Gaviota Hike and Transition from Sierra Club to Humanist Society

Gaviota Hike and Transition from Sierra Club to Humanist Society (Courtesy Photo)

As my readers may know, I have been leading hikes for the Sierra Club for decades. My coverage of the hikes has been my most popular feature here on Edhat. A total win-win for the Sierra Club and for Edhat. I have also served on the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club Santa Barbara Group for decades. That all changed on October 12, 2023 when I was canceled.

Not only was I banned from leading hikes, I was banned even from attending hikes. Not by any of my friends here at the local Sierra Club Santa Barbara Group. But by the national office of the Sierra Club.

CANCELED FOR “SERIOUS” VIOLATION

My neighbor (who comes on some of my hikes) happened to call just when I received this death sentence. He asked if someone had died on one of my hikes. I said no. That would have been OK. This was far more serious. I had violated their “inclusivity” rules.

There is no transparency or due process, so I cannot ever know who filed the claim.

But they were able to confirm that no actual person who came to one of my hikes was “excluded” or filed a complaint against me. I am quite sure I know what happened. One man who had a grudge against me figured out a way to use this “inclusivity” rule to get me canceled. Similar to the McCarthy era strategy of getting someone canceled by claiming they are a “Communist”.

Interestingly, I was not canceled from serving on the Executive Committee. But my wife was so outraged by the behavior of the national Sierra Club that she urged me not to do any more work for them. I chose not to run for another term. However, I do still serve as chair of the Transportation Committee and hope to continue good work with my local friends. There are still some good people doing good work despite the insanity. And there is no shortage of good work to do on climate, energy, transportation and local development and preservation issues.

TRYING TO FIND SOMEONE TO CLEAR MY NAME

A lawyer friend at the Environmental Defense Center was outraged at how I was treated. He said he wouldn’t blame me if I never wanted to help the Sierra Club again. But he suggested I clear my name. And the only way to do so would be to find someone high up in the Sierra Club who could cut through the broken system.

I tried in vain to find anyone who knew someone high up in the Sierra Club. All the people who used to be there seemed to be gone. I have been so focused on our work here in our region I never took the time to find out what was happening or changing at the National level. Apparently, a lot was changing.

I did attend one National meeting years ago here in Santa Barbara. I met a few top people at that time. I decided to track them down when I was canceled to get their insights. I hoped they might still know people high up who could explain what was going on.

SHOCKING DISCOVERY

What I learned from them shocked me. Back around 2018-2019 I learned that a massive program of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)” was proposed. At a cost of around $15 million per year. Out of a total Sierra Club budget of about $150 million. Over 100 full time equivalent employees would be hired compared with about 800 existing employees.

People who challenged this were purged. What started as a well-intentioned plan to make the Sierra Club more welcoming and inclusive turned into a purge of experienced, effective and hard-working leaders. Urgent and important priorities of the Climate Crisis and habitat preservation were now secondary to this new agenda.

It took me months to find out how to contact the new Sierra Club national Board. On December 14 I sent them a letter. Not only have I never received a reply from any of them. I have not even gotten any of them to acknowledge receipt of my letter. Even though I have inside word that every one of them received it. If you are interested, here is a PDF of the letter I sent to them. Feel free to contact me directly at robert (at) robert.name if you want to know more.

https://swt.org/hikesierra/000-misc/letters/LetterToBenJealousAndBoard-2023-12-Final-Redacted.pdf

NEW HIKING HOME: HUMANIST SOCIETY OF SANTA BARBARA

Fortunately, I have found a new home for listing my hikes: The Humanist Society of Santa Barbara. I have been a member of their Board in recent years and it seemed like a win-win. The Humanist Society shares the same values of protecting and enjoying the natural environment.

There is no obligation for hikers to join the Humanist Society or participate in other Humanist Society activities. But it is a chance to expand overlapping circles of interest. Many who enjoy the outdoors are also free thinkers who enjoy learning in a wide range of topics and meeting new people.

We currently have two hike leaders listing outings at the Humanist Society Meetup page. Everyone is welcome to join this Meetup for free to keep up with upcoming outings, talks and other events. We recently took a tour of Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which I plan to write up another time. Here is the Meetup page!

https://www.meetup.com/humanist-society-of-santa-barbara/

To catch up on some of the hikes we have had, I will just start now with our Thanksgiving outing at the Gaviota Caves. Local friend and hiker Sarah has organized Thanksgiving hikes and potluck dinners for years and she invited me to lead the hike this time. Here are my photos of our enjoyable Gaviota Thanksgiving hike!

https://swt.org/hikes/gaviota-thanksgiving2023/

Here Sarah posed in the top wind cave at Gaviota on Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Photo)

Sarah in the top wind cave at Gaviota on Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Photo)

 

On our way up we paused in the big multi-room cave that is a lot of fun to explore.

