In an era of big-box stores, predatory capitalism and hyper-consumption, buying things produced thousands of miles away is common.
But Christine Favilla has, for years, spirited the connection between “localism” and environment. She jump-started localism in the community by establishing the Green Gift Bazaar, a shopping alternative to Black Friday. She organized businesses and citizens to challenge the construction of a proposed Walmart in an important Alton green space. Early on in her career, she was the driving force that created the Community Cultivators and the Jaime Hines Discovery Garden. As if that weren’t enough, she introduced the community to the concept of “locavore” and “food miles” — what better food choice could there be for a polluted and energy-constrained world?
Most recently, Christine has worked tirelessly to bring Grassroots Grocery, a local grocery store and food co-op in a designated food desert, to open its doors to Alton’s Hunterstown neighborhood. Christine is collaborating with more than a dozen community gardens with partners like the Alton YWCA, Senior Services Plus, River Bend Head Start, and Milton School House to bring fresh, locally grown produce to area citizens.
While the notion of recycling was not new to the Alton area, Christine kicked it up a few notches. She established the principle that any Piasa Palisades Sierra Club event would strive to eliminate as much waste as possible, and would re-purpose whatever they could. The use of items that end up in landfills was discouraged in a respectful manner.
Christine organized River Road cleanups, not only to beautify, but to empower citizens to volunteer and feel connected. Countless “river cleanups” were organized with precision and refreshments. She always turned these events into community celebrations. People felt connected to the Great River Road, the river and to each other. Christine also partnered with Alton Main Street to find solutions for downtown Alton business recycling.
While they are frequent now, Christine organized some of the first e-waste drives in the area. She publicized the events, recruited volunteers and provided T-shirts and snacks. One event on a warm Saturday morning on the north parking lot of the Alton Mall created a traffic-jam 30 minutes before starting time. On another occasion, the PPSC office was packed 7 feet high with computers and printers, leaving only a narrow pathway to Christine’s desk.
In years past, the Sierra Club had a reputation as an organization of confrontation and conflict, generating negative perceptions in the community. Christine, early on in her career at PPSC, helped the local group become skillful at addressing the situation with the motto “not a battle to be won but a problem to be solved.” By example, the group learned from Christine the value of listening, networking and disagreeing gracefully. Today, the local Sierra Club is viewed positively by the community.
Christine is a mighty voice for the protection of the area’s great rivers and takes an active role working in coalition with advocacy organizations to craft policy to heal and rejuvenate these abused and often neglected waterways. She understands the intricacies of the navigation industry, big agriculture and complex governmental agencies, and has the tenacity and diligence to keep abreast of new practices and ever-changing policies. No pushover, Christine can “speak truth to power” when confronted by special interests or disingenuous people.
For 15 years, the Three Rivers Project has never grown complacent. Christine is there with bundles of innovations and bursts of creativity. She empowers potential new recruits and energizes seasoned members. Much gratitude to you, from us all, for elevating our organization to its present status.