While most of ASLE was making its way to the biennial gathering in Kansas, a few members were making plans beyond the conference that had yet to begin. Guided by the 2009 ASLE Strategic Plan, and drawing on the resources from our 2008-09 development campaign, we charged committees led by Heather Sullivan (Translation Grant Project), Anthony Lioi (Subvention Grant Project), and Byron Caminero-Santangelo (Community Grant Project) to develop the grant applications included in this issue of ASLE News . As many of you know, our first local project grant was awarded this past summer to the Wetlands Preservations Organization (WPO) and Ecojustice Coalition of Lawrence, KS, to support efforts to preserve and protect the sacred Wakarusa Wetlands. In addition to our support of local groups such as the WPO, the new ASLE International Membership Grants Program began widening access to educational and scholarly opportunities in our field, as explained below by our International Liaison, George Handley.
At our April Executive Council planning retreat we will take up where we left off in Lawrence. Among the most pressing issues is the organizational structure of ASLE. How do we address the opportunities and challenges that come with a growing membership? More specifically, how do we ameliorate the difficulties of staging a large conference every two years? Might there be viable alternative conference venues for our growing organization? We are also considering new ways to honor the diversity of our community. How do we continue to cultivate demographic, geographical and generational diversity? One proposal is to establish an organizational framework to support ASLE interest groups. Too, we are thinking together about our digital presence and strategy. Does our web site meet the needs of our members? How might we more effectively make use of digital tools to fulfill our mission and goals? In addition, at our April meeting, the planning for ASLE 2015 will begin in earnest. As we look ahead to Idaho, I hope that you will as well. Help us think about our conference, in terms of programming, activities, and process, as well as our partnerships, as we seek to improve public discourse about the environment, and promote the study of literature and environment in our institutions and communities.
Let me close this winter update by encouraging you to contribute your talents and energies to ASLE. Consider joining us as we work to promote “the understanding of nature and culture for a sustainable world by fostering a community of scholars, teachers, and writers.” Here are a few ways to contribute: envision your candidate statement for vice president or executive council; apply to be the new mentoring coordinator, awards coordinator, or graduate student liaison (call for GSL applications will appear in the spring 2014 ASLE News ); add your name to the growing list of sustaining, patron, and lifetime members; or contact the current leadership of ASLE to share your ideas about joining us in building your organization. Your time, financial support, and ideas will strengthen existing relationships, and help us build new ones