The younger Sierra Club members—mostly supporters of Brower Power—find fun in the fray, partly as necessary comic relief. "Working for the Sierra Club is uniquely depressing," Administrative Assistant Tom Turner smiles. "One sees just how bad things really are. Our little band of conspirators in the plot to build a better environment needs some gallows humor to keep us going."
"There are moments," says staffer Bob Golden, "when I expect to wake up next morning and find out the mountains have been repealed, the U.S. Park Service has become the U.S. Parking Service and the Sierra Club has lost its name in a trademark suit to a night spot by the same name in Angel's Camp, Calif. We could then call ourselves the Sahara Club, as some already call us.
"Ah, yes. We are known to the pesticide people as the Bambi Group, the highway interests call us the 'proselytizers, prophets and priests of the pinnacles,' and the lumbermen refer to us as the Daffodil Fringe. One of our own packers says we've got hoof and mouth disease. We hoof all day and mouth off all night."
Under the pseudonym Robert Red-nose, Golden issues such literature as the Sierra Club's First Annual Fuss Budget. The Fuss Budget reads, in part, "In recent months various Sierra Club officers and departments have far exceeded their quotas for cantankerousness and we are now forced to ration what was once free to everyone. Allocations are as follows: George Marshall, 3,752 trifles; Ed Wayburn, 17 frets, 3 ados, 1 tumult; Martin Litton, 1 rout, 3 stampedes, 6 diversions; Fred Eissler, 5 commotions; all other directors, 3 confrontations, 14 redundancies, 7 contretemps."
Any group of zealous men will eventually be rent by schisms over isms. Because they believe so fervently in the essentiality of the cause, they tend to denounce as heretic any of the brethren who seem to weaken it. Because they believe so ardently in its righteousness, they dispute the doctrinal purity of those who seem to compromise the creed. Because each feels his revelation so strongly, there will be disagreement over which prophet to follow.
"Conservationists," said one member, quite unprompted, just before he mailed off his ballot, "are still like the Christians in the catacombs, waiting for a Constantine. But one of these days the emperor is going to get religion, and then they're going to be baptizing the Army Corps of Engineers en masse in one of its own reservoirs. Maybe Brower is the man to do the converting, too."