Most Inspiring Environmental Orator

Pennie Opal Plant

Pennie Opal Plant, who was born in Richmond and claims ancestors from several Native American tribes, owns the Gathering Tribes shop on Solano Avenue in Albany. She got involved several years ago with environmental-justice struggles in Bay Area communities with oil refineries and connected these local campaigns with the Idle No More movement among Canadian First Peoples against tar sands oil drilling and the transport of fossil fuels. This year, like last year, she is helping organize a series of four "Refinery Corridor Healing Walks" led by Native American elders. In each of the four walks, participants go from one refinery town to another to support clean communities, safe jobs, and a "just transition to safe and sustainable energy." In speaking to those gathered to walk, Opal Plant combines strong opposition to current refinery practices with a Native American sense of the sacredness of nature. "We are the earth's immune system," she says.

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