Hoosier Fun and Frolic at Midwest Gathering
Sunny skies and warm weather greeted the sixteen members of the Hoosier Chapter at the Midwest Regional Gathering August 24-25. The gathering was held at Camp Miniwanca in Shelby, Michigan, located on the edge of beautiful Lake Michigan. The Mackinac Chapter arranged the gathering, which was attended by 130 activists from all around the Midwest. The weekend included activist training, inspiring discussions, and fun and frolic under the sun and stars.
Inspiring talks given by Carl Pope, Sierra Club's Executive Director, and Robbie Cox, Immediate Past President, and current Vice President, highlighted the weekend. It was great to have our club's national leaders there to give us insight into the Washington political scene. In addition, they offered suggestions on how Chapters and Groups can address their local issues.
Robbie Cox made us proud to be Sierrans by reminding us that the Sierra Club successfully led the fight to defeat Newt Gingrich's attempts to roll back 25 years of environmental protection. He also reported that our positions on environmental issues have made their way back into discussions on the Congressional floor.
Carl Pope spoke on two different occasions. In the first speech, he and Anne Woiwode talked about making your public officials "accountable." They demonstrated various techniques for getting politicians to be accountable on environmental issues by describing numerous examples, both from their own experiences and from fellow Sierrans in the audience. In Pope's second speech, he described the scenario that turned the 104th Congressional Session from the "War on the Environment" into the best year for environmental legislation in ten years.
An important part of the weekend was the collection of workshops focusing on water quality issues and activist training. Training sessions included the following: political action, media skills, outings, newsletters, legal skills and membership recruitment. Various water quality issues were presented through panel discussions, and included agricultural issues, holding legislators accountable (led by Carl Pope), and water issues covering the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and the Great Lakes Ecoregion. Most workshops included "best practices" in which groups and chapters shared success stories.
Fun and FrolicWe worked hard, but we played even harder. Friday night's festivities included a welcoming reception and a bonfire accompanied by musical Sierrans. Saturday afternoon's break provided an opportunity to canoe, hike, swim in Lake Michigan or just bum on the beach. That evening we enjoyed contra dancing, and viewing the moon and Jupiter through a telescope brought by an astronomer from the Van Andel Museum Center in Grand Rapids. We even heard a story told by John Muir himself. Several of us topped off the evening by taking a moonlit dip in Lake Michigan to splash around in the waves.
At the end of the Gathering on Sunday all of the Hoosier Chapter delegates met to discuss strategy for the upcoming November elections. Each Hoosier delegate described what he/she can contribute to "Get Out the Vote" in important Indiana races, such as the Indiana governorship (Sierra Club has endorsed Lt. Governor Frank O'Bannon), the 2nd congressional district (Sierra Club had endorsed Marc Carmichael), and the 10th congressional district (no endorsement made). The Political Action Committee will be meeting soon to plot strategy. You may be contacted asking for your help in some of these important political races. If you are interested in helping us out please call the Sierra Club office for information on how to get involved. The number is (317) 972-1903.
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