Visionary of the Year

Every year, the Euphrates Institute recognizes one person doing extraordinary work at a grassroots level, striving to make the idealistic realistic and the impossible possible. Visionaries are those whose fearless and indomitable spirit has allowed them to transform the hearts, minds and actions of those around them, and to reveal a solution where there was previously despair. The Visionary of the Year award is a way for the Euphrates Institute to both honor and spotlight their work.


Read a recent profile article of T.H. Culhane as a Difference-Maker in The Christian Science Monitor. “Thomas H. Culhane teaches people to build fuel sources – powered by garbage”, May 17, 2014.

THOMAS HENRY CULHANE is Euphrates Visionary of the Year 2014.   We are pleased to honor this sustainability innovator and groundbreaking thought-leader, Dr. Thomas Henry Culhane, (T.H.), who is bringing practical sustainable solutions to the world’s poorest urban areas.

National Geographic Explorer, T.H. Culhane has traveled the world transforming lives and our planet.

Dr. Culhane has taken his skills of invention and ingenuity to bring sustainable energy projects, such as solar water heaters and biogas digesters, to the poorest of the poor in the Middle East, other developing countries, and to those right here at home, enabling them to repurpose natural resources and waste to power their basic needs.

Euphrates first encountered T.H. abroad in Israel/Palestine, where he was working with Bedouin communities to install biogas digesters to use their animal waste and food scraps to generate cooking fuel, and also presenting his work on solar projects to the renowned Arava Institute in Israel. He’s also worked in the favelas in Brazil, the jungles of Borneo and many other places!  A featured speaker at the Euphrates Summit in 2011, T.H. wowed participants with his ingenuity and passion.

Working with residents of Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods to install rooftop solar water heaters, his  nongovernmental organization, Solar C.³I.T.I.E.S., tells National Geographic, “The water heaters generate 200 liters of hot water and 200 liters of cold water for each household every day. ‘And since the technology is completely CO2 free, it contributes nothing to global warming. If people don’t have access to enough water, it becomes a serious health issue. And when women spend all their time tending stoves to heat water, they how can they go to school or get ahead?”

Culhane stresses time and again that living sustainably is practical and possible in a world where sustainable solutions often seem relegated to those who can afford to care about the environment. “‘We’re not being idealistic; we’re out to provide solutions. Solar energy plays a principal role in our work because it makes practical, perfect sense.”

Culhane continues, ‘We realize the value of collective intelligence. These neighborhoods are filled with welders, plumbers, carpenters, and glassworkers. We bring capital and plans; they bring talent and creativity. We build these systems together from scratch.” video here.

With the same spirit of collective directed intention, Culhane and Solar C.³I.T.I.E.S plans to design and gift a biogas digester for Principia College. One of his recent biodigester builds took place in Hartsdale NY alongside an international team of innoventors. Here is video of T.H. introducing that biogas digester project.

According to Tamera Village, a peace and research center in Portugal, “a basic biogas digester consists of a tank in which the organic material is digested, collected and stored–and where the by-product biogas is produced. The digesters can be quite simple, and the details vary depending on available materials and the needs of the community.”

USA Today quotes Culhane as saying, “‘We feel that biogas is appropriate for everybody on the planet. We’ve done systems in Alaska, we’ve done systems in Botswana, I have one on my porch in Germany. My wife and I cook every day on yesterday’s kitchen garbage.’”

Bring your curiousity and your questions to Cox Auditorium on Friday, March 28th at 7:30pm to learn more!

For further information contact: Rebecca Tobias, VP Euphrates Institute   phone 310-916-8888


“Thomas H. Culhane teaches people to build fuel sources – powered by garbage”, Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 2014.


For the year of 2012-2013, we honor an Israeli from Tel Aviv, Ronny Edry, whose simple message of love to Iranians in the face of impending war, has inspired a global response.

Ronny Edry, creator of Israel Loves Iran, was the keynote speaker at Principia College’s 64th annual Public Affairs Conference in March, 2013. Click here to watch Ronny’s rousing address and acceptance of the Visionary of the Year award.

Ronny Edry, a graphic designer from Tel Aviv, Israel, is Euphrates’ Visionary of the Year 2012, and accepted his award at the PAC event at Principia College.  This award is given to an individual who continues to “make the impossible, possible, and the idealistic, realistic,” and  who would have ever thought it possible that Israelis and Iranians would be exchanging messages of love and peace with each other in a time of impending conflict?

In March of last year, Ronny Edry, a graphic designer, father, and husband living in Tel Aviv, Israel, with his family, was frustrated and concerned. All anyone talked about was impending war with Iran, and he wished he could do something to prevent it. One night he created and posted an image on Facebook of himself holding his daughter and waving an Israeli flag. On it was the caption, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.” Within 24 hours, thousands of people had shared the poster on Facebook, and Ronny started receiving messages directly from Iranians, much to his great astonishment. His heartfelt action started not only the popular online community Israel Loves Iran, but inspired a wave of response from the other side—groups like Iran Loves IsraelPalestine Loves Israel, and several others. Since March, Ronny has garnered significant media attention and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Watch his incredibly inspiring TED talk here.

Like Ronny, citizens around the world are feeling empowered to take charge of their political, economic and social futures. His message amplifies what one person can do—be authentic, pure, simple, and determined. Ronny’s everyday courage has initiated a dialogue between the peoples of two nations that the world had written off as impossible. His passion and dedication to fostering this conversation at the grassroots is a powerful example of the power of the individual to implement tangible change in our world.

When we asked Ronny how he would define sustainable peace, he responded, “It’s both individual and collective. The first part is individual: you have to see the person in front of you as a human, a person. We must stop fearing the “Other.” Once you see your enemy as a human being similar to yourself, then you understand that he doesn’t hate you as years of propaganda succeed to make you believe, and you can never go back to that blind hate. Then, collectively, you can start to know each other and you will be ready for peace.”

That’s what we’re talking about!

Spread the word!!! Share our promo video here.



Our very first visionary of the year, and the inspiration behind the award is Sami Awad, a pioneer of non-violence in Palestine. Mr. Awad founded the Holy Land Trust in 1998, and has traveled to many countries to speak about non-violence.