Representing Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and St. Clair Counties

About SEMG
  General Info.
Monthly Program
The Activist
Michigan Issues
Southeast Michigan Action Alerts
Contact Your Elected Officials
Calendar of Events
Group Directory
Join or Give
Green Cruise
Kroger Rewards
Inner City Outings
Go Green Presentation

SEMG Archive of Previous Programs
Programs are presented during SEMG's monthly General membership meetings. These meetings give members and non-members alike the opportunity to socialize, make environment-related announcements, and discuss SEMG business matters. Programs follow all this and vary in topic from an in-depth look at some local environmental issue to a guest speaker's adventures in the Alaskan wilderness.

Below is a description of previous SEMG programs. For a list of upcoming programs, click here.

Previous Programs

Thursday March 5, 7–9, pm
Biology and Conservation of All-female Unisexual Ambystoma Salamanders:
How Do They Do That?

Presented by Katy Greenwald, Professor of Biology, Eastern MI University
All-female Ambystoma salamanders, known as "unisexuals," are a fascinating part of Michigan's biodiversity. While most animals have two sets of chromosomes (one from mom, one from dad), these salamanders can have three, four, or even five. Even stranger, these "extra" chromosome sets are "stolen" from other species of salamander that breed in the same ponds.

Thursday February 5, 7–9 pm
Oakland County Water Issues
Presented by Jim Nash, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Commissioner Nash will be updating the group on his efforts with the new Great Lakes Water Authority, storm water and green infrastructure issues, as well as developments in oil and gas drilling in our county. He will also discuss his work on water conservation through Pure Oakland Water

Thursday November 6, 7—9 pm
Craig Brainard, MI Beyond Natural Gas Campaign leader, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter ExCom memberCraig has studied the issues of climate change and fracking for more than a decade. His interests lie close to home, since he lives in beautiful and rural Barry Co., where oil and gas interests seem poised to begin drilling. For the last 18 months Craig has published an online journal, "The Fracking Linkletter", collecting fracking news, public documents, industry and academic studies, newspaper, magazine, television and radio reports. He will show a 60 minute investigation of oil and gas drilling in Michigan, and highlight actions we can/need to take to protect our resources, and our health.

Thursday October 2, 7—9 pm
Beth Wallace, Consultant, Great Lakes pipeline safety issues

In 2010, Michigan experienced the largest and most costly inland oil spill in U.S. history, affecting the communities where Beth grew up. Since that time she has been one of the leading pipeline safety advocates in the region working to ensure proper response and accountability. Since 2010 there has been a major increase in tar sands transportation throughout the Great Lakes, causing this carbon intensive fossil fuel to become one of the largest threats facing our waters and communities. Beth will walk through lessons learned from the Kalamazoo River tar sands spill, expansion projects in the region, and what those projects will mean long term - including the storage and burning of pet coke. She will emphasize how individuals and communities can become involved in the decision making process behind these proposals, including ways to help educate others.Thursday September 4, at 6:30pm

Thursday September 4, 7—9 pm

Presented by Mike Berkowitz & Richard Barron

Find out what the Michigan legislature has been up to on our environmental issues, how your lawmakers voted on those issues, what the 2014 election is looking like, esp. in SEMG's districts, and how the results will impact our region and state. A Q&A will follow. Richard Barron is a member of the Chapter ExCom and Chair of Political, Legal & Nominating Committees and a member of the Nepessing Group. Mike Berkowitz staffs the Chapter's Political Committee which is charged with endorsing candidates and working to get those pro-environment candidates elected to office. Mike also staffs the Legislative Committee, which is charged with passing progressive environmental bills through Michigan's legislature. Mike has been nationally recognized for creating a successful Political Internship Program. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition and in 2013 was recognized as one of Michigan's Top 5 progressive political organizers.

Thursday June 5, at 6:30pm
Monarch of the Butterflies
Presented by Debbie Jackson, lifetime monarch lover and researcher

Monarchs leave Canada in early August and head S-SW to an area in central Mexico, taking up to 80 days to travel. The Mexican mountains are perfect for them to stay dormant for months at a time: when days become longer in the spring there is a multitude of flowering plants to feed them. When monarchs return to the southern US, they begin the First Generation and at that time I review their life cycle. People also monitor their progress north and report sightings through Journey North ( They face a multitude of obstacles to mature, predators are abundant and habitat is quickly disappearing at the rate of 2.2 million acres/year. However there are citizen scientist efforts to create suburban habitats for them (Waystations) and assist in studying through MLMP (monarch larvae monitoring project) from University of MN. Waystations are simply gardens that provide the necessary host and nectar plants to support both the adult and the caterpillars - without caterpillars there will be no butterflies. Monarch numbers are fewer and fewer each year, what a sad predicament we've placed them in and its up to us to reverse this trend.

Thursday May 1, at 6:30pm
The Future of Honeybees:
The effects of pesticides on our children and the environment
Presented by Sharon Schmaltz Beekeeper and Herbal Remedy Student

Honeybees across the world are perishing quickly and without warning. The cause — pesticides within our food supply and how they impact our health. U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects. Sharon will discuss this very important topic.

Thursday April 3, at 6:30pm
Caribou Summer: Secrets of the Tundra
Presented by Kathy Bricker & Jim Bricker retired biologists and naturalists.

Jim and Kathy Bricker from Cheboygan MI will narrate their film about their seven-week-long canoe trip to a single lake on the remote barren grounds near Canada's Arctic Circle. They camped alone in the vast new territory of Nunuvut, Canada's newest territory. They experienced daily encounters with delicate arctic wildflowers, birds, grizzly bears, wolves and other wildlife, and learned about the artifacts of native Inuit people. Their highlight came when barren ground caribou flowed around them during the herd's fall migration.

