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Kristine McDivitt Tompkins Awarded the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

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New York, June 22, 2017Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, co-founder of Tompkins Conservation alongside her late husband Douglas Tompkins, has been awarded the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, bestowed by the Carnegie family of institutions. The medal seeks to inspire a culture of giving by recognizing outstanding philanthropists who reflect the values of Andrew Carnegie and his philosophy of giving—what he called the “business of benevolence.” The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy was established in 2001 and is awarded every two years. The 22 Carnegie institutions in the United States and Europe nominate the medalists, and a selection committee representing seven of those institutions makes the final selection. The honorees are recognized as catalysts for good whose philanthropy has had a significant and lasting impact on a particular field, nation, or community of people.

Having amassed what was one of the greatest fortunes of his time, Carnegie, the legendary Scottish-American industrialist, decided to reinvent his fortune in society with the stated goal of doing “real and permanent good in the world.” His philosophy of giving was underpinned by the belief that with wealth comes responsibility. He believed that philanthropy’s main aim, as opposed to charity’s, was to address the causes of social ills rather than their manifestations. This belief is shared by the Tompkinses, whose work in conservation, rewilding, ecological agriculture and activism seeks to provide fundamental solutions, from carbon sequestration to healthy ecosystems to providing viable rural livelihoods.

“I am honored to be recognized by the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy on behalf of our team and in recognition of my husband, Douglas Tompkins, whose vision continues to be the backbone of our work,” says Tompkins. “I congratulate my fellow honorees and am proud to stand among them.  We all stand in the shadow of great philanthropists who came before us and I hope that I may live up to the ideals of those who believe it is critical to civil society that as individuals we live the ethic that the more we receive, the more we give.”

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From the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy:

“The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy honorees, past and present, personify the ideals of Carnegie’s vision, seeking through their giving to create a world of positive change. They exercise the same wisdom, foresight, and passion in their philanthropic activities as they have in their highly successful professional endeavors. They are catalysts for good who are inspirations to others. They are models for the next generation of philanthropists.

“Ms. Tompkins, your passionate commitment to ecosystem restoration is astonishing in its scope and magnitude, a true testament to Andrew Carnegie’s belief that public parks should be placed “in the very front rank of benefactions.” Your conservation efforts are visionary and resonate beyond the boarders within which they are performed. We are proud to announce Ms. Tompkins as a 2017 CMoP honoree at this Thursday’s Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Forum.”

The 2017 honorees are:

  • Mei Hing Chak China; Heung Kong Charitable Foundation
  • F. (Gerry) and Marguerite Lenfest U.S.A.; Lenfest Foundation
  • Azim Premji India; Azim Premji Foundation
  • Julian Robertson U.S.A.; Robertson Foundation
  • Jeff Skoll U.S.A.; Skoll Foundation
  • Kristine McDivitt Tompkins U.S.A.; Tompkins Conservation
  • Shelby White U.S.A., Leon Levy Foundation
  • Sir James d. Wolfensohn U.S.A. and Australia; Wolfensohn Center for Development

The Carnegie institutions will award the medals during a formal ceremony at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on October 3, 2017. The Carnegie Corporation of New York will host the private event. Katty Kay, anchor of BBC World News America, will serve as master of ceremonies.

For more information:

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Secretariat of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Communications Department

externalaffairs@carnegie.org

212.207.6273

www.medalofphilanthropy.org

Tompkins Conservation media contact:

Alison.kelman@tompkinsconservation.org, 415.229.9365

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Kristine Tompkins Receives Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal from the Garden Club of America

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Baltimore (May 6, 2017) – Tompkins Conservation leader Kristine McDivitt Tompkins has received one of the highest honors bestowed by The Garden Club of America (GCA), the Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal. The medal, presented to Kristine at the GCA’s annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, recognizes outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of the quality of life.

In honoring Kristine, the GCA hailed her as “a woman of unparalleled vision, determination, resilience and generosity” and “one of the most important wilderness protectors of our day whose work and intellect influence the global conservation field.”

On March 15, 2017, Kristine and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a pledge to dramatically expand national parklands in Chile by approximately 10 million acres. When fully executed the agreement will create five new national parks – including two crown jewels of Tompkins Conservation’s park creation work, Pumalín Park and Patagonia Park, and the one million acres and world-class infrastructure they contain – and expand three others. The proposal includes the largest land donation in history from a private entity to a country; the total area to be protected, via this private land donation plus government land, is three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined.

