Being recognized for an achievement with an award is a rare opportunity – one to be celebrated. It can be encouraging, humbling and flattering all wrapped into one tidy little metal statue. It’s also the perfect time to take a moment to reflect on the many people who contributed to your success, because no one achieves any great feat without the help of others – usually many, many others.

Not everyone can say they’ve won an award for their work – Dogwood Initiative certainly hasn’t been the recipient of many. Or any, actually. So when Dogwood executive director Will Horter was nominated for a Clean50 award, it was (ah! Is it OK to admit this?) pretty cool.

Much the same way winning an Oscar skyrockets a movie career, the goal of the Clean50 Awards is to shine a public spotlight on serious environmental issues and the companies devoted to practices or projects to eradicate them. The awards are also meant to strengthen the resolve of those being honored, giving them an affirmation of yes, keep going! People believe these initiatives can and will make a difference. And speaking of Will…

Horter was one of four recipients of the annual Clean50 Advocacy awards. He was recognized as a champion of “clean capitalism” (a moniker he’s still wrapping his head around – who knew he was a capitalist?!) for the extraordinary accomplishments made by Dogwood Initiative over this past year. Horter was presented with the honour alongside respected colleague Art Sterritt of the Great Bear Initiative.

What’s unusual about Horter winning this award on behalf of Dogwood is that over the past three years since the Clean50 awards were introduced, the groups typically honoured are identified as making advances in technology-based projects. So while other groups are doing things like developing a filter that will turn wastewater into biofuel while simultaneously collecting nanoparticles of algae blooms to be used in childhood leukemia treatments (yeah, that’s a real thing), Dogwood operates with a different, more ideological purpose: effecting social change.

Horter’s relentless focus on democratic fairness in B.C. is often overlooked as philosophical “big picture” stuff. In other words, it doesn’t have the same appeal that something concrete – like curing cancer – does.

Luckily for Dogwood, the Clean 50 folks saw past the popular appeal of wind turbines that double as fuel-less jetpacks (OK, that’s not a real thing – but you get the idea) and acknowledged Horter for his tireless work to take a dream he had more than ten years ago and turn it into an organization made possible by everyday citizens with the momentum and power to change flawed environmental policies in B.C.

This brings us back to those “many, many others” mentioned above. For Horter, the nomination was a testament to the hard work of Dogwood organizers and staff rather than his own personal accomplishments as executive director. Sure, it’s humbling to be recognized as the leader of an effective organization, but that’s just one small piece of an enormous puzzle.

The organization itself is just a catalyst for change – Dogwood’s accomplishments don’t belong to Horter alone, but rather to the collective effort made by a large group of people working toward a common goal. What this award really highlights is the hard work of tens of thousands of Dogwood Initiative organizers, supporters, allies and staff who are constantly on the grind to make an impact. It was on behalf of these many, many others for whom Horter accepted the Clean50 award. And for that, he sincerely thanks you.