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April 25, 2000

A SANE MOBILE

South Alabama Network for the Environment Formed

by Edmund Tsang

According to Kay Friedlander, her experience with the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (NEP) led her to the idea of forming a network of grassroots environmental groups in southern Alabama. "Through my association with the Mobile Bay NEP, I recognize there is a lack of communication among local environmental organizations that have prevented them from working together on the larger issue of protecting our local environment," Friedlander told The Harbinger in a telephone interview last week. "Through the network, I hope the environmentalists will become even more knowledgeable about local issues, and hopefully they will have a bigger voice politically in the long run."

Ms. Friedlander said that SANE, South Alabama Network for the Environment, had met one time in early February for the representatives of the various environmental organizations to get acquainted with each other. "The group discussed what each organization Ďneedsí to be more effective in the community at protecting the environment," Friedlander said. "We are in the process of forming an electronic listserv so each group can post what each is doing. Hopefully, this provides an opportunity for us to answer each otherís needs with support and resources in a timely manner. A goal of SANE is to help strengthen each organization to achieve the common goal of protecting the environment of south Alabama."

Casi Callaway, executive director of Mobile Bay Watch, Inc., agrees with Ms. Friedlander on the need for better communication and closer collaboration among environmental groups in southern Alabama. "While we have a group working on environmental issues in north Mobile County and another group working on the same issues in south Mobile County," Callaway said in a telephone interview, "we are all working on the same issues." With a network, environmental groups can share information and resources. "That way, we could compliment each other," Callaway explained, "and we can learn from each other so we wonít make the same mistakes."

Lee Yokel, who is a member of the Jubilee Chapter of Alabama Environmental Council, said she likes the idea of "sharing information and networking." "There are so many environmental challenges in southern Alabama that itís difficult for one group to deal with," Yokel added. "Itís time to start a local network."

Debbie Stults, a member of the local Sierra Club, said she hopes a network can "get more people involved in environmental issues than any individual group effort." It will also prevent duplication of efforts by better coordination of activities, Stults explained.

Anyone interested in joining SANE can contact Ms. Friedlander at 990-9397 (fhope@zebra.net); Callaway at 476-0328 (callaway@mobilebaywatch.org); Yokel at 626-2935 (lestokng@aol.com) or Debbie at 621-1367 (tcstults@zebra.net).


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