One Politician’s Example Can Inspire a Greener Tomorrow
By BETH TURNER
Certified Tulsa Master Recycler
PROUD ORGANIZATION: Jim Horn of The Kerr Center proudly displays his Bellmon Award alongside Bellmon’s daughters, Pat Hoerth and Ann McFerron.
Courtesy Sustainable Tulsa
It’s election season, which has everyone stumping and swearing they have the answers. I first thought to bring you political thoughts of current candidates on the topic of trash, recycling and sustainability. However, instead of focusing on the candidates of today, I’ve been inspired by looking back in time to a late, great Oklahoman who believed in keeping the green in Green Country.
This year, Sustainable Tulsa and Tulsa’s Southside Rotary launched the Inaugural Henry Bellmon Sustainability Awards. Webster High School Administration graciously donated my time and their equipment to allow me the honor of making a film with Bellmon’s three daughters that explains why his name is now synonymous with sustainability.
Daughters Ann McFerron and Pat Hoerth now run the family farm which is one of the original Centennial Farms of Oklahoma. McFerron told me the story. “This is where my grandfather raised his 13 children and one of which was our father. He helped his dad and after World War II came back to the farm and farmed it ever since. “
Eldest daughter, Hoerth reminisced on her father’s sustainable examples. “All our growing up time here, he taught us about nature and about farming. We always helped with the farm, with the chickens gathering eggs, you know we’re talking like 2000 chickens gathering eggs. So we knew firsthand his care of the land and his sense of stewardship.”
Middle child, Gail Wynne appreciates her father’s tough exterior, soft heart and forward thinking. “He was known to be stubborn for sure, but also to be able to think out of the box. He was the one who got the state capitol to be on geothermal heat and air almost 30 years ago. He loved creative thinking and creative problem solving. His ability to really think beyond what was right in front of his face was incredible. He never quit thinking forward and I think that’s an important legacy.”
McFerron chimes in with how sustainability, while not a catch phrase in her father’s time, was still a part of his belief system. “Dad planted a pecan grove. Pecans don’t even begin to produce for at least 15 to 20 years. This year, we will have our first harvest from our pecans, so it always amazed me that he wasn’t thinking of himself, he wasn’t even thinking of us, he was more thinking of his grandchildren and their future.”
According to the press release announcing the start of this annual awards ceremony, “The theme of the awards represents what organizers call the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet. That is, actions that benefit the community, actions of responsible economic growth combining earth-friendly with business-friendly and actions that are good demonstrations of environmental stewardship.”
The award for Environmental Stewardship award went to Tulsa’s recycling pioneer, the Metropolitan Environmental Trust, or M.E.T., which has recycled more than 48 million pounds of Green Country trash.
The award for Responsible Economic Growth went to Tulsa’s Goodwill Industries, which shows that you can take unwanted materials out of our waste stream and into a store which can use those products to create revenue, jobs and job training for people facing barriers to employment.
The award for Quality of Life for All and the Bellmon Award itself went to The Kerr Center. The Kerr Center is a non-profit educational foundation established in 1985 in order to find sustainable solutions to the economic, social and environmental challenges facing Oklahoma’s farmers. Just a few accomplishments of the Kerr Center include teaching and raising sustainable gardens and livestock, the farm-to-school program, creating and offering internships and grants.