Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
Club Activists Deliver:
For Our Families, For Our Future

From Anchorage to Atlanta, from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, thousands of volunteers from the Sierra Club and hundreds of other environmental and community organizations braved rain, snow, blistering heat, and even tornado threats to urge their neighbors to stand up to "Protect America's Environment: For Our Families, For Our Future."

"We want to make people aware of the concerted effort by Congress to roll back all the environmental protections we have put into place," said Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club conservation director. Hamilton gave the kickoff speech in Santa Barbara, Calif., at one of dozens of public education events the week of April 13. The Santa Barbara rally featured a poetry reading, an art exhibition and Native American dancers.

In more than 80 locations, volunteers distributed doorhangers containing two tear-off postcards, one to President Clinton, the other to a governor or other local official. The postcard to the White House urged the president to protect our families from pollution, protect our natural heritage and get the polluters' big money out of politics.

In Salt Lake City, before morning sun gave way to afternoon snow, 500 volunteers blanketed their neighborhoods with doorhangers containing postcards asking Gov. Mike Leavitt to intervene with Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to protect 5.7 million acres of Utah's redrock wilderness. All four local TV stations and both daily newspapers gave prominent coverage to the event.

In what organizers called the largest-ever environmental mobilization in Arkansas, volunteers reached more than 21,000 Little Rock households on the first day of the "Take a Hike for the Natural State" campaign, despite the threat of tornadoes, while the Sierra Student Coalition delivered doorhangers in Fayetteville.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., East River Group Chair Karen Fogas organized 135 volunteers to distribute 15,000 doorhangers on a cold and overcast morning - in a community that has just 87 Sierra Club members. And in Bismarck, N.D., a city with 38 Sierra Club members, Jan Swenson rounded up more than 60 volunteers. "These are places," said Larry Mehlhaff, the Club's Northern Plains field director, "where building coalitions isn't an option - it's a necessity."

In Dallas, volunteers "descended like locusts," said organizer Molly Seay, and delivered 70,000 doorhangers that carried a message to Gov. George W. Bush, son of the former president, urging him to fight all attempts to weaken environmental laws.

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, volunteers distributed doorhangers telling Babbitt to protect Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, both under recent attack from anti-environmentalists in Congress.

In Tampa, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Del Ray Beach, Fla., volunteers urged their neighbors to send postcards to Gov. Lawton Chiles telling him to make Big Sugar clean up its pollution. In Boulder, Colo., the doorhanger postcard was addressed to Gov. Roy Romer, asking him to find an alternative to the environmentally destructive Animas La Plata water project.

On California's central coast, volunteers distributed doorhangers in Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. Among the volunteers, says Jackie McCort, Northern California field representative, were two senior citizens who wanted to canvass their neighborhood in the Monterey Hills. She cautioned them that they had chosen a hilly and apartment- filled precinct, but, undaunted, they set out and delivered doorhangers for six hours. "The polluting industries may have millions of dollars to buy off Congress," said McCort, "but there's not enough money in the world to buy the kind of dedication that volunteers demonstrated this Saturday."

In San Diego, one volunteer was trailed by a TV reporter who wanted to tape the last doorhanging of the day. While attaching the doorhanger, the volunteer was startled by an irate-looking woman who banged on her window. She came to her door demanding to know what he was doing at her home. The cameras were rolling. He explained what the event was about, whereupon she said it was "a great idea," and thanked him for doing it.

Volunteers will keep on doing it throughout April. By the end of the month, the Sierra Club and its coalition partners will deliver 2.3 million doorhangers in more than 100 locations across the country.

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