“Kristine is an adventurer whose experiences in wild places led to a commitment to protect the wilderness that remains and to encourage future generations to experience wild nature,” said the GCA in honoring her. “Over the past 20 years, she has accomplished more than many nations in establishing a network of new parks, expanding existing ones and linking them into wildlife corridors. She has promoted sustainable agriculture and the creation of employment opportunities within and around the parks to help the local population and to gain local support for the parks. She stayed true to her vision of saving wild nature from extinction.”

Cynthia Pratt Laughlin (1910-85), a member of Southampton Garden Club in New York, endowed this medal in 1979. Noted Delaware sculptor Charles Cropper Parks designed the medal, and previous recipients include former president of The Nature Conservancy Patrick F. Noonan (1984), The Outdoor Circle, the leading organization protecting the beauty of Hawai’i (1985), writer, environmental activist and farmer Wendell E. Berry (2008), the U.S. Green Building Council (2009) and The Pollinator Partnership (2011).

Kristine was nominated for the award by Corbin Harwood, member of the Garden Club of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 200 clubs with nearly 18,000 members who devote energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States. Founded in 1913, the GCA is a leader in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement. (www.gcamerica.org)

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Council of Ministers for Sustainability Ratifies the Creation of the Route of Parks, a Tompkins Conservation Initiative and Donation

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Photo: Jimmy Chin

The Council of Ministers for Sustainability is made up of the Ministries of the Environment, Agriculture, Finance, Health, Economy, Energy, Public Works, Housing, Transport and Mining

Puerto Varas, April 2017

The Council of Ministers for Sustainability has approved the proposal for the creation of the Route of Parks of Patagonia, agreed to and signed by Kristine Tompkins and President Michelle Bachelet on March 15th in Pumalin Park. This act marked the initiation of various legal, technical and formal procedures that will result in the signing of the decrees formally creating each of these new parks. Through this ratification, Tompkins Conservation leaves behind a legacy of the largest private donation made to the country of Chile, thereby conserving and consolidating a world-class system of protected areas.

The creation of Patagonia’s Route of Parks, as a result of the public-private partnership between the Government of Chile and Tompkins Conservation, involves the protection of 4.5 million hectares of new national parks. This protection involves the creation, expansion, and/or reclassification of a set of areas with high biodiversity value and outstanding eco-tourism potential in the Los Lagos, Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic regions.

The three new national parks to be created are: Pumalín, Melimoyu, and Patagonia. The existing national parks which will be expanded include Hornopirén, Corcovado, and Isla Magdalena. Additionally, the Cerro Castillo, Lago Cochrane and Lago Jeinimeni Reserves will be reclassified as national parks and the Alacalufes Forest Reserve will be reclassified as well as expanded.

Hernán Mladinic, Executive Director of Proyecto Pumalín and Pumalín Park, remarked “we firmly believe that nature tourism as a result of good conservation will become a development opportunity for these regions and that the future of communities linked to national parks will be closely tied to the development of these regions.”

Patagonia’s Route of Parks, which will include 17 national parks across 1,500 miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn will, along with contributing to the protection of biodiversity and pristine ecosystems, seek to boost the development of these regions through the creation of these national parks and the resulting nature tourism.

Press Contact:
Carolina Morgado

Tompkins Conservation Chile Coordinator

carolina.morgado@tompkinsconservation.org

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March 15th – Kris Tompkins addresses the crowd, including a group of local firefighters, at the protocol signing at Pumalín Park. Photo: Jimmy Chin

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Kris Tompkins and President Michelle Bachelet attend the protocol signing at Pumalín Park. Photo: Antonio Vizcaino

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Photo: Jimmy Chiin

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President of Chile, Tompkins Conservation Sign Historic Pledge to Create 10 Million Acres of New National Parks

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Photo: Linde Waidhofer

Pledge includes the largest land donation in history from a private entity to a country

PUMALÍN PARK, CHILE (March 15, 2017) – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, leader of Tompkins Conservation, today signed a pledge to dramatically expand national parkland in Chile by approximately 10 million acres. The proposal includes the largest land donation in history from a private entity to a country; the total area to be protected, via this private land donation plus government land, is three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined.

When fully executed, the agreement will create five new national parks — including two crown jewels of Tompkins Conservation’s park creation work, Pumalín Park and Patagonia Park, and the 1 million acres and world-class infrastructure they contain — and expand three others.