Thursday March 6, at 6:30pm
The First Forty Years of Detroit Bicycling (1863—1903)
Presented by Todd Scott, Detroit Greenway Coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance (MTGA)

Bicyclists have had a profound effect on the city of Detroit, our nation's transportation system and on several other aspects of society. Bicyclists led the fight for good roads; they played a key role in redefining women's role in society. And it was Detroit bicycle racers, mechanics and technology that spurred the creation of the auto industry. Todd will share stories from the first Detroit bicycle ride in 1863 through the Golden Age of bicycling and to the transportation mode that quickly replaced the two-wheeled wonder. MTGA is a non-profit organization dedicated to foster and facilitate the creation of an interconnected statewide system of trails and greenways for recreation, health, transportation, economic development and environmental/ cultural preservation purposes.

Thursday February 6, at 6:30pm
Public Transit in SE Michigan:
The new Regional Transit Authority
Presented by Marie Donigan, partner in Donigan Mclogan Consultants LLC, and former State Representative (2005-2010)

It's been more than 50 years since Metro Detroiters have ben served by a good regional transit system. The new Regional Transit Authority, established by Michigan law in 2012, is up and running. We are closer than we have been in a very long time to restoring urban vitality, ensuring equitable access to transportation and improving the quality of life in our region. Marie Donigan will share the current state of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw transit planning and discuss what we can do to help.

Thursday October 24, at 6:30pm
Climate Change and How We Will Solve It
Presented by Peter Sinclair, Climate Change videographer and communicator

Based in Midland, MI, Peter has been questioning, learning from, and getting to know top climate scientists since 2007; he has participated in scientific conferences as well as data gathering expeditions in extreme environments. Peter will outline the latest science findings high level experts, consider the impacts on the Great Lakes region, and look at the solutions that are already at hand. His witty, informative YouTube videos have become must-viewing and sharing for scientists, students, journalists, and citizens who are concerned about the science of global climate change, and the need to better communicate it. His original series, "Climate Denial Crock of the Week", crushes disinformation on the Internet, and a second series, "This is Not Cool", has been launched through the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. In June 2013 Mr. Sinclair traveled to the Greenland Ice Sheet with activist Bill Mckibben, leading Glaciologist Dr. Jason Box and a team of scientists to gather samples and view climate change up close, at Global Warming Ground zero. He is a lifelong Michigan resident and a graduate of the University of Michigan. Video samples:

Thursday September 26, at 6:30pm
Our Beautiful Michigan Wilderness and How to Protect It
Presented by Lee Sprague, Tribal Council of Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

Lee has served as the Clean Energy Manager, 2008-2010, for the Michigan Sierra Club, fighting coal-fired power plants and supporting clean energy. He is a big champion of the outdoors who enjoys it as a camper, canoeist, kayaker and cyclist. He was elected to the Executive Committee of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club in last year's elections and is currently serving his first term.

Thursday June 6, at 6:30pm
It's Raining, It's Pouring... Sewage is Overflowing! Learn How to Protect Our Great Lakes by Harvesting Rainwater.
Presented by Melissa Damaschke, Sierra Club's National Detroit staff, Campaign to Protect the Great Lakes.

Participants will learn about problems that threaten our Great Lakes including storm water and sewage pollution and hear about solutions to overcome those problems. Short videos will show examples in Detroit, including rain gardens, rain barrels, wetlands, green roofs, and much more. Melissa will also lead in a rain barrel construction exercise and provide guidance in designing home rain gardens.

Thursday April 25 at 6:30pm
Special Earth Day Celebration Program: Powering Michigan's Future.
Presented by David Konkle, Energy Programs Director for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Energy Office Director for the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, ICLEI-US; Board member of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) and promoter of the mysterious Whirlydoodle Project; Energy Coordinator for the City of Ann Arbor for 20 years ending in 2008.

David's presentation will include an analysis of Michigan's current and future demand for energy, where we get our energy now, and options for the future; our state has the oldest coal -fired power plants in the nation and many of them will need to be replaced in the next decade, forcing us to soon decide Michigan's energy future. David will also address the results of the "25 x 25" ballot proposal for renewable energy.

Thursday April 4 at 6:30pm
S.E. Michigan in the Radioactive Crosshairs
Presented by Kevin Camps, Radioactive Waste Specialist at Beyond Nuclear, member of the US-Canada Great Lakes United Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force against radioactive risks in the Great Lakes area.

Kevin will describe how the Great Lakes are burdened by many aspects of the hazardous, polluting, and deadly uranium fuel chain, from mining to processing, including existing and proposed atomic reactors, long term radioactive waste storage and a current submission for permanent disposal sites. Action needed to prevent radioactive catastrophes will be discussed, including efforts to stop the planned DTE's nuclear plant Fermi 3 in Monroe, and to close down the Davis-Besse plant in Ohio and the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on Lake Michigan.

Thursday March 7 at 6:30pm
Isle Royale: A Naturalist's Tour
Presented by Faye Stoner, Naturalist, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation; previously a naturalist with Huron Clinton Metro Parks, Pennsylvania State Parks and the Cleveland Holden Arboretum.

With Ms. Stoner narrating and sharing her photos, you will feel like you were on the trip with her! An accomplished photographer (but a brand new backpacker), she showcases the flora and fauna of Michigan's only National Park and shares insights and misgivings as well as information on the geology of the island. Enjoy YOUR first backpacking trip and never break a sweat!

