Later this year, if Activist Network teams’ ambitious plans come to fruition, six new environmental ambassadors, recruited by the Club’s Puerto Rico Chapter from the U.S. mainland, will march in New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. By the end of the summer, dozens of volunteers in New Jersey, including residents and vacationers, will safely release hundreds of diamondback terrapin hatchlings into Bargenat Bay. And the Club’s new, energized Establishing National Monuments Team, comprised of volunteers and staff from five national monument campaigns, will have successfully pressured President Obama to designate new national monuments.
Those are three of the 19 projects the Activist Network Support Team awarded grants for on Leap Day 2012, allocating a total of $94.850. We received 28 proposals, the most ever. (This was the Activist Network’s seventh round of grant funding for team projects.)
While all the projects that received grants were deserving — see the full list below — we want to call your attention to several that excited us the most.
The Terrapin Nesting Project was founded last spring with no funding and little time for planning by Kathy Lacey, a teacher from Pennsylvania, who had been recruited by the Marine Team for the Blue Vision Summit/Lobby in Washington, D.C.
Upon her return, she organized a town meeting in Barnegat Light on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island, where the terrapin lay their eggs. More than 100 homeowners attended, and by season’s end, Kathy and the team of volunteers she recruited successfully released more than 200 hatchlings into the bay, the first new babies in the area in 20-plus years.
This year, with a $5,000 Activist Network grant to support an expansion of the project's hatchery and all original 13 volunteers returning to train and lead new recruits, they’re hoping to build on that success, as well as work towards achieving endangered status for the Diamondback terrapin.
Another exciting initiative is the Puerto Rico Chapter’s Environmental Ambassador Project, whereby volunteers are recruited from six mainland cities in order to broaden support for the Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor. These ambassadors would participate in trainings, conference calls, and be given the opportunity to march in New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. At the same time, these volunteers will be focused on environmental issues in their own communities — in Holyoke, Massachusetts, for example, the Puerto Rican community is actively working with the Sierra Club to close the Mt. Tom Coal Fired Power Plant.
Below is the full list of funded projects. A couple others are pending.
Activist Network Project Grants — February 29, 2012
Borderlands Team — Film Screenings and Community Outreach ($9,000)
With a strong core team and a staff person paid for by the Grand Canyon Chapter, the Borderlands Team has been one of the Activist Network’s highest performing teams. Last year, the team presented more than 40 screenings of Wild Versus Wall in southern and northern border states and recruited six new leaders to its core team. It also raised thousands of dollars in small donations from individuals, chapters, and groups.
In 2012, it will continue its work to prevent the erection of new border walls and other destructive enforcement activities along the southern and northern borders, urging Congress to fund mitigation for the damage wrought by existing walls, and repeal section 102 of the Real ID Act, which allows for the waiving of environmental laws to erect border walls. (The Support Team also allocated $5,000 for a Borderlands Team organizing event/lobby day.)
Expanding Role of Renewables and Efficiency for Rural Electric Cooperatives ($2,700)
This new team, launched by Iowa Chapter leaders, aims to bring together activists for an organizing event and outreach effort to pressure the state’s rural electric cooperatives to generate more power from efficiencies, renewables, and distributed generation. The team plans to meet with the cooperatives that are already setting a good example.
Save Local Solar ($6,000)
The San Diego Chapter seeks to support distributed generation of solar, like rooftop solar on homes, schools, and businesses, and oppose a “network use charge” proposed by the local utility that would slow the growth of solar. The chapter is using this campaign as an opportunity to grow the number of activist and volunteer leaders through activities such as letter writing, lobbying, testifying at hearings, and street theater.
Club board director Rob Wilder, a clean energy professional from San Diego, says the other California utilities are watching this closely.
Tennessee Climate Action ($2,500)
This project aims to identify and engage 500 climate change activists across Tennessee to model carbon reduction behaviors and pressure the Tennessee Valley Authority for an annual 1 percent increase in energy efficiency.
Wildlife & Endangered Species Team Organizing Event ($4,500)
The team is meeting in March to craft a strategic plan to grow the team, develop educational webinars, and create and support local wildlife lobby teams.
