May 28, 2016

Volunteer at Sierra Club backcountry huts

Work-party-001-e1425960702451The Sierra Club owns and operates four backcountry huts for skiers and snowshoers in the Donner Summit/LakeTahoe area. Maintenance is done by volunteers on weekends. The first volunteer opportunities begin as the snow melts: cutting firewood that will be stacked in the cabins before the following winter. The Club provides tools and supplies; all you need to bring is gear for an overnight backpack, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and a healthy attitude toward manual labor.

If you are interested, contact leaders for the following dates:

  • Ludlow Hut, June 11-12: Jason McLachlan, propwash876 at
  • Grubb Hut, June 18-19: Dick Simpson, hut.coord at
  • Benson Hut, June 25-26: Jim Gannon, jgannon99 at
  • Grub Hut, July 9-10: Dick Simpson, hut.coord at


The July weekend is a backup in case there’s still too much snow in June. For more information, click here.

Mount Diablo Group July meeting: “Exploring Ireland through pictures and song”

Wednesday, July 20, 7 pm, Ygnacio Valley Library, 2661 Oak Grove Road, Walnut Creek.

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Photo by Marisa Nordstrom.

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Photo by Marisa Nordstrom.

Saint Patrick’s Day is long past, but join us at our July meeting to experience the cultural and natural history of the Emerald Isle. Our guide is naturalist and closet leprechaun, Marisa Nordstrom.

Marisa won a grant to backpack in Ireland during the summer of 2014. It was her dream to study traditional Irish singing, called sean-nós, and to backpack in the three southwestern peninsulas of Ireland. Marisa studied sean-nós and the Irish language for two weeks at the Blas Summer Camp at the University of Limerick, and backpacked throughout the Beara, Dingle, and Kerry Peninsulas. She was fortunate enough to visit Skellig Michael and see Puffins with their babies. Her presentation will include pictures, songs, and more.

Marisa Nordstrom is a singer, dancer, writer, storyteller, and environmental educator at the Point Bonita YMCA in the Marin Headlands. She studied English literature and politics at Stanford, and received her MA in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Marisa has lived and worked in India, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Australia, France, and Ecuador.

This program is free and open to all.  No reservations are necessary. If you have questions about this program, email Ken Lavin at ken_lavin at or phone him at (925)852-8778.

April 23rd forum to connect women’s reproductive rights and climate change

rtaImageSat, Apr 23, 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Hayward City Hall, 777 B St, Hayward, CA 94541
Free with RSVP

Join the Sierra Club for a forum on the impact of women and girls’ reproductive rights on climate change.

Panelists from Planned Parenthood, the League of Women Voters, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and the United Nations Association of the USA will discuss their work to increase universal access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health services; advance women’s and girl’s basic rights, including access to health care, education and economic opportunity; and raise public awareness of wasteful consumption in the context of social and economic equity.

Panelist bios:

Dr. Diz Swift (Moderator)
League of Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville

Dr. Linda Dismore Swift (Dr. Diz Swift) has been active in the League of Women Voters at local, state and national levels for over 10 years.  She trained as a scientist (PhD geology) and is now retired from 30 years working primarily in minerals and oil & gas exploration and production in many different capacities and at various levels of management. Since retirement in 2004 she has been studying climate change, and lectures on the risks of climate change in a wide array of venues, as well as lobbying and advocating at all levels of government.  Her website advocating for putting a price on carbon emissions – which was endorsed by the national League – is at  She also serves as a Berkeley Public Works Commissioner and is on the Community Advisory Group for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Malcolm Potts MB, BChir*, PhD, FRCOG
Professor of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Malcolm Potts is a Cambridge-trained obstetrician and reproductive scientist. He is the first holder of the Fred H. Bixby endowed chair in Population and Family Planning at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. He served as first medical director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation introducing family planning methods into scores of developing countries.

Dr. Potts has taught courses on Social, Political and Ethical Issues/Health and Population and Poverty. Dr. Pott’s research interests include mobilization of resources for international family planning and reducing nonevidence-based barriers preventing access to contraception and safe abortion. His current project includes a focus on the perfect storm of population, climate and gender problems arising in the Sahel. The Bixby Center, His publications include “The Impact of Freedom on Fertility Decline” and “The Impact of Population Growth in Tomorrow’s World”, “Global Warming and Reproductive Health” and “A Woman Cannot Die from a Pregnancy She Does Not Have.”

