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Sierra Club National Annual Board Meeting in San Francisco
August 2013

By Justin Ebrahemi

Kevin CollinsVentana Chapter Executive Committee member Kevin Collins explaining the threats of fracking in Monterey County at the National Sierra Club Annual Meeting (Photograph: Justin Ebrahemi).

From September 18 to 22, Sierra Club delegates from across the country gathered in San Francisco for the annual Board of Directors meeting and Banquet. Executive Director Michael Brune invigorated the Council of Club Leaders and Board of Directors with an inspirational speech about overcoming the war on pessimism in the environmental community.

Citing the recent passing of SB 4 (which the Club opposed -see article below), the bill that convolutes the future of hydraulic fracking in California, Brune attributes Governor Jerry Brown's action to the cynical ideology that we cannot curb environmental ruination. "The collective negativity on climate change hurts us. We're justified in being alarmed in the fate of our planet, but we shouldn't stop there…the pessimism stifles our ambition, muzzles our desires to do things."

Michael Brune went on to establish a resolute mission statement for the Sierra Club: a 100% clean economy that uses energy that is completely safe, sustainable, and carbon-free. Earlier this year, Brune met with President Obama on climate change. It is significant to note that the President is justifiably proud that generation of renewable energy from wind and solar doubled during his first term and he has now committed to seeing it double again.

Drawing on this commitment from the President, Brune continued his speech by stating that by 2030, it is important for the Sierra Club to be leading advocates for cuts in the use of oil by half and to cease the production of new fossil fuel projects. He responded to environmental cynicism with clear reasons to be optimistic, citing that the price of wind energy has dropped by 90% in the past decade, and the price of solar declined 80% in the past three years.

Indeed, the weekend hosted an array of positive thinking in the war against pessimism. One example was Kathy Lacey's incredible story of the Terrapin Nesting Project, where she saved the endangered Terrapin Turtle population after the destruction of their Jersey Shore habitat following Hurricane Sandy.

What began as a solitary movement progressed into a community coalition of hundreds of volunteers, who moved eggs from their former beach habitat, which was further threatened by raccoon predation, to an enclosed sandy area. Lacey aptly won a Special Achievement Award.

Chapter delegates and board members reinforced the significance of Sierra Club's grassroots activism. Chris Thomas introduced an innovative online module to build grassroots movements. By applying Facebook, the module uses a simple interface to localize issues and help interested users launch events. Users will be able to track campaigns with a live feed. This brilliant concept is expected to stimulate young new members to help in the fight for a sustainable future.

The Club further introduced a Diversity Inclusion Plan which aims to increase ethnic and age diversity within membership and volunteerism.

As a personal note, this meeting reinvigorated my passion for a sustainable future and proved that the Sierra Club is at the forefront of the green movement. Meeting with dozens of fellow delegates, I witnessed cultural and political diversity amongst us; however, under the banner of The Sierra Club, we all came together for a fight against climate change. I felt an intense privilege to be within the nucleus of environmental change, as I anticipate amazing things occurring for a greener tomorrow.

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