The Bay Chapter's Strength and Sustainability Society
Just three years ago the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter inaugurated its Strength and Sustainability Society, our major-gifts program. To date nearly 100 generous donors have contributed $1,000 or more to our annual campaign or to special environmental campaigns.
The Strength and Sustainability Society is open to our strongest sustaining donors and volunteers. This year, as many of our contributors are facing financial stresses, we have a special need to rely on those who have established strong financial foundations and can contribute more than the average.
If you are interested in joining the Strength and Sustainability Society, please call or call (510) 848-0800, ext. 309
This issue's Strength and Sustainability Society commentary below is by Bob Epstein, a member who has also been active as a volunteer working for environmental causes. He appreciates the importance of supporting the Sierra Club at the national, state and local levels. He is a dedicated environmentalist and a generous contributor to the Chapter.
As I grew up in Stockton CA, my family spent time every summer in the Sierra at Silver Lake, and we went fishing in the San Joaquin Delta on my uncle's boat. The air was clear, and on occasion you could see the snow in the Sierra from our house many miles away. In 1968 the first photo of the complete earth was beamed back from the Apollo 8 spacecraft, and I, like many others, became aware of just how small and delicate our earth is.
By the time I went to college the Cuyahoga River had caught fire in Ohio, the first Earth Day had happened, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act had become law, and the Environmental Protection Agency was in business. By my last year at UC Berkeley, President Carter had declared Love Canal a federal emergency due to Hooker Chemical's dumping toxics in an open ditch since 1957. And of course the 1970s ended with the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant almost melting down.
All of this makes me appreciate the Sierra Club with its unique structure of local chapters throughout the United States, combined into a national organization that nudges the chapters in a common direction.
Many believed that environmentalists protected the environment at the expense of the economy, but I promised myself that if I was successful in business, I would retire and direct my energies towards environmental policies that protected the environment while providing economic growth.
I retired in 2000, and by 2001 I was volunteering full-time on California Assemblymember Pavley's state bill to limit greenhouse gases from vehicles. The bill passed in 2002, and President Obama announced the same idea as national policy on May 19, 2009.
Since that first bill I have spent time working on policies including biofuels, water, ocean protection, finance, and climate policy in California and other states. The message is always the same - enacting this policy is an economic stimulus that will also protect the environment. Most recently Congress has awakened from its decade-long slumber, and we are all using this unique opportunity to link environmental protection, economic recovery, and energy security through national climate and energy legislation.
The Sierra Club has recently taken on a unique challenge. If our future electricity is to come from renewable sources and not coal, what land should be used, and where should the required transmission be located? We need to find the sites with the lowest environmental risks and the maximum economic benefits. Carl Zichella, the Club's director of western renewable programs, is a steering committee member of the California "Renewable Electricity Transmission Initiative", a state project to find ways to do just that.
During my first 10 years of environmental activism, I have come to appreciate both the local and national roles of the Sierra Club. I'm glad that environmental leaders, much more capable than I, have built the foundation where we now stand. That foundation, the Sierra Club, needs our support and our activism. Who knows - maybe I'll be able to see the Sierra from Stockton again, the Sierra will continue to have snow in winter, and the air will be healthy again so that our kids won't have to carry inhalers. It is a goal worthy of us and within our reach.
Many financially successful members and supporters of the Sierra Club share Bob's commitment to protect the environment. If you would like to help the Chapter work for the environment at all levels, please make a contribution today. If you would like to find out more about ways to support the local Sierra Club Bay Chapter, please contact Chapter development director or call (510) 848-0800, ext. 309