Claire Greensfelder
Advisory Council, United Nations Association of the USA East Bay Chapter

Claire Greensfelder is a lifelong environmental, peace and safe energy activist, educator, political campaigner, and journalist. Claire presently serves as Policy and Organizational Consultant to the International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative (IWECI) and to the international, multi-media exhibit-Conversations with the Earth: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change (CWE). Claire facilitated the installation of the CWE exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC in 2011. A former Director of Greenpeace USA’s Nuclear Free Future Campaign, Claire has worked as an executive staff member or consultant for over four dozen NGOs, electoral campaigns, media outlets and youth organizations, including the International Forum on Globalization, Women in Europe for a Common Future, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Center, INOCHI/Plutonium Free Future, Friends of the Earth, the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, Jane Addams Center of Hull House, Sierra Club, and the American Friends Service Committee (partial list). For more information about the Teach-in, visit:

Priya Murthy
Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of NAPAWF(National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum)

Priya Murthy is Policy and Organizing Program Director for SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network)- Santa Clara County’s response to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Priya develops, manages and implements the policy advocacy and community organizing programs at SIREN. Previously, she served as the first Policy Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national immigrant and civil rights organization based near Washington, DC.  She practiced immigration law, representing clients facing removal, worked for various immigration courts, and worked at Amnesty International’s National Refugee Office. Priya serves on the National Governing Board of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). She received her Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School and her Bachelor of Art in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Suzanne York
Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment National Team

Suzanne York has reported on international human rights, globalization, and environmental issues for nearly two decades. She is the director of Transition Earth, a project of Earth Island Institute that promotes human rights and nature’s rights in a world of unsustainable growth.

Previously Suzanne was Senior Writer and Program Director with the Institute for Population Studies in Berkeley, CA, where her work focused on the interconnectedness of population growth with women’s empowerment, human rights, consumption, alternative economies, and the environment. Suzanne’s writing appears on the blog 6 Degrees of Population.

Suzanne is the author of several reports, including Peoples’ Rights, Planet’s Rights: Holistic Approaches to a Sustainable Population and Prioritizing the PHE Approach:  Linking Population, Health, and Environment for a Better World.  As research director with the International Forum on Globalization, Suzanne was a contributing author to Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization. She has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from American University and a B.A. in Business Administration from Portland State University.  Suzanne is on the board of the Women’s Environmental Network, is a member (past chair) of the Sierra Club’s Trade, Human Rights and Environment National Committee and on the leadership team of the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment National Team.

Guadalupe Rodriguez
Director of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Miramonte

Guadalupe (Lupe) Rodríguez is the Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Previously, Lupe was the Interim Executive Director and Program and Policy Director at ACCESS Women’s Health Justice. Lupe served on the board of directors of the California Family Health Council, and now serves as a commissioner on the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women. She sits on the boards of ACCESS Women’s Health Justice and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. Lupe is an adviser for the Women’s Health & Rights Program at the Center for American Progress. She has a BA in neurobiology from Harvard.

May 11th Mount Diablo Group meeting: “A South Pacific adventure”

May 11, 7 pm, Ygnacio Valley Library, 2661 Oak Grove Rd, Walnut Creek.

Photo by Mike Woodring, who will be presenting with Ruth Ann Kishi at the May Mount Diablo Group meeting.

Photo by Mike Woodring, who will be presenting with Ruth Ann Kishi at the May Mount Diablo Group meeting.

Join us at our next meeting as Mike Woodring and Ruth Ann Kishi take us on a photographic tour above and below the South Pacific Islands of Bali, Lombok, Nusa, Sangeang, Komodo, and Rinca.

Traveling on the 115-foot yacht Pelagian, Mike and Ruth Ann enjoyed ten days of island hopping featuring both scuba dives and land-based excursions. Mike will show his beautiful photographs of the undersea world, featuring camouflaged pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, poisonous scorpion fish, an octopus playing peek-a-boo, and other brilliantly colored marine wonders.

On land, Mike and Ruth Ann will show us internationally known Komodo Island National Park, with its nesting fruit bats and native giant corpse flower plants. Our photo journey concludes on the beautiful island of Bali as we visit temples, countryside rice paddies,  and view a Balinese dance performance.

Mike Woodring is president of the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association (MDIA). Ruth Ann Kishi serves on the MDIA Board of Directors. Besides scuba diving, Mike’s varied interests include designing, building, flying radio-controlled aircraft, cultivating carnivorous plants, and traveling the country by RV with Ruth Ann.

This program is open to all, no reservations necessary. If you have questions, contact Ken Lavin at ken_lavin at or (925)852-8778.

