April 19, 2014

Join in Earth Day Events 2014

june 31 2011 020 lo-res copyThe Sierra Club will be taking part in Earth Day Events all over the Bay Area this April.  Come to these events; even better, volunteer to help staff the Sierra Club tables.  It is an opportunity to introduce others to the Club and inform them about our environmental concerns. This year we will especially focus on water conservation and stopping fracking.

Delta Group

Sat., April 5—Earth Day work party, Fredrickson Lane, Contra Loma Park, Antioch. For details, see Chapter Calendar.

Sat., April 26—John Muir Earth Day/birthday celebration at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez. If you can help, please contact Janess Hanson at (925)458-0860. For more details see page F.

West Contra Costa County Group

Sat., April 26—El Cerrito Earth Day. To participate in a Sierra Club West Contra Costa Group Earth Day clean-up team, 9 am – noon, followed by volunteer-appreciation lunch, contact Gabe Quinto at (415)265-4610 or gtq2002@yahoo.com.

Northern Alameda County Group

Wed., April 9—Oakland Earth Day at Frank Ogawa Plaza—set-up at 9:30 am, tabling from 10 – 2, clean-up 2 – 2:30 pm.

Sat., April 12—Berkeley Bay Festival at Berkeley Marina—set-up at 10 am, tabling 11 – 4, and clean-up 4 – 4:30.

Sat., April 19, Emeryville Fair at Doyle Hollis Park—set up at 10 am, tabling 11 – 3, and clean-up 3 – 3:30 pm

Sat., April 19, City of Alameda Earth Day Fair at Washington Park—set-up at 9:30 am, tabling 10 – 3, and clean-up 3 – 3:30.

San Francisco

Wed., April 16—BART Blue Sky at Justin Herman Plaza—set-up 10 – 11 am, tabling 11 – 2, clean-up 2 – 3 pm.

Sat., April 19—SF Earth Day Festival at San Francisco Civic Center—set-up at 8 am, tabling 9 – 6, clean up 6 – 7 pm. Also see page 5 for article on the Earth Day march in San Francisco.

To volunteer at any of these Northern Alameda or San Francisco events, contact Chapter volunteer coordinator Ben Alvers at volunteer@sfbaysc.org or (510)848-0800.

New Ward Hut for backcountry skiers and snowshoers

Bradley Hut was one of several inspirations for the new hut. Photo by Dick Simpson.

Bradley Hut was one of several inspirations for the new hut. Photo by Dick Simpson.

The Sierra Club is beginning a design study for a new backcountry ski and snowshoe hut, to be built as a memorial to the late Paul Ward, whose family and friends are funding the project. This will be the fifth Sierra Club hut in the Donner Summit/Lake Tahoe area, the first new one since 1957.

Finding a suitable location will be an early goal. The study will also consider environmental issues, hut design and engineering, and cost. Timing of construction will depend on results of the study. People with suggestions for location or design should contact the Club’s hut volunteer coordinator, Dick Simpson, at hut.coord@yahoo.com.

Paul Ward grew up in San Francisco and Burlingame, settled in San Jose, and had a successful career in Silicon Valley technology, working for Eimac, Memorex, and Verbatim. He discovered skiing on his own; his parents did not ski. At age 17 he was at Squaw Valley, watching the

Paul Ward. Photo by Kerri Antes.

Paul Ward. Photo by Kerri Antes.

1960 Winter Olympics; a few years later he was working as a weekend ski patroller at Dodge Ridge. He was quick to put his own children on skis; daughter Kerri and son Bryan started when they were two. More recently he was taking his grandchildren to Peter Grubb and Bradley Huts, which inspired the memorial. He and his wife, Lynn, maintained a second home in the Tahoe Donner section of Truckee. He passed away in February 2013 after a short battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He is survived by his wife; his daughter Kerri Antes of San Jose; her husband Todd; their sons Drew, Will, and Bennett; his son Bryan; and sisters Laurie Krassilnikoff (San Mateo) and Diane Gartner (Pleasant Hill).

Dick Simpson

Peter Grubb Hut reopens

Peter Grubb Hut, on the west edge of Round Valley north of Donner Summit, has withstood heavy snow loads since its construction in 1938 - 39. Photo by Dick Simpson.

