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Planet Main
In This Section
pdf September/October 2006
e-mail June 30, 2006
e-mail April 28, 2006


Studying for the Midterms
Renewables in Action
Just Transition
Blue and Green in Ohio
Battle of Blair Mountain, Again
Unseating an Environmental Foe
Gaining Ground
America's Wild Legacy
Car Talk, Sierra Club Style
Sierra Club Insider
Who We Are:
Loyd Cortez
Christine Williamson
Erica Langenbahn


Sewage 101
States Take Lead on Mercury, Global Warming
I Want My MPG
Postcard from Puerto Rico
The Birdman of Baghdad
Advocate for Safe Weapons Disposal Honored
Stop I-3
Family Planning Key to Sustainable Future
Sierra Club Insider
Who We Are
Ken Smokoska
Larry and Vicki Patton
Claudia Hilligoss
Search for a Story
Back Issues

The Planet

Building Relationships, Rallying for Renewables, Saying Goodbye

Leadership in Motion: At a recent Leadership Development Project workshop, facilitator Marshall Ganz recalled Cesar Chavez’s oft-cited “secret” to effective organizing: “First I talk to one person, and then another and then another.” One participant offered how we do it today: “First I send one e-mail, then another and then another.” Everyone laughed.

Does that laughter tell us anything about our organizing strategies today? That’s just one of the topics covered in recent LDP workshops in Los Altos, California, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Eatonville, Washington. Approximately 120 Sierra Club leaders from the Cascade, Florida, Loma Prieta, and Rio Grande chapters are taking part in the project, which focuses on developing relationships, using storytelling to engage new members, and motivating people to take action.

“We put relationship-building to use right away,” says Ilse Bleck, group chair of the Rio Grande Chapter’s Pajarito Group. “I’ve had three one-on-one meetings so far, two with new members, and I already recruited one new excom member.” Lisa Barbosa from the Loma Prieta Peak Climbing Section says, “I've learned more in a day and a half than I have in the past year.” The project is led by Club board member Greg Casini and Harvard researcher Marshall Ganz, a leading organizer in the United Farm Workers union under Chavez and the lead researcher of the Club’s National Purpose/Local Action study. To find out more, go to

Maryland Students Rally for Clean Energy: In July, the Montgomery County Council in Maryland voted unanimously to purchase 20 percent renewable energy for all county municipal buildings by 2011, up from five percent. The power will be purchased from a West Virginia wind farm. The move came after an intense campaign from the Montgomery County Student Environmental Activists, a student-run organization of high school and college students who rallied support at schools, collected more than 3,100 petition signatures and 90 photo petitions, and met with the County Council president, who agreed to sponsor the resolution. In April they held a solar-powered rally on the steps of the County Council building featuring speeches by county officials, student leaders, and Sierra Student Coalition Director Jared Duval, as well as live music and a street theater duel between a belching smoke stack and a wind turbine. Photo by Erica Stout.

Correction: Sierra Club member Clair Gustafson of Berkeley, California, was among those who pointed out the misspelling of “Clair” Tappaan in the July/Aug Planet. (We added an “e” on the end.) Gustafson phoned us up from his family’s homestead in Arlington, South Dakota, where he is summering in the crop-withering heat. He says the name Clair is still quite common for a man in those parts—there’s even another Clair Gustafson in the area whose bills get mixed up with his own. He doesn’t think the name Clair is widely used in California anymore. Still, to all the Clairs out there—and especially Clair Tappaan—we apologize for the error.

Farewell, Friend: On June 21, Sierra Club Deputy Field Director Larry Mehlhaff died at his home in Salt Lake City, of complications related to brain cancer. He was 49. The son of a grain-elevator operator in Freeman, South Dakota, Mehlhaff was a Club staffer for 21 years. “Larry’s death is a great loss to this organization and the planet,” says Club Executive Director Carl Pope. “He spent his life speaking for the prairies, mountains, and wildlife with passion and good cheer, and he inspired others to join that work.” In addition to his myriad conservation accomplishments, in the 1980s Mehlhaff combined his passions for organizing and baseball in a successful campaign to get former Minnesota Twins star Harmon Killebrew, pictured here at right with Mehlhaff, elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

The week before he died, Mehlhaff was presented with the Club’s John Muir Award. Pope, who bestowed the honor, took the occasion to announce the creation of the new Larry Mehlhaff Award, honoring employee excellence and special achievement. Mehlhaff’s partner, Marion Klaus, requests that people wishing to honor Larry make contributions to the National Brain Tumor Foundation or to The Sierra Club Foundation, Larry Mehlhaff Memorial Conservation Fund. For more, see

Tom Valtin and John Byrne Barry

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