Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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Club Honors Volunteers at Annual Banquet

Just because a critical election is fast approaching doesn't mean Club volunteers and staff can't stop for a moment to savor accomplishments and recognize those who have contributed to them. The 1996 annual awards banquet, held Sept. 20 in San Francisco, was dedicated to Dr. Edgar Wayburn, honorary president of the Sierra Club, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Wayburn was presented with a copy of his oral history (see page 2), which documents his legendary achievements protecting the environment. The banquet also featured guest speaker Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who praised the Sierra Club for "turning the anti-environmental juggernaut around."

Six other awards were presented at the banquet. Club director Denny Shaffer received the William Colby Award -- which honors a volunteer for outstanding leadership, dedication and service -- for being the "watchdog of our finances, father of the Club's modern membership development program and leader who looked beyond the obvious."

The Walter A. Starr Award, which acknowledges the continuing work by a former director, was presented to Richard Cellarius, former Club president and current Books Committee chair.

John Edginton, chair of the Club's Insurance Committee and member of the national Outing Committee, received the Oliver Kehrlein Award, honoring the highest standard of volunteer service to the Outing Program. Edginton, a volunteer for 30 years, was instrumental in the restoration of Sierra Club mountaineering and water trips.

The Special Achievement Award, which recognizes a Club member, committee, group or chapter for a single act of particular importance, was presented to the Oregon Chapter for its "successful efforts in the Oregon senatorial race, proving the importance of the environment in the political arena." (Chapter-supported candidate Ron Wyden eked out a victory over Gordon Smith in a January special election.)

Lawrence Downing, former Club president, received the Centennial Campaign Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and excellence in fundraising.

The Sierra Club and The Sierra Club Foundation presented the Richard Leonard Award to major donor Maurice Holloway for providing "inspirational guidance in creating, leading and supporting the Centennial Campaign and in garnering major donor support for the cause of conservation."

Project ACT Selects Six Pilot Projects

The Project ACT Task Force on Organizational Development recently announced the six groups and chapters selected as pilot projects to develop programs aimed at strengthening the Club's organization at the local level.

The Atlantic Chapter, which faces a big challenge uniting its urban groups with its more isolated rural groups, will be kicking off an initiative dedicated to creating a stronger, more dynamic chapter that shares a common vision and pursues common goals. Project ACT will help with increased training, leadership development and support at the group level -- enhancing activist networks and improving communication links between the groups.

The embryonic Delaware Chapter will be embarking on a pilot project to develop an effective, sustainable grassroots organization that can serve as a model for other new or struggling chapters. This will be achieved through increased training of grassroots activists in direct-action organizing, fundraising and organizational development.

The projects of the Mississippi Chapter and the El Paso Group of the Rio Grande Chapter will focus on outreach to communities under-represented in the Club. The Mississippi Chapter aims to improve partnerships with the African-American community. The El Paso Group plans to work on developing common goals with its predominantly Hispanic community.

The San Diego Chapter's project aims to better integrate its outings and conservation programs by developing communication networks among leaders in both areas and working on joint fundraising efforts.

The East River Group of the South Dakota Chapter will attempt to increase the influence of the Club in the state -- particularly challenging in a sparsely populated region where the Club is often regarded as extremist. The project will focus on coalition-building and development of a media strategy for greater Club visibility. For more information: Contact Glen Besa, task force chair, at (301) 478-3345.

Tree-Free Paper

In order to do more to protect trees, the Greater Fort Worth Group is printing its monthly newsletter on tree-free paper.

This Texas group has used kenaf paper for several issues of its newsletter, the Sierra Club Crier, which is now featured in a manufacturer's promotional brochure as one of the first newsletters in the country to be printed on this fiber. Veteran volunteer Gatlin Mitchell introduced the group to kenaf, a hardy, fibrous plant related to okra and cotton that can be grown anywhere cotton can.

Carlton Conley, conservation chair, said that group leaders originally shied away from continuing to print on tree-free paper because it cost more. But they decided it was worth the extra charge. The group plans to experiment with printing on bamboo paper for the rest of this year.

"Using recycled paper is great," said Group Chair Pam Kerr, "but the sludge created in the de-inking process can be an environmental problem and the paper still started off as a tree."

"Tree-free paper is comparable in quality to tree-based paper, and the cost is coming down," said printer Mark Shippy, who produces the Crier. "It's not much more expensive than 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper." To find out more about printing on kenaf, call Carlton Conley at (817) 626-6063 or Mark Shippy at (817) 921-3670.

Road to Ruin Paved with Pork

In Texas, Arizona and other states, Club activists are joining taxpayer groups to draw attention to costly and environmentally hazardous highway development projects by releasing "Road to Ruin," a report that assails 22 pork projects in 15 states that would waste $10.6 billion. The report was published by Taxpayers for Common Sense and Friends of the Earth and is generating widespread media coverage.

In Texas, the Houston Group and other environmental organizations are fighting a proposed fourth beltway, 35 miles from downtown Houston. Called the Grand Parkway, it would bisect the Katy Prairie, winter home to America's largest concentration of migratory waterfowl.

"We've dubbed this project the Grand Porkway," said Marge Hanselman, group conservation chair. "It serves no purpose and will only worsen traffic congestion and air quality problems." In northern Arizona, the Club's Sedona/Verde Valley Group used the report to help fight the construction of a $30 million bridge and highway over Oak Creek at the scenic Red Rock Crossing in Sedona on Forest Service land.

"We have an international treasure in our county," said Bennie Blake, group vice chair, "and the most creative thing our supervisor can think to do with it is to pave it, drill into the bedrock and secure a bridge the length of almost seven football fields." In addition to calling attention to the project, members of the Sierra Club and the Public Interest Research Group in Arizona are getting ready to challenge it during the upcoming permit process.

Copies of "Road to Ruin" are available for $10 from Taxpayers for Common Sense at (202) 546-8500 ext. 101. The report is also available on the World Wide Web at:

Divided Factions Join Forces

Following a bitter fight this summer in Colorado between two rivals for the Democratic nomination for the Senate, the Indian Peaks Group in Boulder has successfully united the opposing factions within the Club group and the community. Tom Strickland and Gene Nichol both claimed to be the better environmental candidate. In August, Strickland won the primary, and the Club subsequently endorsed him.

The group recently announced the endorsement of Strickland at a large fundraising event where losing candidate Nichol spoke on behalf of Strickland. Ticket sales for the event were brisk, in large part because this was the first time these two former rivals had appeared in public together since the primary. Many locals who had supported Nichol viewed the Club event as their only real opportunity to hear from him why they should support Strickland.

"It might be a good idea for other Sierra Club chapters and groups to look for opportunities to make it okay for people who supported the primary loser to start supporting the primary winner." said Group Chair Mark Collier.

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