Destiny

Destiny Watford, a Towson University student, made a difference in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore. (Courtesy photo)

A Curtis Bay resident took the fight for her community from high school to college and was recently rewarded for her efforts.

Destiny Watford, 20, a junior at Towson University, was honored at the  San Francisco War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, California on April 18 as one of six recipients of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prizes.

The prize honors environmental heroes from Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands/Island Nations, North America and South/Central America. Watford was the only U.S. recipient of the prize for 2016. Prize recipients receive international recognition, worldwide visibility for their issues and financial support of $175,000 to pursue their vision.

“We’re thrilled to honor Destiny for her work organizing the residents of Curtis Bay in an inspirational campaign to defeat plans to build a trash-burning incinerator,” David Gordon, executive director of the Goldman Environmental Prize, wrote in an email. “She listened to the community, studied its history, and championed everyone’s right to live in a clean and healthy environment. Even more impressive is the fact that she did this all as a high school student!”

In 2010, Maryland approved plans to place what would have been the largest trash incinerator in the nation in Curtis Bay. The incinerator would have burned 4,000 tons of trash a day, according to Watford’s bio on the Goldman website.

Watford refused to let this happen.

According to the Goldman organization, Watford canvassed neighborhoods, organized protest and circulated petitions with Free Your Voice, an organization she co-founded.

According to CBS News, Watford first went before her school board and later testified at the Maryland state capital and finally, took to the streets with a megaphone to mobilize her community.

In February 2015, all of Watford’s work helped her reach her goal. The Baltimore City Public School board voted to terminate its contract with Energy Answers, the incinerator’s developer, according to Goldman. This led to all 22 customers to cancel their contracts, leaving the incinerator with no market.

“The incinerator was violating a basic human right,” Watford wrote in a tweet. “So we took it on.”