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E-M:/ Winning on the Hill for the Planet in 1998

Enviro-Mich message from LexAnima@aol.com


January 20, 1998

TO:  District Captains, Partner Groups, subscribers, friends - all that 
     love wildlife and wildlands

FROM:  Roger Featherstone, GREEN Director

RE:  What it takes to win in 1998

Welcome to 1998!  Together we will make a big difference this year.  
Every year brings new and unique challenges and this year will be no 
exception.  Our task to protect wildlife and wildlands will not be any 
easier in 1998.  However, there is no question in my mind we will keep 
fighting and we will prevail.  How is it possible to continue against 
seemingly insurmountable odds?  The flip answer is to say that we are 
just to dumb to know when to give up.  The truth is we all care deeply 
about the natural world, and know our efforts make a big difference.  
Let's spend a few minutes examining how we will win.

The pundits are quick to point out the many reasons we cannot possibly 
prevail.  We have no money, therefore we have no power with decision-
makers or the media.  Because we have no power, we are disenfranchised.  
We are quick to admit defeat and are never willing to demand-and hold 
out for-what we want.  Our issues are looked at as luxury items, 
boutique issues, something we can do only when there is "extra" money 
and time.  Don't fall for this litany of negatives.  It is irrelevant 
because we have strength beyond measure-if only we believe we do.

To win in 1998 we need to believe we will win.  That is 90% of the 
battle.  History is dotted with wonderful examples of tremendous 
battles won in the face horrific adversity.  Many of you saw the movie 
Braveheart -one of the inspirational and instructional videos for 
activists.  William Wallace inspired an entire nation and remains today 
the embodiment of freedom.  Who doesn't remember Martin Luther King's 
"I Have a Dream" speech?  I still get shivers down my spine when I hear 
those words.  Dr. King walked his way through adversity to freedom 
because he believed he would win.  I can't stress how much believing we 
will win must permeate our very existence in 1998.  Never must we be 
caught not believing in ourselves and in our goal of protecting all 
wildlife and wildlands.  Even in the depths of depression after yet 
another setback when the reporter we love to hate calls for our 
reaction we should say "yes, things didn't go well today, but we will 
win."  Yes, HR 2351 will become law.  Yes, we will defeat the Smith 
bill and replace current grazing law with substantial new protection 
for public lands.  Yes, we will end 125 years of public lands tyranny 
caused by the 1872 Mining Law.  We will do these things because we 
believe we will win.  "I think therefore I am" really does work.

Now not even a dreamer like myself thinks believing is enough.  The 
rest of what it takes I learned during my days in 4-H as a youth.  4-H 
stands for:  Head, Hands, Heart and Health.  Besides attitude, the four 
H's are all we really need.  Think of these H's as the four legs of a 
chair.  We want a good sturdy kitchen chair.  We don't want a rocking 
chair.  We don't want a chair too flimsy to stand on when a light bulb 
needs changing.  Keep all four legs of your chair even.  Make sure one 
leg isn't weaker than the rest.

Head:  We must use it to win.  Understaffed, outgunned, out moneyed and 
all the rest we must be smarter than our opponents.  We must always be 
two or three steps ahead of the destroyers.  We must anticipate our 
opponents' next moves, know what they are thinking, know what resources 
they will use.  However, be careful not to get into the trap of 
analyzing the other side to the point of self-paralysis.  Be flexible 
in your thinking.  "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" as 
Muhammed Ali extolled.  This also means gathering as much useful 
information as you need.  Read those GREENLines, use the web, ask 
questions, and gather intelligence on what makes your decision-makers 
and media people tick.  Craftily use this information against them.

Hands:  Thousands of words to type before I sleep.  Numbers to dial, 
paper to shuffle, hands to shake, bags to grip.  Getting physical is a 
requirement in this army!  We are doers as well as thinkers and we must 
do a lot to win.  Hands are required to build arks.  Hands sometimes go 
in lock-boxes.  Hands even can be used for hugs (see Health).  Use the 
tools at your disposal.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  GREEN can 
help you get more out of your tools.  Need to know how to set up a 
phone tree or e-mail list?  Ask us.  Friends are waiting to help you 
make the most of your two good hands.

Heart:  We've got plenty!  Why are you still up at midnight mulling 
over what you will say at tomorrow's meeting with your Representative?  
Because you have heart.  Why are you working over the weekend to edit 
your group's comments to the Bureau of Land Management's request to 
open the Arctic National Petroleum Reserve?  Because you care deeply 
about a place you will probably never see.  We all know it's impossible 
to protect wildlife and wildlands without heart.  It's a great strength 
we have - and our opponents do not!  Keep your heart strong, avoid 
being bitter, never stop caring, don't forget the magic of a tiny 
glimpse of northern lights or the rising of a harvest moon.  Don't ever 
let your heart run out, keep it filled to the brim.

Health:  Our culture loves martyrs and the easiest way to become one is 
to neglect your health.  Right now, however, we can use fewer martyrs 
and more warriors.  If you are too busy to take care of yourself, you 
are doing us all a disservice.  How can you still be "fighting the good 
fight" twenty years from now if you are six feet under?  Mental health 
and physical health are the same thing, just do it!  Doctor's orders:  
Laugh; dance; have a good time; hug a friend, a colleague, a tree; get 
your feet wet; go outside and play.  See a sunset; get out into the 
wilderness you are saving.  Work hard, but then play just as hard.  You 
will find you get more done that way.  As Ed Abbey said, "Do this and 
you will live to piss on their graves."  Health also means making sure 
you don't work alone.  Make sure you share the load.  Delegate to 
others.  Make sure you are not irreplaceable.  The health of our 
movement depends on the development of new blood.  Grow new fighters.  
Reach out to new communities.  Inspire (or re-inspire) others to work 
with you.  You are part of a large, diverse vibrant community that 
spans the globe.  Talk to other GREEN folks.  Find out how they stay 

There you have it:  A prescription for victory in 1998.  It won't be 
easy, but like most of us you wouldn't work your fingers to the bone if 
it were.  We are on the verge of fundamental change in the way we view 
and use our wildlife and wildlands.  

Everything that has happened so far is only a prelude to what we can 
make happen.  

Roger Featherstone -- Director
GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network
A project of Defenders of Wildlife
PO Box 40046, Albuquerque, NM 87196-0046
(505) 277-8302  fax:(505) 277-5483  e-mail:  rfeather@defenders.org
check out our web page at:  http://www.defenders.org/grnhome.html

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