Sierra Club Outings

By Dan Chu  March 15, 2022

From exploration treks to backpack journeys to leisurely vacations in far-off destinations, the Sierra Club has offered outings opportunities to enjoy and explore culturally and environmentally rich corners of the world. For nearly a decade now, Israel is one of the countries we’ve offered outings to. As such, we intend to update our schedule soon to offer new outings to Israel later this year. We are committed to working with stakeholders to ensure these trips are crafted in a way that better reflects the range of diversity in the region. 

Recently, the Sierra Club hastily made a decision, without consulting a robust set of stakeholders, to postpone two planned outings to Israel. The process that led to this was done in ways that created confusion, anger, and frustration. Let me be clear: the Sierra Club’s mission is to enjoy, explore and protect the planet, and we do not take positions on foreign policy matters that are beyond that scope. We do not have a deep understanding or knowledge necessary to do so, nor is it our place to do so. Furthermore, we have and always will continue to loudly condemn anti-semitism and any and all acts of hate. We are committed to working more intentionally, thoroughly and thoughtfully so we can prevent this from happening again. 

Justice is at the core of our work at the Sierra Club and what it requires is that we treat all individuals and communities with fairness, honesty, respect, and equity. As we plan new  outings to Israel later this year, we will do so with input from a wide range of partners to create an itinerary that educates and deepens an understanding and appreciation for the region, just as we will seek to do with all outings. We know that we are powerful together when we collaborate based on just relationships of mutual trust, respect, and solidarity, and the Sierra Club has a key, multifaceted role in the work to transform our society and save our planet. We will lead when we should. We will collaborate when asked. We will work across the movement in the fight for the liveable planet we all deserve. As such, we are committed to implementing a process to ensure that our staff and leaders have the guidance and tools to build outings in alignment with our values.

As we continue on our journey of transformation, we are bound to make mistakes. By failing to engage all stakeholders, from our members and supporters, to a wide range of allies, traditional and otherwise, we caused deep pain on a personal and spiritual level. Since then, we have engaged with our community and have taken accountability for the pain and anguish we created. We can and should have been more deliberate and engaging and will ensure that we meet the standards we have set for ourselves and others expect from us.

The Sierra Club is beginning a holistic review of our outings process to better guide the destination of our trips and the itineraries of them. The process is in its early stages, and we will be holding a thoughtful stakeholder engagement process, which will include Sierra Club Outings volunteer leaders, staff, our Board of Directors, and a wide array of partners and organizations, to create future outings to Israel and other countries around the world that are strongly aligned with our conservation policies and our core values. 

Throughout this process, one thing has remained constant: we must do better to educate ourselves and engage our broader community of volunteer leaders, members, supporters, and community partners, as we continue the work to live up to our values. We owe this to our members and supporters, our staff, the community, and ourselves. We are eager to continue this process to ensure that we consistently live up to the values we espouse and be a stronger partner as we work to transform our society to be more just, more equitable, and liveable for each and every one of us.

Dan Chu is the Acting Executive Director of the Sierra Club.