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Brushwood Center to honor Redfords

RIVERWOOD – On June 1, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods will honor the environmental leadership of Robert Redford and Sibylle Szaggars Redford at its 35th annual Smith Nature Symposium & Benefit.

Immediately before the event, Brushwood Center will present the Chicago premiere performance of “The Way of The Rain – Voice of Hope, for Brushwood Center,” a collaboration of artistic director Sibylle Szaggars Redford and music director and composer Tim Janis.

The Smith Nature Symposium & Benefit is a celebration of nature, the arts, and luminaries who have made a meaningful contribution to the science of conservation and deepened our understanding of the natural world. 

“Brushwood Center is thrilled to present our distinguished environmental leadership award to the Redfords. They are an inspiring couple who use their voices and artistic talent to call attention to the importance of nature,” Brushwood Center Executive Director Catherine Game said in a news release.

In addition to his work as an actor, director and producer, Robert Redford has been an environmental activist since the early 1970s. He has been an advocate for climate change awareness and clean energy for over 40 years.

In 2016 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. He has served as trustee for the Natural Resources Defense Council and is the co-founder of The Redford Center with his son Jamie. 

Sibylle Szaggars Redford has worked as a multimedia environmental artist for more than three decades, raising awareness through her art of environmental unsound practices. Since 2012, Szaggars Redford has created art performances as an homage to planet Earth and in 2015 founded The Way of the Rain Inc. to promote public awareness around the issue of climate change. 

Szaggars Redford is the artistic director of “The Way of The Rain – Voices of Hope,” which will be performed at the Gorton Community Center before the benefit, thanks to the underwriting support of Nancy Hughes. The performance will feature talented musicians from around the world, including music composed by Tim Janis, and spoken word by Robert Redford.

All funds raised from the symposium directly benefit Brushwood Center’s nature-inspired art, wellness and education programs.

The symposium memorializes the significant civic legacy of Hermon Dunlap and Ellen Thorne Smith, who donated their land and cabin to help form Ryerson Woods.

This year’s symposium is made possible thanks to support from Abbott.

To buy tickets to the Smith Nature Symposium & Benefit and “The Way of The Rain” performance, visit

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