The Garden Club of America is made up of 200 members, which are independent garden clubs from across the United States. Shaker Lakes Garden Club has been one of these since 1919 – we are entering our hundredth year. I imagine most of us have by now read the GCA’s Mission Statement more than once:
The purpose of The Garden Club of America is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening, to share the advantages of association by means of educational meetings, conferences, correspondence, and publications, and to restore, improve, and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and action in the fields of conservation and civic improvement.
In accordance with our goal of conservation, GCA has been involved with legislative activities since our earliest days. But we are NOT a political organization, nor are we a partisan one. As our national Conservation Chair asked this spring at the NAL meeting in Washington, “When did Conservation ever become a liberal agenda item?” Indeed, it never was, nor is it one today. If anything, “conservation” is quite reasonably adherent to a word deriving from the same root – “conservative.”
The truth behind this is the desire to conserve the best that our natural world has to offer, to save that in nature which allows humans and all living beings (whether bees or daffodils, tortoises or grizzly bears, oaks or our grandchildren) to live and flourish here on earth.
Since 1989 the GCA committees of Conservation and NAL annually create and update a series of Position Papers, approved annually by GCA’s Executive Committee, to summarize the organization’s position on topics of greatest priority in conservation. GCA states “such papers are created with great care and contain specific core provisions which the GCA wishes to see embodied in any piece of legislation.” The intent is to provide information and leadership to member clubs, and to individual members of those member clubs, in the event legislative agendas arise regarding which member clubs or their individual members may wish to be heard.
The GCA itself is often involved in congressional hearings, lobbying efforts, and letter-writing when the organization perceives that pending legislation threatens the ideals set forth in our Position Papers. On rare occasions, GCA will also ask individual clubs to send supportive letters, and on vary rare occasions asks clubs to request that their individual members also consider writing or calling about certain pieces of pending legislation. Each club’s individual leadership makes its own choices about whether to respond to those requests. You may or may not recall ever having noticed such a request, and if you do receive a notification about such a request, your actions are entirely up to you. If you want more information, however, you can always access the GCA Position Papers at the GCA website; alternatively, please call Cynthia or me.
This year Cynthia Druckenbrod and I will introduce one of GCA’s Position Papers in each month’s newsletter with a very brief overview, followed by a link to the Paper itself. Please don’t fear the Position Papers; each is only one page in length or shorter, and they are very straightforward. But years of research have gone into each one’s crafting. My mother, the arch-conservative conservationist, participated in drafting a number of these during the late twentieth century, but I might as easily have written her words. They are NOT partisan documents.
In this Newsletter we will begin by introducing one of the simplest Position Papers, National Parks. It is a full page long (sorry), but it is very clear. GCA supports the preservation of the National Parks, including all plant and animal life within them. As you will see, this may sometimes entail eradication of certain plants, population controls of certain animal populations, and restriction of some land usage for purposes of research. The goal, however, is to preserve our national parks for generations to come. Click here to read the National Parks Position Paper.
Your co-chairs do ask specifically that you read right away about one item in particular that is included in this Position Paper: The Land and Water Conservation Fund of 1965. This summer, GCA sent us a request to inform members about pending defunding of this act. Here is a link to GCA’s stance on this essential bill, which may be defunded forever in September 2018. GCA asks that club members who are willing please make themselves heard in defense of the funding bills for LWCF. Please see this page at the GCA website.
Thank you, All!