News from the Chair – Maryvonne Devensky

Here is the month of May already…. It would be great to announce that the Legislative Session   ended on a positive note, that our elected officials could agree between themselves and with the voters that we, indeed, could make some great strides in protecting our environment by putting   aside millions of dollars to buy land, to clean the springs, to save the Everglades, and hire more rangers to take care of our parks…None of that happened…Please read Whitey Markle’s article for more information. Then call the Chair of the Conservation Committee, Charlie Dean (#850-487-5005) or email him at, to let him know his committee did not respect the Amendment 1 goals and they need to do better. Then sign up with to stay informed on future actions. Stay informed and become more involved…

Back to the Session in Tallahassee… As of Friday April 24, the full House was considering passing two Fracking Bills, to roll them over a third and final reading early next week: HB 1205 and HB 1209. These bills would delay or prevent disclosure of toxic chemicals until the damage is done. DEP and FracFocus are not allowed to tell the public what is being used if the well operator has claimed the ingredients are “proprietary business information” – trade secrets.

Soooo….please keep calling your representatives and ask them to vote NO on HB 1205 and HB 1209. You can look up the name of your representative by entering your address at this Florida   House webpage: Give your name and city where you live,or a zip code. Be brief and polite, but make your point: NO Fracking in Florida. Stay informed by going to the website of Our Santa Fe River, Inc. with daily updates on the Fracking issue, and follow Merrillee Malwitz-Jibson suggestions…Remember that we elected these representatives to represent us, not to represent private businesses. Link to Our Santa Fe River Website

On a much lighter note, we had a wonderful Earth Day celebration, a Luncheon celebrating the life and work of Marjorie Carr, with the presence of Chuck and Mimi Carr, Marjorie’s children, Joe Little, lawyer who worked with Marjorie, and Peggy McDonald, author of “Marjorie Harris Carr – Defender of Florida’s Environment”, a book she published last year. Peggy vividly described Marjorie as a professional scientist, highly educated woman, mother of five, known as the “housewife from Micanopy”- who was part of the environmental movement of the 1960’s. She was a free spirit, an independent woman who did not take “No” for an answer. Marjorie is   the one who started the fight to “Free the Ocklawaha”. Many members of Sierra Club attended the lunch and all enjoyed Peggy’s presentation as well as hearing Dr. Steve Robitaille, President of Florida Defender of the Environment, who gave us an update on the Ocklawaha’s future. Mimi Carr and NKwanda Jah, Director of the Cultural Arts Coalition, gave the Marjorie Carr Foot Soldier Award to Kiona Eliott – a UF student in Biology. She could not attend but her best friend Claire Mabour, also a UF student, accepted the Award for Kiona….and Manisha Ranade ended the event with a beautiful ancient Indian dance on the music of Ravi Shankar, on the Sacredness of Earth, Wind, Sky, Sun and Moon. The event took place at Kanapaha Gardens, and all who attended loved the food (Thank you Chef Brothers) and loved the spirit of the presentation – honoring in so many ways a woman who defended the Florida we all love. Thank you Roberta Gastmeyer, NKwanda Jah, Manisha Ranade for all your time and energy in planning this event…and Thank you all Sierra Club members and guests who made this event so special by coming and also bidding on the Silent Auction items donated by local artists.

Now let’s speak about FUNDRAISING … First for our ICO program. We just had a meeting to plan outings for the summer and we are planning educational and fun outings for the children involved. If you are interested in participating, please let us know…We are planning a Garage Sale as a Fundraiser for the ICO program. It will be on Saturday, September 19, 2015. So start to put aside things that you want to give away for our garage sale, or just start your Spring Cleaning – and put away in boxes until the fall…We will accept donations a week before the Garage Sale, around September 12, 2015. Please contact Jeri Merritt at if you have questions and/or if you want to volunteer.

Then on Saturday, October 24th, we are planning another Fundraiser for the SSJ Sierra Club…Please read the details on Sustainable House and Garden Tour. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS…It will be more fun if we have more volunteers involved… Link to Roberta’s article

VICTORY over Keith Perry’s bill HB 1325…DEAD on the floor…

THANK YOU to a group of dedicated Sierra Club members and Gainesville Loves Mountains members who worked hard to defeat this bill, and they did it!!!! For your information, if that Bill had passed, then, the governance of GRU would not remain with the City of Gainesville and would have moved to a Commission depending on Tallahassee…It took some efforts: meetings, phone calls, writing a petition against the bill. Several of us went to Tallahassee to speak against that bill. Thank you Nancy Deren, Susan Bottcher, Rob Brinkman, Theresa Spurling-Wood for speaking up in the name of Gainesville people who could not attend that hearing… Thank you to everyone else also involved to defeat that bad Bill.