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Reflections on the Club's First Ever Summit
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by Navneet Bhullar | 2005

The Chapter's At-Large Summit Delegate reflects on the fun and the work experienced at the Sierra Summit

Interacting with other delegates was enlightening to say the least. It put things in perspective. For instance, the western U.S. continues to be a leader in good environmental results.

And that may not just be because they are more passionate or diligent (they are more active certainly, just going by the number of Sierra Club chapters per population in California).  However, they have less bureaucratic resistance, too. The Mayor of San Francisco had to be heard to be believed. He had made sure the Moscone Center where the Summit was held, is predominantly solar energy powered. We in the rest of the US have miles to go….

And then there were the sessions, ranging from the philosophical to the pragmatic.

On the last day of the summit there were two sessions that had us riveted.

The first was Marshall Ganz’s presentation on the National Purpose/Local Action study.  He has taught organizing for over a decade at Harvard. He had led a study in 2003 estimating the Organizational Effectiveness of Sierra Club Groups and Chapters, and talked for an hour (and answered questions for almost another hour), bringing home the point that we may have the sincerest intentions but implementing them at the grassroot level would require more than that . And he put forward the idea of leadership training yet once more. His report is available online: purpose/ .

Among key things in this report we need to pay attention to- only 10% of Executive Committee members recruit half of the new leaders and 70% of Excom members recruited no new leaders at all. Groups and chapters do little to develop leaders, and this needs to be bettered for our (the Sierra Club’s) great intentions to bear fruit in the coming years and decades.

The second was a forum for students to discuss how their efforts can bear fruition. There someone mentioned recycling has peaked.  Being that coming from some students in California, it may be forgivable. Communities there may be doing close to all they think can be done. An elderly Canadian stated he disagreed saying this is not so in the rest of the developed world, and I told them about my community in southern WV where we dump everything in landfills because the city is not interested in mass recycling. A film producer has promised to send a DVD of his film Respect Yo' Mama Here Comes Mr. Recycle Man.  That may be what I was looking for-----

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