Thursday February 7, 2013
Slickwater High Volume Hydrofracking: The Dirty Truth about Natural Gas Extraction
Presented by Sierra Club's Michigan Water Sentinel/Clean Water Program Director Rita Chapman and Nancy Shiffler, volunteer, chair of the Huron Valley Group and Chapter Executive Committee member.

Rita and Nancy will update us on the emerging hydrofracking issue to help assess the danger it presents in our state and the need to better regulate this type of oil and natural gas exploration and production. Based on other states' experiences, Michiganders need to understand the potential for causing great harm to our fresh water resources and clean air before full scale drilling gets underway.

Thursday, Nov 1, 2012
Environmental Justice in Detroit – How air quality around schools affects children
Paul Mohai, Ph.D., Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Michigan

Dr. Mohai, a well-published researcher on environmental justice, will explain some of his recent research on air quality around schools in Detroit and how this affects all our children.

Thursday, Sept 27, 2012
Invasive Species in our Great Lakes
Brian Kauffman, videographer for the Detroit Free Press

Brian will present two short videos that he worked on along with writer Tina Lamb. The videos, "The Truth About Asian Carp" and "Quagga Mussels in Michigan Lakes" will be shown and Brian will lead a short discussion about what we can do to help protect our Great Lakes from these and other invasive species.

Thursday, September 6, 2012
Local Sierra Club Political Update and Roundtable
Mike Berkowitz, Michigan Sierra Club Political Director

Mike will give us an update on relevant issues and candidates in the upcoming election. The SEMG political committee will be joining him to discuss what we as a group are doing for local candidates that we are supporting.

Thursday June 7th, 2012
Live Raptors!
What We Can Learn from Birds of Prey

presented by Sarah Gillmore, Program Coordinator and Raptor Handler

Sarah will amaze and educate you with live raptors from the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor. She will explain how these birds live, in a way that even non-birders can understand, while sharing tales that reveal aspects of their behavior those even bird experts may not know. This is your opportunity to have a close-up view of these specialist birds! The event is co-sponsored by the Detroit Audubon Society.

Thursday May 3rd, 2012
Ah, Wilderness! The 25th Anniversary of the Michigan Wilderness Heritage Act
presented by Anne Woiwode,
director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

Anne will take us behind the scenes for a look at the making of a historic piece of legislation that protected 90,000 acres of old-growth forests, spectacular dunes and remote lakes in Michigan in 1987. The law created 10 now-familiar wilderness areas, including Big Island Lake, Horseshoe Bay, Mackinac, Nordhouse Dunes, Rock River Canyon and Sylvania. The remarkable victory came only after a suspense-filled, 10-year political battle that Woiwode, who was a young environmentalist at the time, will recount.

Thursday April 5th, 2012
World without Ice
presented by Dr. Henry Pollack,
author of the 2009 book of the same title

Dr. Pollack is a leading climate scientist; he and his colleagues on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former vice-president Al Gore. Dr. Pollack was a professor of geophysics at the University of Michigan for over 40 years, travels regularly to Antarctica, and has conducted scientific research on all seven continents. He now serves as a science adviser to Al Gore's Climate Project.

Thursday March 1st, 2012
The Controversial Coyote
presented by Holly Hadac, Michigan Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, and Bill Dodge, Wildlife Research Biologist,
Wayne State U.

The presenters will dispel myths and provide research-based facts about the amazingly adaptable canine, the coyote. Learn where they came from, when and where they sleep, and about their pack behaviors. We will also learn about their interactions with people and pets, and suggestions on how to avoid encouraging their establishing territories in unsuitable areas.

Thursday February 2nd, 2012
Tar Sands: the Tipping Point?
presented by Fr. Charles Morris, environmentalist and pastor
of St. Christopher Parish, Detroit.

Fr. Morris will show excerpts of a new movie on the Canadian Tar sands and discuss the realities of Tar Sands exploitation: its wrecking of the Canadian boreal forest, dangerous acceleration of climate change and destruction of the homelands of First Nations people. Also discussed will be the proposed Keystone pipeline across the US, the Kalamazoo (still not cleaned up) oil spill, and closer to home, the Marathon Refinery facility expansion and its effect on people in the ZIP 48217 Detroit neighborhood.

Thursday, November 3, 2011
CAFOs: The Living Nightmare of Animal Factories in Michigan
Lynn Henning from the Michigan Sierra Club Chapter

CAFO "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation" - industrial scale feeding lots. The CAFO phenomenon is an unregulated nightmare of air and water pollution that has found the State of Michigan pitted in the difficult position of deciding between economic growth and environmental protection. If it sounds like the same old story, it is... plus the fact that CAFOs present a huge environmental justice issue for anyone living in the near vacinity of these monsters. What is it like to live in a community literally swimming in the feces and urine of polluting animal factories. Hear about people whose lives are being destroyed by poisoned air, contaminated soil, groundwater, streams and lakes. Hear about what we can to to help. Hear about smart food choices and urban farming. Please join us for this eye opening information.

