PCG activist finds service in a ‘fragile and threatened environment’

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

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John Gascoyne

“At some point in a full lifetime, it is easier to contemplate the past in terms of decades rather than years. Or, at least, so it seems,” stated John Gascoyne, a Rocky Mountain Chapter Executive Committee (ExCom) and Poudre Canyon Group (PCG) member.

As he looks back at his longtime Colorado Sierra Club volunteer activities, there were three or so decades where social justice issues dominated John’s interest and available time.

However, more recently, he has become convinced that none of these still-critical issues can be fully addressed without addressing the matrix in which they exist−life in a “fragile and threatened environment.” He also understands that group struggles cannot be adequately pursued without great time and attention devoted to the world in which they take place.

About five years ago, John joined the PCG, which has members in both Larimer and Weld counties. Almost immediately, John ran for and was elected to the ExCom. He also served on various subcommittees, including editor of the PCG newsletter. Eventually he was elected chair of the PCG group and held that position for about two years.

“Probably the most rewarding part of serving on the ExCom has been to affiliate with a cadre of wonderfully talented and experienced folks all pulling in the same general direction,” John said. “While we have, of course, concerned ourselves with policy and higher objectives, the other reality is that the ExCom is an activist group. We have all spent many hours staffing fair booths, schlepping compostables and recyclables at foot races, and haranguing local elected officials.”

Organic detritus and footraces

Two years ago, PCG affiliated with Green Events of Fort Collins to deal with the organic detritus produced as a byproduct of local marathons and other footraces.

“’Organic detritus’ is a polite euphemism for all of the yucky stuff discarded by runners and race watchers: half-eaten burritos, banana and orange peels, cardboard boxes and other interesting, if mildly disgusting, things,” John noted.

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John "surfing" the rocks at Taylor Creek, Zion National Park

PCG’s objective was to see that at least 85 percent of the total mass was diverted from the county landfill. In all instances, however, they diverted well more than 90 percent of the full amount. “Besides doing the right thing environmentally, we were able to earn significant sums for our group and honoraria for our involvement,” he said.

John’s role in these events was both primary organizer and, increasingly, adept garbage picker, pointing out that “this adventure has been among my favorite involvements with our organization.”

Fighting fracking

John’s most frustrating-ever issue, and the one he most wants to keep investing time and energy in, is hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. “Two years ago, I was, at best, only dimly aware of the threats and predations of this really bad assault on so many aspects of our environment,” he said.

Much of his motivation for fighting fracking began two years ago, when Shane Davis was elected PCG chair. “Under Shane's dynamic leadership, fractivism has become a primary focus of our group's time and energy,” John said. “Right now it feels like there is no going back and no good reason not to try to stick a finger in the giant's eye.”

For a number of reasons, John recently decided to not seek another term on the ExCom. “This decision does not, however, mark any decline in my regard for Sierra Club and our objectives,” he stated. “It has been my privilege and pleasure to affiliate with the group and its members, and I will continue to put my time and energy into furthering the goals of the organization.”

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John and son-in-law Bo Bowman "taking five" on a 70-mile ride celebrating John's 70th birthday


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