The San Francisco Bay Area Gay & Lesbian Sierrans is an outings and conservation club for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people, and our friends.
We are an official activities section of the Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club. Founded in 1986, we were the Sierra Club's first gay and lesbian activities section. We're still one of the largest of a growing number of GLS chapters around the country.
We sponsor a variety of activities offering something for almost anyone who enjoys the outdoors. GLS outings run the gamut from easy urban strolls to vigorous peak hikes; relaxed car camping to demanding wilderness backpacks and naturalist-led walks; to hands-on restoration and trail maintenance. Everyone is welcome on our outings, whether or not they have joined GLS.
Who We Are: We are MORE!
Being a committee chairperson challenges you to develop a vision, and developing a vision brings up a lot of questions! How can GLS be more than a hiking and social club? What is the level of interest, ability, and available time of our members for environmental protection? How can we play a larger role in local conservation efforts? How can a conservation program help GLS meet other important goals? How can GLS members make rewarding connections with other members of the Sierra Club/San Francisco Bay Chapter?
Here’s the vision the Governing Committee and I came up with for our conservation program this year: Let’s weave conservation into more of our current activities, and offer a variety of new opportunities guided by our members’ interests, passions, and expertise. Let’s be more than a hiking club!
Here are some of our club’s current and upcoming conservation activities that members are having fun working on and want to do with other GLSers:
LEARN and TEACH
Each month members recommend a conservation-related book and those who are interested read and discuss it. We meet at a member’s home, or a café, and share a light meal and discussion. I haven’t read non-fiction in years and could not put down “The Beagle” our second chosen title.
Members who like to write are submitting content they have prepared on environmental topics of interest. Green roofs, the leave-no-trace ethic, alternative energy, and impacts of campfires, to name a few.
Many GLS members have a green job, volunteer for another environmental organization, or have expertise in a related area. If you’re one of them, share your interest with other GLS members. We’ll find a space for you – large or small – and help you spread the word.
Films and Lectures:
Watch the GLS calendar for upcoming events like the green film festival, panel discussions on environmental topics, and public talks. These are often accompanied by coffee or a meal beforehand.
Trailhead announcements and lunchtime talks:
You’ll be hearing more from our Outings Leaders about upcoming GLS conservation activities or things you can do to help preserve the area you are visiting. You may get a postcard stuck under your nose to write to a local politician!
GLS Outings Leaders will continue taking us to areas where we have fun and get exercise, but that need our protection. The Delta Birding trip impressed on us the importance of habitat protection for migrating birds. A trip to a threatened area like the Coliseum Park, a proposed 800-acre development on a wetland, gets us motivated to help. It’s the Sierra Club’s finest tradition – take people to endangered places so they will fall in love with them and want to save them.
Sometimes we need to start with getting the story out there. Did you know our railways and ports are being used to ship coal and oil to the Bay Area and export it to other countries? And that air, water, and land pollution is occurring in our back yards as a result? BAC-OFF is the Bay Chapter’s Bay Area Communities Overcoming Fossil Fuels program. GLS members are getting involved with this program and planning a PR campaign to bring to people’s attention what the oil and gas industry is up to.
“Frack Off!” is what many of us chanted at the March for Real Climate Change in Oakland last month. A large and loud GLS contingent marched with the San Francisco Bay Chapter to get the word out about the dangers of fracking in California. GLS will be participating in more actions to draw attention to issues and push for solutions.
Join other GLS Otter Spotters who are observing and reporting the return of river otters to their neighborhood streams, rivers, and parks. GLS volunteers with the River Otter Ecology Project are biking, hiking and kayaking to otter study sites. We gather data to help discover population numbers, sex ratios, family relationships and otter ranges. How fun is that?
Our long-standing habitat restoration commitment is with Corona Heights, a City park above the Castro district that is home to many Bay Area native plants and animals. Bring a few friends and help out for a couple of hours.
Join a group of GLSers adopting the ponds at beautiful, remote Dipper Ridge, in the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. Two to three times a year we will help with thistle control and other projects to restore the ponds for red-legged frogs.
Our Earth Day project this year is habitat restoration in the Presidio National Park. We’ll camp for two nights at Rob Hill Campground in the Park and work side-by-side with other Park volunteers. Details coming soon!
GLS is forming a Solar Install Team! GRID Alternatives is a non-profit that trains volunteers to install solar panels on low-income housing. All that’s required is a volunteer orientation after which we can sign up as a group to do an install. We had one set of GLS boots on the roof this weekend, so we’re off and running! Look for more work parties, coming soon
So, the challenge is on. GLS is a great club becoming more! Greater than the sum of its members, greater than just a great hiking club going to amazing places, greater than just a place to meet life-long friends and new partners. We are more; we are GLSers with a shared vision - to Explore, Enjoy, AND Protect the Planet.
The new GovCom has elected committee chairs and is beginning to undertake the important tasks we have in running GLS.
Some of the exciting things we do are managing the outings, the website and membership databases as well as outreach.
This year's priorities include building a more diverse membership, and continuing to offer a wide range of outings and educational programs.
In response to the membership survey we are creating social activities around a conservation theme, including a conservation book club and movie nights.
Still Looking for Volunteers!
Goals we’ve prioritized to work on this year include expanding our Outings Program to include more training, socializing, and recognition for our leaders. We also want to develop non-outings leadership within the Club. Healthy organizations continue to engage new people and ideas, and it’s too easy to get busy and not encourage and support new leaders. We have a number of committee vacancies now and welcome your participation. If you have an interest in Bylaws, Outings, Membership, Social Media, or Conservation, the Club could use your energy and enthusiasm. Our third goal for the year is to increase the diversity within GLS, in terms of gender identify, age, and ethnic background. We’re preparing a survey to gain clarity about our membership needs and ideas, but please share your ideas and vision with us in person or by email or telephone.
Thanks for your support and feedback. See you on the trails soon!