Thursday, October 6, 2011
No Child Left Inside –
Environmental Education
Cory Johnston, PE (Professional Engineer)
President of Johnston Design Inc. Structural Engineers President of Michigan Resource Foundation (MIsource) Board Secretary of North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy (NOHLC) Former Council member for the City of the Village of Clarkston Advisor to Oakland Schools Career and Construction Programs Member of the Detroit Regional Chapter USGBC Public Policy committee

As an engineer, much of my work is done indoors designing places for other people to be inside.  I try to balance that with the knowledge that everything outside is needed to have an inside and the two must work together.  The No Child Left Inside movement is said to have started with Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, and is more formally defined as providing environmental education and literacy to find solutions to environmental challenges.  With decreasing green spaces, especially in urban areas, concerns about the availability of natural resources in the near future, energy concerns, green house gases, global warming, and a host of other environmental issues, many say that merely educating the young will not solve the problem as quickly as needed.  Some disagree.  What is needed is a change in thinking to recognize that we cannot dig, burn, or build our way out of the problems created by digging, burning and building.  We need to go outside and understand how it works if we simply let it alone and learned how to work with it instead of constantly trying to control the big outside world.  It is really not that difficult, it just requires that we all think and act a little differently than we have in the past.

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Burning Rivers
John Hartig
Refuge Manager, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

Burning Rivers is the story of how four rivers in the Great Lakes Basin caught on fire, including the Rouge River in southeast Michigan.  Despite long-standing human use and abuse of these rivers, they are each today experiencing substantial environmental improvement and some surprising ecological revival.  Burning Rivers was written to help teach the lessons of the past, celebrate the environmental progress, and to help convince people of the urgent need to address the remaining environmental challenges in order to avoid another tipping point.  This story of burning rivers/river revival also gives hope.  If these four rivers can be revived and made into community assets, there is hope for all rivers and all people working to restore them.
  It is the story of how everyday people, working alone or in concert with others, can move legal, political and bureaucratic mountains to do what is good and right for all of us,” notes Dr. Kirk Heinze of The Green of the Great Lakes.
  Dr. John Hartig is trained as a limnologist with 30 years of experience in environmental science and natural resource management.  He currently serves as Refuge Manager for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. From 1999 to 2004 Dr. Hartig served as River Navigator for the Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative established by Presidential Executive Order.  Prior to becoming River Navigator, he spent 12 years working for the International Joint Commission on the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  Dr. Hartig has been an Adjunct Professor at Wayne State University where he taught Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, and has served as President of the International Association for Great Lakes Research.  He has authored or co-authored over 100 publications on the Great Lakes, including writing Burning Rivers and co-editing Honoring Our Detroit River, Caring for Our Home and Under RAPs: Toward Grassroots Ecological Democracy in the Great Lakes Basin.  Dr. Hartig has received a number of awards for his work, including a 2010 Green Leaders Award from the Detroit Free Press, a 2005 White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation Award for Outstanding Leadership and Collaboration in the Great Lakes, the 2003 Anderson-Everett Award from the International Association for Great Lakes Research, and the 1993 Sustainable Development Award for Civic Leadership from Global Tomorrow Coalition.

Thursday, June 2, 20111
Building sustainable community food systems: A campus-community collaboration in Detroit
Kami Pothukuchi, Ph. D. Associate Professor of Urban Planning Director, SEED Wayne; Detroit FRESH

We will be discussing the activities and accomplishments of SEED Wayne, a university-community collaboration, which involves Wayne State University and many community-based organizations to build a stronger food system in Detroit and the surrounding region. SEED Wayne links to core university functions in teaching, research, engagement, and operation, in order to increase access to healthy food in Detroit’s neighborhoods, connect local growers and eaters, and build community capacity to enhance food system sustainability. Among SEED Wayne’s campus activities are three herb and vegetable gardens, two farmers markets, and numerous classroom and field based educational activities. In the community, SEED Wayne leads collaborative efforts to increase access to healthy food in neighborhoods by helping develop entrepreneurial agriculture training and related production, and helping corner stores carry and sell fresh fruits and vegetables in impoverished neighborhoods.

Thursday, May 5, 2011
Residential renewable energy systems will be discussed
“Residential Energy Savings, Systems & Solutions”
Thomas Reinke from Self Reliant Energy Company

Thursday, April 7, 7:00 pm
Hydraulic Fracturing
“Fracking” in Michigan
Jennifer McKay, Policy Specialist /
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

A new gas discovery occurred in Michigan in 2010, revealing potential natural gas reserves in the Collingwood and Utica Shale. Horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracking will be used to collect this gas, which is different than the hydraulic fracturing techniques historically used in Michigan. This drilling is not only deeper, it also uses substantially more fresh water and chemicals. This development has resulted in documented problems in other states including surface, ground, and drinking water contamination. Many are calling on Michigan to take adequate measures to ensure that the problems that have occurred in other states do not occur here. Come hear about the recent “gas rush” in the state, the potential problems with fracking, and what can be done to protect the environment and public health and safety while encouraging the wise development and use of the state’s energy sources. — download presentationdownload notes

Thursday, March 3, 2011
“Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer”
Kevin Kamps; Radioactive Waste Watchdog /
Beyond Nuclear / Takoma Park, Maryland

Nuclear power cannot solve the climate crisis due to its astronomical price tag and glacial slowness to deploy. It also cannot achieve energy independence, since most large nuclear components are designed and fabricated overseas, and the uranium fuel supply comes from foreign countries. In addition, nuclear power has a long list of "insurmountable risks" of its own, including the potential of accidents or attacks causing catastrophic radioactivity releases, nuclear weapons proliferation, and the discharge of hazardous radioactivity and toxic chemicals into the environment at every stage of the uranium fuel chain. Kevin will focus on the nuclear power industry's ongoing attempts to transfer the monumental financial risks for new reactors, such as DTE's proposed Fermi 3 in Monroe, onto American taxpayers, as well as the mounting safety, security, and environmental dilemma of forever deadly, highly radioactive nuclear wastes piling up on the Great Lakes shoreline.

