Peak & Prairie
February / March 1998
by Dave Mastronarde
As I write this, I have two days left as Chapter Chair. I would first like to thank you, the members, for your support of Sierra Club's efforts in the past year or more. However, because a big part of my job has been asking other people to do things, I would also like to make three requests of you. My first request is that you consider one way in which you can change your behavior to benefit the environment. We are embedded in the most wastefully consumptive culture on the planet. It takes a special effort to swim against the tide and limit your own impact on the environment. For example, the more people there are around you driving pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, the less safe you will feel in a small, efficient car, and the more pressure you will feel to buy a big monster of your own.
Of course, when you do one thing to reduce your consumption, you will probably find that you are being inconsistent - recycling but not composting, saving paper but not electricity, etc. The only people who have the comfort of consistency are those who don't care enough to do anything at all. Ironically, these tend to be the same people who criticize the inconsistencies of those who do try to live more lightly on the earth. Don't worry about consistency - just keep taking one step after another.
I realize that it is unreasonable to ask people to change their behaviors when much larger, structural changes are needed before individuals can modify their consumptive habits. It's hard to recycle without an adequate collection program; it's a challenge not to drive to work when public transportation is inconvenient; it would be difficult to use renewable energy in Colorado without something like the Windsource program. With rare exceptions, isolated individuals cannot bring about these structural change; it requires people working together, in organizations like the Sierra Club, engaging in an unsavory activity called politics. It is currently fashionable (and reasonable) to be cynical about politics, but when this cynicism leads to nonparticipation, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it allows the polluters, developers, and other moneyed interests to have their way unimpeded.
So, my second request is, don't give up on organizations of committed and knowledgeable individuals working to change society for the better. Consider participating in, or at least supporting, their efforts.
Finally, as a transition to my new role as Fundraising Chair for the Chapter, I would like to request your support during our annual fund appeal in March. This is the one time during the year when we make a direct request to our members for funds to support our work in Colorado. It represents a crucial part of our budget. We receive only about $4 per member from the National organization, and the largest source of additional income is our annual appeal. The funds support our legislative program and many of the other activities that you can read about in this news
letter. Please consider giving generously. A volunteer from one of our
local Groups may call you in conjunction with the appeal. The Groups receive a 40% share
of funds that they raise from these calls. None of us like to make or receive these calls,
but I think that the calls are considerably less obnoxious when done by volunteers than by
professionals. Also, because the callers are volunteers, this is an extremely efficient
fundraiser, with expenses only about 3% of the income. Again, please respond favorably.
Even if you can't give us any extra assistance, rest assured that we appreciate your