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Paul Feezel joined in the Sierra Club in 1988 after attending a club-sponsored meeting about how human population numbers impact the environment. “I became the local Population and the Environment chair and have been involved ever since,” he says.
Today, Feezel is on the Executive Committee for the Sierra Club’s Portage Trail Group, which covers nine counties and has about 2,200 members, most of whom are located in Summit County. The committee is the local board that directs educational and advocacy activities. The Sierra Club is the largest and oldest (founded in 1892 by John Muir) conservation organization in the world. Locally, the group has raised money for the John and Betty Seiberling Cuyahoga Valley Ecological Education Center foundation, which provides grants to low income/inner city youth to attend overnight educations programs in Ohio’s only national park—the CVNP. “We helped initiate the fund and have provided contributions for nearly 15 years,” Feezel explains. In addition, the group started Lights Out, an event to raise awareness about electrical energy usage, and provides educational programs on national parks, environmental conservation and other topics to schools and civic organizations, among other activities.
On a personal level, Feezel and his wife, Diana, began construction of a eco-friendly house in Carrollton, Ohio in 2004. It is a timber frame built from non-indigenous red pine with straw-bale walls, which are used like bricks and then covered with an earthen plaster mixture inside and out. The house has a passive solar design and natural ventilation for cooling. “We did not use any drywall like traditional houses on interior walls and instead used urban harvested (trees being cut down for non-lumber reasons) to make tongue and groove paneling,” Feezel says. “We focused on local materials and U.S.-made products where ever possible, which is way harder than one might think.” You can see more information about the couple’s project from their Web site (distractedbynature.com).
What activities do you enjoy in
your free time?
We love both summer and winter outdoor activities. This time of year we look forward to cold weather for ice skating on our pond, cross-country skiing on 2 miles of trails, downhill skiing in Ohio and out West. We started growing organic blueberries (about the only thing we could get to grow on our terrible soil) and raising a small flock of free range, full lifespan (i.e., never culled) chickens for eggs. I play drums in a gray-haired garage band, brew beer, see friends—heck I like to try most things.
If you could suggest one habit that people should add to their daily lives to become more “green,” what would it be?
Think about what you buy before you buy it. Do you really need it? Where was it made? Is the company who made it environmentally conscious? What will happen when you are through with it—can it be reused or recycled? Unfortunately Americans are only 5 percent of the world’s population but consume nearly 30 percent of the world’s resources. Our consumerist approach to “keeping up with the Jones” is not sustainable.
What is your favorite way to get
in touch with nature?
Most Sundays my wife Diana and I take our two dogs and three or four of the cats—yes cats—on a hike around our property. We try to use this time to decompress from our hectic lives and reconnect with nature and each other. We are thankful for all we have including our friends and family. We always end with a little affirmation, “It’s good to