Thursday, February 3, 2011
“Living in the Shadow of the
Moon-Dog: A South Pole Diary”
Paul Daniels; Traveler/Explorer

Moon-Dog captures the winterover life of 50 people at the U.S. Antarctic research station “South Pole”, located on the highest, driest, coldest continent on earth. A combination of -100F temperatures, fierce storms, hypoxia, stress and the unexpected illness of the station’s doctor all conspire to push people to their limits.
Despite insomnia, lack of oxygen and exhaustion that clouded his thoughts, the rewards at the South Pole were great. “Aurora Australis” filled the sky from horizon to horizon and majestic storms rumbled the massive geodesic dome he calls home. The solitude, the tranquility, and “Living in the Shadow of the Moon-Dog” are rewards that keep him hanging on for the sunrise.

Thursday, November 4, 2010 — ANNUAL MEETING
“Climate Change: The Intersection of Science, Economics & Policy”
by Prof. Richard Rood, Univ of MI, Dept of Atmospheric, Oceanic & Space Sciences

If we take a broad look at the observations and projections of warming of the Earth’s surface, then we see observations, theory & validation that substantiate the fundamental base of knowledge about the Earth’s climate and how it will change. If we look a little closer then we start to see some discrepancies. From the point of view of the scientist, these discrepancies are what guide future investigation. From the point of view of the ”politician”, these discrepancies provide the foothold on which to base arguments, and indeed, to fuel selective doubt and perhaps even discredit the scientists and the body of knowledge. From the point of view of the informed and interested, the discrepancies are the points of discussion, the seeds of interest and something that needs to be understood. Interested? Please join us for this most informing lecture on climate change!

link to presentation

Thursday, October 7, 2010
“Update on America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act”
by Clayton Daughenbaugh, Midwest Regional Organizer, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and Sierra Club National Wildlands Committee Chair

Utah’s red rock country is one of our nation’s most magnificent wild landscapes, dominated by towering buttes, red sandstone plateaus and deep, winding canyons. Unfortunately, this wonderful land is a great risk from oil & gas exploration and rampant abuse by off-road vehicles, which destroy vegetation and leave tracks that can last for a generation in the fragile desert ecosystem. The goal of Sierra Club’s Utah Wilderness Campaign is to build congressional support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, a bill that would give wilderness protection to more than 9 million acres of federal public land in southern Utah, land that belongs to all Americans. Please join us for the latest update on this important legislation with testimony from the local MI Friends of Red Rock.

Thursday, September 9, 2010NEW MEMBER MEETING
“The Geology of Michigan: An Expedition Through Deep Time”
Hosted by John Zawiskie, Geologist & Paleontologist, Cranbrook Institute of Science

Newly released by the Cranbrook Institute of Science, this DVD explores the wondrous geological history of our great state of Michigan. Travel through billions of years of geologic history and discover the processes and events that created and continue to form the Great Lakes and the regions that border these remarkable freshwater seas. Contrary to popular opinion, Michigan is not the flat & boring state some of us think. Case in point is the little known Thunder Bay Island, located about 13 miles offshore from Alpena, a 215 acre hunk of limestone surrounded by azure waters and coral reefs. The water is that of Lake Huron and the fossil corals are from the Middle Devonian period, 385 million years ago when Michigan’s Lower Peninsula was below a warm and shallow sea. This 45-minute film is guaranteed to enrich the sense of place for our incredible state. Your next Michigan vacation will take on new meaning as you begin to connect the dots from one geological formation to another. Please join us!

Bouquet of Butterflies

Thursday, June 3, 2010
How to Save the World:
One Man, One Cow, One Planet

DVD showing with post film commentary by Matthew Yanke, Tree House Natural Foods

What if the world were an apple? One quarter of the apple is land and the rest is water. Cut the land in half and put aside that which is deserts and mountains. Quarter what is left and the peel of one of those quarters represents the topsoil that must feed the whole world. This analogy illustrates how important it is to get the most out of the available soil to provide abundant and nutritious food for everyone on the planet. Peter Proctor, soil scientist known as the father of modern biodynamic farming in New Zealand, went to India 15 years ago to teach biodynamic methods to farmers. By building up their knowledge base, farmers gained independence from agribusiness. By using biodynamic practices, money was saved and put back into their communities. The great change in rural prosperity has brought whole communities back together and enabled health education and family planning in local settings. Matthew Yanke will discuss the biodynamic movement in Southeast MI and strategies for local involvement.

Bouquet of Butterflies

Thursday, April 1, 2010
A Fitting End: A Back-to-the-Future Look at the Green Burial Movement
by Merilynne Rush, RN and Pam Ortner, RN

Environmentalists are famous for quoting their four-part mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle, compost” when it comes to waste management. Yet when it comes to burial practices, our vision of “cradle-to-cradle” thinking is usually hampered by cultural considerations that buy us into the expensive and toxic habits of the modern funeral industry. Recent trends, however, suggest that a growing green burial movement is afoot. More and more families are choosing natural burial because it achieves what the commercial funeral industry labors to prevent: to allow the decay of one’s physical body and a return to the elements of earth from which we have come. As a final act, it allows the deceased to honor the cycles of nature: growth and decay, death and rebirth…a fitting end indeed. Merilynne Rush is an “end of life” midwife working with natural burials. Pam Ortner is a hospice RN and long-time environmental activist. Please join us and bring a friend!

