From the Director’s Desk for June
In this, the second edition of the Directors Desk update, I want to continue to share with you the most interesting bits of the job, give you a sense of what the Chapter is up to, and share a brief story about family and the mountains.
In my first two months on the job, I have spent a great deal of time on the phone and Zoom calls thinking about how we can do a better job protecting the planet. I wish that I could also be joining outings to connect with Sierra Club members on the trail. I find that conversations on the trail can be so rich.
Even if I can't hike with you, I still find I do my best thinking on the trail. So as I considered my first big hiring decision, I went for a long solo hike over Monrovia peak to think it through. I am very pleased with where we ended up. Click here to meet Jonathan! We are thrilled to welcome him to the team and eager to get to work supporting our efforts. I am so grateful to work in an organization where thinking through big decisions by going for a hike (off the clock!) is seen as totally normal!
Hiring a communications coordinator, and working on things other than outings, is really important right now because the world is burning.
We are working hard to create new opportunities for Angeles chapter members to have an impact on climate change. For instance, in collaboration with national Sierra Club staff and our conservation committee chair, Darrell Clarke, we have kicked off a Building Electrification campaign. This effort will seek to pass policies in our cities and counties to encourage all new construction to use only electric appliances, reducing our burning of gas. In addition, we are expanding our Clean Break committee’s fight for a 2,500' setback between oil wells and homes, even though budget shortfalls and a big oil lobby are forcing us more and more to play defense. We are playing defense in other areas too, such as our water committee mobilizing to push back against the Poseidon desalination plant and Chapter leaders asking the City of LA to keep their department of Climate Emergency Mobilization. It’s not all defense though: with Nature For All, we are exploring Open Streets policies to give our communities more spaces to be outside without having to worry about traffic. This is only a small portion of all the work the chapter is doing, and the urgency of the climate crisis makes me wish I had more time to support our Sierra Club leaders!
In addition to conservation work and hiring, a theme that I try to bring to all my work at the chapter is building trust. Starting with my job interview, I've spoken about the importance of building trust. I believe that any given group has a level of trust that governs how fast things can move, and the only way to move faster is to increase the trust.
"What builds trust?" I often find that to be an excellent question to guide conversations or shape strategy. In particular, our chapter continues to be aware that we are getting older, and we wonder how to invite the younger generation in to help carry the load. These conversations, often framed in terms of equity, inclusion and justice, are critical to the future of the Club -- how else can we welcome in a younger and more diverse set of new leaders? As I continue to learn about the Chapter, I am listening to what has worked well and what could work better. As we explore equity, inclusion and justice together, I want to keep asking the question 'what builds trust' -- if we do that, I think we'll do amazing things.
To close out this week's column, I'd like to return to where I began -- outings and the exploration of our majestic mountains. The pandemic has limited how far I am willing to travel, and so I have tried to keep all my hikes within LA county. Thanks to the Hundred Peaks Section leadership, I have discovered the list of significant peaks in the area. This list reminds me of the list of peaks at home in the Adirondacks of New York, where climbing the 46 peaks above 4,000' was a right of passage. In a total coincidence, on the rare book shelf in the Chapter's library I found a 1958 copy of The Adirondack 46ers. Sure enough, at the back of the book is a list of people who'd completed 'the 46', and I found my grandfather, Jim Goodwin, as number 22. In honor of Grandpa Jim, and as a tip of the hat to the Angeles Chapter's mountain climbers, I've started keeping a list of my progress toward the Hundred Peaks list.
As I sign off for now, I urge you to stay safe, but push ever onward in your efforts to explore, enjoy and protect the planet.