By Della Watson
Grilled: Winston Mark Walters | Victory Update | Democracy Now | Paddling Past Coal
Invading the Privacy of the People Who Make the Club Tick
Photo by Jeffery Salter
Name: Winston Mark Walters
Contribution: Inner City Outings (ICO) leader and National Steering Committee southeast regional representative; Miami Group local outings chair; Outdoor Leadership Team committee member; Diversity Steering Committee member
If you could take someone famous, alive or dead, on an ICO outing, who would it be?
Michelle Obama would be a great kayaking partner. You know, travel the Ten Thousand Islands canoe trail in Everglades National Park, where you wend your way through a mangrove maze and camp on the islands. That would be awesome.
Do you think she can out-paddle you?
Look at those arms—she probably could!
You are also a researcher at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Tell us about that.
I manage a lab that does research on brain and spinal cord injuries. One team is looking for ways to cure paralysis. We have a person in a wheelchair working side by side with us who may not see our breakthrough but is still here working, and that alone is inspiring.
Do you feel that your research relates to your work as an ICO leader?
Absolutely. We partner with a program called Shake-a-Leg, which recruits disabled folks to skipper sailboats. One of my closest friends was a researcher paralyzed from the waist down. I would go on scuba diving trips with him, and he would try to do everything that I would do outdoors.
How did you develop an appreciation for nature?
I grew up on a farm in Jamaica, and back then, there was no separation between where I lived and nature. When I moved to Miami and started living in the city, it was a few years before I realized that I needed to reconnect and go back out.
What piece of gear best defines your personality when you lead outdoor trips?
I'd say my camp stove, because you can't do a camping trip without that. You need it to make all your meals and provide for everyone.
—interview by Christine Nguyen
Do you know a Sierra Club volunteer who deserves recognition? Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan anglers and Sierra Club activists celebrated the conclusion of nine years of legal battles against the U.S. Forest Service and Savoy Energy over a proposed natural gas well near the Au Sable River. The thwarted drilling operation would have threatened the river and its surrounding 4,500 acres of undisturbed riparian land, known as the Mason Tract. Tim Mason, whose grandfather donated the tract with the goal of protecting it, also took part.
Don't forget to cast your vote by April 24, noon EDT, in the annual election for the Sierra Club Board of Directors. Ballots can be mailed in or, beginning March 1, filled out online at https://www.esc-vote.com/sierra2013.
Paddling Past Coal
Photo courtesy of Jeff Rich
In Asheville, North Carolina, the Sierra Club teamed up with allies to create a 34-boat flotilla on Lake Julian in front of the local coal-burning power plant. Braving stormy weather, more than 100 citizen activists took to the water in canoes and kayaks and deployed a three-piece banner reading, "Let's Move Asheville Beyond Coal." Back on dry land, ralliers signed petition postcards, drafted a letter to the editor for area newspapers, enjoyed refreshments, and listened to live bluegrass music amplified by a solar-powered sound system. Asheville leads North Carolina in sustainability efforts, said Sierra Club campaign representative Kelly Martin: "We have a real opportunity here."—Tom Valtin