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Sierra magazine
Bulletin | News for Members

By Della Watson

DIY: Food Seminar | Winning Campaigns | Grilled | River Rising | Your In-box

DIY: Food Seminar
If You Host It, They Will Come

Lured by the smooth voice of Marvin Gaye and the pulse of a slide show's light, scores of people entered the transformed multipurpose room of the Santa Barbara Central Library to find tables laden with fresh vegetables. Among the slide images of local farmers was a particularly telling shot of a smiling college student in her garden, taken some 40 years ago: a photo of the Sierra Club's Santa Barbara Group chair Gerri French, back when she was just learning to appreciate the origins of food.

Now a nutritionist, teacher, and passionate advocate of sustainable consumption, French helped the Los Padres Chapter kick off the Club-sponsored True Cost of Food campaign in May. Its goal is to get people to weigh the environmental impact of their food choices and incorporate that knowledge into their daily menus. --Jordana Fyne

Quick Tip Add impact to a True Cost of Food seminar by asking local sustainability experts, farmers, and restaurateurs to give presentations or donate organic refreshments. Consult online resources like the Eat Well Guide and Local Harvest) to find sustainable farms, ecofriendly restaurants, and farmers' markets in your area.

On the Web The Sierra Club's Sustainable Consumption Committee offers fast-fact handouts, discussion guides, and an animated movie that covers tough topics like factory farming without being too heavy.

Winning Campaigns The Sierra Club's Coal Is Not the Answer campaign cleaned up two Communicator Awards from the International Academy of Visual Arts.

Purple Gets Bronze Red, White, and Green, a documentary about the Military Families Outdoors Program's Operation Purple Camp, premiered at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. It was honored with a bronze Addy Award for public service by the American Advertising Federation.

Cool School Crenshaw High School dean Bill Vanderberg gave the Building Bridges to the Outdoors program some morning exposure when he appeared with students on CBS's Early Show.

Coal Countdown The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign celebrated an important milestone: 100 coal plants have been prevented or abandoned since 2001.

Pope Versus Chevron

Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope butted heads with Chevron CEO David O'Reilly at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club on June 10. But the two also shook hands and agreed to lobby against coal.

Invading the Privacy of the Volunteers Who Make the Club Tick

Name: Marie Stratton
Current location: Baltimore
Hometown: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
College: American University (2008 graduate)
Major: Biology, environmental science
Cool Job: Sales coordinator at Greenspring Energy

Famous person you'd invite camping: David Brower. I heard he was a great storyteller.

Best Halloween costume: Static. I safety-pinned a bunch of socks and other miscellaneous items to a white T-shirt. It was fast, free, and recyclable!

Weirdest quirk: I recently started going gray in one eyebrow. It's funny, because I rock climb, and when I'm at the gym, people are always trying to wipe it off, [saying] "Oh, you have some chalk right there." But I'm, like, "No, that's there forever."

Best job: Working at Brooklawn Farmers' Market in high school. I worked outside, ate fresh fruit, and brought home the best corn in Pennsylvania every day for dinner.

Favorite form of transportation: Bikes, if under five miles. I love train rides for anything farther.

Favorite vegetable: Artichokes, especially my grandma's.

Tattoos? I have a constellation on my foot. It's the Southern Cross. It's five stars. Blue. I like it.

What did you want to be when you were a kid? An explorer.

Stint in the Sierra Student Coalition: It started with an internship, working with Jon Barrows, the trainings director. I continued to volunteer throughout school as the co-chair of the National Trainings Committee. I then worked on the SSC's Change the Climate '08 campaign to mobilize thousands of young voters in State College, Pennsylvania, around the issue of global warming.

Eco-sin that makes you angriest: Drinking bottled water is just stupid.

Web site

—interview by Della Watson

Do you know a Sierra Club volunteer who deserves recognition? Send nominations to

River Rising: A Cleanup's Ripple Effect

Volunteers remove debris from the banks of the Sante Fe River in New Mexico

As members of the Northern New Mexico Group of the Club's Rio Grande Chapter collected the rancid sleeping bags, used syringes, abandoned shopping carts, liquor bottles, and beer cans that littered their adopted stretch of the Santa Fe River, they realized the watershed wasn't the only thing in need of care. "It was clear that it was going to take a community effort," said chapter chair John Buchser. So one activist focused her efforts on the homeless population who'd found refuge along the river's banks.

"I became very interested in how the problem of homelessness intersected with the problem of the river," said Paige Grant, Sierra Club volunteer and founder of the Santa Fe Watershed Association. She noticed there was a lot less trash when churches and charities could offer a bed to those living by the river. So she joined an interfaith effort to establish an emergency shelter. In its third year, the refuge provided thousands of "bed nights" and home-cooked meals. Folks had a refuge beyond the river, and the river became less of a landfill.

"Cleanups get the message out there that the river belongs to all of us," said Grant. During one cleanup, when Grant struggled to haul a shopping cart up a steep bank, two homeless men waking up along the river pitched in to help. As they struggled with the cart, another passerby asked what they were doing. One of the men replied, "We're helping to save the earth." --Jamie Hansen

Your In-box

Cold Trip Gets Hot Mention
Sierra Club Outings' trip to Glacier National Park made National Geographic Traveler's annual "Tours of a Lifetime" list. The expedition (with lectures by climate-change scientists) is one of the lowest-priced trips on the list, which helps when your bank balance is shrinking faster than the glaciers themselves.

A big high-five goes to the Sierra Club staff, members, and partner environmental groups who supported the wilderness fire protection bill passed in the House this spring. The Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act provides funding for the U.S. Forest Service's and Department of the Interior's efforts to suppress catastrophic wildfires. In recent years the land-management agencies have diverted money from other important programs to finance fire suppression.

Drill Team
Members of the Club's New Jersey, Louisiana, and California chapters packed the audience at a round of public hearings called by the Department of the Interior to consider clean energy sources instead of more offshore oil drilling. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stayed for the entirety of the Atlantic City hearing and said he was v interested in learning more about renewables and offshore wind generators. The forum took place at the city's convention center, which has the country's largest single-rooftop solar array.

Green Resurrection
The Sierra Club joined 25 organizations in sponsoring the second annual Historic Green project in New Orleans to help rebuild the city's Lower Ninth Ward as the nation's first zero-carbon community. Students, green builders, architects, and volunteers from an array of activist groups nationwide participated in projects ranging from weatherization to wetlands restoration.

EPA Hears the Crowd
Thousands attended hearings in Arlington, Virginia, and Seattle in May to applaud the EPA's decision to use the Clean Air Act to regulate global-warming pollutants. And the Sierra Club helped them get there. Scientists, clergy, activists, moms, kids, and even Pierce Brosnan came out to show their support. —Heather Moyer

To take action on the Sierra Club's top issues and find out how to contact your elected officials, visit

For the latest on Club campaigns and how you can help, sign up for our biweekly e-newsletter, the Sierra Club Insider, and other Club e-mails at Or check out our Action Center on Facebook for more online tools.

Photos, from top: Paul Wellman/Santa Barbara Independent, Jason Madara, Dennis Stratton, Santa Fe Watershed Association; used with permission



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