Bouquet of Butterflies

Thursday, June 4, 2009
“Love Your Lawn, Love Your Lakes”
Healthy Lawn and Other Backyard Ecology Tips
by Dr Linda Schweitzer, Professor of Chemistry, Oakland U

There´s a threat in your backyard and you might not even know it- the pesticides and herbicides you are spraying on your lawn might be putting your children and pets at risk. Studies show that pesticide/herbicide use is linked to birth defects, immune deficiency, and cancer. Pesticides are also leaking into our water causing damage to our inland lakes as well the Great Lakes. The good news is that there's a way to protect your family and the natural environment. Dr Linda Schweitzer, Professor of Chemistry at Oakland University, will address the harms of pesticides and will provide alternatives to keeping a healthy and safe lawn.

Thursday, May 7, 2009
“The Buzz on Bees: Organic Beekeeping in Urban & Suburban Environments”
by Rich Wieske, Greentoe Gardens

Surveys reveal that very few Americans understand the process of pollination or the diversity of beneficial animals involved in pollinating plants. For most of us, pollen means allergies and bees mean stings. Yet, for every one out of three bites we eat, we should thank a bee, butterfly, bat, bird or other pollinator. Simply put, pollination (the transfer of pollen from one flower to another) is critical to fruit and seed production. However, according to the US Dept of Agriculture, we are facing an impending pollination crisis in which both wild and managed pollinators are disappearing at alarming rates due to habitat loss, pesticide poisoning, diseases and pests. In an era when human activities place increasing pressures on the environment, we must recognize our debt to these “forgotten pollinators” and work together with others to restore nature’s balance. From pollinator gardening and organic methods of pest and weed control to becoming a beekeeper yourself, please join in an evening of lively discussion as Rich Wieske, Royal Oak-based beekeeper, fills us in on the local buzz.

Thursday, April 2, 2009
“The Disappearance of Play & the Disconnect from Nature in Children’s Lives”
by Dr. Elizabeth Goodenough, Ph.D., University of Michigan

Free play in the natural world, which the baby-boomer generation and their parents took for granted, is something that many children today do not know. Sprawl, congestion and endless suburban development across America have moved children further & further into isolation. The “average home range” for suburban children has shrunk from a radius of one mile to 550 yards in two decades. A mere 10 percent walk or ride bicycles to school, and increasingly the rest are driven to school, furthering the isolation. Add to this the parental pressure to succeed, kids’ overscheduled lives, a media-driven fear of strangers, and a soaring divorce rate, and experts see serious potential for disaster.

Dr. Goodenough, a scholar in the emerging field of children’s studies, has noted that time outside school is increasingly filled with adult-organized activities and indoor electronic screen time. Children are less and less able to organize their own play or discover their own secret spaces in the woods, fields, parks and other semi-wild play spaces. Please join us for a though-provoking evening of discussion as we explore the subject of “nature deficit disorder.”

Thursday, March 5, 2009
“Inching Toward a Unified Regional Transit System:
Progress on the Home Front for Greater Detroit”
by Megan Owens, Transportation Riders United (TRU)

In early December 2008, the leaders of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties plus the City of Detroit unanimously approved an official regional transit plan. It provides a good balance of immediate improvements in bus service and coordination. As well, it has established a long term effort to develop rapid transit throughout Metro Detroit. Within the next 3 years, it calls for the region’s first light rail line on Woodward Avenue, the first regional commuter train between Detroit, Metro Airport and Ann Arbor, and “Arterial Rapid-Transit” along most major corridors. A strong regional plan is one of the four critical steps that have to occur in order to develop a quality regional transit system. The unanimous regional support bodes well for the creation of an official regional authority (AKA a new and improved DARTA).

Step by step, inch by inch… I think we can, I think we can! Let’s get on board and ensure that this broad new support translates into a new direction in transportation priorities for greater Detroit. Please join us!

Thursday, February 5, 2009
“Fermi 3: Coming to a City Near You?!”
Presented by Michael Keegan, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Kay Cumbow, CACC

Federal officials are asking the public to suggest issues that should be considered during an upcoming review of the environmental impact of building and operating the proposed Fermi 3 nuclear power plant near Monroe, MI. While it is generally agreed within the environmental community that we must end our reliance on coal-based energy facilities, opinions regarding nuclear energy remain varied. Please attend this important meeting and get the latest on the proposed addition to DTE’s nuclear power conglomeration from one of Michigan’s most thoroughly educated and longtime opponents of the industry. Happy Holidays DTE!

Thursday, December 4, 2008
“SEMG Annual Merry Meet & Greet Holiday Party w/Slide Show & Silent Auction”
hosted by SEMG’s Outings Committee

It’s that time of the year again, folks…time to party with your brother & sister Sierrans as we wind out 2008! There will be the usual feasting so please bring your most festive dish to pass along with those new and/or gently used items for our silent auction.

In addition, those of you willing to do so, please bring 10-15 slides and/or digital images to share with the group from past adventures near and far. A fun time is guaranteed for all and we even make a little money for the group. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Stopping Michigan's Coal Rush, A Clean Energy Future for Michigan
by Tiffany Hartung, Sierra Club Staff

Hear about the 8 proposed new dirty coal fired power plants in Michigan.  From the mine to the plant, coal is our dirtiest source of energy—causing asthma and other health problems, releasing toxic mercury into our communities, destroying mountains, and polluting drinking water sources.  Michigan doesn't need any more dirty coal plants. 

