Magazine article Sierra

Reviving the Spirit

Magazine article Sierra

Reviving the Spirit

Article excerpt

From the podium to the pulpit, retired Presbyterian pastor and university counselor John Wade has spent nearly 40 years encouraging public service. His older granddaughter, Katie, heeded the spiritual call, and has just finished a two-month service trip in Ecuador doing health education. Wade was less successful with a former student who became secretary of the interior under Ronald Reagan. "A jerk," he recalls.

Anti-environmental zealot James Watt probably doesn't remember Wade with great fondness, but many others do--the young men he guided as a draft counselor during the Vietnam War and the University of Utah students who attended the first celebration of Earth Day on their campus, which Wade organized.

Wade's sense of civic responsibility has long included protection of the natural world. After retiring to his native Colorado, he joined the Sierra Club's newly formed Sangre de Cristo Group in Pueblo in 1987. Impressed by his many years of social and environmental activism on university campuses in the Southwest, the group asked him to be its conservation chair. Recalling the many peach orchards and open spaces in Utah lost to housing developments, he took the post as a way to help cap urban sprawl from Denver along Colorado's Front Range.

He took his Sierra Club involvement along when he and his wife moved to Englewood, Colorado, four years later. Again his reputation led to an invitation to leadership, this time to reinvigorate the Rocky Mountain Chapter. As chapter chair he helped establish a strong foundation for learning, networking, and organizing. Focusing on ecosystem protection and toxics cleanup and creatively delegating authority made chairing the chapter more manageable, and encouraged greater participation. In four years, chapter membership grew from 11,000 to 14,000.

Developing new strategies that restore the Club's grassroots culture is one of Wade's chief interests. …

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