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Al Gore, Robert Redford, Christiane Amanpour Honor Grassroots Environmental Activism

Al Gore, Robert Redford and CNN's formidable international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour graced the Opera House Monday night for the 20th Anniversary of the Goldman Environmental Prize, a prestigious awards ceremony (often called "The Oscars" of environmental activism) honoring 6 "normal" people (1 from each inhabited continent) for their grassroots work in crusading for environmental issues. While the star-power was definitely a draw, it was the inspirational and often heart-wrenching stories of courage (many of the recipients have endured death threats for their work) that the 3,200 attendees were there to honor.

As Gore said in his keynote, "all of these recipients have something inside of them that causes them to do what they're doing. We've gotta have that if we're going to make a difference." He went on to call this year "the Gettysburg" and "turning corner" of environmental issues, calling attention to critical legislation flowing through Congress over the coming months, including Obama's cap and trade proposal (he started the ball rolling there today). Redford spoke of efforts on a smaller scale, heralding grassroots activism as the way to combat global warming. Tracy Chapman performed mid-ceremony, singing "Talking About a Revolution" and "Big Yellow Taxi" (appropriate choices.)

The Goldman Foundation has put together a tour (narrated by Redford) that uses 3-D Google Earth imagery to tell the stories of the 2009 recipients. Words don't necessarily do these stories justice, so we highly recommend you check out the tour here.

Robert Redford

Christiane Amanpour with the Goldman family.

Tracy Chapman

Al Gore and Christiane Amanpour with the 2009 Goldman Prize winners.