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The Planet

By Jenny Coyle

Forget the Flamingos

While on a recent trip to Bonaire in the Dutch Antilles, an island famous for flamingos and elk-horn coral, Club staffer Aloma Dew focused her camera at something much more exotic: free-range chickens.

Dew, taking a vacation from her job organizing against animal factories in Kentucky, was amazed to see chickens running free on the island. She was much more used to the sight (and smell) of 350,000-chicken operations that render the tightly packed fowl immobile. So Dew whipped out her camera.

"I'm frantically taking pictures of chickens while other people are taking pictures of trees and flowers," Dew recalls. "Free-range chickens are a vanishing breed."

She didn't have any regrets when she got the film developed, but still...

"It was more of a working vacation than we'd planned," she says.

Tampa Bay Group's Recycling Program Scores a Touchdown


Sharon Segal must have recycled a landfill's worth of bottles and cans. For the past nine years she and other members of the Tampa Bay Group of the Sierra Club have stood at the gates at Buccaneers football games and collected empties from tailgaters headed to the main event.

The stadium pays the Club a fixed amount per gate and then takes the cans and bottles to a recycling center. The volunteers get to go in and catch the remainder of the game.

"It looks good for the stadium and it looks great for the Sierra Club," says Segal.

She and her sister got roped in at their first Club meeting when they heard about the recycling program and the offer of free tickets. "We couldn't believe our ears because we're big football fans," says Segal. "It's a great way for newcomers, who might feel intimidated by volunteering for a committee, to get involved."

Now, almost a decade later, it's become a family act. Segal's brother, nieces, nephews and in-laws have all lent a hand. Her father appeared in an ad for the recycling program that flashed on the big screen before kick-off.

The high point of recycling efforts was the push at this year's Super Bowl, where volunteers gathered recyclables from the luxury boxes and on the concourse.

For suggestions on how your group can launch a recycling program with a local sports team, call the Tampa Bay Group at (813) 253-3555.

The Nature of the City

Great blue herons nesting on the shore. Red-tailed hawks soaring overhead. This isn't what you expect to find in inner city neighborhoods like Arbor Hill in Albany, N.Y. But the kids in the Sierra Club's local Inner City Outings program know better.

Clad in snowshoes, they led adults including New York Gov. George Pataki, Environmental Conservation Commissioner John Cahill, State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings on a tour of Tivoli Park on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. The "Walk for Environmental Justice" highlighted the resources of the 80-acre preserve, including a lake where the kids swim in the summer, Patroon Creek and the historical site of a Negro League stadium. It also drew attention to the need for equal recreational opportunities for children in poor communities.

The park, which doesn't have water fountains or restrooms, is largely ignored by those who don't play there.

"Because it was neglected, it was left wild and species thrived in it," says Aaron Mair, chair of Atlantic Chapter's environmental justice committee.

But ICO doesn't want to rely on neglect in the future. It's hoping the state will add 100 additional acres, protect the area to keep developers from moving in and provide basic facilities to make it an even better place to explore.

Bivalves and Exotics at Club Headquarters

Turns out that two staff members at Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco enjoy secret identities as recently published authors.

Gene Coan, senior advisor to the Club's Board of Directors, is an expert on bivalve mollusks (think clams and mussels) and is the co-author of "Bivalve Seashells of Western North America," published by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Coan's an artist, too - he drew some of the mollusks that appear in the book.

Meanwhile, W.W. Norton is publishing "Tinkering With Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America," by Kim Todd - an editor and designer for The Planet. Todd tells the stories behind the introduction of exotic species, like mosquitoes in Hawaii, sea lampreys in the Great Lakes and mountain goats in the Olympics. Readers find out, for instance, what inspired a druggist to set non-native starlings free in New York City's Central Park.

Winds of Change in the Midwest and West

Congratulations to Alison Horton, who has been named the new Midwest regional staff director. She has worked for the Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter since 1990, serving both as legislative director and chapter director. Horton is taking over for Carl Zichella, who is moving west to head up field staff for the California/Nevada/Hawaii region.

Chicken photo courtesty
Black and White Photo: Atlantic Chapter Vice Chair Aaron Mair speaks out in favor of urban wild places during the "Walk for Environmental Justice" at Tivoli Park in Arbor Hill, NY. Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Gov. George Ptaki, and Albany County Executive Mike Breslin, attended the walk, led by children in the Inner City Outings program.

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