The Edge Prize celebrates regenerative projects from rural, Indigenous, and historically marginalized communities across the bioregion — from Alaska to California and between.
The Edge Prize celebrates regenerative projects from rural, Indigenous, and historically marginalized communities across the bioregion — from Alaska to California and between.
Throughout what we call “Salmon Nation,” a bioregion defined by the historic range of wild Pacific salmon, from the Salinas River in California, north to the Yukon River in Alaska, there are extraordinary leaders and entrepreneurs working on regenerative projects that benefit the lands, waters, and people of the bioregion.
They are growing food ways that heal the land, protecting and restoring ecosystems for future generations, building resilient communities, educating our youth, developing innovative technology, transforming systems and governance, and preserving traditional wisdom.
The goal of The Edge Prize is to identify these leaders, called “Edgewalkers,” bring them together to help them discover each other as collaborative peers, offer them resources and support, and amplify their stories to grow their work.
To find and select these Edgewalkers, we sought out projects and solutions that are:
- Proven, and already working in place (rather than start-up initiatives)
- Creating real positive change to benefit the lands, waters, and people
- Not fundamentally based on proprietary methods
- Replicable in different parts of the bioregion as “templates”
Between February and May of 2023, the first cohort of Edgewalkers was convened, bringing together 130 Edgewalkers, along with dozens of experts and leaders in the fields of regenerative agriculture, philanthropy, business, communications, and more.
In addition to workshops led by our expert mentors, Edgewalkers prepared and presented workshops to each other, collectively representing the leading edge of regenerative practices.
The Edge Prize also facilitated a series of regional dinners where the Edgewalkers gathered in person to share a meal, from as far north as Cordova, Alaska, to Oakland, California, and many gatherings in between.
The culmination of The Edge Prize invited our Edgewalkers to create short videos and written descriptions of their work, for which the most impactful, innovative, and inspiring were awarded, by a vote of the Edgewalkers, mentors, and the Edge Prize team, prize money.
The awards include the “Edge Prize”, a grand prize of $20,000, and ten additional $5,000 prizes in specific categories of regenerative work. The Edgewalkers also collaboratively allocated amongst themselves a shared funding pool of $20,000. Additionally, there were Special Honorees for each prize category, who will be receiving ongoing recognition and support.
All of these videos and written descriptions are publicly visible.
By sharing these videos and written descriptions in public, we are building an open-source library of “what’s working” to help scale and accelerate regenerative practices in Salmon Nation and beyond.
For 2023, The Edge Prize Grand Prize was awarded to Edgewalker Allayana Darrow, representing the Lomakatsi Restoration Project: As the climate warms, and weather changes, the risk of severe wildfires is elevated. Lomokatsi answers the call by engaging a diversity of youth in ecological restoration to build fire-adapted forests and communities. This model creates meaningful, living-wage work experiences that provide the foundation for the next generation of workers in the forest product and ecological restoration industries.
Over the past 15 years, Lomakatsi has led hundreds of youth and young adults in the restoration of thousands of acres of public and private forest lands. They have created precedent-setting collaborative agreements that employ these youth to work side-by-side with forestry experts and seasoned professional forestry workers.
“It’s inspiring to be a part of The Edge Prize. It’s a network of driven, innovative people and organizations working in service to ecosystems and communities across the West,” said Lomakatsi Executive Director Marko Bey. “We’re honored to be recognized for our ecological workforce training and education model that for 28 years has provided a blueprint for partnership between tribes, agencies, and nonprofits, while reducing the risk of severe wildfire, growing the ecological workforce, and restoring healthy forests and watersheds across Oregon and northern California.”
“The Grand Prize will support the Taktokeewa Habitat Restoration Project as we work to expand the initial 3,100-acre project area tenfold over the next decade,” said Lomakatsi Tribal Partnerships Director Belinda Brown, enrolled member of the Kosealekte Band of the Ajumawi-Atsuge Nation (Pit River Tribe) and descendant of the Northern Paiute Gidutikad Band. “Together we’re raising capacity to accomplish more restorative work across all lands, providing tribal crew members with hands-on experience in technical forestry and cultural monitoring through peer-to-peer training, and laying the groundwork for future ecological forestry treatments and the return of good cultural fire on Kosealekte Band homelands.”
A specific recent project of Lomakatsi, the Taktokeewa Habitat Restoration Project, is a collaborative forest restoration initiative between Lomakatsi, the USDA Forest Service Modoc National Forest, and the Kosealekte Band of the Ajumawi-Atsuge Nation (federally recognized as the Pit River Tribe). The purpose of the Taktokeewa Project is to improve forest health, enhance wildlife habitat, maintain cultural values, build local workforce capacity, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the region.
