Policy & Advocacy
Nothing deepens love and clarity of vision like personal involvement. These organizations have tirelessly fought for clean air and water, forests, rivers, wildlife, and an end to global warming so that our children might inherit a livable planet. If it weren’t for their willingness to stand up to industry, Wise-Use zealots, Far-Right lobbies, and those in local, state, and federal governments that are bankrolled by them, there would be little left to protect. All of these organizations have numerous opportunities for involvement and fun. Getting involved with them will give each of us the satisfaction of knowing that we’re involved with something larger than our own lives, and being part of the solution.
The Nature Conservancy in Washington State
The Nature Conservancy is a worldwide organization devoted to preserving ecologically sensitive regions by purchasing land and setting it aside for conservation and stewardship. They operate across the Americas, in the Caribbean and in the Asia Pacific region as well. Most environmental organizations concentrate on lobbying for political protection for wilderness areas and preserves. All this can be lost overnight with a change in the political environment. The Nature Conservancy works to preserve wild places in the most effective way possible in a market driven culture like ours. They buy it. I have been photographing for the Washington State chapter for several years and they are a wonderful organization to be involved with. The first link is to their national organizational portal site and the second is to the Washington State chapter where I live.
Target Earth is an evangelical conservancy group based on a model similar to that of the Nature Conservancy. With a global network of support and stewardship groups, retreat/education centers, and nature preserves in 15 countries, they are buying up endangered lands, assisting in reforestation and endangered species projects, and caring for the material and spiritual needs of the world's poorest communities. In an age of global environmental demise, Christians are called to lives of compassion and stewardship—to be people who care for Creation rather than over-exploit it for profit, and say no to the modern idols of materialism and self-interest. This includes the so-called "enlightened" self-interest that has become an article of faith not only among secular American society, but also the Religious Right. Target Earth has rejected this Christianized version of American idol worship and embraced a truly Biblical model. In doing so they have broken ranks with the conservative majority in evangelical circles and challenged the almost universal perception of "Christianity" they've given to the general public. Sadly, such organizations are rare.
The Islandwood Environmental School - Bainbridge Island, WA
Islandwood is an ecological education center that is exploring new ways to discover the wonders and realities of nature and teach them to others. Located on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, WA., they operate from sustainably designed facilities on a 255-acre campus. The organization serves as a model for energy conservation and community living. It was started in 1997 by Paul and Debbi Brainerd (Paul Brainerd was one of the founders of Aldus Software, which was eventually bought by Adobe). The preserve covers 255 acres and includes wetlands, second growth forest, and a drainage to Puget Sound that will hopefully support salmon runs soon. The center provides hands-on educational programs in ecological science, sustainability, and low impact land use for 4th and 5th graders. This is one of the most ambitious and effective centers of this type in North America and is sure to be a model for other environmental education centers nationwide—centers which seek not only to educate, but to demonstrate sustainable alternatives. The school also offers regular tours and a diverse and stimulating curriculum.
The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society is one of America'a largest and most effective advocacy groups for science based wilderness preservation. Founded in 1935, they work to protect America's wilderness and to develop a nation-wide network of wild lands through public education, scientific analysis and advocacy. Among other things, they are known for the scientific research they support in a wide range of fields relevant to the ecology and preservation of wildlife habitat and wilderness areas. They are headquartered in Washington DC and have offices across the United States. This site has their annual reports, information about current wilderness relevant legislation, and access to their publications, including the beautiful calendars they print each year. It also has a Kid's Corner.
The Sierra Club
Started in 1892, the Sierra Club is without a doubt one of the best known and most effective environmental lobbies in the world. It is largely because of their tireless efforts that there are still any intact ecosystems or natural beauty left that have avoided being decimated for someone's personal profit. They are also responsible for many the protections the American people still enjoy from a bewildering array of threats to public health from highly profitable corporate pollution. Not surprisingly, they have been the object of more pure, undiluted hate from conservative special interests and the Religious Right than any other environmentally conscious organization on earth. The consistency and viciousness of the attacks directed at them by these communities is a testimony to the enduring value of their work and how feared they are by those who ideologies and profits depend on antienvironmental views.
American Rivers is a national non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring healthy natural rivers and the variety of life they sustain for people, fish, and wildlife. They work for innovative solutions to improve river health; raise awareness among decision-makers and the public; serve and mobilize the river conservation movement; and collaborate with partner organizations to develop the Citizens’ Agenda for Rivers
which creates a unified vision for improving river health across the country. Their America’s Most Endangered Rivers
report published annually gets considerable attention from lawmakers and the press. I do a lot of photography for them and my images are featured at this web site.
Originally created to save whale populations from near-complete decimation, Greenpeace has become another of the world's best known environmental organization. Today they have expanded their activities to confront global warming, pollution, mining, public health, deforestation, and a wide range of other environmental threats. Like the Sierra Club, they are one of the most visible and successful such organizations in the world. In fact, today the name Greenpeace is almost synonymous with global environmentalism. It goes without saying that they are even more hated then the Sierra Club by polluting industries and the Far-Right—so much so that many Greenpeace workers have been targeted with violence by conservative extremists in some areas. Greenpeace representatives often risk their own safety, and on occasion even their lives when working in areas where Wise-Use and other Far-Right zealots are well entrenched.