Resilient Habitats Lobby ($12,000)
This is a well-organized project that we have supported for the past two years. Led by activsits from the Wildlands and Wildlife & Endangered Species teams, this project recruits and trains new and experienced activists to lobby Congress in support of wilderness designation with an emphasis on protecting cores and corridors, habitat and species from climate change stresses, and in opposition to bills that would weaken land and species protections.
(Here are reports from the 2010 and 2011 lobbies.)
Population/Consumption High School Outreach Campaign ($2,350)
The Atlantic Chapter will develop lesson plans and presentations on the interconnectedness of population growth and consumption, sponsor an essay competition, and invite the winner to lobby Congress and/or state legislators on family planning and other related issues. The team aims to reach 750 students in 25 schools, and soliciting 100 essays.
Establishing National Monuments Organizing Event ($5,000)
Veteran volunteer leader Jill Workman, who helped create the Borderlands Team, has now launched another new team, bringing together volunteers and staff from five national monument campaigns along with the lands and communications staffers to build campaign to pressure President Obama to use his power to grant national monument status. (Congressional approval not necessary!)
Diamondback Terrapin Nesting Project ($5,000)
Building on last year’s successful pilot, this project aims to expand the hatchery, grow last year’s volunteers into this year’s leaders and trainers, and organize beach cleanups.
Recruiting Ambassadors for Puerto Rico’s Northeast Corridor ($7,000)
The chapter aims to recruit volunteers in within Puerto Rican communities in Orlando; Chicago; Hartford, the Bronx and Yonkers, N.Y.; and Holyoke, Massachusetts to advocate for environmental issues in their own communities as well as in Puerto Rico.
Building the CRACK Frack Export Team ($5,000)
Launched by leaders in Oregon and Colorado, this new Cross-Rockies Activist Coalition to Kill Renegade Fracking & LNG Export team brings together activists from eight states in the Northern Rockies to develop an educational campaign and strategy to oppose the export of natural gas and support clean energy alternatives.
Forest Certification Team ($5,000)
The team continues to work advancing strong standards with the Forest Stewardship Council and U.S. Green Building Council. This year, it plans to work with chapters on educational materials on the importance of credible forest certification.
Marcellus Shale Exposed ($4,000)
Pennsylvania activists bring together experts and organizers for educational/organizing conference in support of fight the dangers of natural gas drilling in the area.
Protect Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest ($1,000)
Outreach campaign to demonstrate that residents and businesses in central Washington support the benefits of additional wilderness for its contributions to clean air, pure water, and economic and recreational opportunities.
California/Nevada Wilderness Team — Words of the Wild ($1,800)
Support continued publication of the Words of the Wild newsletter while helping the team expand its digital presence and migrate from print to email.
Building Climate Friendly Communities ($7,000)
Builds on successful chapter project in 2011 promoting sustainable development in San Francisco peninsula cities, and expand network of Cool Cities Teams — self-sustaining community groups working on local climate change solutions. Could serve as model for other chapters. Last year, they hosted four Healthy Communities Forums, averaged seven house parties each month, and tabled at dozens of public events.
The Support Team also awarded four mini-grants:
- $500 to Sustainable and Small Farm Action to push for state-level requirements that local institutions, like schools and jails, purchase a designated percentage of the food they use from local sources.
- $500 to Massachusetts Green Communities to help cities and towns in the state develop climate plans to become Green Communities and gain access to state funding for energy efficiency and renewables projects.
- $500 for National School Lights Out Day, the New Jersey-based Students Saving Energy’s project to organize high schools to turn off lights on March 30 to raise awareness about electricity consumption and generation. (Led by 2011 Club award winner Victoria Pan.)
- $500 to support Grazing Team leader Mike Hudak’s House Parties/Bicycle Tour in Support of Grazing Reform. He plans for 10 presentations per month over a period of several months in eastern U.S. and will travel between these presentations on a recumbent tricycle.
Congratulations and good luck to these ambitious teams and projects. We look forward to hearing about your progress.
— Kirsten Dohrer, Clayton Daughenbaugh, John Byrne Barry, Jonathan Ivers, Sophie Matson, Les Barry, Marilyn Wall, Fran Caffee, Norm Sharp, and Patrick Murphy on behalf of the Activist Network Support Team