Big multi-room cave. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Here we were just before reaching the top wind cave.

Just before reaching the top wind cave. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Here is a nice group shot from below of people gathered in the wind cave.

Group shot from below of people gathered in the wind cave. (Courtesy Photo)

 

I was totally blown away when fellow hike leader Bernard showed up with his wife Li and their son Leo. Leo walked all the way up on his own!

Fellow hike leader Bernard, his wife Li and their son Leo. (Courtesy Photo)

 

And they were not the only ones. Here they were with their friends and their own little power house explorer!

Fellow hike leader Bernard, his wife Li and their son Leo with their friends, and their own little power house explorer! (Courtesy Photo)

 

Here we stopped at another cave below the wind cave on the way down. I love the “Lizard’s Mouth” contours and the eerie lighting.

Another cave below the wind cave with the “Lizard’s Mouth” contours and the eerie lighting. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Here I posed in the entrance to another cave with my hiking friend Phil. He also had been a Sierra Club hike leader before parting ways with them. Phil is also a unicyclist, though way beyond my level! He does MUNI (Mountain UNIcycling)! He has his own Meetup for that.

Entrance to another cave with my hiking friend Phil. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Here Phil, Martin and Tom climbed up into another cave that requires some extra agility to reach.

Phil, Martin and Tom climbed up into another cave that requires some extra agility to reach. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Here is a backward glance at the top wind cave as we made our way down.

Here is a backward glance at the top wind cave as we made our way down. (Courtesy Photo)

Again… You can see the schedule of all of our local Humanist Society hikes and other events here on Meetup. Everyone is welcome!

https://www.meetup.com/humanist-society-of-santa-barbara/

– Robert Bernstein

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92 Comments

    • The Sierra Club lost its way decades ago when it reversed policy on population growth and ultimately advocated for unfettered birth and immigration/migration. They explicitly deny that human population is the basic cause of the environmental mess we now live in. They rationalize that less densely populated nations contribute to the problem more than the rest and therefore somehow the issue is affluence and advocate a magical solution that involves actions that are extremely unlikely over reasonable cooperative actions that limit growth and push better energy and resource use. It seems that they basically want people to live in beehive like cities while they preserve natural spaces for the occasional limited visit by their sort. Really a poor solution that seems to cater to rich folks who make their money when populations grow.

      • I so agree with you. Thank you for pointing this out! Well, they need pledges and donations right? I am also a relentless advocate on the issue of population growth… It’s not rocket science to understand that more people, more consumptions and more need for resources from a finite fragile source?

  1. The ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ deal strikes again. It’s happening more and more, and clearly going overboard. Ridiculous. Sorry you had to suffer through this. But hey, any organization that’ll do what they did to you ain’t worth working with. The Sierra Club only sounds good (to some) on paper. The Humanist Society hikers look like a good group to be around.

    • You do realize that it was due to a grudge, someone reporting that he had “excluded” someone from a hike (likely due to being a member of a protected class), right? Had that been true and not some ill-willed sneaky attack like this, it would probably be GOOD if someone who refused to allow someone of a different skin color, ethnicity, sexual/gender preference on their hikes, was banned from leading hikes for this organization.

      Basically, they don’t want homo/transphobes and/or racists leading hikes in their name. Yeah, what an outrage, right? You’re hate for equality and anything with the word “diversity” in it is so rampant and wild, you don’t even bother to think how it can be good. Typical and not at all surprising sadly. It sucks this happened but the overall policy is a good thing.

      • The ‘overall policy’ your supporting just got someone good booted out, dude. I’d venture to guess Robert is not a racist, homophobe, bigot, or other jackhole. I’ll lay money on that. But hey, stick with it.

          • Without the DEI mantra pervading an organization, this loser with a grudge would’ve gone nowhere. I do realize that diversity, equity, and inclusion are valuable real world concepts. I’m not a fool, racist, or a bigot. Maybe you don’t believe that, and that’s for you to decide without knowing me as a person whatsoever. I don’t believe these types of ‘teach everyone to do good’ bumper sticker messages are valuable. I don’t believe folks who are poorly raised will change their ways when reading about DEI, taking courses, listening to lectures, or watching a podcast – do you? Maybe you do. I always just think of ‘do the right thing’, like the movie. No committes, meetings, messaging campaigns, and additional hires necessary.

            • “Without the DEI mantra pervading an organization, this loser with a grudge would’ve gone nowhere.” Wow pretty big assumption there, Doc. There are no other types of complaints one could make? Again, the liar with a grudge did it, not DEI.

