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The Planet
Who We Are

Barbara Vincent - New Orleans, La.
Chair, Gulf Coast Regional Conservation Committee

You might expect a native Louisianan to be hot for zydeco tunes served up with catfish and hushpuppies - a Southern delicacy made of fried cornmeal dough. Not Barbara Vincent. She's a vegetarian nutritionist who rarely indulges in such traditional fare. As for the music, she says, "About eight years ago we did this giant Sierra Club mailing, and we had to put labels on 12,000 brochures. We listened to this Irish music program, and I got totally hooked." She has a CD player that holds 51 discs, and every one of them is music from the Celtic nations. "A lot of it is really tragic, just like environmental work can be tragic, depending on what's going on," she says.

Vincent has seen enough of that firsthand. In addition to being the chair of the GCRCC, she's the Delta Chapter chair, serves on the national Environmental Quality Strategy Team and is that body's liaison to the national Environmental Justice Committee. "EJ work is my passion," she says. "I've worked with an African-American community that was built on top of an old municipal landfill that's now a Superfund site. Louisiana is full of such cases. You can't live here and not feel outraged by what some people have to live with."


Susan LeFever - Boulder, Colo.
Director, Rocky Mountain Chapter

Susan LeFever is so dedicated to building bridges in the Sierra Club that, as a staff member, she married a volunteer. Mark Collier was chair of the Rocky Mountain Chapter in Colorado, and LeFever was working on chapter fundraising efforts through the national Club office when they met at a conference in Bethesda, Md., in 1989. After a long-distance courtship, LeFever moved from San Francisco to Boulder and the two were married. Now she's the chapter director, and Collier is the chapter's volunteer treasurer (he's a software engineer in his work life).

In between her paid jobs with the Club, LeFever has volunteered on the Club's national Development Committee, worked on the Training Academy program and at one time chaired the Indian Peaks Group. That's dedication - and it appears she inherited her passion for activism from her mother. "She's a second-grade teacher who has made a difference in one life at a time," says LeFever. "She instilled in me a positive outlook, and the belief that I can make a difference, too. The Sierra Club empowers people to make change in their community."

At the moment, LeFever's priority is stopping sprawl in Colorado. She's currently pushing a ballot initiative that will require city and county governments to develop growth plans that must be approved by voters.


Louis Alvarado - Glendale, Calif.
Outings Leader, Angeles Chapter

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan dubbed Louis Alvarado "the mayor of Griffith Park" - a 4,000-acre green space of canyons and chaparral-covered hills surrounded by city and suburbs. Alvarado loves this urban park. "When I was a kid in Colorado I used to hike in the Rocky Mountains," he says. "As an adult I moved to the Los Angeles area, and one day I decided to take a walk. There was Griffith Park. It's lush and green, and after five minutes on a trail you feel like you're in wilderness."

Alvarado's not the type to chain himself to a tree to protect it, but he's defensive of the park and has fought horseshoe pits, soccer fields and even a children's museum - all of which, he says, can be put somewhere else. "Once you put a peg in the ground for horseshoes, it's a structure. Open space is very limited, so I'll fight to preserve it - every square foot of it." He does what it takes, whether it's speaking at a hearing, holding a press conference or writing a letter.

A retired general contractor, Alvarado shares his enthusiasm by organizing Sierra Club outings at Griffith Park every Tuesday and Thursday. Some nights as many as 350 people are divided into smaller hiking groups based on the level of difficulty that suits them. Says Alvarado, "This is my home, this is my love, and everybody knows that."

Know someone whose story is deserving? Contact us at The Planet, 85 Second St., Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105; planet@sierraclub.org


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