SSJ Sierra Club Member Wins Penrod Award

Veterans for Peace, the Alachua County Labor Coalition and the United Faculty of Florida give the John A. Penrod Brigadas Award for Peace and Justice annually to an exceptional activist in memory of Spanish Civil War veteran Jack Penrod. This year, Jason Fults will receive the award on March 20th at the Civic Media Center SpringBoard fundraiser at the Wooly in Gainesville. Jason is a Suwannee-St. Johns Sierra Club member and has given two presentations at our general meeting about mountaintop removal coal.

Jason Fults is a native of central Florida and has been involved in environmental and social justice research and advocacy for more than 15 years. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Berea College with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology/Sustainability & Environmental Studies. It was at Berea that Jason first fell in love with the Appalachian mountains and culture. While living in Kentucky, he worked with the Chemical Weapons Working Group, recipient of the 2006 Goldman Environmental Prize, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and witnessed the devastation of mountaintop removal firsthand. He has worked with environmental & social justice NGOs in Australia, China, India, and the U.S., including as a board member of the National Youth & Student Peace Coalition, National Coordinator of the Student Environmental Action Coalition, Volunteer Coordinator of the Community Weatherization Coalition, and Co-Chair of the Alachua County Labor Coalition.

From 2006-08, Jason spent 20 months in Asia on Thomas J. Watson and William Fulbright fellowships, exploring the evolution of environment and development-related conflicts in some of the world’s most rapidly expanding economies. He is currently a solar installer and an electrical apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and has been performing energy audits in Alachua County for the past four years, both professionally and as a volunteer. In 2011, Jason co-founded Gainesville Loves Mountains (GLM), a local nonprofit dedicated to ending the practice of mountaintop removal, reducing the impacts of Gainesville’s energy consumption on other communities, and pursuing local policies that will help our community achieve significant energy savings while also strengthening our economy.  In 2014, GLM won passage of a first-in-the-nation ordinance that requires our local utility to move away from its consumption of coal mined using mountaintop removal.  This ordinance has been hailed by Appalachian organizations as a model for other coal-consuming communities.  GLM is currently pursuing local financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency retrofits, as well as greater protections from high utility bills for low-income renters in our community.

Editor’s Note: SSJ member and former newlsetter editor Jessica Newman won the Penrod Award in 2010.