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Open Letter to the Sierra Club

Occupy Wall Street

The members of Occupy Norman congratulate you on your efforts to build alliances with grassroots initiatives like the Occupy Movement. Many of us participated in the Occupy Koch Town rally in Wichita, Kansas and were excited to meet with both members of various regional Occupations and the speakers invited to join us. We come away from that meeting invigorated and filled with new resolve; information gathered will help us strengthen our movement in places like Norman, Oklahoma and elsewhere. We hope that our successes here will serve as an inspiration to other Occupations nationwide and to the Sierra Club itself. As we grow, we hope to maintain these valuable coalitions so that we may stand together against the threats faced by our planet.

Open Letter to the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Kansas

The members of Occupy Norman congratulate you on your efforts to build alliances with grassroots initiatives like the Occupy Movement. Many of us participated in the Occupy Koch Town rally in Wichita, Kansas and were excited to meet with both members of various regional Occupations and the speakers invited to join us. We come away from that meeting invigorated and filled with new resolve; information gathered will help us strengthen our movement in places like Norman, Oklahoma and elsewhere. We hope that our successes here will serve as an inspiration to other Occupations nationwide and to the Sierra Club itself. As we grow, we hope to maintain these valuable coalitions so that we may stand together against the threats faced by our planet.

The growing pains felt by the Occupy Movement, however, are never more apparent than when we find ourselves in alliances with traditional organizations like organized labor and mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club. 

Occupations and traditional grassroots groups are very different sorts of organizations. While the Sierra Club has a voted-upon board of directors, statewide chartered clubs, and set agenda, the Occupy Movement seeks a more organic form of growth. We reject hierarchical leadership in favor of consensus-based direct democracy. Occupations rise without need for a charter from a central organization and local community needs are responsible for an ever-changing but vital agenda. Free of corporate influence, the Occupy Movement uses a lean operating plan to accomplish its goals.

These differences are highlighted by some of the divisions witnessed across the country. With the revelation this year that the Sierra Club had accepted over $26 million from Oklahoma's own Chesapeake Energy, the largest driller of dangerous natural gas wells in the United States, a nervous apprehension was already in the air as our Oklahoma Occupations traveled north. Some members of the Occupy Movement who came together in Wichita felt the Sierra Club was trying to piggyback on our reputation and tie our message in with the Club's established agenda. Their voices are echoed in the concerns of many occupiers around the country. 

Patience, respect and flexibility are necessary now and in the future.

Labor unions, environmental groups, and Occupations complement each other, despite the aforementioned differences. The Sierra Club and similar groups want to tap into the widespread moral outrage generated by Occupy, but we realize they must temper their actions to maintain legal strategies and political alliances. Occupy groups sympathize with mainstream environmentalism, but our use of bold direct action, including civil disobedience, will likely contribute to a tense relationship. However, keeping our focus on our common goals, while each group works to understand the approach of the other, will allow us to avoid otherwise inevitable frustrations as the larger movement forges ahead.

Occupy Norman applauds the Sierra Club for breaking its ties with the natural gas industry, even at the cost of $30 million additional dollars, an amount we realize is a quarter of its annual budget. Director Michael Brune has the right idea when he suggests we “stop thinking of natural gas as a ‘kinder, gentler’ energy source.”  The dangers of fracking make natural gas no more viable than coal. We urge the Sierra Club to fight for new, clean technologies that are sustainable and enrich our communities instead of lining the pockets of Wall Street tycoons.

We also invite members of the Sierra Club, and their board of directors, to join us in our Occupations. The General Assembly process we utilize may seem unwieldy to some who prefer more streamlined means, but we find participatory democracy one of the most effective ways to transform our communities. We speak for ourselves and our neighborhoods, rather than allowing outside forces to dictate our agenda. We encourage you to join your local Occupation. Join us, and let your voice be heard.

The outrage over corporate cash in government, as well as government’s hand in shady multinational deals, sparked our movement. Destruction of pristine nature for personal gain birthed yours. We have our differences in approach but our goals are aligned. 

According to one biographer, Sierra Club founder John Muir saw his mission as "saving the American soul from total surrender to materialism.” We continue that fight today. We ask the Sierra Club to join us in our battle against heartless materialism, as we join you in the fight for the protection and restoration of the natural and human environment. Together we can accomplish much more than we could alone.

Together, we can win.

_________________________________________________

This letter has been endorsed by individuals too numerous to count, in addition to the General Assemblies of:


Occupy Norman

Occupy Central Oklahoma

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Open Letter to the Sierra Club | 1 comments | Create New Account
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Open Letter to the Sierra Club
Authored by: keepstjoe on Monday, March 05 2012 @ 06:10 AM CST