From the Director’s Desk
This was my first month on the job for the Angeles Chapter and intense would be a big understatement for what it’s been like to step into this role during a pandemic.
The Friday before I started, I met our Chapter Chair, Sharon, at the office to exchange keys because we weren’t sure if the office would be open the following week! Since then, I’ve been working from home with the exception of a few trips to the office to get the mail. (Thank you for your March Appeal donation checks, they are very much appreciated!) In the subsequent weeks of calls and emails, we have accomplished quite a lot.
In this first edition of what I hope will be a monthly update from me, I’d like to share some news and reflections.
One of the first things I noticed when I visited the Chapter offices was the library! I love history, and the heritage of mountain climbing is a particular favorite; my grandfather was an American Alpine Club member and a 10th Mountain Division instructor during WW2. I grew up hearing stories of first ascents, pioneering guides and dedicated trail builders. When I saw the Chapter library, with first editions of John Muir, Edward Abbey, Ansel Adams and more, I felt a surge of excitement to help steward this collection, and when the pandemic is over, share our library with our community.
In the past month I have been lucky enough to meet many of you and hear your stories! I’ve spoken to Chapter leaders who have been involved for decades, some of whom recall leaders even older. Some of you grew up with the Sierra Club, while others found it through a friend's invite to an outing or a tabling event about stopping oil drilling. I’ve talked to older leaders who wish there were more young leaders, and I’ve talked to young leaders who are thrilled to be with the Club and grateful to be working with such skilled mentors. This breadth of people and experiences assures me that the Chapter is the place I want to be.
In addition to individuals, I have also been welcomed into a whirlwind of committee meetings. I have joined our Political Committee, Finance Committee, Conservation Committee, Outings Management Committee, Environmental Justice Committee, Executive Committee and several more online gatherings of regional groups and task forces. The scope of work and number of dedicated leaders is astonishing!
I have been learning to use our online tools to track membership, donations, email blasts and mailings. Former Senior Director George Watland has been generous enough to lend his expertise in the powerful systems the Sierra Club has available. Because of my background in online organizing with Avaaz, I see the potential of these systems to help connect us and amplify our impact, and I am excited to share some of those skills with you - stay tuned.
It isn’t all planning and introductions, either. We are in the middle of hiring a Communications Coordinator. We’re supporting strong environmental candidates for public office. We’ve organized an online forum with local elected officials to discuss neighborhood oil drilling. We’ve kicked off conversations to collaborate with national field staff on conservation efforts. We are setting up a new volunteer fundraising committee to support the Chapter. To support all this, we’ve revamped our volunteer page and hope to expand our ability to welcome new leaders into valuable roles. In short, we’re busy!
My guiding principle through all of these activities is building trust. I firmly believe that we can only move as fast as the ‘speed of trust’ -- when we increase our level of trust we can move faster, and when that trust is damaged, the work slows or stalls. The act of organizing, of building power to protect the planet, requires trust. I hope that you’ll join me in focusing on building trust with me, with each other, and with our communities and elected officials. If we do this well, we can emerge from the pandemic stronger than before, and respond to the ecological crisis facing our home.
I plan to end this update every month with a story about exploring and enjoying the world.
For the past 7 summers, a group of friends and I have organized a Diner, of sorts, to serve hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. We usually pick a spot north of Truckee, set up a camp kitchen, shade, coolers of soda and beer -- in short, a perfect camp. Then we lure in the unsuspecting through hikers (it isn’t that difficult), and entice them to stay as long as possible. None of us have hiked the PCT; we do it because of the quality of the stories we get to hear. Sitting around the fire, listening to close calls crossing rivers, frigid nights in the Sierra, and the characters that hike the trail, fuels our souls. You can read more about what has come to be known as ‘Morgan’s Diner’ in Outside Magazine here - enjoy!
Thank you for reading, and thank you for welcoming me into the Angeles Chapter. I’d love to hear from you! Email me at email@example.com. Stay safe.
Feeding the PCT Hikers in August of 2019
Cover Photo: Mammoth to June Lake Traverse