VOLUNTEER POSITIONS AVAILABLE with Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group

We’re working on environmental issues in Southwest Michigan. We need your help!

Join us at 6:00 PM on the first Wednesday of the month at Friends Meeting House, 508 Denner Street, Kalamazoo. Click map to enlarge.

Join us at 6:00 PM on the first Wednesday of the month at Friends Meeting House, 508 Denner Street, Kalamazoo. Click map to enlarge.

Here’s how you can get started: Come to our meetings and bring your ideas.

We meet at 6:00 PM the first Wednesday of every month at Friends Meeting House, 508 Denner Street, Kalamazoo. Members and guests are welcome. If you’re interested in what the Sierra Club is doing in Southwest Michigan and how you can help, please visit our next meeting, ask questions, get to know us.

Coming to our monthly meetings is the best way to start getting involved with our work. Find out what we’re working on. Volunteer to help with whatever project grabs your interest. Most of all, bring us your own ideas and inspirations.

Volunteers must provide the following:

  • Your conviction that our work matters.
  • A few spare hours per month to help get things done.
No experience necessary. Plenty of on-the-job training is available!

What we’ve been doing lately.

WOW! Ben Brown and his crew of SWMG and Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association volunteers put on the very best Drive Electric Week ever, anywhere!

We expanded our celebration of plug-in electric electric cars to three programs this year. Besides our usual show in Kalamazoo, we also went to Hastings and South Haven. Dozens of EV owners showed off their cars and explained why driving electric is clean, affordable, and fun! Visit our Southwest Michigan Drive Electric Week page for a full report.

Jackie Schmitz

Jackie Schmitz introduces Craig Brainard’s “Don’t Frack Up Our Future” presentation. Photo: Alana England

Fracking coming to Barry County? Craig Brainard says, “Don’t Frack Up Our Future!”

On July 3, Sierra Club fractivist Craig Brainard learned that a Texas company had asked Michigan DEQ for a permit to drill Barry County’s first fracking well. Craig immediately scheduled an appearance of his “Don’t Frack Up Our Future” program at the Hastings Library for Saturday, July 15. Craig has made his presentation in dozens of Michigan cities and town over the past few years. This was his first showing in Hastings, his hometown. The proposed well would be about six miles from Craig’s home.

Here’s Sierra Club fractivist Craig Brainard explaining fracking’s dangers and how to resist. Photo: Alana England.

The Hastings Banner promoted Craig’s show in their July 13 edition. Fox-17 filmed the afternoon event and interviewed Craig for that evening’s Ten O’Clock News. Click here to read their report and watch the video. You can see WWMT Channel 3’s video and read their report here.

As Craig was gearing up for his presentation, fellow fractivist Jackie Schmitz was going door-to-door warning her neighbors and collecting signatures for the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan. The organization hopes to put a legislative initiative on the Michigan ballot. If they succeed, Michigan voters could agree with Craig and tell Michigan legislators, “Don’t frack up our future!”

We learned what to keep an eye on as Palisades nuclear plant moves toward shutdown and decommissioning.

Chris Williams

Chris Williams speaking at the public meeting in South Haven about what to watch for during the decommissioning at Palisades. Photo: Rebecca Thiele for WMUK.

Bette Pierman, Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group Executive Committee member and Michigan Safe Energy Future, co-founder organized a program on what to expect as Palisades undergoes shutdown and decommissioning. Activist Chris Williams shared what he’s learned from watching Entergy’s decommissioning work at its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Beyond Nuclear, of Takoma Park, Maryland, and nuclear activism organization Don’t Waste Michigan sponsored the program along with MSEF and SWMG. Rebecca Thiele of WMUK was on hand for the July 13 program at the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College. Click here to see her report.

Among the key points Williams made:

  • The people of Vermont formed an independent panel of Vermont citizens, state and local agencies and authorities, news media, interested organizations, and workers and companies involved in decommissioning at Vermont Yankee. The panel meets regularly to communicate with one another and to keep the public aware of the process and its progress. Williams said it was crucial that a similar panel be established to assure accountability at Palisades.
  • The decommissioning program’s financial aspects, such as available funds, budget considerations, and the temptation to save money by cutting corners will require special attention. Right now, Entergy is obligated to completely finance the decommissioning. If Entergy sells the plant to a decommissioning company, the transaction must not push any of this cost onto the Michigan public. Cleanup estimates at Vermont Yankee exceed a billion dollars. The Palisades decommissioning fund has only $427 million.
  • Short-term and long-term plans for safe handling of the high-level nuclear waste that Palisades has been producing for more than 45 years will be critical.

