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Senate Girds for 'Nuclear' Attack
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The Planet
ClubBeat - Notes From All Over

Get Active. But First, Get Popcorn.

'Oil on Ice' Is in the House: In the weeks preceding the Senate's Arctic vote, Club members hosted 1,700 house parties nationwide to screen "Oil on Ice," a documentary about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gwich'in Indians who rely on the caribou that calve there, and how America's energy policy affects them. Some 400 of these get-togethers were held by the Sierra Student Coalition in conjunction with Energy Action.

Show-me signatories
Show-Me Signatories: Missouri activists Maria Wheatley and Scott Wilhelm write to their senators.

In St. Louis, Claralyn and Matt Bollinger hosted a screening at which everyone wrote to Senators Bond and Talent; 11-year-old Zara, daughter of Art and Norah, said she hopes to visit the refuge someday and wants it to remain wild. Also in St. Louis, Juliette Crone-Willis and her husband Kelly held their second screening. "I was blown away by responses to our invitations," Juliette says. "Even people who couldn't attend called to say they wanted to be involved."

In Freeport, Maine, Chapter Conservation Chair Joan Saxe hosted 30 guests. "People were struck by the environmental justice aspects of this issue," she says. In Portland, Club organizer Maureen Drouin's screening drew 85 people despite a huge snowstorm. Artist Subhankar Banerjee, whose photography of the refuge has attracted national attention, was a featured speaker. The storm diverted his flight to Boston, but Maine Chapter Chair Barbara Winterson braved the snow to pick him up.

In San Francisco, Barclay Rogers, an attorney with the Club's Environmental Law Program, co-hosted a screening at a local art gallery. "We wrote letters to Senators Boxer and Feinstein thanking them for working to protect the refuge," Rogers says. "The event was a mix of fun and activism-like democracy should be!"

See for more about "Oil on Ice."

'Thirst'y in Lexington: Why would 350 people pack a Lexington, Kentucky, theater to watch a film about water privatization? Because the city has been embroiled in what Cumberland Chapter Vice Chair Lane Boldman describes as "a very public water privatization battle."

Lexington's water has long been supplied by privately-held American Water Works. But in 2003 a multinational company, RWE/Thames, offered to purchase American Water and its subsidiary, Kentucky-American Water. Concerned about reduced control, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government began a condemnation process to purchase their water services back. In response, RWE began a media campaign to discredit the local government's efforts.

Bluegrass Buzz: Fayette County citizens pack the Kentucky Theatre in downtown Lexington for a screening of 'Thirst.'

The Sierra Club and other groups successfully countered RWE's misinformation campaign, and in late 2004 a judge was set to rule on a fair price for condemnation. "Unfortunately," says Bluegrass Group Chair Hilary Lambert, "just prior to this ruling, a new, strongly pro-development city council was elected." The new council voted to halt the condemnation process, but Mayor Teresa Isaac vetoed that resolution. A shift of one vote could override the veto, so citizens launched a petition campaign to put a water referendum on the ballot.

The Sierra Club held media events, and Bluegrass Group activist Lewis Warden rented the Kentucky Theatre, next to the city council's offices. Group members Faith Eastwood and Patty Draus helped secure a copy of "Thirst," the water privatization film co-produced by the Club, and scheduled a free showing for Fayette County citizens.

At the screening, Dick Shore and Dave Cooper helped moderate a discussion, and Club members were stationed in the lobby with petitions and organizer packets. More than 10,000 signatures have since been gathered, and three city council members have asked to see the film. "We're conducting weekend petition drives to reach our goal of 18,000," Boldman says. "The reason this is so key is that it looks to be part of a larger agenda to increase development in the region."

To learn more about water privatization, go to

Photos: Jill Miller, Lane Boldman; all rights reserved.

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