The signing of this historic pledge reflects a desire to continue and deepen Chile’s tradition of conservation, a sentiment which President Bachelet expressed in her speech today. “Today, alongside Kris, I am honored to see how everything has come together. … We are bequeathing to the country the greatest creation of protected areas in our history.”

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Photo: Government of Chile

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Photo: Linde Waidhofer

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Photo: Government of Chile

This proposal will help create the “Route of Parks,” a 17-park network spanning more than 1,500 miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn that Chilean citizens, nature lovers, global adventurers and tourists from around the world can enjoy. The Route will safeguard Patagonia’s wilderness and provide a boon to economic development in the South of Chile, with the potential to generate US$270 million in annual, ecotourism-related revenue and employ up to 43,000 people in the region.

To support the government in this ambitious endeavor, Tompkins Conservation, together with key partners, is committing to creating a Chilean-based Friends of National Parks foundation for ongoing park support.

“I wish my husband Doug, whose vision inspired today’s historic pledge, were here on this memorable day. Our team and I feel his absence deeply,” Kristine Tompkins said. “But I know that if Doug were here today, he would speak of national parks being one of the greatest expressions of democracy that a country can realize, preserving the masterpieces of a nation for all of its citizenry.”

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Photo: Government of Chile

Kristine and Douglas (1943–2015) Tompkins, business leaders from iconic American clothing brands including The North Face, Esprit, and Patagonia, Inc., changed the course of their lives more than 20 years ago to devote their funds, time, and passion to fight the biggest crisis in the world: biodiversity loss. After careful analysis, Kristine and Douglas concluded that creating large national parks where evolutionary processes could take their course was the most effective way to combat this loss. National parks represent the “gold standard” of biodiversity conservation, offering a unique set of ecological attributes, cultural values, ​​and economic benefits to local communities, while also guaranteeing long-term conservation. Tompkins Conservation is the leader in the Americas in what is known as “rewilding,” restoring natural ecosystems and reintroducing wildlife that has disappeared from a region because of human pressures.

For live updates please visit us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

U.S. Media Contact: Alison Kelman – Office 415.229.9365 // Cell 339.222. 8124 // alison.kelman@tompkinsconservation.org

Chile Media Contact: Carolina Morgado – carolina.morgado@tompkinsconservation.org

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Staff Spotlight: Tom Butler, Tompkins Conservation’s “Chief Philosophy Officer”

Tom ButlerTom Butler

Hometown: Huntington, Vermont
Year joined TC: 2005
Position: Vice President for Conservation Advocacy
Favorite mustelid: wolverine (Gulo gulo)
Favorite landscape: northern New York’s Adirondack Park

At Tompkins Conservation, our work is driven by the core values of the fundamentality of natural health and beauty, the intrinsic value of all life, the need for deep, systemic global change, and the obligation that each individual has to help ensure planetary health. Tom Butler is the guardian of these ideals, always encouraging the team to align organizational values with the philosophy of deep ecology that inspired Douglas Tompkins’s work. From overseeing the Foundation for Deep Ecology’s book publishing program to presenting our work to broader audiences, Tom is key to the dissemination of our collective voice. His title is Vice President for Conservation Advocacy, but the team truly views him as our “Chief Philosophy Officer,” acting as a guiding compass, ensuring we retain the values that sparked the creation this groundbreaking family of organizations and initiatives.

I posed a few questions to Tom to understand what brought him to conservation work and what inspires his activism. Below is our conversation:

How do you relate to the philosophy of deep ecology?

I’d say I am an enthusiastic but not very knowledgeable proselytizer for deeply ecological thinking and practice. I’m not particularly well read in the literature of deep ecology—but the happy news on this front is that it takes less than a minute to read the 8 point deep ecology platform written by philosophers Arne Naess and George Sessions and to understand its central tenet—that all life has intrinsic value. That is the foundation for recognizing, analyzing, and rejecting the dominant, anthropocentric (human-centered) worldview that undergirds the present global eco-social crisis. Understanding intellectually the ecocentric vs. anthropocentric dichotomy is a good start, but to create an emotional bond with wild nature, I think you have to spend time outside, at least sometimes in big wild places where the scale of the world teaches humility. Stroll down a mudflat in Lake Clark National Park and see brown bear paw prints the size of dinner plates—at such moments the idea that we human are masters of the universe will seem less convincing.