Peter Grubb Hut, on the west edge of Round Valley north of Donner Summit, has withstood heavy snow loads since its construction in 1938 – 39. Photo by Dick Simpson.

The Sierra Club re-opened the Peter Grubb Hut in mid-December, after completing the first round of a multi-year upgrade. The iconic building, three miles north of I-80 at Donner Summit, had been closed since March 2013, when concerns were raised about its structural integrity after providing rustic shelter to backcountry skiers and snowshoers for 75 years.

The Club retained Doug Gadow of Linchpin Structural Engineering, Inc., in Truckee to complete an assessment of the hut’s condition and then make recommendations for repair. The 2013 work included adding 1/4-inch steel plates to floor joists and 3/16-inch plates to roof rafters to improve strength under heavy loads.

Over a ton of steel plates were hand-carried to the hut during the first weekend in November. In the next three weekends, work parties of volunteers installed the plates and returned the hut to usable condition. The work was supervised by Dave Rust, a retired builder, and Dick Simpson, who oversaw logistics and recruiting. Over 50 people from Reno to Santa Cruz and even Eugene OR participated.

A fierce windstorm 24 hours before the final work party blocked sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Fortunately, only small hand tools and warm clothes had to be carried to complete the November repairs. Photo by Dick Simpson.

A fierce windstorm 24 hours before the final work party blocked sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Fortunately, only small hand tools and warm clothes had to be carried to complete the November repairs. Photo by Dick Simpson.

The repair work was complicated by early snow, which delayed delivery of the steel from the Bay Area and then closed the main access road through Castle Valley in late November. Wind from the second storm toppled four trees across the three-mile access route before the final work party.

Repairs will continue in 2014 with an emphasis on seismic issues such as anchoring the roof and sleeping loft to the walls. New flooring for the loft and a new roof are also likely. A priority is to retain the historic feel of the building.

The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation recently awarded a $5,000 matching grant to support the repairs. The Sierra Club Foundation has until November to raise matching gifts (tax-deductible) from individual donors.

Peter Grubb is one of four backcountry huts owned and operated by the Sierra Club under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Although Sierra Club members and work-party volunteers receive priority in the initial allocation of winter reservations, the huts are available to the public. Reservations can be made by calling (800)867-6775. More information is available at www.sierraclub.org/outings/lodges/huts.

Details about the Peter Grubb repair and fundraising campaign can be found at www.savepetergrubbhut.org.

Dick Simpson

Nominations sought for Michener Award

Janess Hanson, winner of last year's Michener Award. See theYodeler.org/?p=7499 for full article.

Janess Hanson, winner of last year’s Michener Award. See theYodeler.org/?p=7499 for full article.

Now is the time to nominate outings leaders for this year’s Dave and Pat Michener Outings Leadership Award. The Bay Chapter established the award in 2001 to commemorate the many years of volunteer service performed by the Micheners as editors of the Chapter Schedule (the predecessor of the calendar in today’s Yodeler and Chapter web site) and to recognize superior leadership by Chapter outing leaders.

If you know of an outstanding leader, send in a nomination. Leadership criteria include concern for individual participants, activities skill and knowledge combined with a penchant for sharing them, the ability to forge links between the Club’s activities and its conservation values, and the number/variety of their outings. To qualify, nominees must be leaders who list outings in the Chapter Events and Activities calendar. Each nomination may include up to two letters of support.

Send nominations and supporting letters by Tue., April 22, to Steve Bakaley, chair of the Chapter Activities Committee, at slbakaley@lbl.gov (preferred) or:

12 Calvin Court
Walnut Creek, CA 94595.

The winner will be selected at the Mon., May 5, Activities Committee meeting and announced in the June-July Yodeler.

Volunteer at LeConte Memorial Lodge

400x400_sc-logoThe LeConte Lodge is looking for volunteers to assist with seasonal operations. Volunteers are needed, from May 1 through Sep. 30, for shifts of Saturday through Saturday  (arriving by 3 pm on Saturday afternoon). Hours of operation are 10 am – 4 pm Wednesday through Sunday, and 8 – 10 pm for weekend evening programs. You must be a Sierra Club member. You will enjoy free entrance to Yosemite National Park and free camping at the group campsite during the time you volunteer. For more information see www.sierraclub.org/education/leconte/volunteering.asp or contact lodge curator Bonnie Gisel at leconte.curator@sierraclub.org or (209)403-6676, or after May 1 at (209)372-4542.

