Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
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Beach Blanket Protest

In Hawai'i, the law mandates public beach access. But on the island of O'ahu, local developers have been ignoring that requirement for years, blocking off much of the coast around the Ko Olina Resort at West Beach. And members of the O'ahu Group, along with other environmental organizations, have been battling them every step of the way. When their letter-writing campaigns failed to secure the beachhead, the activists donned their bathing suits and went on a picnic.

Club leaders notified the press, says David Frankel, Hawai'i Chapter director, then staged a beach party protest where developers had blocked access. They climbed over the rope barricades, ignored "keep off the beach" signs and frolicked in the sand and surf. Security guards made no effort to oust them. The event drew local television and newspaper coverage, and two weeks later, full access to the coastline was restored.

Cleveland Heights Pesticide Ban Spawns Imitators

"How is it that when grass gets an application of the widely used weed killer 2-4 D, cows legally have to stay off for seven days, but children can roll around in the stuff an hour later?" asks Club activist Laurel Hopwood of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Frustrated at waiting for the federal government to enforce laws that require adequate testing of pesticides, Hopwood, chair of the Northeast Ohio Group's Human Health and Environment Committee, led a successful local campaign last year to ban the use of synthetic pesticides in outdoor areas where children risk exposure, including grounds of city properties, libraries, schools and licensed child care centers. Now it's one of the toughest laws in the nation, and -- due in part to media attention -- she is receiving increasing interest from others who want their cities to follow suit.

A health care professional, Hopwood has researched the risks associated with children's exposure to pesticides. "Kids have immature detoxification systems," she says, "and are the most susceptible to resulting health problems. Do we sit and wait for paperwork to be shuffled in D.C., or do we take steps locally to protect our own?" Hopwood developed a network of supporters for the ban, spoke out at city council meetings and developed relationships with reporters, encouraging them to follow the campaign. In her address to the city council, Hopwood said, "Cleveland Heights is a progressive city, and it is our responsibility to protect our children. We can take the path of least resistance and do nothing or we can take action to minimize children's risks in a risky world."

For more information or to receive a copy of the Cleveland Heights ordinance, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to Laurel Hopwood, 2459 Queenston Rd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44118; or contact the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), 701 E St., SE, Washington, DC 20003; (202) 543-5450.

Catch the Sierra Club on TV

A video compilation of some of the Club's recent television coverage is now available to chapters and groups. The 20-minute video includes a CNN "Earth Matters" feature story on President Adam Werbach, a CBS News segment with Executive Director Carl Pope on the Headwaters forest in Northern California and an NBC News commentary on Clinton's record on the environment by Legislative Director Debbie Sease.

Born to Walk

"Lousy air quality, congested roads and a pedestrian fatality rate twice the national average were becoming the legacy of suburban sprawl in our state," says Mary Penney, New Jersey Chapter volunteer coordinator. But this summer, chapter activists did something about it.

They challenged the state government to change guidelines for sidewalks, bikeways and ramps for the disabled. "Our goal," says Penney, "was to require all new subdivisions, schools, transit stations and retail centers to have sidewalks on both sides of the streets."

The chapter succeeded largely because of a broad spectrum of allies, including the New Jersey Education Association, the State Police Chiefs Association, New Jersey PIRG and the assistant commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs. "The new regulations will not only help improve our environment," says Penney, "but will also help bring community residents together."

Many other Sierra Club chapters and groups are mounting campaigns to address the problems associated with sprawl. The Club is now developing a national campaign. To get involved, contact Tim Frank, California Conservation Committee chair, at <>

Postal Rate Change for Nonprofits

If your chapter, group or committee uses bulk-mail service for newsletters or other mailings, the U.S. Postal Service's Oct. 6 reclassification of nonprofit as mail will affect your rates.

The emphasis of the reclassification is on getting bulk-mail users to prepare their own mail; the more of that done prior to mailing, the cheaper the rate. The Office of Volunteer and Activist Services is producing a booklet, available in January, designed to help you sort through the new regulations and get the best rate possible.

Chapter and Group Elections

By the end of December, chapters and groups throughout the United States and Canada will have held their annual elections to choose Club leaders for 1997. Chapter and group chairs:

Also, be sure to look for the leader update forms (blue sheets) in the mail, and return them by March 1, 1997, to Eric Wilson, Sierra Club, 85 Second St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. (Club policy requires withholding a chapter's quarterly dues allotment until all their blue sheets have been received at the San Francisco office.)

Thirty years ago . . .

. . . in 1966, the Bureau of Reclamation was pushing for a dam that would flood the Grand Canyon for hydropower and the Sierra Club was critical in stopping the threat. As part of its effort to block the dam, the Club ran a series of ads in the New York Times -- the first in newspaper history and a precedent for hundreds of subsequent Club campaigns.

The ads were conceived by Howard Gossage, Jerry Mander and David Brower. One ad responded to the Bureau's claim that flooding would afford tourists a closer view of canyon walls with a headline querying: "Should we also flood the Sistine Chapel so tourists can get nearer the ceiling?" Soon thereafter, the Internal Revenue Service announced it could not guarantee tax deductible status for Club contributions. The public responded by doubling Club membership over the next three years from 39,000 to 78,000.

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