The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
January - February 2008
How the Chapter does it: staff, volunteers, outings, education, communications
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Sierra Club Bay Chapter is growing. We have just expanded our office space, and we are getting ready to add several new staff to enable us to take on new programs and a larger number of active campaigns. This coming year could be the most important ever for the environment, and we are preparing to meet the challenge.
You, the volunteers
Some aspects of the Chapter never change. The key to all the Chapter's successes is the involvement of our members and concerned individuals throughout the Bay Area. We reach out in many ways to bring people in, educate them, and motivate them to action.
We have an incredibly broad variety of volunteer roles, ranging from people who help with the essential everyday clerical tasks to the Executive Committee members who administer the Chapter and the conservation leaders who shape and carry out our campaigns.
We've had hundreds of volunteers doing thousands of hours of volunteering on all sorts of great conservation campaigns. Our Sierra Club activists have attended critical city-council hearings, written letters to their elected leaders, walked precincts to get environmentalists elected, and helped recruit new activists for the planet. We've generated thousands of hand-written letters encouraging our elected officials to make clean energy happen, protect our critical open space and habitat, and stop irresponsible development projects.
For ideas of ways to become involved yourself, look through this Yodeler. For every conservation concern that we write about, the key to our effectiveness is volunteers. Every outing or meeting or other activity is organized by volunteers. Volunteer opportunities lists just a few current opportunities. If you don't see just what you want, or don't know who to call, contact our office administrator or call (510) 848-0800, ext. 315
One easy way to get started with the Sierra Club is to come to one of our "new member" parties. We started these in 2007, and will be holding more this year.
This past spring and summer the Chapter repeated our Volunteer Training Series for members and friends who want to become more involved and more effective at working on conservation issues. We held three introductory sessions, and two all-day advanced trainings. Attendees go on to collect letters, make phone calls, turn out at hearings, walk precincts, and lead environmental-advocacy campaigns. Stay tuned for our 2008 Training Series this spring and summer!
As we plan our conservation and organizing work for 2008, we'd love your input on what kinds of training you would like. Now is the time to give input, by contacting conservation organizer or call (510) 848-0800, ext. 316.
The Sierra Club has a unique tradition, reaching back over a century to our founding, of bringing people on outings to experience wild places. Nowadays the Bay Chapter sponsors hundreds of hikes, backpacks, snow camps, ski trips, car camps, river trips, and other outings each year, to virtually all the natural places of the Bay Area (and sometimes beyond). Our Hiking Section sponsors the largest number of day hikes, and many more are sponsored by Sierra Singles, Solo Sierrans, and Gay and Lesbian Sierrans, and by the Mount Diablo, Marin, and Delta Groups. Our Backpack, Car Camping, Snow Camping, and Ski Touring Sections, and the San Francisco Group's Charter Bus Section, take participants beyond the Bay Area to the mountains, coastline, and other wild places of California.
The Hiking Section's 58 volunteer leaders presented a total of 462 day hikes.
The Snowcamping Section revived its tradition of sponsoring "alumni trips" for graduates of its acclaimed Snowcamping Training Series. 49 alumni participated in seven different alumni trips, ranging from theme trips such as `Igloo 101' to scenic trips in Yosemite and trips to Sierran huts.
The reorganized Car Camping Section got off to a rousing start in 2007 with four camping trips, with great food, great hikes, and great camaraderie. Participants shared food assignments and other chores, creating a fun and unique experience for all. Five trips are now planned for 2008.
The River Touring Section's big annual event is its Kayak and Canoe Downriver and Slalom races, held each May at the Cache Creek Yolo County Campground.
About 30 active Backpack Section leaders, sharing a half millennium of collective experience, provided 50 separate mountain adventures for 500 participants during 2007, ranging from simple overnight jaunts suitable for beginners to extended wilderness tarriances for those seeking more than a brief dalliance with nature. Choices blanketed all seasons, commencing with the snowshoe trip to Bradley Hut in February, through a series of glorious kaleidoscopic spring visions of California's Lost Coast, moving into summer's High Sierra, and closing with section hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail in early fall.
The Backcountry Skiing Section plans 24 trips for its 2007-2008 season.