The Taktokeewa Project supports employment opportunities for tribal members and local contractors and helps meet partners’ mutual goals of increasing local capacity for forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction in the face of climate change and increasing threat of severe wildfire. At the request of tribal partners, Lomakatsi is layering in their workforce training model, creating opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and job mentoring, while incubating tribally owned forestry businesses. Byproducts of ecological restoration will be sold to local mills, supporting industry partners and creating revenue to reinvest into the project.
The Edge Prize Grand Prize Special Honoree is Anthony Myint, with his Zero Foodprint initiative, which is a new mechanism that makes it possible for a citizen or business to directly team up with local farms and ranches to help them transition to regenerative, carbon sequestering practices, at scale. They are funding this innovative work through simple win-win-win mechanisms like restaurants adding an optional 1% fee that goes to regenerative partner farms, as well as working with state and local agencies to create new categories of taxes and fees to fund farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture, generating real resources for this critical work.
The Edge Prize also led to new collaborative projects among Edgewalkers. One such collaboration is Regenerate Cascadia, where two participants, Brandon Letsinger and Clare Atwell, are now co-planning a bioregional event series this fall in Cascadia bioregion, which overlaps Salmon Nation. Regenerate Cascadia, which is the Edge Prize awardee in the category of Systems and Governance, will grow a network of place-based groups to accelerate the regeneration of Cascadia, culminating in a Bioregional Activation Tour and a Cascadia Bioregional Summit in September & October 2023.
Edge Prize 2023 Grand Prize Winner and Special Honoree
EDGE PRIZE (GRAND PRIZE WINNER) ($20K)
ALLAYANA DARROW: LOMAKATSI RESTORATION PROJECT
“Lomakatsi has employed an innovative and highly successful model for engaging a diversity of youth in ecological restoration to build fire-adapted forests and communities. This model creates meaningful, living-wage work experiences that provide the foundation for the next generation of workers in the forest product and ecological restoration industries.”
EDGE PRIZE (GRAND PRIZE SPECIAL HONOREE)
ANTHONY MYINT: A REGENERATIVE FOOD ECONOMY TO RESTORE CARBON IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
“Zero Foodprint is a new mechanism that makes it possible for a citizen or business to directly team up with local farms and ranches to help them transition to regenerative, carbon sequestering practices at scale. They are funding this innovative work through simple win-win-win mechanisms like restaurants adding an optional 1% fee that goes to regenerative partner farms, as well as working with state and local agencies to create new categories of taxes and fees to fund farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture, generating real resources for this critical work.”
Edge Prize 2023 Category Winners and Special Honorees
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
NIA HARRIS: HEALING SPACES AT BLACK FUTURES FARM
“Black Futures Farm is both a community-building and production farm, where we grow meaningful relationships alongside vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Our main goal is to heal the connection between Black people and the land, and we achieve this by cultivating a healthy place for the Black community to gather in joy and source fresh food.”
“Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture (OCPA) is a locally-based model of agriculture, education, food distribution, and community connection. Our purpose is to empower people to be creators of the food that nourishes them, in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement. Their innovative organizing model creates a framework for private landowners to make their land for community cultivation.”
ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
RIVERSHED SOCIETY OF BC: FOODLANDS CORRIDOR RESTORATION PROGRAM
“Rivershed Society of BC’s Foodlands Corridor Restoration Program (“Foodlands”) is restoring and connecting adjacent, small parcels of privately held land to form a larger restored natural corridor. The term Foodlands acknowledges a diversity of food harvesting systems that the land represents, both from a western farming perspective and from a traditional hunting and gathering perspective. Once fully restored, a Foodlands Corridor will support a food system that is healthy, sustainable, just and inclusive.”
“Ancestral Food Ways Collective Society emerges from the need to give continuity to Indigenous governance represented by local BIPOC groups and the vision led by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. The programming is created by the pedagogies and methodologies of Indigenous Food and Freedom School at Strathcona Park. The mission of this group is to restore and sustain the Indigenous Foodlands Conservation Garden by giving community access to land and providing a safe space to carry out cultural practices and intergenerational-knowledge transmission, as well as uphold and amplify the voices of the community throughout the general population.”
CULTURE PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
TASHA FAYE EVANS: IN THE PRESENCE OF ANCESTORS
“I am a Coast Salish dance and theatre artist leading arts based Coast Salish Cultural resurgence projects in my community, currently known as Port Moody. In the Presence of Ancestors is a life-long exhibition of five magnificently carved house posts raised along Port Moody’s iconic 3.5 km Shoreline Trail, reasserting Indigenous values and reminding current residents of our shared and sacred responsibilities to the future of all of our relations.”
