Loraine Tisdale - Cranston, R.I.
Member, Rhode Island Chapter
Loraine Tisdale understands that good fences make good neighbors.
After founding the Rhode Island Group for Alternative Pesticide Spraying -- or GASP -- in 1952, Tisdale, concerned that pesticides would harm humans as well as wildlife, visited her neighbors to explain alternatives to "spraying poisons." Out of disgust, neighbors sprayed Tisdale's yard with now-banned pesticides, causing the deaths of a bird, numerous butterflies and bumblebees.
"It's only common sense that something that kills the birds is going to kill us," says Tisdale. "I still have neighbors who won't talk to me."
Part of Tisdale's energy must be credited to her childhood on an organic farm in Wood River Junction, R.I. The family grew their own vegetables and fruits, ground their own wheat for bread, raised and sold chickens and always helped neighbors in need.
Despite having tuberculosis in her lymph nodes as a child, Tisdale went on to play ice hockey, graduate from college and become a registered nurse.
Tisdale has slowed down some, but still tables for Club events, makes calls and never misses a meeting. At 87, her joie de vivre shines through. In 2000, she received the Club's Volunteer of the Year Award.
So, what does she do in her free time?
"Here come some more birds -- I have bird feeders -- I can sit and watch them all day. They're fabulous!"
Denis Belliveau - Rogersville, New Brunswick
Member, Eastern Chapter of Sierra Club of Canada
Denis Belliveau's quiet French-inflected voice suits the gentle man who's a Catholic priest and lives in a small village (pop. 2000) in New Brunswick, Canada.
But mention "hog factory" and his voice -- and accent -- intensifies. Belliveau has worked tirelessly for the past three years to shut down an enormous pig factory that was built three kilometers from the church of his former village.
Realizing that the factory's pollution and stench could ruin his parish and displace residents, Belliveau helped organize public meetings to discuss the villagers' concerns. A government representative told them, "the land is privately owned. The builder can do whatever he wants."
To validate the research he found about lagoon overflows, health concerns resulting from sewage spraying and dead animal disposal at animal factories, Belliveau connected with the factory farm committee of the Sierra Club of Canada's Eastern Chapter in Toronto.
"I first sat down with them in 1999 and I've been networking ever since," says Belliveau.
In 2000, he invited Elizabeth May, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, to speak to the villagers about the dangers of corporate farms. More than 400 people came.
Though the factory still sprays more than 5.5 million gallons of raw liquid manure onto the village's fields each year, Belliveau is hopeful.
"With the help of the Club, we've been able to motivate the villagers to ask for environmental information about the factory and the owner went to court to keep from giving it to us."
Leslie Barras - Louisville, Ky.
Conservation Vice Chair, Louisville Group
The library wouldn't be the first place most people would go to meet people, but for Leslie Barras, new to Louisville, Ky., it was like hitting the jackpot.
Three years ago, Barras, a long-time manager of environmental projects for industry and federal agencies, moved from Texas to Louisville. She was "ready for change." And change she did. She joined the staff of River Fields, a non-profit that protects part of the Ohio River, as a staff attorney.
"I don't regret my former career," says Barras. "For the most part, I felt like I was bringing some conscientiousness to my clients' regulatory programs."
Before her career switch, Barras' participation as a Club member didn't extend past outings. That changed when she went to the library and met John Hartmann, then-chair of the Louisville Group, who invited her to get involved.
At her first Inner-City Outings meeting, Barras met Club volunteer Kevin McAdams. The couple married a year later and hiked their way through a Scotland honeymoon.
Romance and activism seem to agree with Barras. She was recently elected vice chair of the Louisville Group and to the chapter executive committee.
"With my industry background, I know where the skeletons are," says Barras. "But we can all bring something to the movement - by riding our bikes to work once a month, for example."
Or to the library.
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