Learn about where they're being proposed and what we can do here in the Detroit Metro area to help keep them out of Michigan.  For more info about the coal rush, go to or sign the online petition at

Thursday, October 2, 2008
“Dreams of Black, White and Green: Putting More Soul into the Spirit of Detroit”
by Dr. Mike Whitty, University of Detroit Mercy

Our own Dr. Detroit, aka Mike Whitty, presents an inspiring and hopeful vision of sustainable Detroit 2030 and beyond. Professor Whitty is currently involved in a community building project on the Woodward Corridor in the north end of Detroit. He hopes to extend the Sierra Club’s Green Cruise from Ferndale to Palmer Park in Detroit by 2009. Whitty envisions a stronger link between the Greening of Detroit, rapid transit along the Woodward Corridor, and post-racial unity between Detroit and its near suburbs.

Join a discussion circle sharing our visions of the possible future for Detroit. Could we cross-network our causes and projects to create more collaboration in community building? Share your story and share your hopes in the belief that we are all Detroiters at heart. Professor Whitty is the former Director of the Institute for Building Sustainable Communities at U of D Mercy where he has taught for 40 years in the College of Business Administration.

Thursday, September 4, 2008
“Coming Home: Celebrating the Return of Detroit River’s Charismatic Megafauna”
by John Hartig, Detroit River Int'l Wildlife Refuge and Riverside Kayak Connection, Wyandotte, MI.

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) is the only wildlife refuge that can claim title to an international boundary in North America. Established in 2001, the refuge includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals and riverfront lands along 48 miles of the Detroit River and western Lake Erie.

In the past 100 years, discharges from the steel and chemical industry and municipal sewage effluent, along with the effects of large, deep-draft vessels, have degraded the lower Detroit River ecosystem. However, over 35 years of pollution prevention and control have resulted in improvements in the water quality of both the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. The river and lake have responded with surprising ecological recovery, including the return of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, walleye, lake sturgeon, lake whitefish and mayflies.

On September 14th, the 4th annual “Paddle By Your Refuge” will occur which benefits the DRIWR and features both kayak instruction and tours along the Detroit River to the famous Humbug Marsh. The Sierra Club was among the coalition of environmental groups which fought and won the 7 year battle to save the last mile of undeveloped coastal wetlands on the US side of the Detroit River. The Humbug complex, considered one of the richest areas of biodiversity along the river, provides critical habitat for many species of fish, ducks, migratory birds, mammals, as well many valued plant species

April 3, 2008
Film Presentation “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil”

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half—and food by 80 percent—people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. The film opens with a brief history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production reaches its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. While there remains some debate as to when we will reach peak oil, most experts agree the time is now. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis, is an example of options and hope. Join us after the film for a discussion with invited members of the Detroit Agricultural Network and other local sustainability advocates.

March 6, 2008
Film Presentation “A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash”

Al Gore presented us with “The Inconvenient Truth” about global warming in 2006. Now comes “A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash” from the award-winning European journalists and filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack. This film tells the story of how our civilization’s addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with geology. Compelling, intelligent and highly entertaining, this documentary film interviews the world’s top experts and comes to the startling, but logical conclusion—our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil, must be completely re-tooled and re-imagined. After the film, please join us in a guided discussion about peak oil and sustainable “local future” strategies for metro Detroit.

June 7, 2007
Don’t Get Me Started! Thoughts from a Victim and Defender of America’s Personal Transportation Industry Mess
A Presentation by Dave Llewellyn, Sierra Club/SEMG

Hybrids, biofuel, flexible fuel, ethanol, CAFÉ standards, global warming, national security, free trade, terrorism, job security, prosperity. Add it all up in Southeastern Michigan and you get one of the most severely impacted regions that have been affected by the automotive industry’s crisis. How did this happen? Who can we believe? What can we do? Dave Llewellyn came to Michigan in the mid 1960’s to seek his fortune in the auto industry. His early employment with GM provided a draft deferment that kept him out of Vietnam and launched him into an engineering career that he is still determined to pursue. He rode the wave of prosperity that was crafted by GM and the UAW, failing to notice, like many others, that the wave was headed for a rocky beach.
Dave has been there and seen it all through the past 40 years. Dave has strong feelings about the future of the auto industry and its effect on our environment. Please join us!

May 3, 2007
Detroit is a River: A History of the Straits
A Slide Presentation by Robert Burns, Detroit’s Riverkeeper, Friends of the Detroit River

The Detroit River is a 32-mile long strait that connects Lake St. Clair with Lake Erie. Rich in history, it provides drinking water, jobs and recreation to more than 3 million people from 2 countries. The Detroit Riverkeeper slide presentation is a geographical, historical and ecological tour of the river starting from the mouth of Lake St. Clair, down past the Cities of Detroit and Windsor, through Detroit’s industrial corridor and south through the many islands that make up the lower river and which provide a diverse contrast between man-made structures and natural settings. This presentation is a unique mix of historical and present day depictions of life on the river with a number of aerial photographs that give a perspective of the river that few have seen.

April 5, 2007
Protecting Utah’s Redrock Canyonlands: The Future Awaits
A Presentation by Clayton Daughenbaugh, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Utah’s spectacular redrock canyonlands include the largest remaining unprotected wildlands in the lower 48 states. An exhaustive citizens’ inventory has identified 9.5 million acres that fall into this category. If you’ve ever visited one of Utah’s five national parks, climbed to the top of the slick rock and looked across the one hundred mile view, it’s these lands that you are seeing. The citizens’ proposal for Utah wilderness is embodied in “America’s Redrock Wilderness Act” which will be reintroduced into Congress in 2007. This may be the year to push for positive protections. Utah’s wildlands have been a favorite target of those who would exploit “America, the Beautiful” for private profit. One of 2006’s most egregious proposals to sell public lands and give the resources to local development projects focused on the Zion/Mojave area in southwestern Utah. In addition, the Bush administration has tested many of its worst ideas on Utah’s wildlands before spreading them nationwide. Will 2007 be a good year or a bad year for Utah’s redrock wilderness? That’s a question that calls for citizen across America to answer! Please join us in learning what we can do together to protect this special place.

