So Long, Friend: Longtime Club leader Charlie Oriez (pictured above at a Colorado Rockies baseball game this August) died on September 7 at age 52. A dogged anti-smoking campaigner, Oriez—who died from lung cancer—attributed his illness to secondhand smoke. In 1987 he was the campaign manager for a successful anti-smoking initiative in Littleton, Colorado, and more recently he testified before both houses of the state legislature supporting bills to enact a strong statewide anti-smoking law.
A New Orleans native and a computer systems engineer by profession, Oriez’s activist career began in high school when he led a campaign to pressure a factory to clean up its water pollution. He became active with the Sierra Club while living in New York City, and while representing New York at a national Sierra Club conference, met his future wife, Gloria Shone, who was representing Texas. They were married in Colorado in 1986.
Oriez’s contributions to the Rocky Mountain Chapter were prodigious. In 1998 he won a Webby Award from the Colorado Association of Non-Profit Organizations for the Sierra Club Web site he designed, and in 2004 he won the Club’s Susan B. Miller Award. He recently spearheaded the chapter’s Recycle IT! Program, which takes old computers, strips and upgrades them, and donates them to schools instead of tossing them in landfills. See the the Rocky Mountain Chapter Web site or more about Recycle IT! A memorial fund has been established in Oriez’s name to benefit the South Platte Group of the Sierra Club. To contribute, see www.oriez.org.
Healthy Food, Local Farms: On October 1, the sixth annual Sierra Club-sponsored Healthy Food, Local Farms Conference (pictured below) was held at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. Club organizer Aloma Dew, the driving force behind the conference, coordinated the event, including the involvement of more than 75 local volunteers. Nearly 300 people attended from across the country and around the state, including Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. The central theme of the conference was how we as a society begin to shift from an industrial model of food production that abuses animals, exploits workers, and poisons the environment and the food we eat, to the model of locally-raised foods and sustainable family farms that are healthful and humane, economically viable, and ecologically sound.
Kentucky author, farmer, and conservationist Wendell Berry spoke at a pre-conference dinner featuring locally-grown, antibiotic-free food. Two more such delicious meals were served at the conference itself, which featured speakers Eric Schlosser, author of the best-selling Fast Food Nation; Joel Salatin, a Virginia farmer, author, and leading advocate of grass-fed animal farming; Carole Morison, a chicken grower and activist against the industrial system; and Dr. William Weida of the GRACE factory farm project, which seeks to eliminate factory farming in favor of a sustainable food production system.
A dozen breakout sessions featuring 30 expert panelists were held on a range of topics, and exhibit tables lined the walls of the main conference hall. The event garnered media coverage before and after the conference, including several spots on National Public Radio and front-page coverage in the Louisville Courier-Journal. For more on the Club’s work to support Healthy Food and Local Farms, see sierraclub.org/factoryfarms.
The Envelope, Please: The Sierra Club’s 2005 National Awards were presented at an award banquet on September 9 in San Francisco during the Sierra Summit. Award winners included Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance; Representative Nancy Johnson of Connecticut; wilderness activist Howard Booth of Boulder City, Nevada; animal photographer Larry Allen of Sarasota, Florida; wildlife manager Kevin Frey of Bozeman, Montana; and student activists Charlie Fredrick of Washington, Missouri, and Linda Sullivan of Lombard, Illinois. You can find a complete list of award winners here.
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