New Strategic Plan in Place
The Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club is starting off the decade with a strong set of goals set forth in a new strategic plan.
At the beginning of 2019, the national Sierra Club called for each state chapter to establish an individual strategic plan tailored to each state.
These plans are intended to help focus and organize each chapter, says Sierra Club Connecticut Chair, Ann Gadwah, but the call from national was also aimed at broadening and strengthening the overall mission of the Sierra Club.
A committee was established to hash out the broad goals and objectives, and Gadwah says these were all viewed through the lens of where the team saw Connecticut currently and where we need to see Connecticut in the years to come.
"As the committee brainstormed, we came up with even broader ideas and ways we could get there. It was collaborative, and I was so pleased because everyone was committed and was putting in the effort to create the strategy."
The strategic plan addresses climate change issues that are most pressing for Connecticut, starting with priorities in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
"Connecticut is a coastal state and the North East is warming a little faster than other areas; therefore one of the goals is to push the state toward a reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) faster. One of the ways to do this is to reduce our use of fossil fuels and move toward 100% renewable energy sources," says Gadwah.
In terms of adaptation, since Connecticut is a coastal state, the strategic plan also includes ways to help coastal communities increase their resilience against sea level rise.
As some of the founding principles of the Sierra Club, the second set of priorities address the protection of Connecticut wildlife and open spaces and also how to ensure that everyone has access to open spaces.
"John Muir said, ‘Everyone needs beauty as well as bread.’ Everyone should be able to enjoy and have access to nature and clean air," says Gadwah.
Since both individual and systemic changes are needed to address climate change, the third set of priorities in the strategic plan supports both. These priorities state that Sierra Club Connecticut will continue to work closely with other groups, but also with the state legislature to ensure there are strong laws in place that will move the state in the right direction.
"Sierra Club must be working to not only coordinate community rallies and protests, but we need to be involved in legislation, since both approaches -- those inside and outside of politics -- are so important."
The fourth set of priorities in the strategic plan ensure Sierra Club Connecticut is financially secure, says Gadwah. "We need to ensure we have money to fund projects so that we can continue to move forward and grow the movement." As such, there are yearly goals in place aimed at growing membership.
The final set of priorities are centered on ensuring Sierra Club Connecticut grows not only in the numbers of members but also in diversity.
"We want to expand so all voices are at the table, all demographics, so everyone can contribute and help move us all forward," says Gadwah, "We need to make sure we are thinking about how policies are moving us forward, as well as how they are going to impact people's lives."
Under the guidance of the strategic plan's framework, each set of priorities has committees in place to focus and drive those goals forward. In future articles, we will be exploring what each committee is doing in more detail and how they are moving towards hitting the goals set forth in the strategic plan.
Looking back on the process of creating the strategic plan, Gadwah is proud, "It was a wonderful achievement and shows that we are moving forward."
Laina Hancock is a Sierra Club member and serves on the Communications Committee for Sierra Club Connecticut.