Sierra Singles has continued offering at least one event on every weekend day. These have included weekend outings in the Sierra, a rafting event on the American River, and a visit to Cirque du Soleil.
Gay and Lesbian Sierrans scheduled 126 outings with over 1,300 participants in 2007 - both figures almost double those for the previous year. The section trained 13 folks at its hike-leader training, and its subscriber list reached over 500 people.
Sierra Couples, consisting of both married and unmarried couples, with and without kids, does a couple of activities (because once is never enough) in just about every category and then some. Every year it does a couple of hikes, a couple of car camps, a couple of barbecues, a couple of potluck dinners, a couple of parties, and a couple of boat trips in the Delta, plus a couple more things. If you're coupled up and you're into doubling your pleasure and fun, Sierra Couples probably has a couple of activities to your liking.
This year the Chapter Activities Committee presented the annual Dave and Pat Michener Award for outstanding outings leadership to Marin Group hike leader Richard Watson. The Sierra Club's national Oliver Kehrlein Award for outstanding service to the Club's outings program went to Mount Diablo Group leader Don de Fremery.
We also offer indoor ways for people to be inspired by the beauties of nature. Our East Bay and San Francisco Dinners offer regular slide or digital presentations, usually about travel to wild and beautiful parts of the world, sometimes about environmental concerns. Many of our regional groups offer similar programs at their meetings.
The East Bay Dinners has filled its space at the Berkeley Yacht Club to capacity at all eight of its varied 2007 events, held mostly on the fourth Thursday of the month.
The San Francisco Dinners too attracted 85 - 110 people to each of its programs at City Forest Lodge, with delicious and nutritious dinners prepared by superb cook Ron Dumont. The topics ranged from the Farallones and John Muir's Sierra to the remotest corners of the world including Antarctica, Peru, Japan, and China.
The best way to learn about the Chapter's outings and events is to come to one. Whatever your level of ability and experience, there's one for you, and probably not far from where you live. For information on all these possibilities see the "Events and Activities" centerfold section in each Yodeler or the calendar on our chapter web site
Not just recreation - but helping make the world better
A primary reason for all of the Chapter's recreational activities programs is to help educate participants about nature, and a number of them go beyond recreation by direct work to make the world a better place.
Our Inner City Outings program partners with community agencies to offer camping, hiking, rafting, and other outdoor activities to youth who might not otherwise have these opportunities. The ICO mission focuses on promoting appreciation and protection of the natural environment by engaging youth with the wilderness, thus fostering the next generation of leaders and environmentalists. ICO was founded in San Francisco, and our Chapter's ICO is still one of the most active sections in the nation.
This year one of ICO's original backpacking leaders, Patrick Colgan, passed on the leadership of Thurgood Marshall High School's ICO program to new leader, Jonathan Astman. Jon attended several trips as a trainee before leading his first trip as the sole ICO leader in October, backpacking in Portola Redwoods State Park. Patrick will continue to volunteer on trips, and we are grateful for his many years of leading with ICO. ICO backpacking-section leaders led 40 trips in 2007, including day hikes, snow-camping, backpacking, and car-camping, for nearly 500 youth participants.
Some of the Chapter's most important outings are our service outings. The San Francisco Group co-sponsors a monthly (first Saturday) habitat-restoration party on Mount Davidson. Gay and Lesbian Sierrans joins with Friends of Corona Heights Habitat Restoration for a monthly work party at one of San Francisco's prime areas of native habitat. GLS also worked on several projects coordinated by Volunteers for Outdoor California's Lands including trail maintenance in several Bay Area parks, and lent muscle at the Visitacion Valley Greenway. Since 1989 the Delta Group has held regular clean-ups at its adopted park in Antioch, Contra Loma Regional Park, including both the three-mile reservoir shoreline and the one-mile park entrance road (added in 1992).
Since around 1980 the Marin Group has sponsored two or three work weekends each year to help with maintenance at the Club's Clair Tappaan Lodge at Norden in the Sierra, and celebrated Public Lands Day with a habitat-restoration day at Point Reyes National Seashore.
