Have Fun in the Sun….And Learn Something Too With Sierra Club Group Outings

The summer and fall months are perfect for meeting new people while exploring the great outdoors and learning about the preservation of the environment and the Sierra Club provides all of this.

“Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the Planet” is the Sierra Club’s motto and members and nonmembers can explore the outdoors with the Club’s many outings. There are three parts to the Club’s outings: local, national and international. Another outings offshoot are the Inner City Outings in which the Sierra Club visits urban areas giving these residents the opForested dunes hikeportunity to explore the outdoors – many urban residents never have the chance to visit rural areas. The Sierra Club Northwest Cook County Group, which serves Park Ridge to the Cook County section of Barrington and south to Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village offers a variety of outings for all skill levels – from easy to more strenuous hikes to canoe trips to cross country skiing during the winter.

Rick Szafarz, Outings Chair of the Northwest Chapter explains, “When people participate in these outings they generally have an overall love to get outdoors and explore. The Sierra Club’s outings range from hiking to camping, biking, backpacking and paddling and many other activities. We usually offer between a dozen and two dozen outings per year.”

For more information about outings, including pricing information (most outings are only $3) check out both the Northwest Chapter’s and the Illinois Sierra Club’s pages. You don’t need to be a member of the Sierra Club to attend the outings and, even if you live in the Northwest Cook County region you can still attend outings throughout the state or the country as well.

Some upcoming outings presented by various groups throughout the state include the Wilderness Act Celebration at Lusk Creek (Shawnee National Forest) on Saturday, August 9; Cycling the Oak Savannah and Prairie on Sunday, August 10; Adopt a Trail Work Day – Illinois Prairie Path in Glen Ellyn on Saturday, August 23; Sand State Forest Exploratory Backpack on Sunday, September 7 and South Kettle Moraine Beginner’s Backpack Friday, September 19-Sunday, September 21.

And, if you have more of an interest in the environment and conservation and would like to be surrounded by other like-minded individuals, the Northwest Cook County Group has monthly program meetings the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 pm with a time to socialize beforehand at 7 pm. Light refreshments will be served. Currently the meetings are held at the Spring Valley Nature Center, 111 E. Schaumburg Rd. in Schaumburg. Meetings are free and open to the public. Be sure to check the Group’s Web site for the meeting’s topic.

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Climate Change…It’s Us: Part II

A panel discussion of various local environmental organizations followed the keynote speech. I was happily surprised to find out that Chicago Public Radio’s (WBEZ) Jerome McDonnell, host of Worldview, was the panel’s moderator.

The panel included representatives from the Northwest Cook County Chapter of the Sierra Club; Barrington, Ill.-based Citizens for Conservation, whose mission is “‘Saving Living Space Through Living Things’ through protection, restoration and stewardship of land, conservation of natural resources and education”; the Illinois Solar Energy Association; Citizens’ Climate Lobby; the Harper College (Palatine, Ill.) Green Committee; and Blacks in Green, which is based in the West Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago whose vision is for “self-sustaining black communities everywhere, and world peace through home economies.”

The representatives were hopeful for future, but cited more needs to be done because there are still many climate change doubters out there – even though there is scientific evidence that global warming truly does exist.

But, it was nice to see this concern for the environment ran the gamut – from a grassroots organization focusing on the restoration of the land to a local chapter of a national organization.

Following the panel discussion were breakout groups, where we, as participants, were given the opportunity to network and exchange ideas according to specific topics. We gathered at various tables – I met otheb08f8ad9f57b133ee76c7b373efc3d29r like-minded individuals at the Climate Refuge table, where we discussed the ramifications the changing climate has on people and how global warming has created Climate Refuges due to these natural disasters — we all agreed there must be plans in place to prepare for these increasing incidences. Then, I met other individuals at the Arts and the Environment table where we discussed how we can incorporate the arts into raising an awareness about global warming by flash mobs/artwork and other ideas — many times art isn’t seen as “in your face” and people are more willing to discuss the issue if told through art.

All in all, this was a very thought-provoking and worthwhile conference where I was happy to be among others who were concerned about the Earth’s future, but were also hopeful. I plan on attending this conference next year. But, in the meantime, I hope to continue learning about this issue and utilizing my communications skills to raise awareness. If interested I would like to connect with you and possibly use my written communications skills in a green way. Please visit my Web site at http://lrjwriteedit.wordpress.com or send me an email at lrjwriteedit@gmail.com.