By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma Sierra Club invites the public to celebrate the grassroots environmental organization’s recent progress and to honor those who have made it possible. “A Night with the Sierra Club”will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27.
The banquet and awards program will take place again this year in the Eclipse Ballroom at Remington Park, in Oklahoma City, from 7 – 10 p.m.
The evening will begin with a VIP reception from 6 – 7 p.m. in the Ran Ricks Room. Open bar and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.
Valet parking is complimentary and a full meal will be served offering a vegetarian option.
Barbara VanHanken, Oklahoma Sierra Club chapter chair said, “A Night For Sierra Club is a special evening, once every two years, where we can join together to celebrate the progress we have made and honor those who have made it possible.
“We encourage everyone to attend and to invite their friends and family so they can learn more about the Sierra Club and environmentalism in Oklahoma in a fun and special setting.”
Environmental award winners will be recognized in four categories.
The Gaylord Nelson Earth Care Award will be given to the Tulsa Master Recyclers Association. The Teddy Roosevelt Outstanding Public Servant Award will be presented to Oklahoma State Representative Jeannie McDaniel (D –District 78, Tulsa).
The Aldo Leopold Conservation Journalism Award will be given to Joe Wertz and Logan Layden from National Public Radio StateImpact Oklahoma. The Karen Silkwood Activist Award will go to Doug Parr, Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney
Since February 2013, Parr has provided pro-bono legal representation for 30 individuals arrested and charged with criminal conduct in 8 Oklahoma counties. They participated in non-violent civil disobedience actions in protest of construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and Canadian tar sands extraction.
Today, as a result of Parr’s work, all charges have been dismissed against 17 of those individuals and charges were resolved for 12 individuals with small fines.
One case is still pending in Atoka County and may go to trial later this year.
Parr said, “This award must be shared with the 30 people who were willing to subject themselves to arrest and sacrifice their freedom attempting to stop and bring attention to the construction of a pipeline primarily dedicated to the decimation of a state sized piece of land in Canada and the poisoning of the water supply of indigenous peoples in the surrounding area, while dumping a carbon bomb into the earth’s atmosphere.”
Keynote speaker this year will be Bruce Hamilton, Deputy Executive Director for national Sierra Club.
Hamilton has worked for the Sierra Club for over 37 years. He started as a regional Sierra Club organizer and later worked as National Conservation Director.
Hamilton has been involved in implementing campaigns to get off of fossil fuels and to promote smart energy solutions while preserving wild America.
Hamilton served on the Environmental Support Center Board of Directors, the U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Advisory Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Advisory Council on Sustainable Economies. He is presently a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas.
Hamilton said, “The history of environmental progress in the United States and around the world has largely been because citizens have stood up and said we insist as a basic human rights that we have clean air, clean water and a safe environment.
“The way to change is basically for more people to engage in the political process and to hold their elected officials accountable.”
New this year, the event will include a contest to award the Oklahoman who has most damaged the environment. Buying tickets early gives participants the chance to make nominations in this category.
With 63 chapters nationwide, the Sierra Club is the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the U.S. with 2.1 million members and supporters.
Individual tickets are $75 and sponsorship opportunities are available online at oklahoma.sierraclub.org. For more information, contact Nichole Moisant at 405-823-8946.