Council of Club Leaders Report-2010
Council Delegate Robert W. Hastings
The Council of Club Leaders (CCL) met in San Francisco September 22-25 in conjunction with the Sierra Club Board of Directors meeting. The Council is made up of delegates from each of the Chapters nationwide and meets once per year to discuss issues relating to Chapters and to present recommendations to the Board regarding grassroots concerns. I attended as the Alabama Chapter Delegate and Steve Garrison attended as the alternate delegate (and to become more familiar with the National Club organization).\
As might be expected given the continuing financial concerns of the Club, much of the discussion at the meeting was related to finances and the recent reorganization. Reports by President Robin Mann and new Executive Director Michael Brune emphasized the need to increase and diversify membership and to increase activism among members. Repeated reference was made to the club’s clean energy campaign, and the need to reduce (or eliminate) our dependence upon coal and oil (Alabama needs to be more involved with this campaign).
An impressive area of discussion focused on the CCL State of the Chapters Report and Victory Tracker (available at http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/people/committees/council/ and http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/chapters/tracker/) which provide information regarding activities (and successes) of all Chapters nationwide (Access to Clubhouse requires the Username-“clubhouse” and Password-“explore”). We are encouraged to submit additions to the Victory Tracker as new Sierra Club victories occur within Alabama.
We were also given an overview of Sierra Club structure, and how Chapters and Groups can receive National assistance through Chapter and Leader Support Teams (Bylaws, Standing Rules, and Elections; Communication and IT; Fundraising; Conflict Resolution; Leadership & Organizing Training; Chapter Assessment Support). Chapters were also encouraged to become more involved with National campaigns (Beyond Coal/Clean Energy; Beyond Oil/Green Transportation; Resilient Habitats; Safeguarding Communities), with possible grant funding available through these campaigns. Potential for the Activist Network was especially exciting as a way for members from various Chapters and Groups to interact and communicate in areas of common interest. Current teams that could be of special interest to Alabama members include Agriculture, Energy, Environmental Education, Marine Wildlife & Habitat, National Forest Protection & Restoration, Nuclear, Southern Appalachian Highlands, Wildlife & Endangered Species). Network participants can also create new teams for their own areas of focus. Sierra Club members can join the Activist Network at http://clubhouse.sierraclub.org/. Select “activist network” in left column, and log-in (Username-“clubhouse” and Password-“explore”). Click on “Activist Network Teams” to see a list of current teams; or click on “Activist Network Online Community” to join the Network.
CCL submitted three resolutions to the Board of Directors which are intended to encourage: (1) Increased interaction between Chapters and Groups with the Sierra Student Coalition; (2) Support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court; and (3) Chapter and Group input to evaluations of Sierra Club staff working in their territory.
A report was presented on Chapter Fundraising recommendations that should give Chapters greater flexibility in requesting donations. One of these (already approved) was to allow Chapters to solicit donations via email to non-members as well as members during the March appeal. Another was to add a new July/August window (in addition to the March window) for fundraising appeals by Chapters. The need for Chapters to do more effective fundraising is critical in the current financial situation of the Club.
A report by the Volunteer Leadership Advisory Committee emphasized the importance of recruiting and training new volunteer leaders in the Club. Advice from this Committee may be obtained through their team on the Activist Network.
Significant discussion involved methods of reducing the costs and increasing turnouts for Chapter and Group elections. Much of the discussion focused on the potential for electronic voting. The problem is that mailed paper ballots seem to be the best method of preserving three required democratic principles: Ballot access to all qualified members; Secrecy of ballots; and Ensuring only one vote per member.
The CCL delegate from the Sierra Student Coalition, Angela Wylie, reported on recent activities of SSC, including the SPROG (Summer Program) Training Workshops conducted this year in Alabama, Louisiana, Virginia, Washington, and Puerto Rico). She stated that the funding provided by the Alabama Chapter (at the request of Adelaide Abele) was instrumental in assuring success of the Alabama SPROG and the subsequent development of an active program at the University of Alabama.