By Jenny Coyle
Forest Service as 'Titanic'
At a recent summer barbecue, Hoosier (Indiana) Chapter activist Mark Dewart enjoyed a satisfying conversation with an old college chum who now supervises timber sales for the U.S. Forest Service in several western states.
They quarreled about timber harvest targets, roadbuilding, wilderness protection, sustainable yield and the long-term health of timber communities. The Forest Service is a huge agency, the friend argued, and change comes slowly.
"But when there's an iceberg ahead, you can't keep going the same direction," Dewart told her. "All hands have to work together to get the ship turned in time to avoid a collision."
"Yeah, the Forest Service has had to change," she replied. "There has definitely been an iceberg in our path that we've had to turn to avoid - and that's the Sierra Club."
"I tingled all over," Dewart wrote in an e-mail account of the conversation. "The letters we write, the hearings we attend, the rallies we organize, make such a difference."
Speaking of a
There must've been a whopper of an icebreaker exercise at a meeting of the Gulf Coast Regional Conservation Committee about a year ago. That's when Maurice Coman and Barbara Vincent met. He's the Florida Chapter's conservation chair and she's the Delta (Louisiana) Chapter chair.
Last November the pair formed a task force of sorts when they added "dating" to their action items for committee meetings. By January they were engaged, and on Sept. 7 they'll be married in Florida at the 225-acre Coffee Nature Preserve, owned by The Sierra Club Foundation. The day after their wedding they'll attend a conservation committee meeting.
Which Sierra Club chapter will gain a new activist? The groom is joining his bride in Louisiana.
Some Non-Wedding News From Florida
Sometimes it's all about visuals.
Beth Connor, a campaign organizer in Florida, reports on the chapter's successful publicity stunt to call for stricter fuel-economy standards for light trucks and SUVs.
"We held it on a very busy road where every third car was an SUV," says Connor. "We displayed a new gas-electric hybrid Honda Insight next to a gas-guzzling GMC Tahoe. On a table in between them was an open refrigerator to demonstrate that driving an SUV instead of a fuel-efficient vehicle is like leaving the fridge door open for six years."
Also on the scene was a good mix of chapter and group leaders, a scientist and a repentant SUV driver. With a set-up like that, how could the media resist?
"We turned out the local affiliates of CBS, ABC, NBC and Bay News 9, the latter of which ran the story four times every hour for 10 hours," says Connor. "The sun was unmerciful, but it just helped us drive our point home."
It's a good thing Jon Barrows, the Club's Environmental Public Education Program organizer in New Hampshire, got a good college education: He recently had to take on his alma mater - the University of New Hampshire.
The school wanted to turn some agricultural lands (that were previously wetlands and valuable bird habitat) known as Moore Field into a complex of nine soccer fields. The project was opposed by students, community members and professors. Barrows helped mobilize the public to testify at hearings and forums, write letters, and flaunt yard signs, buttons and bumperstickers. And now the project is off, allegedly because of "issues" between the university and Seacoast United Soccer, which was slated to pay for the project.
"It is my strong suspicion that the project became politically unappealing because of the opposition we helped generate," says Barrows. "It's just 'one Moore field' that will stay undeveloped."
Celebrating Adams' 100th
Ansel Adams, the well-known nature photographer, conservationist and an early member of the Sierra Club, would have been 100 years old this year, and several events have been organized to celebrate his work.
There's an exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a display of his photographs at LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite Valley through Sept. 30, and a Web site featuring his work at www.sierraclub.org/ansel_adams/.
Perhaps the most fun will be when the Club's Inner City Outings program takes children on a tour of the SFMOMA exhibit, gives them a "how to" lesson in photography and then takes them for a hike to snap pictures.
Who knows? This outing may inspire the next Ansel Adams.
A new video, "Those Tremendous Mountains" - so named because that's what Meriwether Lewis called the Rockies during his trek with William Clark - is available from the Sierra Club's Bitterroot-Mission Group. The video introduces the Club's campaign to honor the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark journey, to acknowledge what has been lost since and to protect and restore what is left of wild America.
The video is an outreach tool for educating Club members and others about the campaign and the need to take action. For more information, contact Jennifer Ferenstein at email@example.com; (406) 543-0079.
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