Happy birthday, wilderness

Happy Birthday Wilderness banner.

Happy Birthday Wilderness banner.

In 1964, 50 years ago, Pres. Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act, creating America’s National Wilderness Preservation System. Sierra Club, other organizations, and the four federal agencies that manage wilderness agencies are celebrating that golden anniversary—now and for the whole year–to educate a broader public about wilderness.

One big Bay Area event will be a Visions of the Wild Festival in early September in Vallejo, a city especially proud of its diverse community. Our goal is to reach out to diverse audiences and work with schools to involve students too.

In our Chapter, we are already planning several wonderful events, including a joint event with the California Historical Society in San Francisco to celebrate the role of wilderness in California’s history–and the role of the Sierra Club in that history. We’re working on promoting wilderness displays/exhibits in Bay Area public libraries, and we plan to have a big “Wilderness 50th” presence at Earth Day events throughout the Bay Area this coming April. The Chapter Wilderness Committee has a list of other great potential Bay Area events to work on, such as:

  • activities with the East Bay Regional Park District—(it was involved in 2004 at the 40th anniversary);
  • a family hike along San Leandro Creek, helping promote the area’s inclusion in a Bay to Ridgeline trail system;
  • additional family-friendly hikes–we need leaders;
  • a joint outing (or outings) with the Oceanic Society to observe birds on the Farallon Islands (the Farallones, within our Chapter boundaries, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of being designated wilderness, in 2014; see http://theyodeler.org/?p=8830;
  • a joint event or events with the National Park Service, to honor Phil Burton, in or near the wilderness named for him within the Point Reyes National Seashore;
  • a series of walks in the national wildlife refuges that ring the Bay;
  • a joint event with the California Academy of Sciences in conjunction with its next year’s theme of biodiversity;
  • hikes to nearby state wildernesses, or at least to the state parks that contain them, e.g. the Orestimba State Wilderness in Henry Coe State Park;
  • a photo contest for children of pictures they take of themselves in wilderness or natural areas;
  • exhibits of wilderness photos at the San Francisco and Oakland Airports;
  • getting city and county governments to issue proclamations or pass resolutions in honor of California wilderness.

This list is still growing–awaiting your additional ideas and involvement. As the Bay Chapter’s newly appointed volunteer coordinator for our Wilderness 50th anniversary events, I’m urging you, and anyone you know who cares about wilderness, to please contact me with your ideas and to volunteer a few hours of your time. Learn more about the anniversary at:


To get involved in putting on the big wilderness celebration, please contact Anne Henny at anneth16@sbcglobal.net or Vicky Hoover at (415)977-5527.

Ann Henny

Volunteer opportunities


Green Friday team

The Green Friday team needs volunteers. Green Fridays are educational evenings sponsored by the Northern Alameda Group on the second Friday of the month, at the Chapter office in Berkeley (see article, page E). Volunteers are needed to serve as:

  • greeters, 6:55 – 7:30–welcome guests, ask them to sign in, answer general questions;
  • snack host/hostess: purchase light snacks (expenses reimbursed), bring them to the event by 6:45, and set up the snack table;
  • set-up and/or clean-up help: come at 6:30 to set up chairs and table, and then stay 30 minutes after presentation to put things away.

To help, please contact Joanne Drabek, (510)318-4614 or joanne1892@gmail.com.

Holiday open-house volunteers

The Bay Chapter’s holiday open house is 5 – 8 pm on Fri., Dec. 13, at the Chapter Office, 2530 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley. Help is needed:

  • invitation phoners: Mon., Dec. 2, at the Chapter Office in Berkeley, and Thu., Dec. 5, at Club Headquarters in San Francisco; 6 – 8 pm–help call members to invite them to the holiday party;
  • bakers: make finger food desserts (e.g. cookies, brownies, cupcakes) to be served at the open house; bring to the office the afternoon of Dec 13;
  • set-up crew: 3:15 – 4:45 to arrange tables, chairs, decorations;
  • food hosts: 4:45 – 6 or 6 – 8—arrange food on platters, set out food and beverages on tables, replenish plates, and clean up refreshments;
  • food coordinator: help obtain food for the event, and oversee the serving of the food;
  • decoration coordinator: plan, gather, and create simple decorations for the party; supervise the decorating from 3:15 – 4:45.