I am lucky to live in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains where I can walk out the back door and be immersed in wild beauty. We have moose and black bears, fishers and coyotes for neighbors, and we value them as much as our human neighbors. Last year my wife built a Shinrin-yoku trail in our woods, a path for “forest bathing” in the Japanese tradition. Almost every day, rain or shine, I walk (or ski) that short path, greeting the trees and rocks and plants. Not only are there health benefits including stress reduction from that kind of daily practice, but it’s a great way to reinforce an ecocentric worldview.

How did you first get involved with the Tompkins Conservation family of organizations and initiatives?

I became a grassroots wilderness activist in the 1980s, inspired by Dave Foreman and others on the leading edge of the conservation movement. In the 1990s I worked for the conservation journal Wild Earth, which Dave cofounded and which Doug Tompkins had long supported through the Foundation for Deep Ecology (FDE). So I first became acquainted with Kris and Doug as a grantee. I assumed the editorship of Wild Earth when its original editor John Davis went to work as a program officer for FDE in 1997. When Wild Earth folded in 2005, Doug hired me to work on a book project; that effort resulted in Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition, a book that was partly inspired by the Wild Earth theme issue on that topic that Doug had read. There are many examples in conservation history of people using their time, energy, and wealth to save parks and other nature sanctuaries. By that time Kris and Doug had already acquired, through their foundations, huge amounts of wild habitat in Chile and Argentina with the idea of saving it for nature, but initially I don’t think they were really aware of the historical examples of individuals buying and donating land for protected areas, including national parks. Of course they have done just that at an unprecedented scale.

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What recent project would you care to highlight, and why?

Putting together the recently released 25-year retrospective on Tompkins Conservation’s accomplishments was useful to me personally—I learned many new things about our team’s efforts—but also think it will be compelling to external audiences. Many people have the idea the Kris and Doug Tompkins are just those American entrepreneurs who bought up land in Patagonia for new national parks. Which of course is true, but there is so much more to the story—the activism, the organic farms and ranch operations, the reintroduction programs putting extirpated species such as giant anteaters back into their native habitat, etc. People looking through the 25-year book often have the reaction: “I had no idea that Tompkins Conservation is doing all this.” And in reality the book only scratches the surface of what the team has accomplished over the past quarter century. Moreover, it doesn’t cover the ongoing, and even accelerating, land conservation work underway currently.

What does the future of Tompkins Conservation look like, in your view?

Under Kris’s leadership, I see the team that she and Doug assembled over the years doing exceptional conservation work in Argentina and Chile. The scale and ambition of it—trying to breed captive jaguars and reintroduce their offspring to the Iberá marshlands, and working to add at least five new national parks to Chile’s national park system while jumpstarting ecotourism along the “Route of Parks”—these are audacious, but achievable goals. I think we will get them done, and it is tremendously exciting to be part of the effort.

You’ve written or edited books about various topics including population overshoot, the toxic energy economy, mountaintop-removal coal mining and the value of protected areas. What, in your view, is the greatest threat to nature and how would you suggest we combat that threat?

The key driver of the global extinction crisis—which is the greatest contraction in life’s diversity in the last 65 or so million years—is habitat loss. Overkilling, especially of marine wildlife, and invasive exotic species and climate change are also in that deadly-to-life mix. All of these stem from overpopulation and overdevelopment—that is, humanity has grown too large and we use the world badly. Our numbers and behavior are linked to the overarching question of how we view the world—is it a community of life to which we belong (as good neighbors!) or just a collection of “resources” for our use, enjoyment, and profit? Commodity or community—that is the fundamental question. The language we use helps undermine, or reinforce, the current dominant worldview of human supremacy. This is a particular interest of mine (see a brief talk on the “language of dominion”).

I could answer the second part of your question in the standard way—make family planning tools and education universally available, educate girls in the developing world and work for gender equity everywhere, reform the carbon-emitting energy economy, and protect lots more wildlife habitat in interconnected systems of protected areas on land and sea. Of course I believe in all those things, and we’d be on the way to a flourishing biosphere if we can make progress toward those goals. To do so, however, to really gain broad-based cultural support for such life-affirming policies, I think we need a cognitive revolution, something Doug Tompkins recognized decades ago when he launched the Foundation for Deep Ecology.

We need to change the way we think about our place on Earth, the language we use to describe our kin in the community of life (not “natural resources”!), and from that new worldview our behaviors and societal trajectory will change. And in the meantime, protecting wild habitat, especially in new national parks, can help buy time and save species, as well as mitigate climate chaos. It’s good work, and there is plenty to do: every individual can find their own place in a global effort to rewild the Earth, and rewild ourselves.

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