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Los Angeles, CA - 11/9/11 - The 2011 Daniel Eldon Activist Award goes to Erica Fernandez: The Tool of Protest, a film chronicling one young woman's quest for racial, environmental and socioeconomic justice. The award promoting creative activism will be bestowed on December 3, 2011 by Kathy Eldon at the 7th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival.

Kathy Eldon shares her son's, Dan Eldon, story as she introduces the winner of the 2011 Eldon Activist Award
Erica Fernandez and The Institute For Advancing Unity, which produced this documentary in conjunction with The Working Group, will be honored at the award ceremony held at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

As a passionate young environmental activist, Ms. Fernandez led a campaign of protest against a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline, planned to be routed through the coastline of her home of Oxnard, CA. Fernandez, a teenager at the time, and her family had recently emigrated from Mexico, where air pollution had aggravated her asthma. When she learned that the pipeline posed serious environmental risks to her community, bringing a projected 280 tons of annual air pollution to an area dependent on agriculture, she decided to organize an effort to stop the pipeline. She connected with local nonprofits in Oxnard, including the Sierra Club and the advocacy group Latino No to mobilize the youth and Latino voice in protests and public meetings. She organized weekly protests at the BHP Billiton offices, marched through neighborhoods that would be most impacted by the pipeline, reached out to the media, and brought more than 250 high school students to a critical rally.

Erica Fernandez (right) gives her acceptance speech alongside her mother, after she is awarded the Eldon Activist Award
Fernandez's efforts culminated in a passionate speech before the California State Lands Commission, which ultimately voted 12-0 against the project, and strongly urged the governor to do the same. The efforts of Fernandez and her allies not only thwarted the Oxnard pipeline, but also led to the creation of SB412, a bill introduced in the California Senate that entitles communities to have a say in coastal construction proposals.

When speaking to young people about her work, Fernandez notes, "When we think of power, we think of powerful people...but in Spanish, [the word is]'poder'. The actual meaning is 'la habilidad de actuar,' or the 'ability to act'." When Fernandez first realized this concept, she remembers thinking " I have that power, I have the ability to act."

Kathy Eldon embraces Erica Fernandez and her mother in one of the most touching moments of the MY HERO International Film Festival
As the winner of The Daniel Eldon Activist Award, Erica Fernandez: The Tool of Protest was the film that most embodied the spirit of positive global activism. The award is given in honor of Daniel Eldon, a photojournalist with a passion for shedding light on controversial stories who was killed in 1993 by an angry mob while covering a conflict in Somalia. Daniel's mother Kathy Eldon and his sister Amy Eldon Turtletaub sponsor the award. As journalists, authors and humanitarians, they established the Creative Visions Foundation to support activists like Daniel who use media and the arts to call attention to critical humanitarian issues as vehicles for social change. www.daneldon.org

To view Erica Fernandez: The Tool of Protest and other winning films for the 2011 MY HERO International Film Festival, visit myhero.com/films

Erica Fernandez (left) and her mother pose with their bird trophies

For more information on The Institute For Advancing Unity, visit www.championsofunity.org.

To learn about the Dan Eldon Activist Award and past winners go to www.myhero.com/eldon.

For more information about the MY HERO International Film Festival please visit myhero.com/filmfestival. Submissions for the festival are accepted year-round.

Last changed on: 11/9/2011

Acceptance Speech Watch Kathy Eldon present the award to Erica Fernandez at the 7th Annual International MY HERO Film Festival

Dan Eldon Website Artist, Activist, Adventurer

The Institute For Advancing Unity Champions of Unity

Erica Fernandez: The Tool of Protest Watch the award-winning short film

Watch the winning films of the 2011 MY HERO International Short Film Festival

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