Protect and restore the natural values of America’s borderlands for future generations.
Posted by: Dan Millis at 1:15PM PST on January 27, 2011
Less than 4 weeks into the new year and already there are new developments on the border:
The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets ran the headline recently, “Homeland Security Scraps Border Fence,” along with photos of steel border walls and barriers. Alas, we only wish this were true. In fact, the article refers to the SBInet “virtual fence” camera tower systems, a beleaguered project whose funding was already frozen back in March due to its failure to perform. Despite the misleading headlines and photos, there are about 650 miles of physical border walls and barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and more is still under construction. Worse, hundreds of additional miles of environmentally-damaging border wall could be proposed and passed by Congress in the next few months!
It’s not all bad news though. In South Texas, Audubon’s Sabal Palms Sanctuary is back in operation, despite having been walled off by Homeland Security’s levee-wall. In Big Bend National Park, a border crossing important to the local economy is scheduled to be reopened. Also, the Borderlands Team got some good press in San Diego City Beat’s audio postcard of our trip to the Otay Mountain Wilderness Area. To keep up with this news and more, check out our facebook group and click on the “info” tab.
A final note: For nearly two weeks now, our hearts and minds have been focused on the victims, families, and friends involved in the tragic shooting in Tucson, including border Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. More thoughts and the Sierra Club’s official statement on this disaster are posted on the Borderlands Team blog.
Thank you for caring about the border,
Posted by: Dan Millis at 1:20PM PST on January 12, 2011
Take a look at San Diego City Beat reporter Kinsee Moran's audio postcard: A Ride-Along with Members of the Sierra Club Borderlands Team
Posted by: Dan Millis at 12:57PM PST on January 12, 2011
I came to the blog today intending to post a bulletin about another Borderlands Team success. The page loaded, and the photo of Gabby and me popped up, and I decided I better write something:
Congresswoman Giffords has been an environmental champion, and thus Sierra Club sent me to work on her most recent re-election campaign. I spent October and a few days in November engaging the local Sierra Club membership, encouraging folks to volunteer their time to help get Gabby re-elected. People responded, and the volunteers of the Rincon Group helped push Gabby to victory in a very heated election won by a razor-thin margin.
On the border wall issue, Gabby has lead the charge towards meaningful monitoring and mitigation in areas suffering environmental impacts. People I know who live on the border itself, whose lives have been disrupted by walls built across their property, know Gabby better than I do, and love her dearly.
I know I speak for the Borderlands Team, and the entire Rincon Group, when I say that we are keeping her, and all the victims of this terrible crime, in our hearts.
Please see the Sierra Club's official statement below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2011
Contact: Maggie Kao, 919-360-0308
Sierra Club Statement on Deadly Shooting in Tucson
Tucson, AZ -- The Sierra Club wishes to extend its condolences to the family and friends of the victims who were wounded or killed in the deadly shooting at a public meeting in Tucson yesterday. In this somber time, the Club offers its support to Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, a longtime ally of the environmental movement and recipient of the Sierra Club’s 2005“Most Valuable Player” award from the Grand Canyon Chapter, in recognition of her unwavering commitment to environmental protection.
Statement of Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter Director Sandy Bahr:
“Gabby is a strong environmental champion who cares deeply about Arizona. She has demonstrated these values consistently throughout her public service, including her support for protection of public lands, her promotion of renewable energy, and her brave stand in voting to address one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation – climate disruption. Her speedy return to Congress is important for Arizona and the country.”
Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:
“Congresswoman Giffords has long been a hero to Sierra Club members and supporters in Arizona for her courageous defense of thestate’s beautiful landscapes and her tireless efforts to ensure our nation’s energy independence, clean air and water.
Yesterday’s unspeakable act of violence is a reminder of the foundational importance of civil discourse to American democracy, and what can happen when that principle is upended.
We wish Rep. Giffords a full and speedy recovery, and our hearts go out to the family and friends of all the victims of this tragedy.”
###Web version of this message:
Posted by: Dan Millis at 7:45PM PST on January 7, 2011
Though I spent the first month deployed for Congresswoman Giffords’ re-election campaign, we were still able to get a lot of work done this quarter for the Borderlands Campaign, thanks to the efforts of the volunteers of the Borderlands Team and our partner organizations on this issue (we also got Gabby re-elected). First, the Border Film Fest in Tucson was a huge success! We also took another great overnight field trip to the border, due to the fantastic organizing work Elna and Jimmy put into it. Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team has been working to strengthen our partnership with all Chapters along the Mexican border, as we also continue to reach out to Chapters in the interior, especially along the Canadian border. Our relationship with the Activist Network helps fund the activities of the Borderlands Campaign, and we’re further developing this relationship for 2011.
