General conservation issues

Silence Is Consent: Solidarity With All People Fighting Oppression

In 1967 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon in which he said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

In my new role as the Director of Equity, Inclusion and Justice at the Sierra Club, I have a lot of conversations that begin with questions like, “Why should the Sierra Club get involved in issues outside of the environmental movement? Why are we speaking out about Black Lives Matter, or the Fight for $15? What does this have to do with us?”

Whenever I hear these questions, I reflect on Dr. King’s quote. What does it mean to stand silently by while members of our community are suffering? For me, silence is consent.

That’s why the Sierra Club can’t and won’t be silent. This is more true than ever in the wake of an election that has left the progressive movement reeling, and people with marginalized identities in fear for their safety.

As an organization, we do not consent to the violence visited upon the bodies of Black people in the United States. We do not consent to the exploitation of workers, or to attacks on voting rights for disenfranchised people, or to the theft of land from indigenous people. We do not consent to injustice or the oppression of any people, anywhere.

We also do not consent to the normalization of white supremacy that Donald Trump’s election represents. As a person of color living in the United States, I do not labor under the illusion that the virulent hatred Trump has unleashed is a new phenomenon. This ugliness has been part of our community all along – the election just exposed it to the light. Regardless, the Sierra Club will not sit idly by as our volunteers, our staff, and our friends and neighbors are deported, persecuted for their religious beliefs, or denied control over their own bodies and lives.

The Sierra Club strives to be in solidarity with the powerful network of activists and organizers united in the fight against oppression. We are working inside the Sierra Club to become a more inclusive, equitable, and justice-oriented organization, and we seek to learn from the experiences of others on this path.

Our mission statement says that the Sierra Club will “enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.” On November 8th, the human and social environment in which we live got a whole lot less safe and healthy for a lot of folks. Donald Trump’s election threatens the safety and social support of millions of our friends and neighbors. It is our mission, our obligation and our moral imperative to speak up, to lend our resources, and to show up in solidarity with people fighting for justice wherever we can.

This is a dark and difficult time for many of us. It would be easy to retreat, keep our heads down and focus narrowly on what are traditionally known as “our issues.” But justice, equity, and inclusion are our issues. We have a duty to stand with those who are facing persecution on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexuality or other marginalized identity. Solidarity is our only hope of creating the world we want to live in.

If you, like me, don’t consent to oppression, racism and hatred, then don’t be silent. Educate yourself about how you can show up for the LGBTQ community. Find your local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice and attend a meeting or a rally. Challenge hate speech when you hear it. Write to your local elected leaders and ask them to stand with immigrants and undocumented people in your community. Leverage the resources, influence, and power of organizations in your own life to lift up equity, justice, and inclusion. Now is the time to engage. We don’t have a moment to waste.

Statement of Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Protectors

On Thursday, September 15th Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club members joined over 150 Pittsburghers downtown outside of the Federal Building in support of the Standing Rock Sioux who are protecting their water, land, and sacred sites from being destroyed by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

During the demonstration demonstrators blocked traffic with a 75’ long mock pipeline, signs, and their bodies, blocking traffic on Liberty Ave. during rush hour. At the demonstration participants heard from allies from all backgrounds, including a member of Save Our Salem, a local group in Salem Township fighting the destructive impacts in their community after the disastrous impacts from the April 29th, 2016 pipeline explosion and the Mariner East II pipeline project. In addition native voices from the Dakota Nation were heard from as well.

The Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club stands in solidarity with indigenous communities fighting for their rights for sovereignty, dignity, and the protection of their water, air, land, and cultural spaces. We encourage our members to educate themselves and continue to get involved and support this important pipeline battle, not just for the environment, but for native sovereignty. 14292402_1032206146901047_2499831580862029476_n

Since April, 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux have had several encampments protecting the land and water from the DAPL. The pipeline would carry 470,000 barrels of crude a day to Pakota, Illinois where it will link with other pipelines and be carried to refineries around the country. If built, the pipeline will be a cultural and environmental threat to the Standing Rock Sioux. The pipeline crosses the Nation’s traditional hunting, fishing and burial territory as well as directly crossing under the Missouri River, the Sioux’s main source of water.

The Water Protectors have been met with violent responses from police, private security firms and North Dakota politicians who declared a State of Emergency to discredit the encampments.

On Friday, September 9, the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Justice and Department of the Interior jointly announced they would temporarily stop construction under a lake that serves as a critical source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and asked the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, to voluntarily halt construction within 20-miles of the lake. However, construction continues in other sections of the project. During Thursday’s demonstration, supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux called on the Army Corps of Engineers to permanently halt construction of the pipeline.

To learn more check out the resources below:

Indigenous Environmental Network:

No DAPL Solidarity:


Bruce Sundqust. Scientist, Outlngs Leader, Publisher, and Conservationist, 1936 – 2016.


In the early morning of April 15, 2016 Bruce Sundquist died quietly in his bed at the age of 79, a fitting end for a modest and peaceful man.

Immediately after obtaining his Ph.D from Illinois Inst. of Technology in 1960 Bruce Sundquist accepted a job at U.S. Steel’s research laboratry in Monroeville, PA. The young man from Minnesota soon enjoyed hiking in the Appalachian mountains and when he joined the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy he began a long career of voluntary conservationism. When the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club was formed in 1970 Bruce was one of its first members, becoming a regular outings leader and eventually chair of the Outings Committee. In the late 70s he joined Sam Hays and Dick Pratt as they explored areas on Allegheny National Forest for potential inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, leading to designation of the Hickory Creek Wilderness Area in 1984. In West Virginia he was a regular visitor to the Dolly Sods area, working towards designation of that unique spot as a federal wilderness area in 1975. (more…)


The Allegheny Group Sierra Club’s Huplits Wildlife Grants Committee is seeking grant proposals to help protect animal wildlife and wildlife habitat in Pennsylvania. Approximately $50,000 will be available for the 2016 Huplits Wildlife Grant Competition. Nine grants were awarded in the 2015 competition, totaling $49,479.

Application guidelines:

  • We seek projects that directly impact wildlife in Pennsylvania on a regional or statewide level.
  •  A proposal may involve public education, grassroots campaign organization, litigation, land acquisition, or research that directly focuses on protecting Pennsylvania wildlife, its
    habitat, and preventing cruelty to animals.
  • Projects will normally be funded for no more than two years. Under special circumstances a project may be extended.
  • Grants may be sought by by non-Sierra Club organizations in Pennsylvania, although preference will be given to such organizations only if the proposed project is in
    partnership with Sierra Club members.
  • Applications seeking Sierra Club preference must be accompanied by a supporting letter from their local PA Sierra Club Group Chair.
  • All proposals should include a copy of their IRS 501 (c)(3) designation letter.

All proposals should be submitted in WORD format and include the overall purpose and goal of the project, objectives, major activities, resources required, specific timelines, a detailed budget, and a contact person’s name, address, phone number & email.

DEADLINE: Submit proposals no later than May 6th, 2016 to Ed Chute (Huplits 2016 Committee Chair) via e-mail at If you have any questions, contact Ed via email or call 724.516-7751.

Allegheny Group Election Results

Thanks to all members who voted by ballot for the new members of the Allegheny Group’s Executive Committee. Elected for two-year terms are: Barbara Grover, Mike Pastorkovich, Naomi Swerdlow. and Eva Westheimer. The four new ExCom members join Rick Arnold, Gwen Chute, Veronica Coptis, Matt Peters, and Chris Shepherd. Barbara Grover will continue as Group Chair, with Michael as Vice-Chair.

Read the Spring 2018 Sierran


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