Press Release | November 5, 2008

SELC taking submissions for 14th annual writing contest

The Southern Environmental Law Center is now accepting submissions for the annual Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment.  The award seeks to enhance public awareness of the value and vulnerability of the region's natural heritage by giving special recognition to writers who most effectively tell the stories about the South's environment.
This year we welcome the addition of a veteran environmental journalist and a distinguished literary editor to our panel of judges. North Carolina native Joel K. Bourne, Jr. is a contributing writer and former Senior Editor for the Environment for National Geographic. For 20 years, he's covered major environmental issues, including oil exploration on Alaska's North Slope, the future of New Orleans, and the rush to biofuels. Most recently, Bourne was text editor and essayist for National Geographic's special issue on climate change which won 1st place in Outstanding Explanatory Journalism from the Society of Environmental Journalists. 

Tara Rae Miner is Managing Editor for Orion magazine. She received a B.A. in English from the University of Oregon and an M.S. in Science from the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana, with an emphasis on environmental and creative writing. Her professional life has been dedicated to editing, writing, and nonprofit work, including stints at the magazines Camas, Headwaters News, and the Chronicle of Community as well as the Center for the Rocky Mountain West and the Oregon Natural Desert Association.
The Reed award has two categories: Journalism for newspaper and magazine writing, and Book for non-fiction books.  The primary judging criteria is the quality of writing.  Prizes of $1,000 are awarded to the winner in each of the Journalism and Book categories.  The winners will be announced at SELC's headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia during the popular Virginia Festival of the Book in late March.

  • All submissions must be received by January 2, 2009.  Nominations can be made by anyone, including the author or publisher. 
  • Submissions must have been published during the calendar year 2008.
  • Submissions must relate to the natural environment in at least one of the following states: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee or Virginia. 
  • Minimum length of 3,000 words per entry.  Awards may be split between two co-authors in each category.  Submissions with more than two authors must indicate which two are being nominated.  Each author must meet the minimum word requirement.
  • Send 16 copies to Reed Award, SELC, 201 W. Main Street, Ste. 14, Charlottesville, VA  22902.  Submissions cannot be returned.  Include at least one copy in original format for proof of publication. For Journalism category, also provide a digital version to verify word length.           >>Newsroom  >> Reed Writing Award

Judges for the 2009 Reed Environmental Writing Award are:  

Marilou Awiakta – Poet and essayist whose writing weaves her Cherokee/Appalachian heritage with science; award winning author of Abiding Appalachia: Where Mountain and Atom Meet, and Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother's Wisdom.
Joel K. Bourne, Jr. – Contributing writer and former Senior Editor for the Environment at National Geographic; winner of Outstanding Explanatory Journalism award from Society of Environmental Journalists.
Michael Carlton – Former editor of Yankee Magazine and Coastal Living; former features editor at Philadelphia Inquirer and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jan DeBlieu – Essayist and author of several books including Year of the Comets and Wind, winner of the 1999 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Natural History Writing; Cape Hatteras CoastKeeper.
Jim Detjen – Director, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, MSU; founding president of Society of Environmental Journalists; former award-winning reporter for Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nikki Giovanni – Grammy-nominated poet, activist and author of two dozen books including volumes of poetry, illustrated children's books, and three collections of essay; Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech.
Janet Lembke – Author of Touching Earth, Dangerous Birds and other nature books; translator of Greek and Latin classics; poems and essays have appeared in Audubon, Southern Review, and The New York Times Book Review.
Will Martin – Nashville-based attorney and businessman; former Deputy Assistant Secretary at NOAA; Senior Fellow for World Wildlife Fund; member SELC President's Council.
Bill McKibben – Author of Deep Economy, The End of Nature and several other books; contributor to The New Yorker, Orion, The Atlantic Monthly and other publications; co-founder and; scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College.
Tara Rae Miner – Managing editor of Orion magazine; formerly on staff with Camas and Headwaters News, as well as the Center for the Rocky Mountain West and the Oregon Natural Desert Association.
Deaderick Montague – Civic leader, teacher and writer; guiding inspiration behind creation of the Reed Environmental Writing Award; Vice President of SELC Board of Trustees.   
Janisse Ray – Poet, activist and award-winning author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Wild Card Quilt, and Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land; founding board member of Altamaha Riverkeeper; Reed award winner in 2000.
Charles Seabrook – Former veteran environmental reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; author of Cumberland Island and other books; Reed award winner in 1998. 
Donovan Webster – Author of The Burma Road and After-math: The Remnants of War; former editor of Outside; contributor to New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and National Geographic.

The award is named in memory of SELC founding trustee Phillip D. Reed, a talented attorney and committed environmental activist who helped guide our organization through the early years before his untimely death in 1993.


“Government, business and environmental organizations all have an important role to play when it comes to protecting the environment.  Yet the most profound and lasting changes will come from ordinary people making better choices in how they live.  An informed citizenry is the cornerstone of our democracy.  We rely on the journalists and writers who tell the stories of our natural world and give voice to the rivers, forests and wildlife.  Each year, the Southern Environmental Law Center provides a valuable public service in honoring those writers whose work contributes to our understanding of our relationship with the Earth with the annual Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment.”     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         – Al Gore

Are you a reporter and would like more information? Please visit our press contact page for a full list of SELC’s press contacts.