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The Planet

The Planet
December 1998 Volume 5, Number 10

Club Beat


by John Byrne Barry

Joy's Joy

Joy Oakes was too happy to come up with any fancy soundbite. "It's a great day. It's just a great day," she told The Washington Post. "We won."

Oakes, the Club's Appalachian field director, was overjoyed because the plan to create Chapman's Landing - a 4,600-home development along the Potomac River just 20 miles south of Washington, D.C. - was officially dead. The Club had been fighting this proposed development since its inception a decade ago.

On Oct. 28, the Pittsburgh-based Mellon Foundation paid $3.2 million for 375 acres of forest on the shores of the Potomac River - then gave the land to the state of Maryland. At the same time, the state purchased another 1,850 acres for $25.3 million.

A small group of local activists, says Oakes, including Bonnie Bick, Alex Winter, Jim Long, Debi Osborne and Rod Simmons mushroomed into a network of more than 80 organizations and thousands of people across the region.

"No one, not even our friends, thought we would win," says Oakes.

No on Pies, Says Club

On the day before Halloween, 20 environmentalists in London threw cream pies at Renato Ruggiero, the director of the World Trade Organization.

He had just given a speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London defending a WTO decision to overturn U.S. attempts to protect endangered sea turtles from shrimp fishers.

Dan Seligman, director of the Club's Responsible Trade campaign, says that even though the Club opposes the WTO decision, we "strongly disavow pie throwing as an environmental tactic."

According to the Associated Press coverage of the incident, the first thing Ruggiero said was, "This is not a bad cake."

I Clean Beaches and I Vote

Lisa Carter reports from Honolulu on the Hawai'i Chapter's successful "Make a Difference Day" on Oct. 24 - a combination beach cleanup and voter-education drive.

More than 130 volunteers showed up early to pick up litter - there were Boy Scouts, Schofield Army infantrymen, Club members.

"The most surprising addition to our volunteer crew were the fisher families," says Carter, vice chair of the Oahu Group. "They came early to help set up. Their spokesperson told me they were 'supposed to hate the Sierra Club,' but when they discovered we sponsored the event, they changed their tune."

After collecting 500 bags of trash, volunteers received voter guides.

Club Executive Director Carl Pope was impressed with this combination of activities. "Cleanup events can generate thousands of volunteers. By including distribution of voter guides, we can provide a more political perspective on protecting the environment."

Race for the Cure or Cure for the Race?

Former Sierra Club Board Director Joni Bosh was perturbed the first time she participated in the Phoenix, Ariz., Race for the Cure, a benefit for breast cancer research.

"I was outraged that petrochemical giant Chevron, a major race sponsor, was boosting its image while it was supporting attacks on our environmental health laws in Congress," she says.

Bosh, a breast cancer survivor, was also disturbed that the event was focused only on detection and treatment while ignoring prevention or environmental factors.

Second time around, she came prepared to participate, Sierra Club-style, with a pollution prevention theme grounded in the ideas of Rachel Carson. Carson, who died of breast cancer at the age of 56, wrote "Silent Spring" in 1962, a landmark book exposing health hazards of DDT and other petrochemical-based pesticides.

Bosh tabled at the Sierra Club booth directly opposite Chevron's, gathering signatures for a petition to support the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to test chemicals suspected of being endocrine disruptors, likely cancer promoters.

Bosh, public education coordinator Kristen Felan and other Grand Canyon Chapter volunteers collected 500 signatures and passed out 1,500 bookmarks with information linking environmental pollution and breast cancer.

"Our message was to fight cancer by stopping pollution," says Bosh, a mother of two. "I want to reduce cancer threats to my children so they grow up in a healthier world than mine."

Yosemite. 1980. Remember?

The way Joyce Eden reads it, the National Park Service's current plan to develop the Yosemite Lodge Area in Yosemite National Park is in violation of its own 1980 General Management Plan.

That plan, she says, grew out of an unprecedented level of public participation. It took a decade, and an estimated 20,000 citizens filled out and returned detailed workbooks. Now, the Club has filed a lawsuit against the Park Service. Eden, publicity chair of the Club's Yosemite Committee, is seeking those people who worked on the 1980 plan in the hope that "they will lend their names to help prevent the perversion of the plan's preservation intent."

If you were involved, contact her at (408) 973-1085; yojo@batnet.com.


Go on to the next article, "In Mexico: The Contraceptive Challenge"

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