Awards season is upon us! And while sustainability awards ceremonies may not be as elaborate as the Oscars or have as many musical acts as the Grammys (I can only assume, since I haven't seen either in several years), I am willing to bet that they are at least as fun and twice as important. While there is a great deal of fun (again, assuming here) and anticipation in watching your favourite celebrities grace the red carpet take home the grand prize, I think that the value in watching your peers, colleagues, teachers, and mentors be recognized for their work is a far greater award. Pauline's brilliant idea to keep the recipients of each award a secret - only to be revealed at the ceremony - really paid off once you saw the genuine look of pride, astonishment, and happiness on each of the winner's faces as they went to accept their certificate and shake the hand of the university president. It's so easy to get overwhelmed with exams, papers, assignments, and the daily grind of balancing work-school-life-friends-clubs-health and forget that there is really some incredible work being done around you (and also probably BY you). These award ceremonies help to remind us that despite the challenges and barriers that we face, there is hope in the people that have passion and there are people that are interested and invested in what is being done and want to see it continue. Or at least that's what it helps remind me. Every year the ceremony grows and more and more people attend to support the progress we are making (and to enjoy the most delicious free food the university offers).
For all the nominees, sustainability is more than just a footnote in their work: they live, work and breathe it. And I always fear sounding too cheesy but I can't help but say that EVERYONE deserved to win this year. Each person has gone above and beyond in their field - and sometimes outside of their field - to help make the world a little better and brighter for those living and future generations. And it's only the tip of the iceberg! The greatest asset of these awards is also one of it's greatest flaws (in my own opinion) - all nominees are legitimately NOMINATED by people, there is no self-nomination or list compiled by the office, so every person or club on stage was there because someone had recognized the work they were doing and told us they deserved it. For the winners and nominees in each category, it can be extremely moving to know that someone (nominators are anonymous) took the time to fill out an application and tell us what makes you 'worthy' of an award. That being said, there are obvious gaps where faculties, clubs, or student leaders may not be recognized because someone didn't take the time to fill out the application or, more often than not, simply didn't know about the awards and didn't realize that their nominations actually matter. Hopefully as the years go by more and more people will be nominated for awards and will have the opportunity to be recognized by the institution, in a formal way, for the effort that they put into their projects, because there is SO much amazing work being done by more people than could probably have fit into that room.
Congratulations to all the winners and I'm so proud that I study and work next to some of the brightest people in this generation!