To volunteer, please contact open-house coordinator Joanne Drabek at joanne1892@gmail.com or (510)318-4614.

Secretary for Northern Alameda County Group

The Group meets the fourth Monday of each month from 7 until around 9:30 pm at the Chapter Office in Berkeley to help take positions on local and regional issues. The secretary records the minutes to help us stay organized and is always encouraged to contribute input on the positions we take. You need to be able to type and send the minutes via e-mail. A laptop can be provided for you. This is a challenging yet very rewarding opportunity. To volunteer, contact Group chair Olga Bolotina at (510)910-4733 or obolotina@presidiomba.org

Volunteer opportunity: secretary for Northern Alameda County Group

400x400_sc-logoVolunteer opportunity: secretary for Northern Alameda County Group

The Group meets the fourth Monday of each month from 7 until around 9:30 pm at the Chapter Office in Berkeley  to help take positions on local and regional issues. The secretary records the minutes to help us stay organized and is always encouraged to contribute input on the positions we take. You need to be able to type and send the minutes via e-mail. A laptop can be provided for you. This is a challenging yet very rewarding opportunity. To volunteer, contact Group chair Olga Bolotina at (510)910-4733 or obolotina@presidiomba.org.

Al Weinrub–a volunteer energized about renewable energy

Al Weinrub.

Al Weinrub.

Al Weinrub isn’t your typical Harvard physics Ph.D. Sure, he’s applied his education to earn a living, in jobs ranging from bus driver to technical writer, but his passion for science is focused on the role of science and technology in society.

For the last several years he has worked indefatigably to move the Bay Area and the world to a renewable-energy system that will stave off the dangers of global climate change, and to a perspective that recognizes that such a system must be based on democracy and social justice, not simply on technological innovation.

Al is active in numerous organizations–wherever he sees potential for creating the needed change–and so it shouldn’t be surprising that some years ago he got involved in the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County Group.

But Al’s commitment to social justice goes back much further.

One early influence was his father. “My dad was a very smart guy, a civil engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, who headed up the St. Lawrence Seaway project in the 1950s and then devoted many years to cleaning up the pollution of the Great Lakes,” Al recounts. “He was actually a strong environmentalist, and clashed with state authorities often, though I didn’t realize it at the time.”

Al also was strongly influenced by the Vietnam War. He explains how the automated air war and other technologies that were used to murder innocent people, as well as the more general misuse of science for imperialist ends, incensed him to the point where he helped found a national organization, Science for the People (SftP), in 1969. That organization, which lasted until about 1990, believed that science should be created and used in the service of the people rather than for the benefit of military or corporate interests.

Charles Schwartz, professor emeritus of physics at UC Berkeley, knew Al through their mutual involvement in SftP. According to Schwartz, Al “was an important leader of that organization/movement in Boston.” Al continued his involvement with SftP when he moved to San Jose in 1974 and hosted with Schwartz a weekly SftP radio show on KPFA. “I just did this weekly show for a couple of years, while I taught at Bay Area universities,” he says.

During his 10-year stint as a bus driver, from about 1976 to 1986, Al became active in organizing unions against the Central American war, which began around 1980. This led to his forming the Labor Network on Central America, a national organization of unionists opposed to the U.S. war in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and other parts of Central America. “Many people in the movement against the Vietnam War subsequently went into union workplaces around the country to organize within the unions around the issues of the time,” Al reflects. “I was one of them.”

Al joined the National Writers Union in 1985, when he was the editor of the Labor Report on Central America, the publication of the Labor Network on Central America. In 1986 he moved to Oakland and began working in the computer industry, to pay the bills while he continued his union and social-justice activism. “I was a technical-support person and then a technical writer for about 23 years, working at two different companies that were bought up by Sun Microsystems. I eventually got laid off about four and a half years ago, just before Sun Microsystems got bought by Oracle.”