Our Think Outside the (Plastic) Bottle campaign kicked off with a free showing of “Tapped” at the Portage Library.

Kim and the aduience at "Tapped" screening

At the Portage Library kickoff for our Think Outside the (Plastic) Bottle campaign, Kim Gabriele introduced the movie “Tapped” and led the Q&A session afterwards. Photo: Bette Pierman.

Guests at our free June 28 showing of the movie “Tapped” learned about communities that have fought, won, and lost battles against the mega-corporations that exploit community water supplies to produce grossly overpriced and overhyped convenience in plastic bottles that we throw away without thinking.

Those who signed a pledge to stop buying water in disposable plastic got a free Sierra Club stainless steel bottle!

More information:

Then we had a repeat showing of “Tapped” at the Parchment library and gave away more free stainless steel Sierra Club water bottles! Contact us if you’re interested in sponsoring a showing.

Tim Tesar’s Birding Excursions

Tim Tesar is a birder, a photographer, an environmentalist, a climate-activist, and a member of Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group and Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

“Of course, my main concern about climate change,” said Tim, “is the threat it poses to humans. But I also am a nature lover and thus also worry about the threat to animal and plant life. Since I am a birder, I am especially concerned about birds.

“I hope seeing the beauty of these birds will further inspire you to work to mitigate climate change.”

Photos in the two slideshows below © copyright Timon Tesar. Used by permission.

Tim’s September, 2017, visit to Ottawa Marsh

I was pleased to have two new friends (David and Harold) join me Friday for a visit to the Ottawa Marsh in the Allegan State Game Area. It was their first time in the Marsh and I enjoy showing newcomers around.

Birds were not very numerous or diverse, but we had some good birding nevertheless. While water levels are still low, producing great shorebird habitat, there weren’t a lot of shorebirds.

While Goose hunting season has started, we saw no other people or hunters.

Hover over description to make it more visible.

In May, 2017, Tim visited Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

“For some years now I have annually joined a group of birder friends on a May trip to Northwest Ohio where we enjoy the spring bird migration. Here are a few of my photos from this year’s trip, all taken in the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.

See the National Audubon Society’s extensive research on the threat climate change poses to birds, “314 Species on the Brink of Extinction.”

SWMG people were at the blistering hot April 29 Climate March in Washington, D.C.

Of course, we were at the cold and rainy Kalamazoo march too.

More work we’ve been involved in lately:

SWMG Executive Committee members Joe Ziolkowsi, left, and Charlie Stefanac, center, with Michigan Chapter Political Director Mike Berkowitz at Sierra Club Citizen Lobby Day in Lansing on March 29.

For the third year in a row, SWMG conservationist Bill Strong rounded up couple of crews to celebrate Arbor Day and Earth day. On Earth Day, Bill and a crew were at Saugatuck Dunes State Park rooting out a garlic mustard invasion. Here is part of the Hastings High School FFA crew Bill organized for an Arbor Day tree planting at the 40-acre Hasting High School Nature Preserve. Click here for more about Bill’s 2017 work.

At palisades shutdown plan hearing

Sierra Club folks were on hand at Michigan Public Service Commission’s first public hearing on the Palisades shutdown plan. Mark Muhich, far left, of Michigan Chapter’s Nuclear Free Michigan Committee; and SWMG representatives (left to right) Becky Mandrell, Karen Schuur, and Bruce Brown. Click here for a report on our appearance. Photo: Michelle Rison for Sierra Club SW Michigan Group

Robin Nott

Long-time Sierra Club member Kathy VanDeusen is creating tomorrow’s conservationists. She teaches first to fifth graders at Bedford Home School just north of Battle Creek. Parents bring their kids from as far as fifty miles away to Kathy’s class. This photo shows Lauren from the Kalamazoo Nature Center. When Kathy’s class celebrated John Muir’s 179th Birthday Party, one of the special guests was Robin Nott. He sang environmental songs with the students and told a story about Jon Muir’s first encounter with Stickeen, the dog that became a good friend. Click here for more info on Kathy’s work.

2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival at Bronson Park

While Bill Strong and his crew were busy at Saugutuck Dunes on Earth Day (see the photo above this one), another SWMG crew was at the Bronson Park celebration where we were one of the major sponsors. For a full report with plenty of photos and a slideshow, see our page on the 2017 Kalamazoo Earth Day festival at Bronson Park.