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The Planet

Club Beat

The Planet, March 1997, Volume 4, number 2


  • Retirees Aren't Shy
  • Environmentalists Hit the Airwaves
  • Dead End for Proposed Toll Road
  • Reach Out and Activate Someone
  • Shillings for Students
  • Grants for Greens
  • Question the Candidates...
  • ...Then Cast Your Vote

Retirees Aren't Shy

"It's a win-win situation," says Bill Steibel, Long Island Group activist. He's referring to the group's efforts to expand outreach to Long Island's 3 million inhabitants as well as its 6,000 Sierra Club members. "By working with non-environmental groups we've been able to raise environmental issues with those who may not generally be aware of local or national issues. We get to talk to people we don't normally reach directly; they get an accurate, first-hand account of the current environmental situation. Then those who are concerned about the state of the environment can find out how they can join the struggle."

Last November, Steibel spoke at a meeting of over 400 retirees from Grumman Aerospace Corporation and discussed the Club, its history and its purpose. The retirees invited members of the Long Island Group to speak in response to the group's request for permission to use the retirees' e-mail list to announce Club-sponsored events. In addition to approving this request, the retirees invited the group members to address them at their next meeting. "We were extremely well received," says Steibel. "The retirees wanted to know more about the Sierra Club and the environment, and we were able to awaken and encourage their interest."

Steibel brought along copies of Club publications including The Planet, Sierra magazine and group and chapter newsletters. He also made copies of his speech available and noted his group's World Wide Web and e-mail addresses for the benefit of those with Internet access. By the end of the evening, just about all the literature was gone.

"I emphasized that we can achieve much in protecting the environment against the depredations of big-industry-backed members of Congress just by getting into the act," says Steibel. "Will the fight ever be over? Probably not. Will we protect everything? Probably not. Will we ever stop trying? Absolutely not."

For more information: Contact Bill Steibel at (516) 271-8904; e-mail: <>

Environmentalists Hit the Airwaves

What do a high school math teacher, retired pharmacist, psychology professor and homemaker have in common? They're all regular contributors to the State of Franklin Group's "Environmental News" radio show on the National Public Radio affiliate at East Tennessee State University.

In early 1994, group member Pete Zars contacted the local station with a proposal for a 15-minute program featuring news and information on environmental issues. Station managers liked the idea and the show has been on the air ever since. Written and produced by State of Franklin Group members, the show has become increasingly popular and recently expanded to a half-hour format. Of the station's 130,000 listeners, 22 percent, or 28,000 people, are tuning in each week. The group is now aiming to syndicate the program nationally.

"We keep our membership extremely well-informed through the paperless media, and our show makes the Club more prominent in the region," says group chair Linda Modica. "Group membership has been on the rise ever since we went on the air. The show is also good for retaining members because they are proud of the recognition our group has received. "To accomplish what we've done, all we needed was confidence, dedication and a little prior experience," says Modica. "We would be happy to share our experience with other groups that want to start their own local radio programs."

Other interested Sierra Club groups should ask their NPR affiliate to contact WETS in Johnson City, Tenn., for a copy of an "Environmental News" demo tape. To get your own cassette, call Jane Ensign, chair of the Environmental News Committee, at (423) 349-4457, or write to Linda Modica at <linda.modica@sierra>

Dead End for Proposed Toll Road

In Illinois, the Sierra Club won a major court ruling in January against the extension of toll road I-355 into the southern part of the state. "The extension would damage three public forest preserves and upland and wetland habitat for state-threatened and endangered species, as well as lead to more air pollution and the paving over of a largely rural area," says Jack Darin, state field representative.

"Media coverage of our victory was substantial," says Darin. "We made the front pages of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Southtown."

For more information: Contact Jack Darin at the Illinois Chapter office at (312) 251-1680; e-mail: <>

Reach Out and Activate Someone

Frank Orto, chair of the River Prairie Group in Illinois, has transformed his group phone tree into an innovative, statewide telephone activist network that can quickly inform and mobilize members. "What makes ours different from other networks is that a real live person alerts our members," says Orto. "There's a direct connection, and it's this personal touch that fosters greater activism and commitment of volunteers."

The Illinois Telephone Activist Network (I-TAN) links the state's 15 groups into one activist system focusing on state and federal issues. When contacted by a phone-tree member, network activists are instructed to dial into a hotline to hear a message that describes the issue, the Club's position and what action to take. If there's more than one action alert at a given time, members have the choice of accessing the message they're interested in.

The phone tree coordinators in each group communicate regularly with members to learn how network messages are being received and to monitor the activity level and commitment of participants. This feedback is in turn passed along to the chapter, a process Orto says is essential to keeping network quality at a high level.

"The network has been successful at reaching Club members who don't necessarily attend meetings, but who want to make a contribution to protecting the environment and are willing and have the time to place lobbying phone calls to public officials," says Orto.

For more information: Call the hotline at (630) 690-4930 or contact Frank Orto at 5611 St. Charles Rd., Berkeley, IL 60163; or e-mail: <>

Shillings for Students

Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies in southwest England, is offering scholarships to environmental activists in 1997. Participants will study with "leading thinkers in developing aspects of a new ecological world view" in a range of courses, some of which last up to five weeks.

For more information: Contact Hilary Nicholson, Schumacher College, The Old Postern, Dartington, Devon TQ9 6EA, UK; phone 011-44-1803-865934; e-mail: <>

Grants for Greens

Three grant programs administered by The Sierra Club Foundation specifically provide for the support of charitable, wildlife-related projects:

  • The Avery Wildlife Fund offers five grants of up to $500 each in 1997 for local projects to preserve, protect and educate the public about wildlife.

  • The Schroeder Wildlife Fund offers $4,500 in 1997 in support of wildlife projects at the local, regional and national levels.
  • The Ben and Bessie Glazer Wildlife Fund offers $1,800 for projects preserving wildlife, particularly through preservation of sanctuaries that support migratory birds.

To be considered for a grant, please submit a detailed proposal, one to three pages in length, describing the overall goal of the project, specific activities planned to meet that goal and a budget and time frame for its completion. Proposals must be received by April 21, 1997.

Project proposals should be directed to Kyndaron Reinier, assistant director of Granting Services, The Sierra Club Foundation, 220 Sansome St., Suite 1100, San Francisco, CA 94104. Indicate on your proposal that you are applying for a wildlife grant. For more information: Call (800) 783-9273, pin code 1802.

Question the Candidates...

How can you find out more about the candidates for the Club's Board of Directors? If you have e-mail, you can subscribe to the Club's new electronic forum and send questions to a moderator who will select the most pertinent and forward them on to the candidates. Candidates' answers will be posted to subscribers; you do not have to submit questions to participate. To join, send the message:
to: <> and type your membership number (found on your Planet subscription label) in the subject line of your message.

For more information: Contact forum moderator Cal French at <>

...Then Cast Your Vote

Ballots for the 1997 Sierra Club Board of Directors election were mailed in February. If you don't receive yours by March 28, contact Gene Coan at the San Francisco headquarters for a replacement ballot. Please look for it in the mail and cast your vote. Completed ballots must be received by the election vendor by April 19, 1997.

For more information: Contact Gene Coan at (415) 977-5681; fax: (415) 977-5799; e-mail: <>

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