The New York City-based Rockefeller Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2008 Jane Jacobs Medal. The prize, which recognizes individuals whose actions and accomplishments in New York City exemplify the late author and civic activist's principles, is accompanied by a $100,000 cash award for each winner.
The winners of this year's medals are Peggy Shepard and Alexie Torres-Fleming. Shepard, who will receive the Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership, is the co-founder and executive director of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc., which publicizes the environmental hazards of facilities in working-class communities of color. The former chair of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Shepard has helped organize the residents of Harlem to demand that the city government repair the North River Sewage Treatment Plant, and established a program to map and document the rate of air pollutants and asthma in the neighborhood.
Torres-Fleming, who will receive the Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism, is the founder of Ministries for Peace and Justice in the South Bronx, a faith-based, community development organization that works to empower local youth. Torres-Fleming also is the co-founder of the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance and a founding member of the Bronx River Alliance.
"Today, we are celebrating two individuals who follow the Jacobsean principle of upholding the needs of living communities in the urban, built environment," said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. "As we approach Mother's Day, I'm reminded that Robert Moses dismissed Jane Jacobs and her fellow protesters of the Lower Manhattan Expressway as 'nobody but a bunch of mothers.' With Peggy Shepard and Alexie Torres-Fleming we have two more mothers and extraordinary citizens who, like Jane, are bold activists who have successfully taken their principles to the streets."