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The Planet

by Kim Todd

A Big Heart Under the Hood

"Your Sierra Club membership is expiring and its time to renew."

It's a familiar refrain, but look at the envelope. A renewal notice from a car dealership?

Charles Frank of "Z" Frank Chevrolet in Chicago gives gift memberships to acquaintances, sometimes handing out as many as 30 to 35 a year. When the year is up, they get a letter from Frank on dealership stationery, asking them to take the plunge and pay for their own renewal.

"What I have been trying to do here in Chicago is build a network and foundation of Sierra Club members," says Frank. "I started giving memberships to people I knew best, both business associates and friends."

The letter outlines the work of the Club, with an emphasis on air and water quality in Illinois. Frank cites the work of the Great Lakes Clean Air Campaign and mentions that asthma is a problem in his family so air pollution is a particular concern.

The letter asks the reader to write a check right away and concludes, "We thank you. Your neighbors thank you. The earth thanks you."

A "thank you" from the earth is hard to top, but The Planet thanks you, Charles.  

Those Radical Clubbers in Maine

If the Sierra Club is "wacko," then so is most of Maine. And a recent poll proves it.

The poll, conducted by Abacus Associates, revealed that 63 percent of Maine voters support the creation of a national park and preserve to protect the state's North Woods. The poll was commissioned by the Club's Maine Chapter, which held a press conference to announce the results.

"Mainers want their children and grandchildren to be able to appreciate the beauty, wildlife - bald eagles, salmon and moose - and the recreation opportunities Maine's North Woods offer all of us now," Karen Woodsum, director of the Maine Woods Campaign, told the crowd.

Better hold on to your hiking boots with that kind of cuckoo thinking going around. At least that's what writer Mary Adams seems to say on her Web site commentary at Adams says the poll by the Sierra Club is rubbish concocted by "radical green 'parkies.'"

That's all the more reason to push ahead, especially with the backing of a majority of Maine voters. The effort to protect 3.2 million acres of Maine's North Woods is a top priority of the Club's National Wildlands Campaign.

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