Every year the Elevate Festival in Graz, Austria, awards its International Elevate Award to an exemplary project of commoners, a recognition that comes with a 2,500 euro prize. Elevate is a rare event that brings together cutting-edge music with leading thinkers about the commons and politics. What a combo! I had the privilege to attend four years ago, which led to some collaborations on the commons that continue to this day.
The Elevate Awards don't just recognize past achievements, but also future promise. As the name "elevate" implies, the awards seek to recognize under-recognized but strong, innovative projects that take account of "the environmental and cultural commons of our planet."
The 2012 winner of the Elevate Award has just been announced: the Women’s Network for Sustainable Development in Africa, or REFDAF. The Senegal-based organization is a network of hundreds of grassroots women’s associations in the southern regions of West Africa. It’s dedicated to the empowerment of women to establish their own livelihoods through sustainable regional production. A live-stream of the awards show on October 28 will be shown here.