By Andi Whitaker, Newsletter Editor
This January, I was happy to spend a cold, dreary day staying warm inside the Garfield Heights Nature Center, surrounded by an amazing group of leaders and activists at the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club Annual Retreat. NEOSC is the only group in the Ohio Chapter to hold an annual retreat. This is a testament to the activism in our area: the devotion of personal time, the dedication of mental and emotional resources, and the absence of discouragement..
To kick off the retreat, Randy Cunningham led an invigorating discussion on revitalizing the club. We considered what drives and inspires an activist, as well as the barriers to activism. Treasurer Grace Ciptak also spoke on the importance of fundraising within the group and Michael Melampy updated us on the Cleveland International Film Festival.
Our guest speaker was Kim Foreman, Associate Director of Environmental Health Watch. For those unfamiliar with EHW, this organization “has helped policy-makers and the public in Northeast Ohio address the critical health concerns related to our urban and industrial environment.” Kim’s presentation on Creating a More Diverse Club sparked a conversation about community gardens and urban agriculture which led to the development of a new conservation committee: the Urban Agriculture Committee! (Please see Pat’s article on the Urban Ag Committee for more information and how you can join.)
Ohio Sierra Club’s Conservation Coordinator, Amanda Keith, spoke on water issues in Northeast Ohio. Our Group’s new Water Chairperson, Jessica Ferrato, helped Amanda explain the Club’s Water Sentinel Program, which trains volunteers on monitoring water quality at specified area checkpoints.
The Annual Retreat was a fantastic opportunity for learning how NEOSC runs and finding ways to become more involved. But you don’t have to wait until next January to get active within the Group! If there is a conservation issue that you’re passionate about, check out our website and contact the appropriate committee chairperson! And join us on Facebook to keep abreast of all of our events and outings, as well as pertinent environmental news.
I look forward to the growing involvement in our group and want to extend gratitude to all who attended the retreat. Thank you for your time and dedication. Our rewards are the positive changes in policy and practice and the resulting improvement of our health and environment. Many thanks to:
Irene Fiala, PhD.