March 1, 2007
Renewable Energy for the Developing World: A Costa Rican Adventure
A Multi-Media Presentation by Peg Collins, Sierra Club/SEMG

In February 2004, longtime SEMG Sierra Club member Peg Collins set out to attend a workshop entitled “Renewable Energy for the Developing World” sponsored by Solar Energy International and hosted by Rancho Mastatal in Puriscal, Coasta Rica. Peg decided upon a week of travel through Costa Rica before the workshop to enjoy the lush tropical surroundings and warm weather. However, the transition by bus to her planned destination of Rancho Mastatal proved to be challenging and even included an unplanned overnight stay in a local villager’s home. On this end of winter’s night of March 1st, join us in her traveler’s tale from Costa Rica. It is sure to prove an evening of rare beauty and frank discussion.

February 1, 2007
Appalachian Mountaintop Removal Road Show
Slide Show & Presentation by Dave Cooper, Kentucky Chapter Sierra Club

In West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, coal companies now blast as much as 600 feet off the top of the mountains, then dump the rock and debris into mountain streams. Over 300,000 acres of the most beautiful and productive hardwood forests in America have already been turned into barren grasslands. Mountaintop removal mining increases flooding, contaminates drinking water supplies, cracks foundations of nearby homes, and showers towns with dust and noise from blasting. The Mountaintop Removal Road Show includes a stunning slide show about the impacts of mountaintop removal on coalfield communities featuring traditional Appalachian mountain music and shocking aerial photos of decapitated Appalachian mountains.

December 7, 2006
SEMG Annual Merry Meet & Merry Greet Holiday Party, Silent Auction & Members’ Slide Show
Yes, it’s that time of the year again…a time to celebrate the season of light with SEMG! Members are encouraged to bring 35mm slides (10-20) to share with the group that highlight a special trip, outdoor adventure, or simply your point of view about the environment. As well, new or “gently used” items to donate for our annual silent auction are appreciated. And don’t forget to bring a festive dish to pass for our ever-popular holiday feast! It ain’t easy being green…that’s why it’s even more important to celebrate all that we do & be together as SEMG! Please join us!

November 2, 2006
SEMG Annual Meeting with Anne Woiwode, Executive Director, Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter

Making a rare appearance in Southeast Michigan, our very own Michigan Chapter Executive Director, Anne Woiwode, will present the keynote lecture at our first official SEMG Annual Meeting. Anne became a Sierra Club volunteer in 1980 when she first moved to Michigan with her husband and 2 young children. Five years later she became staff and now works with both the state legislative program and the National Sierra Club Environmental Protection Education Campaign. Over the years, Anne has worked on a wide range of issues including forests, sprawl, and more recently, CAFO’s in Michigan. In coordination with Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program, the chapter has settled 4 lawsuits that have forced factory farms to pay fines and implement improvements at preventing unlawful pollution of Michigan’s waterways. Through her tireless efforts, Michigan has gone from being one of the most backward in the United States to being one of the more aggressive in working to protect communities from factory farm pollution. Anne has promised to share her insights gained over the past 25+ years, her vision for the future of Michigan’s environmental movement, and the Sierra Club’s role in all of this. In addition to Anne’s keynote address, SEMG will conduct a brief, formal presentation from each of our local committees summing up the year’s activities. As well, you will have a chance to cast your ballot for the upcoming Board of Directors.

October 5, 2006
Getting to the Rock Bottom of Things: The Geology of Michigan
A Presentation by John Zawiskie, Cranbrook Institute of Science/WSU Dept of Geology

In a lively & intellectually stimulating approach, geologist John Zawiskie will unlock the secrets to Michigan’s past…and by that, I mean the geologic past as revealed in the rock & fossil record. As becomes evidently clear in the course of his presentation, Michigan and the Great Lakes have seen it all—from warm, tropical oceans to the frozen glaciers of the Ice Ages. Professor Zawiskie will also share with us the findings of his latest research project concerning an ancient submerged conifer forest in Lake Huron and the implications of climate change and fluctuating lake levels. It is guaranteed you will walk away from this meeting with a newfound awe and appreciation of our Great Lakes and the State of Michigan.

September 7, 2006
Living a Nightmare: Animal Factories in Michigan
Video & Discussion with Gayle Miller, Legislative Director, Sierra Club, MI Chapter

What’s all the ruckus about CAFO’s, you ask? First of all, what is a CAFO? Well, it’s short for “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation” (spell that industrial-scale feed lots). Simply put, the CAFO phenomenon is an unregulated nightmare of air & water pollution that has found the State of Michigan pitted in the difficult position of deciding between economic growth and environmental protection. If it sounds like the same old story, it is…plus the fact that CAFO’s present a huge environmental justice issue for anyone living in the near vicinity of these monsters. What’s it like to live in a community literally swimming in the feces and urine of 12 polluting animal factories? Meet the residents of Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties—people whose lives are being destroyed by poisoned air, contaminated water, and plummeting property values. Released in March 2006, this 22 minute documentary produced by the Sierra Club, tells their story. Gayle Miller, our MI Chapter Legislative Director, will update us on the latest strategies in Lansing to regulate these factory farms and what we, as citizens of Southeast MI, can do to help. Gayle will outline the details for the Fall Lobby Day in October as well. Please join us!


Page Updated: 4/20/2015

Upcomig Programs

Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2006 Sierra Club.