Hugh Hefner's Big Save, Oceana's Green Heroes, and More

hollywood sign hugh hefner photo

Photo via donielle @ Flickr

We've been following the story of the fight to save Cahuenga Peak--home of the iconic Hollywood sign--for a few months now, ever since the Trust for Public Land called on some famous friends--Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Steven Spielberg, Aileen Getty, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and many others--for donations to help buy back the 138 acres zoned for residential building. And with just four days left before the April 30 fundraising deadline, the Trust announced that the story has a happy ending:a $900,000 donation from Hugh Hefner that helped them reach their $12.5 million goal, allowing them to protect the peak. Hefner, who funded the rebuilding of the sign in 1978, called the sign "Hollywood's Eiffel Tower" in a press release, while California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was equally pleased to see the sign saved: "It called to me when I left Austria and made my way to the U.S. with a few dollars in my pocket and the dream of becoming an actor. I am proud we were able to come together and create a public-private partnership to protect this historic symbol that will continue to welcome dreamers, artists, and Austrian bodybuilders for generations to come." (Via Ecorazzi)

Ocean Heroes Make Waves for Conservation

For the second year in a row, Oceana honors the everyday ocean lovers who are saving the world's waters and marine life with their Ocean Heroes Award Contest: They've narrowed the contestants down to 11 finalists--a mix of individual adults, kids, and groups--who've devoted their time to ocean conservation, from Sara Bayles, who has collected more than 450 pounds of trash from a Santa Monica beach in less than four months, to the FInatics, a group of high school students in New York who raise money to fight finning and save the sharks. Vote for your favorite at Oceana and then pledge to do your part to save the ocean alongside the celebrities in the new PSA (including Sam Waterston, January Jones, Ted Danson, and Kate Walsh); for every person who pledges, Oceana will receive an anonymous $1 donation.

Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix Invest in Vegan Cooking

casey affleck vegan restaurant photo
Photo via Brisbane Times

If you thought the frozen vegan appetizers you heated up for your Earth Day party last week were a hit, you should have seen the spread that chef Makini Howell dished out for the environmentally-friendly celebration at Ben Affleck's house. with guests including Liv Tyler, Daryl Hannah, Gus Van Sant, Michael Cera, Mike White, Casey Affleck, and Joaquin Phoenix trying out everything from seitan sliders to ricotta tofu--plus coconut-lime cheesecake for dessert--meat was the last thing on anyone's mind. Howell, who's the chef and co-owner of Plum Bistro in Seattle, will find herself cooking more frequently for Hollywood's vegan crowd when she opens Plum Bistro LA in Los Feliz this fall (Casey Affleck and Phoenix are signed on as investors), but she also hopes to eventually reach a younger crowd: "I'd like to bring a plant-based diet to schools, so children can learn how to eat better," she told EcoStiletto. "Kids don't know what carrots taste like--not canned carrots, carrots! If we can't teach children how to eat, how are we going to raise a generation of adults who know how to eat?"

Prince Charles: Green Royalty

NBC's annual Green Is Universal week of programming has included everything from Al Gore on 30 Rock to a medley of environmentally-themed song parodies from Jimmy Fallon, but this fall the network will take a royal look at climate issues with Harmony, a special featuring Prince Charles. The Prince of Wales believes "the environmental and economic crises we face are the result of a deep disconnection between Man and nature," and he's spent more than 20 years trying to fight climate change in his personal and public life. But the special won't just tackle His Royal Highness: look for other environmentalist, farmers, and business owners to share their experiences, and get a sneak peek in the clip above from NBC.

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