ALTON - As Three Rivers Project Manager since April of 2001, Christine Favilla has been the voice for the environment in the Riverbend. In an era of big-box stores, factory farming, and hyper-consumption, Christine has spirited the connection between “localism” and environment early on. 

She jump started this in the community by establishing the Green Gift Bazaar, a shopping alternative to Black Friday. She introduced the community to the concept of “locavore” and “food miles” and  better food choices for a polluted and energy constrained world! !Early on in her career she was the driving force that created the Community Cultivator and The Jaime Hines Discovery garden. Most recently Christine has worked tirelessly to bring Grassroots Grocery, a local food coop in a designated food dessert, to open its doors to Alton’s Hunter’s Town neighborhood. Currently Christine is collaborating with over a dozen community gardens with partners such as the Alton YWCA, Senior Services Plus, River Bend Head Start and Milton School House.

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 Sierra Club event would strive to minimum waste and repurpose items if possible. Plastic bottles and “throw aways” use was discouraged always in a respectful manner to participants.  She organized River Road cleanups not only to beautify but to empower citizens to volunteer and feel connected to our Mississippi River heritage.  Countless “river clean ups” were organized with precision with partners such as  the 1 Mississippi Campaign, Missouri River Relief, Living Lands and Waters, the Army Corp of Engineers. 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 and her efforts to establish e-waste drives where ahead of the curve. While they are frequent now, Christine organized some of the first drives in the area. She publicized the events, recruited volunteers, 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 Sierra Club office was packed 7 feet high with computers and printers with only a narrow pathway to her desk.

Early in her career Christine mentored the local group to become skillful at problems solving, “not a battle to be won but a problems to be solved”. Christine set the example of the value of listening, networking, and disagreeing gracefully.  Today the local Sierra Club, as well as, clean air & water, fresh food, is viewed positively and importantly by the community. No push over, Christine can “speak truth to power” when confronted by special interests or disingenuous persons.

Christine is a mighty voice for the protection of the area’s great rivers and takes an active role working with in coalition with advocate organizations to craft policy to heal and rejuvenate these abused and often neglected waterways. She has a remarkable understanding of 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.

For 15 years the Sierra Club has never grown complacent. Christine is there with bundles of innovations and bursts of creativity. She empowers potential new volunteers and energizes seasoned members. In a gesture of gratitude the Sierra Club invites well-wishers in Christin’s honor on Monday, April 11, at 7:30 immediately following the Speakers Series Presentation at The First Unitarian Church, 110 E 3rd St. in Alton. 

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To contact Brittany Kohler for future events or story ideas, e-mail brittany@riverbender.com or call (618) 465-9850 ext. 237. Follow her on Twitter @KohlerJo.

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