A number of our activity sections also contribute funds to support conservation and environmental-education efforts. Gay and Lesbian Sierrans has contributed funds to the national Sierra Club, the Club's Inner City Outings program, Environmental Traveling Companions, and Acterra.
Several activity sections have contributed funds to the Bay Chapter's conservation efforts.
Education for the outdoors
A key component of the Chapter's outings program is education. On all of our outings, leaders pay special attention to the needs of less-experienced and less-skilled participants. We believe too that bringing people to the wild places of the earth is the best way to educate them about how these places can offer us refuge from the stresses of everyday life and why it is important to protect these places. Beyond that, many sections hold formal training series on basic outdoor and backcountry skills.
The Mount Diablo Group continued its almost-annual Beginner Hike Series, with 24 participants on the first hike, 21 on the second, and 13 on the third.
The Backpack Section since 2002 has sponsored an annual beginning backpacker course, with 35 participants in 2007. The section also had six new leader trainees in 2007.
In 2007 the Snowcamping Section introduced 78 new participants to the skills and enjoyment of winter camping through its 38th annual Training Series. This depended on over 60 volunteers for everything from setting up the big training meeting to taking care of the group's equipment and, of course, leading trips. The Training Series increased to 10 adult and two family group trips. In addition, the section gave nine `Snowcamping 101' informational presentations at Bay Area outdoor-equipment stores.
The Backcountry Ski Section held a leaders' workshop for 12 of its leaders as well as two leaders from other activity sections.
The Chapter offers regular Basic Wilderness First Aid classes - for Chapter outing leaders as well as for members at large, and co-sponsors twice-yearly Wilderness First Responder courses. All outing leaders are required to have first-aid training appropriate to the type of outing they lead. This year Steve Donelan trained nearly 100 Club members in Wilderness First Aid, including dozens of outings leaders, in three classes held at our Chapter Office.
Many of our groups and committees sponsor events to educate ourselves and the general public about pressing local issues.
The Northern Alameda Group sponsored a four-night festival of environmental films and presented a workshop on "Energy Choice", as well as co-sponsoring a public forum on "Developing Liveable Communities".
The Delta Group devoted three of its bimonthly meetings to the crucial local concerns of land-use planning, parks, and water.
The Tri-Valley Group presented two sessions about the historic mining town of Tesla and future possibilities for the site.
The San Francisco Group co-sponsored the San Francisco Climate Challenge as well as a class on permaculture design.
The Chapter often has information tables at various fairs, Earth Day events, and other occasions throughout the Bay Area. We also sponsored a refreshment and information station on Bike to Work Day. We co-sponsored the State of the Estuary Conference, and an appearance by two Goldman Prize winners to tell us about illegal logging.
Gay and Lesbian Sierrans brought the Sierra Club message to San Francisco Pride, the Castro Fair, and the first annual Earth Day Fair at McLaren Park.
An important part of our educational efforts is our election outreach. We were successful in almost 80% of our endorsements in the November election, including all the races where we were actively involved.
The Yodeler and web site
The Yodeler has been the Chapter's primary form of outreach to members and to the public since 1938. In addition, in recent years we have created a web site at www.sanfranciscobay.sierraclub.org that we keep extending and improving. All Yodeler articles and our Chapter calendar are placed on-line, as well as important updates about our conservation campaigns. We also send monthly e-mail bulletins to members in each of our regional groups; to receive yours, just e-mail .
In addition to our regular coverage of Bay Area environmental news, elections, and Sierra Club events and activities, in 2007 the Yodeler did special sections on energy and global warming; parks, wildlands, and wildlife; becoming an effective volunteer; protecting open space and communities stopping sprawl; and winter outdoors.
A Yodeler highlight for the year was printing the front page in color in every issue (except the Chapter election issue, where we can not do this for technical reasons). We also ran more color (and even better photos) than ever before for our Chapter Photo Contest issue.
The Yodeler included post-card inserts (sometimes only to portions of the Chapter) on Community Choice energy in San Francisco and the East Bay, the Richmond General Plan, protecting the Tuolumne River, and Bus Rapid Transit. The thousands of members who return these post cards convey a powerful message to our officials. When you receive such an insert please send your card in.
© 2008 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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