by Orli Cotel

The Clever Grasshopper

Although men may sit at the helm of most of the nation’s large and well-funded environmental institutions, when it comes to grassroots organizing, women are leading the way, whether Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, or the thousands of community leaders, organizers and mothers working behind the scenes. 25-year-old Melinda Kramer is the one connecting them. Kramer got her start as an intern— and later a coordinator— for Pacific Environment building coalitions of environmentalists along the Pacific Rim. At an international conference that she was organizing, a member of the Russian delegation pulled her aside. “In our Aleut tradition, we give nicknames to special people,” he said. “We would like you to be Umni Kunyetchik—or, Clever Grasshopper.” The name makes sense; she’s full of sprightly energy—and you can practically see the gears turning in her head as she figures out how to implement new ideas.

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