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Earl B.
Democrat OR 3

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  • The Garden Club of America

    by Representative Earl Blumenauer

    Posted on 2013-02-26

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    BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, as we lurch into another series of artificial crises surrounding budget sequestration, there is a bright spot this week. We will witness an amazing series of visits on Capitol Hill by members of the Garden Club of America. Celebrating their 100th year as a national organization established in 1913, there is no more awesome group of citizen lobbyists than these women from all across America.

    I first encountered the women's garden club in the person of the late Nancy Russell, who was a member of the Portland Garden Club and a ferocious, tenacious advocate for the protection of the national treasure that is the Columbia River Gorge. Nancy's personal commitment, insight, drive and passion made it possible for politicians in both parties to enact historic unique legislation protecting the magnificent Columbia River Gorge and establishing a framework of protection for generations to come.

    Nancy would marshal her argument with facts, was an expert at generating positive publicity, could turn on the charm, and if that didn't work, she could play hardball politics with the best of them. Imagine my surprise and delight in coming to Congress when I found that there were other advocates--although there will never be another Nancy Russell--there are other women from across America who had their own commitment, passion, zeal, focus and follow-through who were enriching their communities while they helped the national conservation discussion.

    The Garden Club has a broad and ambitious agenda seeking to promote our open spaces, and zealous in their support for our threatened National Park System. They're strong advocates and protectors of the Land and Water Conservation Act and the LWCF funds that have so rarely been fully budgeted in the program's 50 years.

    Now, global warming inspires heated rhetoric here on Capitol Hill. And while garden club members are deeply concerned about weather instability caused by climate change, they do so with a calm, clear, dispassionate view of the facts in a way that should inspire and encourage everybody here in Congress.

    For years, they have advocated for a farm bill that was stronger in the areas [[Page H636]] of nutrition, conservation, and environmental protection while saving money. They advocate harnessing the power of that farm bill to protect sustainable agriculture and the production of specialty crops--which most of America calls ``food''.

    In the midst of some of the most bizarre accusations one will ever hear, theirs is a clarion call of rationality and wisdom for the ratification of the Treaty of the Sea that is languishing. Despite the support of the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations and an unprecedented coalition of business, industry, and educational leaders, the United States continues to be an outlier, to the detriment of our defense and commercial interests.

    These are just a few of the areas that they concentrate on during their Washington visit. Most important, they connect what is happening at the local level with people who care about clean air, the beauty of the landscape and the treasures that enrich our souls, as well as the things that protect the environment for future generations. I strongly urge my colleagues to find time to visit with the Garden Club representatives from their State not just here in Washington, D.C., this week, but reach out to them at home and hear what they have to say. There will be no more productive meeting you will have with the inspiration that comes from listening to clear-headed, clear-eyed voices of wisdom and restraint. These meetings will stand out as an oasis in the war of words over our next round of manufactured crises.


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