Michael Brune Addresses 2010 Annual Dinner


The Sierra Club Iowa Chapter Annual Dinner was held Friday, October 1, 2010, at the Des Moines Botanical Center.  Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune spoke to the approximately 80 attendees.  The evening kicked off with a cocktail cruise aboard the Jon Anderson White Riverboat on the Des Moines River.  

Brune shared a story with the attendees about successfully convincing Home Depot to stop selling old-growth forest lumber.  Attempts to persuade corporate officials through meetings and expensive newspaper advertisements failed but Brune was given the loud-speaker address code for one of the stores by a store employee who supported Brune's effort.  Brune went to the store, punched in the code and announced that Home Depot was selling lumber harvested from old-growth forests.  He did it three times before he was approached by store management.  The pair exited the store where the manager suggested how Brune go about getting his message to the corporate office.  When Brune explained that he'd already tried the manager's suggestions to no avail, the manager sending him on his way, said under his breath, "Keep up the good work."  Eventually, the corporate office stopped purchasing and selling old-growth forest lumber.  

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico last April, Brune has made several trips to the Gulf on behalf of Sierra Club.  He shared that the first trip included a fly-over of the area where all one could see was a rusty-brown ribbon that extended into the horizon.  Subsequent visits included watching dolphins and pelicans try to navigate the oily waters.  Brune said that we must hold BP accountable to pay for the full cost of the clean-up effort that could take 10 years or longer.  He also aid we have to find a way to get off oil and that's going to be a long-term effort.  "The challenge is how far can we go?  How can we electrify automobiles without increasing our dependence on coal?"  America must also look at how biofuels fit into the mix.

When asked how to bring younger people into Sierra Club's efforts, Brune said, "They are involved, they're just not here tonight."  The Sierra Student Coalition is active and younger people are activists in a different way than other generations.  He said they're more service-oriented than his generation.  Young progressives' formative years occurred during the later years of the Clinton Administration and during the eight years of the Bush Administration.  He said paid membership of younger progressives is low, but their activism is high.  He added that we must convince them that engagement will work and give them hope.  He also recommended setting a goal of electing at least one person under the age of 25 to chapter leadership positions.

When asked about Sierra Club's position on nuclear power, Brune affirmed that the Club is opposed to nuclear power.  He said new nuclear power plants are not a good investment.  We need to be looking for power sources that are the "cleanest, safest, cheapest and quickest."

The photographs below captured the evening's highlights.


Photos by Neila Seaman.




Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune addressed the attendees at the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter Annual Dinner.




The evening began with a cocktail cruise aboard the Jon Anderson White paddle riverboat on the Des Moines River.


(L-R) Ginger Soelberg, Iowa Chapter ExCom member; Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director; and Francis Thicke, former Environmental Protection Commission member, visit during the riverboat cruise.


The Des Moines Botnical Center from the Des Moines River.




Michael Brune visits with Fairfield member Carole Simmons.


A view of Iowa Lutheran Hospital above the Des Moines River.


Chapter Chair Jerry Neff (left) emceed the event.  Pam Mackey-Taylor, Chapter Fundraising Chair, addressed the group.



Sierra Club Board of Directors member Donna Buell introduced Michael Brune.  Donna is the first Iowa member to be elected to the national Board of Directors.





Michael Brune posed with the Iowa Chapter executive committee members and staff who met with him following the dinner.  Pictured are:

(front, left to right) Wally Taylor, Jerry Neff, Cindy Ballou, Jane Clark, Pam Mackey-Taylor, Ginger Soelberg and Peggy Murdock.

(back, left to right) are Jim Redmond, Neila Seaman (Chapter Director), Michael Brune and Jim Riggs.