Right Time, Right Place
Sierra Club at the White House
YES, it was way cool to be at the White House for President Obama’s first Virtual Town Hall Meeting! I was able to accept this last minute invitation (they almost all are last minute, with 24-48 hours to respond) and join Jackie Ward, a Club environmental justice and community activist from DC, as Sierra Club representatives to this event. I can never resist the opportunity to talk to the people around me, whether in the queue or sitting in the audience, to share what brought us to the event. My immediate neighbors included an advisor to NRDC, volunteers from Organizing for America and Care2, a small businessman from Los Angeles, a group of healthcare workers, and a school teacher. From all the email and Facebook messages I received, I was glad to learn that so many of you also participated online. Engagement in this “experiment” was impressive.
Get used to it -- the Sierra Club has a whole different level of access to this administration. Earlier this week Athan Manuel, the Sierra Club’s Senior Director of Lands, answered the Club’s invitation to the White House to witness the President’s signing of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, historic legislation that will protect 2 million acres of wilderness. These ceremonial events are the window dressing, but nevertheless a lot of fun. More important, on substantive opportunities to move the Club’s conservation priorities, Board Vice President Robin Mann notes that the our federal legislative teams are at the table with congressional staff almost daily, keeping the pressure on for progressive energy, land, transportation, and environmental quality legislation.
Right Place, Right Time
When Carl was at a White House reception last month he had an opportunity to describe the Sierra Club Military Families Outdoors (MFO) Program, a partnership between the Sierra Club and the National Military Families Association, to Michelle Obama, realizing that support for military families is one of her priorities. Military Families Outdoors allocates funds donated for this express purpose. The goal of this program is to provide military personnel and/or their families a quality outdoor experience. Last year, MFO sent 13,000 military family members to camp. The program is expected to serve even more this year!
“Red, White & Green” is a Sierra Club Productions and Backcountry Films documentary that tells the story of a week-long outdoor camp experience for children who have one or more parent deployed. The film recently had its world premier at the Environmental Film Festival in DC, and earlier this week I attended the film’s premier for military families at Camp Pendleton, along with Base Sergeant Major Cook, Foundation Executive Director Peter Martin, and filmmaker Sally Kaplan. Campers and their families were greeted with full red carpet treatment. Every single person in the audience stayed through the full credits!
Here I am with Jordan Pittard, one of the MFO campers and son of Brigadier General Dana Pittard...
...and here are some campers getting ready to scuba dive.
View a clip from the "Red, White & Green" documentary here.
Hats off to Brittany Mckee, Martin Le Blanc, and Lori Stutz for the incredible work and impact this program is having to connect military families with the healing powers of our natural heritage.
Every moment has the potential to be the right place and right time!
P.S. A reminder that I'll be hosting an "open house" conference call on Tuesday, April 7. I'll be talking about the challenges facing the Sierra Club, taking questions, and doing my best to answer them. Here's the call-in number and code: 1-866-501-6174 -- 1892-005.
Please RSVP here.
P.S.S. One last thing. I want to share important news from our nation's capitol -- (1) President Obama's budget, which we strongly support, has passed both the House and Senate, and now heads for reconciliation, and (2) Representatives Henry Waxman and Ed Markey have introduced a "discussion draft" of a Climate and Clean Energy bill that the Club is also supporting, and will be working to make stronger as it moves forward. Check out our Talking Points section in Clubhouse to learn more.