“Women Carry Water is an immersive docuseries that lifts the voices, experiences, and work of female-identifying people championing vital, healing, sustainable, spiritual practices as Water-Bearers. The series features interviews from Indigenous healers, folk artists, carbon sequestration scientists, a musician who sings with whales, and stories of women like Thandekile, who carry water to her home and family in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
EDUCATION PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
JANNEKE PETERSEN: SYMBIOTIC SCHOOLYARD
“Symbiotic Schoolyard provides a curriculum for middle school teachers to help their students take on the role of restoration ecologists to help increase the biodiversity of their schoolyards. Through hands-on lessons, students discover that planting a variety of native plants can help to restore a complex food web in their schoolyard.”
“Earth Activist Training teaches regenerative design and permaculture to activists, and activism to regenerators. Our permaculture training is rooted in spirit, not enforced belief in things we can’t see, but in reverence and wonder for the everyday miracles we see all around us: the alchemy of a leaf making food from air and water and sunlight, the water’s journey from raindrop to spring, river, ocean, cloud and back to rain. Along with science, theory and practical experience, we focus on organizing and activism. Over two decades, we have trained thousands.”
COMMUNITY RESILIENCE PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
MARY HOSTETTER: COMMUNITY-BASED MONITORING IN NANVARPAK / BRISTOL BAY
“We are creating a community-based monitoring (CBM) program in the Nanvarpak / Lake Iliamna and Clark region. Community-based monitoring, led by Indigenous Knowledge and supported by science can fill in gaps that inherently exist in the management, academic, and research realms, where priorities and results are not often shared back with tribes. These programs will uplift Indigenous voices, address Indigenous concerns, and create opportunities for agency within these small communities, connecting people with their traditional values and culture by reconnecting them with the land, which can provide positive and necessary healing opportunities, spiritually, mentally, and physically.”
“The Strathcona Community Garden Wetland Project is located on the Unceded territories of the Musqueam (xwməθkwəy̓əm), Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh), and Tsleil-Waututh (Səl̓ílwətaʔ) nations, known today as Vancouver, British Columbia. Long before the garden, this land was a tidal flat, supporting a robust aquatic ecosystem. Colonization and development altered this landscape, filling in the flats. Working with a regional wetland expert we reshaped and reinforced the original hand-dug ephemeral pond. We installed a liner in a portion of the pond to extend the wet season. Paths were reinforced, changed and recreated; infiltration ponds were dug. The birds are thrilled. Countless ducks, crows, robins, and red-wing blackbirds have been enjoying the wetland. School children have flocked to the wetland, exploring the edge and new plantings. We are seeing our goals of habitat creation, stormwater management, and community sanctuary come to fruition!”
INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
LANCE MCMULLAN: PREDICTABLE CLEAN ENERGY FROM OCEAN TIDES
“At Sitkana, we are developing technology to generate low-cost, predictable renewable energy from ocean tidal currents. Our shielded turbines are inspired by snail shells and our stacked arrays were inspired by schools of salmon. The turbines are shrouded so they do not have external blades to slice wildlife. Electricity gets sent to shore where it can be used by coastal communities.”
“The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Boat Energy Transitions Accelerator seeks to decarbonize Alaska’s commercial fishing fleet while providing a replicable decarbonization strategy for fishing fleets around the country. We can and should create hybrid boats where clean fuels are available for recharge — and there are hundreds of boats in Alaska that fit that bill. Fishermen are ready to invest in new technology, but upfront costs are daunting. With investment and grants, we can lead.”
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND FINANCE PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
SPRUCE ROOT: RESTORING RURAL ECONOMIES ACROSS LÍNGÍT AANÍ
“Spruce Root is a Native-led, non-profit organization based in Língít Aaní. From our offices in Dzántik’i Héeni (Juneau) and Sheetʼka (Sitka), we drive regenerative economies across Southeast Alaska so communities can forge futures grounded in this uniquely Indigenous place. Through our small business loan program, our business training programs, and our support for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, we’re building entrepreneurship in rural communities while fostering community-based coalitions committed to long-term economic well-being.”
“We believe that to see a massive shift in how financial capital is allocated we need to create super supportive ecosystems to make it easier and more comfortable for people to invest in their own communities. We need a place where we can teach small business owners and changemakers how to invest and seek investment in a way that is legally compliant, financially responsible, and supportive of all stakeholders. Let’s build these Community Wealth Building Hubs throughout Salmon Nation so that we can access the vast pool of investment capital that is controlled by U.S. residents and use it to revitalize our communities and support the projects and ventures we love most.”