April & May East Bay Dinners: Looking south to Baja and Antarctica

No-host cocktails/social hour at 6 pm, dinner at 7 pm, program at 8 pm. Berkeley Yacht Club on the Berkeley Marina, one block north of the west end of University Avenue (ample free parking is available in the Marina parking lots).

Cost of dinner and program is $27, including tax and tip. For a reservation, please send your check, payable to “Sierra Club,” with your name, your telephone number, and the names of your guests, to:

Jane Barrett
170 Vicente Road
Berkeley, CA 94705510 845-8055

Attendance is limited to the first 115 reservations received. Reserve early, as these programs do fill up. Reservation deadline is April 21 for the April program and May 19 for the May program. There is no admittance for program only.

Thu, April 28 — “Voyage to Antarctica”

Glaciers in Antarctica. Photo by Joanie Ciardelli.

Glaciers in Antarctica. Photo by Joanie Ciardelli.

Antarctica, the only continent that is not inhabited by humans, is extremely beautiful and captivating. Its history includes groups of explorers from several countries, with diverse experiences and success on their missions. Penguins of many types abound, and global warming is greatly in evidence in the fascinating glaciers. The nearby Falkland Islands (aka Malvinas) are rich in penguins and sheep, beautifully green with sandy beaches.

Join us for Joanie Ciardelli’s beautiful 35 mm slide presentation from her 2001 New Year’s trip on a 100-passenger, Russian-built ice-breaker. They were the first ship that year to break the ice of the far southern reaches, to see thousands of penguins (eight different kinds), hundreds of elephant seals, pods of whales, amazing icebergs, and other spectacular vistas.

Joanie and her husband Jack continue to travel every year, including a very interesting “roots” trip around Lithuania and Belarus last summer, followed by a cruise around the British Isles and train trip to Cornwall. When not traveling Joanie volunteers with Pathways To Peace, the United Nations Association of Marin, PEO International, and every January at the Sundance Film Festival.

Thu, May 26 — “Exploring the unique botany and wildlife of Baja California”

Photo by Debra Valov.

Photo by Debra Valov.

Mexico’s Baja California peninsula is the world’s second longest peninsula. The northernmost portion on the Pacific coast shares southern California’s hot, dry Mediterranean climate while the southern tip is covered with tropical thorn scrub and tropical deciduous forests. It is a vast and varied landscape of mountains, mesas, plains, arroyos, and vast coastline with protected inlets and bays that harbor mangroves and coastal marshes.

From the world’s largest cactus, the Cardón, to the Cirio (or Boojum Tree), the desert is blessed with a rich diversity of tree, shrub, herbaceous, and succulent species, all adapted to the tough desert conditions. Eastern Pacific gray whales travel from the Arctic in the late fall to Baja California’s shallow coastal lagoon systems — the longest migration of any mammal. Many species of migratory birds, including black brants, loons, and white ibis also winter along with the whales.

Take a photographic tour with Debra Valov across Baja California’s desert region that explores both its physical and botanical diversity, as well as some of the area’s emblematic fauna. She will also touch upon such issues as alternative tourism, conservation, and popular movements.

Debra Valov splits her time between Oakland and Mulegé, Baja California Sur, Mexico, where, in between her botanizing forays, she helps manage and interpret at an all-volunteer non-profit veterinary clinic serving the local Mexican and ex-pat community. She has a BA in Human Physiology from UC Berkeley and a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State. Since 2001 she has avidly pursued all things botanical with particular interest in desert plants and ecology. She maintains the website

April & May Green Friday programs: local park treasures and humanity’s ecological footprint

A family’s consumption laid out in front of their home. Photo courtesy "Human Footprint."

A family’s consumption laid out in front of their home. Photo courtesy “Human Footprint,” a film by National Geographic which will be shown at the May Green Friday program.

Green Fridays meets the second Friday of the month in the Sierra Club’s Bay Chapter office, 2530 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley. Doors open at 7 pm, program begins at 7:30 pm and runs until 9 or 9:30 pm including questions and discussion. Refreshments are served. A $3 donation is requested. Our programs present speakers and topics discussing the most important environmental issues of our time. All are welcome, Sierra Club members as well as nonmembers.

Fri, April 8 — “History and treasures of the East Bay Regional Park District”

The April speaker is longtime Sierra Club hike leader Ron Ucovich. Having led hundreds of hikes over thousands of miles of trails, Ron is a treasure trove of history and stories that have enriched the lives of this many loyal followers. Along with his career as a teacher he has been a docent at the Alameda History Museum, the aircraft carrier Hornet, and the presidential yacht Potomac. He was the 2015 recipient of the Sierra Club’s Michener Outings Leadership Award. Ron’s great story-telling style and his anecdotes about Bay Area history promise to make this a memorable evening.