              “I’m not a fool, racist, or a bigot.” – The words you type here daily beg to differ.

              And yes, I DO believe people who were “poorly raised” (way to blame parents) can change if exposed to differing opinions, actual history, thoughts of others. Heck, I did. I used to be an “All Lives Matter” and “oh stop being offended” kind of person until I forced myself to listen to the words and experiences of others.

              Hate CAN be changed to tolerance and empathy. People CAN learn new things that change the way they view the world. Giving up on that is lazy and intolerant.

      • The infusion of DEI in organizations is starting to cause trouble …it has to go. DEI only amplifies divisiveness, it doesn’t diversify. In fact to me, it highlights one as different therefore assimilation can become awkward. Inclusiveness, isn’t it better to accept the other person acknowledging that he is also human and has characteristics unique to himself and teach, help him to adopt and adapt rather than have all this gobbledygook set of parameters and rules for everyone to tiptoe on?

  2. I’m not sure I understand. Just one person filing a complaint can have you booted from something you’ve been doing for years? And the rest is based on assumption it’s because of DEI? That doesn’t sound accurate. Is it possible there is more to the story and they’re just not telling you?

  3. SBROBERT – I’m so sorry this happened, given how many years you have been doing this. It’s a shame it can’t be easily reversed, but I understand your wife’s outrage and your decision to move on. Glad you found a new group and are continuing to do what you love and sharing it with the rest of us!

    As you say, these policies come from a good place, one desiring inclusivity of all. The heavy handedness and lack of transparency seems typical with any large, and now seemingly faceless, corporation/entity and now serves for some on the far left to twist that into, as you say, a purge of sorts. It’s a shame that something as benevolent and important as DEI policies can be used this way.

    Keep the photos and stories coming!

  4. I agree with previous posters, there’s a lot of assumptions here Robert. I’m sorry this happened to you, especially without any clear reason or answer, leading you to try and make sense of it. The least this organization could do is be upfront with the reasoning to give you some peace of mind, whether outrageous or not.

    I also urge you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to DEI. An entire political party is using DEI as a campaign talking point to rail against anything aimed at equality. While this certainly feels unfair and was handled so very poorly, the reasonings and possibilities for this decision are unknown.

  5. Thank you all for the comments. This is not just about the Sierra Club.

    Basicinfo805 is correct. What started with the best of intentions has turned into a new McCarthyism. A friend just sent me the latest example of DEI being used to cancel an art show and a curator at our SB Museum of Art:

    https://www.independent.com/2024/02/01/new-santa-barbara-museum-of-art-director-cancels-major-show-citing-lack-of-diversity-and-terminates-longtime-curator/

    If you read my letter that I linked to and/or if you know me here, you know that I am about the least likely person to deserve this charge. That is why I feel especially obligated to speak up. I agonized over this for months, but my wife and trusted friends urged me to speak out. Thank you all for listening.

    • Again, this situation is unfortunate for you whatever the cause may be. And again… you don’t know what the cause is. So instead you’re blaming DEI without any real proof, just a hunch. It could be a an issue that you’re unaware of or find innocent that someone else may not.

      Comparing DEI to McCarthyism is absolutely absurd, ignorant, and unfounded. DEI is not “cancel culture,” it’s dangerous to conflate the two, and even cancel culture is nowhere near McCarthyism. I really encourage you to do a bit more learning and listening around this topic instead of making assumptions and letting your hurt feelings get the best of you.

    • Is it not a good thing that there’s a system in place to ban racists/homophobes and other bigots from excluding people from their hikes solely for how they were born? I mean, yeah, the lack of transparency and inability to dispute this is problematic, but how are the intentions bad?

      It sounds like the blame lies on the person who wronged you and chose DEI as a way to harm you. Had DEI not been implemented, someone with that much ill will would find another way, no?

      DEI doesn’t cancel people. People do.

      • Per Robert, organizations cancel too!
        The way the Sierra Club is implementing their unwritten or hidden policy is blameworthy, not just the complainant.
        Seems the Club, under Ben Jealous, is radically overcompensating for their previous thoughts and actions, which were, of course, of the times.
        It’s a pity all the way around.

  6. No wonder the Sierra Club is on a decline and adopting DEI is yet another example. The Sierra Club led by well known bigot/race baiter, Ben Jealous is according to one article, “At war with his staff,” in transforming a once great conservation organization into a woke, racially charged, Democratic activist front. That’s right, go woke, go broke. It would seem Mr. Jealous is more interested in outing white supremacy than addressing the extinction of Red Legged Frogs! What’s next, woke Audubon Society. John Muir would be turning over in his grave!

