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WEGE FOUNDATION SPEAKER SERIES PRESENTS "A SENSE OF WONDER" – THE STORY OF RACHEL CARSON

March 20, 2008 - Grand Rapids, Michigan (March 18, 2008) - Aquinas College and The Wege Foundation will present "A Sense of Wonder" – a play based on the life and work of revolutionary environmentalist Rachel Carson – as part of the Twelfth Annual Wege Foundation Speaker Series on Thursday, April 24 at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center. The one-woman drama – both written and performed by the award-winning Kaiulani Lee – has toured the country for more than 15 years, playing to audiences at more than 100 universities, dozens of high schools, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the Albert Schweitzer Conference at the United Nations, the Sierra Club Centennial in San Francisco, and the Department of the Interior 150th Anniversary Celebration. The performance will run from 4 to 5:30 p.m., and will immediately be followed by a reception. The event is free and open to the public.

"A Sense of Wonder" is set in 1963, a watershed year in which Rachel Carson is propelled into national prominence (and controversy) for her groundbreaking work "Silent Spring," which alerted the world to the dangers of chemical pesticides, and established the author as the founder of our modern environmental movement. Indeed, Carson has since been called the "patron saint of the environmental movement" in recognition of her activism. Lee's portrayal mostly draws upon the environmentalist's own words as recorded in letters, journals, and speeches, and has been praised by PBS for its glimpse into "aspects of her private life not often examined."

"She [Carson] was very poor," said Lee. "She had nothing. And she changed the course of history." Carson's efforts led her all the way to Capitol Hill, where she testified before a congressional committee and urged lawmakers to ensure that chemical pesticides were researched and regulated properly. As a result of those hearings, Congress ordered a complete pesticide policy review, and the hazardous chemical DDT was consequently banned.

The playwright and performer Kaiulani Lee also boasts an impressive list of professional accomplishments, having starred in over a dozen plays both on and off Broadway. Lee has been nominated for the prestigious Drama Desk Award on Broadway and is the recipient of an OBIE Award for outstanding achievement off-Broadway. In addition she has guest-starred on such television programs as "Law & Order" and "The Equalizer." Film credits include "The World According to Garp" and "A Civil Action."

Her performance in "A Sense of Wonder" has garnered international acclaim.
"I was deeply moved by Kaiulani Lee's incarnation of Rachel Carson" says Bill Moyers of PBS. "You cannot watch Kaiulani Lee without reflecting on universal themes – life, death, the power of place, courage in growing old and in speaking the truth. You cannot walk away unmoved."

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Founded in 1967, the Wege Foundation advances the causes of Environment, Education, Health, the Arts, and Community Service based on the belief that "a prosperous economy depends on a healthy ecology." In promoting these values, the Wege Foundation Speaker Series has featured such renowned leaders as Denis Hayes, national coordinator of the first Earth Day and a TIME Magazine "Hero of the Planet;" Christine Ervin, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., author, environmental activist and chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper. In addition to this year's performance by Kaiulani Lee at Aquinas College, the series is also sponsoring a presentation by the Dalai Lama on April 20 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

>>More information on the Wege Foundation and this year’s Speaker Series.