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Sierra Club Insider November 18, 2004

Thank You For Letting Me...Pick Up Garbage

Imagine kids coming up and thanking you for the opportunity to pick up garbage. Hard to believe? Ask Ritchie Israel, a member of the Sierra Club's Water Sentinels in Rockland County, New York.

Most Water Sentinels more typically wade into creeks with boots on to collect water samples, but Israel decided to help organize a series of cleanups on dry land -- transforming neighborhoods beset by crime and used as dumping grounds for junked cars, tires, and other debris.

More than 100 local residents took part in the first cleanup, in Clarkstown, above, and more than a dozen have followed in neighboring communities. "Kids tell me how much fun they're having picking up trash," says Israel. "If you ask me, that's miraculous." You can read the full story in The Planet or learn more about Water Sentinels program, which is active in seven other states.

Sierra Club Friend Wins Nobel Peace Prize

A longtime associate of the Sierra Club's Human Rights and the Environment campaign, Wangari Maathai was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in October for her work leading the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. Maathai, who gained recent acclaim for a campaign planting 30 million trees to stave off deforestation, was jailed in 1992 for organizing a rally opposing former President Daniel arap Moi's plan to build a skyscraper monument to himself in Nairobi's last city park.

"Wangari Maathai is the quintessential grassroots organizer," said Sierra Club International Program Director Steve Mills. "This award speaks not only to her outstanding achievements but also to the Nobel committee's recognition that protecting the environment is often a vital way to promote peace."

Mills and Maathai are pictured above at Lake Nakuru; the pink band behind them is a flock of thousands of flamingos.

An Energy Evolution Revolution

Over time, evolution can make things better. Fish grew gills, birds sprouted wings, and the Red Sox got the pennant. "I Will Evolve" is more than a cool t-shirt -- it's a Sierra Club campaign that explains how we can evolve toward producing energy without destroying the planet -- using technology that's here today. Learn about hybrid cars, how vehicles affect the environment, and why the Bush administration's energy policies are anti-evolutionary.

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  The Real Polar Express

Alaska and the Yukon are some of the wildest places left on Earth. The land of the midnight sun has everything the adventurous, environmentally aware traveler could want -- trek across the tundra, watch exotic wildlife, raft untamed rivers, or just kick back and enjoy the scenery. The Sierra Club is running more than 20 trips up north next year.

  Camping with George

Check out all three episodes of "Camping with George" -- as John Muir learns about Bush administration environmental policy the hard way.

  Don't Sacrifice the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for Oil Industry Profits

President Bush claims his reelection is a mandate to expand domestic energy production, which likely means renewed attempts to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. The U.S. Senate headed off the administration's energy plan; now we need them to do so again.

Sign a petition to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to stand tall and use his Senate leadership position to rally opposition to defeat the Bush Energy Plan.


Photos: New York Water Sentinels (Scott Dye) | "Don't Be a Fossil" (Stephanie Powell) | Ketchemak Bay (Dawn Detmer) | Camping With George (Mark Fiore) | caribou (Melinda Pierce)