Reporting from my trip in WNC

I had a wonderful time traveling in Western North Carolina the last few days. On Thursday I drove to Greenville, South Carolina where my grandmother lives. I got up early on Friday to drive to Highlands, NC in Macon County to honor the town and Mayor Don Mullen as a ‘Cool City.’ It was an interesting drive through Upstate South Carolina. In Oconee County, in the far northwestern corner of the state, I had to slow down at one point because a llama was crossing the road! I assume it must have gotten out of its fence because I was not aware that there were wild llamas in the Carolinas.

From there I entered Georgia and drove through it for seven miles before hitting the North Carolina border. It was certainly the first time I had ever entered the state from that direction.

The ceremony in Highlands was outstanding. Mayor Mullen was very friendly and appreciative of the honor, and several media outlets showed up to cover the event. I was particularly happy to meet Breta Stroud, the local activist who brought the US Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement to Mayor Mullen’s attention. She is very energetic and enthusiastic, and is interested in helping to up the level of Sierra Club activity in Highlands and Cashiers. We are looking forward to working with her in the next few months to make that happen.

Then I drove from Highlands to Brevard to meet with Mayor Jimmy Harris. I was joined in this meeting by local environmental activists Len Griffiths, Bill Thomas, Bill Fisk, and Larry Ragsdale. Mayor Harris is an outstanding leader who has shown a commitment to environmentalism in his personal and business lives. For instance, he has put a solar roof on the hardware store he owns in downtown Brevard. He’s also done a good job of protecting natural areas in and around town for future generations to enjoy. With the impacts of human activity threatening the beauty of Western North Carolina on a day to day basis, we need more leaders like Mayor Harris who are doing their part.

The Mayor is interested in having Brevard become a ‘Cool City’ and we will be following up with him in the coming weeks. We are also looking to form a partnership with Brevard College pertaining to the Cool Cities initiative and are excited to see how that will transpire.

I was impressed by the Mayor, and I was also impressed with our local Sierra Club leaders in the Pisgah Group, most of whom I had not met before. We are lucky to have such strong leadership in Transylvania, Henderson, and Jackson Counties. They are very politically savvy and know how to get good things done in their local area.

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