Grilled: Nancy Kates | Eco-Stars in the Spotlight
Invading the Privacy of the People Who Make the Club Tick
Photo by Mitch Tobias
Name: Nancy Kates
Location: Berkeley, California
Contribution: Gay and Lesbian Sierrans (GLS) Governing Committee secretary
Does your work as a documentary filmmaker and a volunteer with GLS ever overlap? No, not really. But they are both highly entertaining!
Are there any especially entertaining things you've done while hiking? When John Muir was taking people out at the very beginnings of the Sierra Club, they would put on skits, called follies. And GLS is kind of amused by the fact that the men on these trips would cross-dress for the skits. So there is this sort of tradition of gender-bending in the Sierra Club. We also do follies.
And you're working on a documentary about writer, filmmaker, and activist Susan Sontag? Correct. It will be broadcast on HBO. We are in postproduction and trying to complete the film by early 2014. It feels a little like what I imagine it is like to climb Everest. It is a large, complex, time-consuming, and, at least occasionally, glorious endeavor.
Sontag reminds me of Rogue from X-Men because of the strip-of-white hairstyle she wore later in life. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I think I would most like to be a wizard . . . à la Hermione Granger and Harry Potter. Barring that, being able to read minds (selectively) would be helpful, but perhaps it would be more fun to be able to talk to animals. It's hard to choose! We used to have more Wonder Woman references in the film—I think there is only one left, but your point is well taken.
In your film Brother Outsider, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin says, "We need, in every community, angelic troublemakers." Have you ever gotten into trouble in GLS? Well, we certainly do our share of skinny-dipping! Other members of GLS have gotten into trouble because that's not allowed in national parks. —Ailsa Sachdev
Do you know a Sierra Club volunteer who deserves recognition? Send nominations to email@example.com.
Eco-Stars in the Spotlight
Every year, the Sierra Club applauds the environmental movement's best and brightest. At an awards ceremony on September 21, these eco-champions took much-deserved bows. Read more at sierraclub.org/awards.
- ANSEL ADAMS AWARD use of photography to further a conservation cause James Balog
- Chico Mendes Award courageous environmental protection efforts and leadership by individuals or NGOs outside the United States Choi Yul
- Communication Award use of print or electronic communications Rocky Mountain Chapter Communications Team
- David R. Brower Award environmental reporting Dave Fehling and the StateImpact Texas reporting team (radio stations KUHF and KUT)
- DENNY AND IDA WILCHER AWARD excellence in fundraising and/or membership development Falls of the James Group
- Distinguished Achievement Award conservation act by a public official Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter
- DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD strong and consistent commitment to conservation by a public official Maxine S. Goad
- Earthcare Award unique contribution to international conservation John Muir Trust
- Edgar Wayburn Award outstanding environmental service by a government official Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
- Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award contributions to mountaineering R.J. Secor
- John Muir Award the Club's highest award, for outstanding conservation achievement Dr. Robert Bullard
- Joseph Barbosa Award environmental service by those younger than 30 Jessica Olson and Jessica Sieglie Quinones
- Madelyn Pyeatt Award working with youths Liz Wheelan
- Oliver Kehrlein Award Outings program service Ray and Lynne Simpson
- One-Club Award using outings to instill awareness or increase membership Suzanne Valencia
- Raymond J. Sherwin International Award volunteer service toward international conservation Christine Elwell
- Special Achievement Award single act of conservation or Club service the Clean Air Team, Kathy Lacey, and Richard Mabion
- Special Service Award strong and consistent commitment to conservation Jim Sconyers and Dwight Adams
- William E. Colby Award Club leadership, dedication, and service Debbie Heaton
- William O. Douglas Award outstanding use of the legal/judicial process to achieve environmental goals David Bender