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Meet the Live Forward Awardees

Sustain Dane’s Live Forward Award (formerly Badger Bioneer) celebrates local changemakers who are actively creating a more sustainable future in Dane County and beyond. This award elevates the sustainability innovation, stewardship and achievement happening in our own neighborhoods. All awardees were nominated by community members and chosen by a Selection Committee. This year, Sustain Dane is specifically highlighting the many contributions of young leaders (under age 30) to our sustainability movement! The Live Forward Awardees will be celebrated, honored and featured at the Sustain Dane Summit on Friday, November 2.

Devon Hamilton is the Assistant Policy Director for the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, where he works with Wisconsin producers and agriculture agents on best land management practices to protect our soil health and water quality. He is a valued educator in Madison who builds community through gardening, cooking, and hosting spaces for conversations around food, equity, and social justice. Since working at Michael Fields, Devon has help further develop a program called Growing Urban Leaders in Food Systems (GULFS). The program is designed for teaching middle to high school level youth in classroom and community settings about the food system through piloting lessons with partners including the PEOPLE Program and the Mellowhood Foundation, and volunteering at Badger Rock Middle School. He currently sits on the board for the Mellowhood Foundation, REAP Food Group, and the Organizational Council for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). Most recently, he has formed a group with two local Black chefs called TradeRoots Culinary Collective, celebrating the many intersections of Southern Black cuisine through pop-up events, catering, and educational programs. The group is currently raising funds for two of its members to embark on a culinary tour of West Africa with world renowned chef and historian Michael Twitty. In his work with various student organizations at UW Madison and community groups across the county, Devon has worked effectively to create community and has clearly demonstrated that food can be the vessel through which interdisciplinary change is achieved. Using food as his vehicle, he has helped communities in Dane County heal and celebrate, learn about collective histories and culture, influence habits and mindsets around nutrition, organize around racial and class discrimination, and advocate for the environment. 

Donale Richards manages Off the Block Enterprises (OTB) which is a youth business development program for minority youth in the Darbo-Worthington neighborhood and other areas within Dane County. Richards has designed and instructed a social entrepreneurial curriculum that enables youth to be leaders in the operations of OTB Salsa and OTB Pizza. With the help of other business professionals, OTB products will someday provide sustainable income for other programs and services provided by MP. Outside of MP, Richards is a dynamic leader who feels the social responsibility of educating underserved communities on issues within food systems. With a degree in Biological Systems Engineering from UW-Madison, he has been able to co-create a small-scale aquaponics company, UrbanPonics, that would supply ingredients for a future Caribbean-based food service. By modeling an urban farm-to-table business, he hopes to that others will be more mindful of the food they place in their bodies as well as inspire other minority business owners to create change through their own economic empowerment.

Alex Lindenmeyer is the co-owner of Short Stack Eatery (SSE) and the creator and leader of the businesses Sustainability Team; a team assembled to encourage equality and well-being for SSE and for the whole community. The Sustainability Team works on four major initiatives such as the race equity initiative, the alternative transportation initiative, the waste reduction initiative, and the local purchasing initiative. Lindenmeyer is regarded as a sustainability “superhero” by those who work with her and have witnessed her myriad contributions to Madison’s inclusivity and progress, including work with the Doyenne entrepreneurial group for women in Madison, Just Bakery, Black Women Heal and Wheels for Winners. 

Meet all of the Live Forward Nominees here.