Fri, May 13 — “The human footprint on Planet Earth”

We will show National Geographic’s amazing film “Human Footprint,” which graphically illustrates the average American consumer’s ecological footprint on the resources of the planet. Afterward, we will discuss our own personal footprints and ways we can begin to minimize our impacts. From birth to death we consume enormous quantities of natural resources and produce equally enormous quantities of waste. From food to clothes, cars and energy, housing and plastics, our impact is astonishing. Human consumption and pollution of planetary resources is the fundamental environmental problem of our time. This film is a truly jaw dropping experience and, hopefully, will change our lives into the future.

Watch and learn at the SF Green Film Fest, April 14-20

Still from the film “Ice and the Sky” showing at the SF Green Film Fest on April 18th.

Still from the film “Ice and the Sky” showing at the SF Green Film Fest on April 18th.

The Bay Chapter is pleased to partner with the 6th annual San Francisco Green Film Fest. Join us April 14th to 20th at the Castro Theater, Roxie, and venues across the Bay for  a week of new films and events that spotlight the world’s most urgent environmental issues and most innovative solutions.

This year, the festival will present 70 internationally acclaimed films, with over 90 visiting filmmakers and guest speakers to delve into some of the most pressing environmental issues. Check out the fantastic line up of films and special guests at You can purchase tickets online or by calling (415)552-5580.

This year, the Bay Chapter is co-sponsoring the screening of the documentary “Ice and the Sky” by Luc Jacquet, director of “March of the Penguins.” In “Ice and the Sky,” Jacquet returns to the Antarctic with an awe-inspiring account of the life of climate change pioneer Claude Lorius. A farseeing glaciologist, Lorius was the first scientist to be concerned about global warming. Now, returning to the Antarctic in his 80s, he is sad to see history has proved him right. “Ice and the Sky” connects Lorius’s legacy with present innovators as they rewrite the rules for our future.

“Ice and the Sky” will show at the Roxie Theater on Saturday, April 18th, at 8:30pm. Purchase tickets here. Watch the trailer for “Ice and the Sky” here.

April & May SF Dinners: From the Silk Road to Scotland

Social hour 6 pm, dinner 7 pm, program 8 pm. New location: Grace Lutheran Church, 3201 Ulloa St. at 33rd Ave. Take Muni L to 32nd Ave., walk one block to 33rd, turn left on Ulloa for 1 block. Street parking available. From East Bay, take BART to Embarcadero station, transfer to Muni L Taraval.

To reserve your seat, send a check for $22 (note new price), made out to “Sierra Club, S.F. Bay Chapter,” to:

Gerry Souzis
1801 California St., #405
San Francisco, CA 94109

Please indicate the program date, number of guests, and your phone number. Non-members are welcome. Bring your own wine or soft drinks. Glasses and ice are available. Let us know if you are a vegetarian. Checks must be received by April 15 for the April program and May 13 for the May program.

For questions, contact Gerry between 4 and 9 pm (no morning calls please) at (415)474-4440 or

Thu, April 21 – “Traveling the ancient Silk Road”

For millennia an ancient trade route has extended thousands of miles, linking East and West. Caravans journeyed across the ancient Silk Road’s scorching deserts, picturesque oases, and treacherous mountain passes to supply Europe with precious silks, gems, spices, dyes, gold, silver, and exotic creatures. Jimmy Wong will guide us on a breathtaking journey from China’s ancient capital of Xi’an to the border of Tajikistan, traversing the deadly Taklamakan desert, and along the way interacting with local people, their culture, and their food.

Jimmy is an award-winning travel photographer with over 20 years of experience organizing trips to China, including lesser-known destinations such as the wilderness of Sichuan and southwest China.

Thu, May 19 – “In John Muir’s footprints in Scotland”

Avon Viaduct, a railway bridge in Linlithgow, Scotland. Photo by Joy Durighello.

Avon Viaduct, a railway bridge in Linlithgow, Scotland. Photo by Joy Durighello.

It is ironic that John Muir is more famous in the U.S. than in his native Scotland, where he was born and lived until immigrating at the age of eleven. In 2014, in an effort to draw more attention to a famous native son, the Scottish National Heritage opened a new, 134-mile path, the John Muir Way, stretching from the west to the east coast of Scotland, with the terminus in the town of Dunbar, Muir’s hometown. A year after the John Muir Way opened, Kathleen Stern and Joy Durighello spent three weeks walking this new path, and along the way learned the history and legends of Muir’s fascinating native land.