“Vivero is a regenerative finance platform that can change the face of traditional economics, by recognising and valuing many forms of capital in bioregional and regenerative project development. Vivero Contributors and beneficiaries are all visible in the app and Vivero transactions are tracked transparently. Vivero members can interact and collaborate directly with each other and they decide collectively where gifts will go. Vivero storytelling brings in diverse voices to feed an action-learning path that we can all walk together. Vivero’s open source architecture is designed to branch and network out into bioregions, and be adapted to local contexts and needs.”
STORYTELLING AND KNOWLEDGE WEAVING PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
BRIGETTE SCOTT MCCONVILLE: COLUMBIA RIVER — TRADITIONAL FOLLOWING OF OUR FISH
“Salmon has been a part of my existence since time immemorial. I have worked with fish my entire life. I helped move fish from a very small child and was shown how to clean, bleed, fillet and cut fish at age 8. My favorite processing technique is wind dried salmon. The process has not changed since the Creator gave us the fish to sustain ourselves. As a young lady, my grandmother told me; Learn well what I’m teaching you, for it will take care of you. The intent of my work is to document the fish as they swim up the river, along with interviews of families and elders to share their teachings and experiences.”
“Over the past three years, I have been a member of the Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute which is a cohort aiming to tackle and explore the ethics, techniques, best practices, tensions and dilemmas of oral history and Black and Indigenous memory work. The institute is a part of Wa Na Wari’s general programming which serves as a center for Black art and stories sited in a 5th-generation Black-owned home in Seattle’s historically redlined Central District. Wa Na Wari has seeked to create space for Black ownership, possibility and belonging through art, historic preservation and connection.”
SYSTEMS AND GOVERNANCE PRIZE WINNER — BRANDON LETSINGER AND CLARE ATWELL: REGENERATE CASCADIA ($5K)
“Regenerate Cascadia is a long-term vision and process that works with on-the-ground communities to design and implement new frameworks of governance, ecology, and economy for the regeneration and health of our bioregion. This includes two specific events: a Bioregional Activation Tour and a Cascadia Bioregional Summit. Our focus is not only a one-time moment, but also the way we travel from the activation tour to the summit, the culture that coalesces through the experience of activation, and what is sustained after the “events.”
“Allied Certifications Ltd. was established in 2018 to co-develop the Tribal Parks Allies certification standard with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. On behalf of Tla-o-qui-aht, we encourage local businesses in the colonial settlement of Tofino to establish the foundations upon which respectful relationships with Tla-o-qui-aht can flourish. We provide the scaffolding for settler entrepreneurs to confront the uncomfortable realities of colonialism in Tla-o-qui-aht haḥuułi and offer a pathway away from practices which perpetuate colonial oppression and towards relationships which are supportive to Indigenous self-determination, Nation-building, and cultural resurgence.”
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT PRIZE WINNER ($5K)
AUSTIN PICINICH: SAVE OUR SALMON (SOS) MURAL INITIATIVE
“The Save Our Salmon (SOS) Mural Initiative is a project created by youth, involving youth. I’m an 18-year-old artist and senior at Juanita High School in Kirkland, Washington. I paint interactive, educational “Save Our Salmon Murals” along PNW salmon streams. So far I’ve led 400 painters and 1,000 attendees painting SOS Murals on over 300 feet of walls. My goal is to not just create a mural that’s nice to look at — but a mural that teaches and inspires my community to protect salmon.”
“We are intergenerational, intersectional and passionate about creating a thriving sustainable Black Community here in Santa Cruz, CA. We each bring different perspectives to the table but we all wanted to institutionalize aspects of the Black Liberation movement. Our Committee on Black Residential Affordable Housing leg of our programming serves to address the issue of Black flight from our county due to the prohibitive cost of housing. The Melanated Makerspace, also known as M2, is the mentee-to-mentor youth leadership program leg of our programming.”
That’s a lot of incredible projects! Our winners and special honorees prove that regeneration of all kinds is alive and flourishing in the Edges of Salmon Nation, and local leaders are hard at work restoring the wellbeing of our lands, waters, culture, people, and economies. Thank you all for your work.
Every project submitted was powerful and inspiring, so if you want a dose of hope and gratitude please check them all out and connect with projects that interest you!
The Edge Prize is a partnership between Salmon Nation Trust, Terran Collective, and Magic Canoe, with funding generously provided by Salmon Nation Trust. Salmon Nation is a people, a place, and an idea: that we can organize ourselves as a nature state in a big, diverse, powerful and holistic integration of people and place, with thriving local communities living in deep relationship with the lands and waters that nourish all of us.
This post was authored by Edward West, Clare Politano, and Zoe Grams.