Al started getting involved with climate-justice issues and renewable energy soon after being laid off by Sun. He saw a blurb in the Yodeler seeking help with the Local Clean Energy Alliance initiative. A collaborative effort with Bay Localize, the Alliance works to promote local clean energy in the Bay Area. Al showed up, looking for an opportunity to get involved, at a meeting convened by Kent Lewandowski of the Northern Alameda County Group Executive Committee. “The time was right, and he had great energy and enthusiasm,” recalls Kent. “I think I only hosted one or two more meetings after that first one, and Al took it from there.”

Kent was impressed with how quickly Al learned about the organizational complexities of working in the Club on an issue that cuts across so many of the Club’s concerns and all geographic scales. Al also joined the Club’s California/Nevada Energy-Climate Committee in 2009. He quickly got to know a wide range of the relevant Club leaders and activists. “I think that’s one of the reasons he’s been so effective. He gets things done by making a connection with people,” Kent says.

Al Weinrub has been a major force in Sierra Club California’s Energy-Climate Committee, according to co-chair Ed Mainland, who cites Al’s authoring of a definitive 60-page Local Clean Energy Alliance booklet Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California, pushing the Club toward more-effective espousal of distributed, localized clean-energy solutions through Community Choice energy and what has become Sierra Club’s “My Generation” campaign in California.  ”Al’s matchless volunteer writing and organizing have been formidably effective and unrelentingly positive,” Mainland said.

Al certainly has gotten things done when it comes to the Local Clean Energy Alliance. He became its coordinator after just two years of volunteering, and has helped organize its annual Clean Power, Healthy Communities Conference. The fourth such gathering took place in October. While space limits the event to about 150 attendees, Al confirms that the level of interest has intensified over the years.

Al says that “people concerned about local energy and community power know where to come if they’re passionate about finding ways to build resilient communities.” They come to the Bay Area. They come to the Local Clean Energy Alliance, to the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, to the Sierra Club. They come to Al. He reflects that throughout his life, “there has always been a consistent thread of fighting for justice on many different fronts.” And this wonderfully atypical physicist doesn’t plan on ripping that thread any time soon.

Alison Rodrigues

To read Al’s Community Power, see http://communitypowerbook.com. For more of his writing on renewable energy, see http://communitypowerbook.com/more-from-al.

Help raise money for Sierra Club California

Sierra Club California logo.Would you like to do something to stop fracking or protect our forests or help with other California environmental issues, but you don’t want to attend government meetings?

Sierra Club California is the arm of the Sierra Club that works on these concerns, and there are lots of other ways of contributing which may be more to your liking.

Joan Holtz loves to explore the Channel Islands. She leads cruises stopping at San Miguel Island for hiking or Santa Rosa Island for kayaking or snorkeling. Would you like to lead a trip to somewhere in California or even to a foreign country? Are you an outings leader or travel buff who would like to plan and lead a trip to benefit Sierra Club California? We would love your help.

Suzanna Reyes and her host committee threw a fabulous party with food served by chef Jen Anderson in her downtown loft with elected officials and our director Kathryn Phillips. Do you love inviting people over or cooking for others? These skills could help keep a lobbyist in the Capitol. Suzanna’s party raised money essential to fund the work of Sierra Club California.

Perhaps you have that special personality for telling the story of our work and encouraging others to contribute funds.

Sierra Club California’s Fundraising Committee is seeking new members to run fundraising trips and throw fundraising house parties. We also need new members who can help create next year’s fundraising plan and do the work. Last year the Fundraising Committee and staff brought in funds through Earthshare, the Club’s Solar Homes Project, Climate Ride, mail and online appeals, a major-donor campaign, and grants as well as fundraising trips and house parties. Perhaps you have some other ideas?

Sierra Club California has four policy staff and an operations coordinator and occasionally hires a contract lobbyist. This small team makes a critical difference in keeping our state government on-track for the environment. Our staff is in Sacramento talking to legislators, the governor’s office, and state agencies about environmental legislation, regulations, and appointments. Much of the funding to continue this operation is raised by staff and the Fundraising Committee.

If you are willing to help in some way, please contact Karen Maki, co-chair of the Fundraising Committee, at karenmaki@comcast.net or (650)366-0577.