Outreach / Education
Locally, our biggest and best event was the Border Film Fest that we co-hosted with several environmental and human rights groups at The Loft Cinema in Tucson on December 11. About 300 people were in attendance and we raised nearly $900 to support the campaign!
The border field trip was also great, once again thanks to Elna, Jimmy, and wisdom provided by Bev! As usual, a lot of driving (we stay within 15 miles of the border, mostly dirt roads from Sasabe to nearly Naco), and some complications with the lodging. Still, we’re learning to make the trip better and better, and all who attend learn a lot. Please see John Morgan’s article about the trip in the most recent Canyon Echo.
Our most substantial outreach trips and Wild Versus Wall screenings this quarter were in Denver, Hermosillo, Albuquerque and at Northern Arizona University, with all travel funded by last year’s grant from the Activist Network. In Denver I presented at St. Andrew United Methodist Church and to a student group at Auraria University. There was a very large and engaged group at the presentation at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and an even larger and more enthusiastic group of scholars at the presentation in Hermosillo! There, about 200 students and professors saw Wild Versus Wall (with the updated version’s Spanish subtitles) and listened to my attempt at a slideshow in Spanish, which actually went pretty well. This was the Quinto Congreso de Biología conference, and I was quite literally mobbed after the presentation by folks who wanted more info, t-shirts, and wanted to get involved … they had to kick us out of the auditorium so that the show could go on! The trip to New Mexico was mostly about networking with the folks at the Rio Grande Chapter and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, but I also presented to a small group at the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference while I was there. Besides these larger travel events, I made six slideshow presentations to groups from No More Deaths, Naropa University, Notre Dame University, Verde Valley School, members of the Grand Canyon Chapter, and attendees at a Derechos Humanos border-focused event (where I also sat on a panel). Approximately 701 people attended this quarter’s presentations (including the Loft film fest), making a total of about 3,481 since I started with the project in mid-October, 2008.
Dan talks with Rocky Mountain Chapter Director Joshua Ruschhaupt at a Wild Versus Wall presentation in Denver
Other outreach and education activities I did this quarter included a trip to the border wall with the Notre Dame students. Also, other Borderlands Team volunteers, especially Sean Sullivan, presented Wild Versus Wall at events in Tennessee, Mississippi and San Diego.
We have been aggressively reaching out to the other three Sierra Club Chapters along the U.S.-Mexico border throughout the campaign, and this quarter we got all of them on board to support! The San Diego Chapter and the Lone Star Chapter put their money where their mouths are, each giving $2,500 to support the Grand Canyon Chapter Borderlands Campaign, and we are currently working with the Rio Grande Chapter to see if they are able to make a similar contribution. In addition to this important coalition building, we have continued to network with Chapters along the U.S.-Canada border, and have held several significant events in the interior of the U.S. and in Mexico.
Our ACTNET-BORDERLANDS listserv now has 1,288 subscribers, and our facebook group page has 1,359.
Being deployed with the Giffords campaign also gave us some networking opportunities, such as the tabling we did at the Democrats concert at Club Congress.
Media / Action
October 8 – Borderlands work mentioned in “Lay of the Land”
October 9 - interview with Dan of ASU Journalism School
October 15 - interview with Ben Ehrenrich, Slake magazine
November 1 – Imagine 2050 blog post re: ILCP exhibit in MS (go Sean!)
November 11 – LTE in AZ Daily Star
December 1 - Phone interview with David Robles, ASU journalism student
December 8 – Border wall visit with Stephanie Barbey and Luc of Intermezzo Films, Switzerland
Action tally (volunteers let me know about actions they took):
Only 1 postcard, 2 phone calls and 2 letters to Congress, all asking for border mitigation…
Fundraising: $5,980.96 in donations have been sent to my office or dropped in the donations basket this quarter, for a total of about $15,782.52 of such funds since the project began. The Borderlands Team has applied for three grants from the Activist Network for 2011: Similar to last year’s “Road Show” grant, we requested over $12,000 to continue to fund our outreach and education work. In addition, we also requested $5,000 to fund a Team meeting in Texas (like our successful 2010 meeting in San Diego), and $5,000 to support the Grand Canyon Chapter’s paid staff position. It’s important to note that, if awarded, this would be the first time that we have received funding from National to pay for staff time on this position.
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