While the majority of American citizens strongly support environmental
protection, most don't closely follow the progress of critical
legislation in Congress. This was especially true during the early days
of the 104th Congress, when, under cover of the Contract With America,
House Speaker Newt Gingrich led the assault on 25 years of
That's why the Sierra Club's door-to-door canvass, which reached over 6
million citizens during the reign of the last Congress, was so integral
to the Club's success in stopping the War on the Environment.
"Having canvassers knocking on doors in dozens of cities helped us
mobilize citizens who cared, but might not have otherwise acted to
protect their environmental rights," said Canvass Coordinator Emily
Despite its success as an outreach tool, in December the Club made the
difficult decision to close the canvass program down for financial
reasons. Through a contract with the Fund for Public Interest Research,
the canvass had operated for more than three and a half years,
recruiting over 300,000 new members and conveying to countless others
our conservation message. The increasing costs of mobilizing hundreds
of canvassers, however, made the program unsustainable.
A brief sampling of some of the critical mobilizing efforts the canvass
conducted for the Club includes:
- Collecting over 75,000 signatures on the Environmental Bill of
- Distributing over 250,000 voter education charts in the 1996
- Dispensing over 50,000 eco-veto pens for people to mail to President
Clinton to encourage him to veto anti-environmental legislation.
- Educating hundreds of thousands of households about the critical role
wetlands play in ecosystems throughout the country, and mobilizing
people to lobby for increased wetlands protection.
- Generating over 25,000 comments to the Clinton administration about
its Northwest Forest Plan.
- Encouraging individuals to write or call their senators and
representatives and demand the protection of national treasures, such
as the Mojave Desert and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Sierra Club would like to especially thank the entire staff at the
Fund for Public Interest Research for their hard work and dedication to
this program. Walking neighborhoods in all kinds of weather,
encountering the full spectrum of political views and inspiring people
to financially support the organization takes grit. We have an
unquantifiable appreciation for their work.
The late United Farm Worker organizer Fred Ross defined community
organizing as "converting one person at a time, time after time, until
victory is achieved." Although financial circumstances required closing
this program, its success demonstrated the power of communicating
face-to-face with people who otherwise may never have heard our story.
Up to Top