Joy Durighello, an instructor at City College of SF, and Kathleen Stern, retired, are avid hikers who searched for a scenic long-distance trail, and found it in the John Muir Way. Join them for an evening of emerald-green imagery and quirky anecdotes.

Sierra Club and Ecology Center co-present webinar series on local climate campaigns — March 9 event on Community Choice

CaVfDhKUsAEGdjnThe Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter and the Ecology Center present a new series called Changemakers for Climate. Each month, a panel of environmental activists, policy makers, and experts will gather to discuss local campaigns to combat climate disruption. Sierra Club organizer Ratha Lai will moderate the discussions, which will explore topics such as crude by rail, Bay Area coal exports, Community Choice energy, and refinery emission regulations.

The Changemakers programs will focus on local actions, and draw connections to air quality, public health and safety, green jobs, and environmental justice. The goal of the series is to empower Bay Area residents with the knowledge and tools they need to get engaged in tackling these issues in their own backyards. The public can participate in the events in person or via a live webinar broadcast. Recordings of the events will be posted online and will serve as an educational resource.

“When people think of the Bay Area they often think of us as being at the forefront of the environmental movement — and that’s true in many ways,” said Ratha Lai, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter organizer and host of the Changemakers program. “Today, the Bay Area is leading in the development of Community Choice energy programs, which are a key tool in the transition away from fossil fuels to clean and renewable power. But we also have five oil refineries fighting tooth and nail to bring in dirtier and more dangerous grades of crude oil. We have gigantic piles of coal and petcoke sitting uncovered just a stone’s throw from the Bay. And we’re still dealing with the threat of a massive coal-export proposal in Oakland that would make things a lot worse for people who already suffer disproportionately from air pollution.” Lai added: “Whether you’ve never attended a public hearing or you’re already deep in the trenches, our monthly Changemakers programs will get you up to speed on our climate campaigns and prepare you to take action.”

“We are at a crossroads where most people are very concerned about climate change, but may not know where to start to tackle these issues,” says Rebecca Milliken, Climate Action Coordinator for the Ecology Center. “Changemakers for Climate brings together experts and community members to break down these policy issues into specific actions.

The next Changemakers event will focus on local clean-energy programs:

WHAT: March Changemakers for Climate program on Community Choice energy
DATE: Wednesday, March 9, 2016
TIME: 6 to 7 pm
PLACE: Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter office, 2530 San Pablo Ave, Suite I, Berkeley
OR join the webinar here
Alex DiGiorgio, Community Development Manager, Marin Clean Energy
Jessica Tovar, staff organizer for the Local Clean Energy Alliance
Colin Miller, program manager for the Local Clean Energy Alliance
John M. Gioia, Contra Costa County Supervisor
Luis Amezcua, Chair, Energy and Climate Committee, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter

The March 9th Changemakers program will focus on Community Choice Aggregation, the innovative energy model that allows local municipalities to provide residents and businesses with clean, renewable energy. Community Choice energy is an alternative to the old model of the corporate utility monopoly that empowers governments to pool electricity customers to form a local power agency. Communities can then provide clean power to local customers by purchasing renewable energy on the open market or by building local renewable resources. Whereas PG&E relies on electricity from dirty and carbon-intensive sources, Community Choice programs choose clean and renewable power — and the benefits accrue locally, rather than to the shareholders of a for-profit utility.

Why population matters — Free forum on March 24th

Cartoon: Arend Van Dam, 2011

Cartoon: Arend Van Dam, 2011

What: Why Population Matters
: Thursday, March 24, 7 pm
Where: Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter office, 2530 San Pablo Ave, Suite I, Berkeley, CA 94702

Today there are over 7 billion human beings on Earth. While population growth rates have slowed, there are still 80 million people added to the planet every year, with much of the increase taking place in the least developed countries, in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet using the word “population” is still considered by many to be taboo, and even the UN is starting to shy away from the term.

The Sierra Club’s SF Bay Chapter Population, Health & Environment Committee invites you to come hear veteran population and women’s rights activist Martha Campbell of Venture Strategies and Berkeley Professor Malcolm Potts discuss the history and implications of not talking about population. Also speaking will be Suzanne York of the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Team and Transition Earth about her recent trip to Borneo and what’s working on the ground to empower people with health and livelihoods and efforts to protect forests and the world’s remaining orangutans.