Rachel Carson Lifetime Achievement Award. Now 94, the conservationist and philanthropist recounted a moment when she flew to Philadelphia to woo a potential donor who offered $1000. We didn't come here for that, she said, and he upped the donation to $10,000. Linda Johnson Robb accepted a special memorial award for her mother. The pioneering Lady Bird Johnson was so controversial as a conservationist in her time, as to inspire the outcry: "Impeach Lady Bird." Allison Whipple Rockefeller, founding chair of the Rachel Carson Awards Council then introduced past honorees, including Sally Jewell, Laurie David and Janette Sadik-Khan, responsible for the city's controversial bike lanes and expanded pedestrian spaces.

An unforgettable image of birds coated with slime opens The East, reminiscent of the BP oil spill. At the lunch, I spoke to Audubon's David Ringer who filled me in on the clean up in the Gulf. Like all considerations of the environment, it's not a concern that's going away any time soon.

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