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From our Roots to the Summit: Sierra Club Direction Setting Process
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by Paul Wilson | 2005

Read about how over 700 delegates assembled at the Summit for a Direction Setting Process that will influence the Club’s environmental priorities for the next 5 years

As previously reported, your Sierra Club chapter sent 6 delegates to Direction Setting Process meeting which was held during the Sierra Summit in San Francisco.  All six of our delegates participated in the Chapter version of this process and some participated in the Mon Group exercise.  Over 700 delegates assembled at the Summit for a Direction Setting Process that will influence the Club’s environmental priorities for the next 5 years.

The Deliberative Session for the Direction Setting Process was conducted via 2 meetings during the Sierra Summit; Thursday, September 8th and Saturday, September 10th.  The deliberative sessions, spanning eight hours over two days, marked the first time this many Club delegates have gathered in one place to discuss and vote on priorities. Delegates, seated ten to a table, recorded their votes on wireless hand-held “option-finder” keypads that looked like oversized garage door openers.

Each Delegate also had a presentation of the data collected from 39 Chapters, 116 Groups, and 27 National Committees/staff entities.  These responses were analyzed in total from all Club entities, by Group, Chapter, and National Committee, and by responses from each region of the U.S.  The analysis of this data can be viewed on the Sierra Club website at: http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/sierrasummit/direction-setting/Pre-Summit-Deliberative-Results.doc

Please contact me if you need the password for this website.

Thus, after six months of chapter and group meetings leading up to the Summit and eight hours of deliberation once there, 700 delegates chose “Building a New Energy Future” as the Club’s top priority over the next five years. Nearly two-thirds of delegates voted it the most important priority.

Delegates didn’t just vote on conservation priorities, but on the Club’s effectiveness in pursuing them. For example, 64 percent of delegates felt that Building a New Energy Future should be a top priority, but they rated our effectiveness in pursuing this goal at 3.2 (out of 10). By contrast, while 49 percent ranked Defending Federal Lands/Public Waters as a top priority, it garnered a 5.5 effectiveness rating. 

Table 1.  Conservation Approaches Vote as Ranked by Importance and Effectiveness by Summit Delegates

Approaches

Importance

Effectiveness

A-Build a New Energy Future

64%

3.2

H-Build Vibrant, Healthy Communities

52%

3.2

B-Defend Federal Lands/Public Waters

49%

5.5

D-Protect People and Planet from Pollution

46%

4.1

F-Protect the Global Environment

38%

2.9

E-Invest in Building Sustainable Economies and Businesses

38%

2.6

G-Protect State and Local Places

35%

5.2

C-Promote Wise individual/Consumer Choices

32%

3.1

In our grassroots work, the Sierra Club invests its energy and resources in many ways to impact environmental decisions.  Delegates also voted on how the Club should best invest its resources to reach these goals. The results:

Top Three Capacities by vote:

         E. Seek new allies and build coalitions
         H. Create media visibility
         A. Bring people together

In our grassroots work, the Sierra Club invests its energy and resources in many ways to impact environmental decision-makers.   Delegates chose the top three ways to impact environmental decision-makers. They were:

Top Three Capacities by vote:

         D. Influence voter’s electoral decisions
         B. Influence state policy makers
         C. Influence local decision-makers about specific places

The Deliberative Sessions in San Francisco affirmed the collective priorities that resulted from the Group, Chapter and National Committee surveys.  While these may be the “collective” priorities of the grassroots of the Club, the national Board of Directors will still have to affirm them at their November meeting in San Francisco.  Then, in conjunction with the results of the National Purpose/Local Action study, the Club will have to initiate campaigns and programs to implement these priorities.  

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