  7. Tal Avitzur here. Peter Sklar and I were good friends and began working together in the late 1990s. When edhat began in 2003, I was tasked with bringing in “Citizen Journalists.” Robert Bernstein was the first. I met Robert in the early 1980s when we were both graduate students at UCSB and lived in the same housing co-op. I can vouch for Robert as being a trustworthy, solid member of the community. It saddens me that he is going through this ordeal with The Sierra Club.

  8. Thank you Don Lubach, Tal Avitzur, yin yang and others for your thoughtful and supportive comments. Do I know you, yin yang?

    Imagine someone built a giant wood chipper in the middle of town. On occasions like our recent storms it might be handy to have a wood chipper. But a wood chipper is not the answer to all problems. And someone who is malicious could push an unsuspecting victim into it. DEI out of control is like that wood chipper.

    Yes, a malicious person might find another way to do harm. But the DEI/wood chipper makes it way too easy.

    This is not just about the Sierra Club. Many thoughtful people (including me) have been speaking out about this DEI out of control/wood chipper for years. You may not know or care about me. But you or someone you love could be the next victim.

    Worst of all, this insanity is what makes some people vote for “leaders” like Trump and DeSantis. And that means that real social justice and environmental issues are not being solved.

    Thank you all again for your time and comments.

    • Robert – great analogy to the wood chipper. The story about the Art Museum is equally troubling. I think you’re right – the extreme left and right are pushing people away and stalling progress. DEI policies come from a good place. The goal is a good thing. But, like with any policy, it looks like it’s being used incorrectly and as a sword, rather than a shield. Still though, mal intent will be actualized regardless of the method, I think.

  9. Bingo, that’s EXACTLY what it is! Removing white males from any leadership role and replacing them with someone from the grievance culture. It would seem based on a recent article, the Sierra Club is in total meltdown mode and in DEEP doo-doo. In fact, Mr. Jealous has very little regard or tolerance with the “racist” founder John Muir! But wait, there’s more! Mr. Jealous is so overcome with his racial indignation that he had all the original Ancel Adam’s photos removed from the corporate headquarters in Oakland! Who knew a photo of Half Dome could be racist! Yes, staff has left in droves, Equity Team has been disbanded and the local union is outraged! So much for DEI.

    • Oh no! Poor white males! Who will be in charge of capitalism and the government and Fortune500 companies and the vast majority of the public and private sectors?? White males are the only ones that can lead as evidenced by their stronghold on our society! We must not let silly woke ideas like equality and diversity take away the power of white males!

      • Anonymous’ comment is a perfect example of the grievance culture and gossip crap that ruins people’s lives without giving them a chance to know or rebut the charge. A charge once made of this sort is so damning. Minimally some due process must be involved.

        • I was responding to Tejano’s misogynistic comment about white men arbitrarily being removed from leadership roles, but glad to know that my tongue in cheek response triggered you RHS! So rough for you white males these days, sad sad.

          • Not sure what you are trying to say. If you use a pejorative or class or racial stereotype and that “triggers” the abused group is it the fault of that group member or a sick act on the part of the person using the phrase. Can I say “Oh no! Poor XXXX women. Who will be in charge or our morality and group pressures and snide remarks? XXXX women are the only ones who can save the family and save America as evidenced by their constant advice on how that should be done.”? Would this trigger you? Is it wrong that you would be “triggered”? And, the fact that you attribute a sex to me is a pretty big act of bigotry. Are ideas the provenance of but one sex?

    • “Grievance culture?” You mean like those whose ancestors were not too long ago (relatively) stolen from their homes and shackled in ships to become the slaves who helped built this nation and then were, until pretty recently, beaten, raped, murdered, lynched simply because of the color of their skin? You mean like those whose home land we stole as we butchered and raped across the country? You mean like those who, again until pretty recently, weren’t allowed to vote, work outside the home and much worse because they weren’t men? You mean like those who, yup once again until pretty recently and even still today, were beaten, jailed, fired from jobs, disowned by some parents, ridiculed and even murdered, just because they were attracted to “the wrong gender?

      Poor white males. Those darn “grievance culture” folks are trying to steal their jobs!

      Dude, stow it.

  10. When you assume it can make an ass out of u and me. Robert is assuming DEI is to blame without ANY evidence. Here are some more assumptions:

    “Conservatives Are Blaming A New Racist Theory For Airline Accidents”
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/conservatives-dei-airplane-accidents-boeing_n_65b2aafce4b04d8995105144

    “Why Republicans Are Blaming the Bank Collapse on Wokeness”
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/03/republicans-svb-collapse-wokeness-esg-dei/673378/

    “Republicans are at war with corporate America over diversity”
    https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/4186272-republicans-are-at-war-with-corporate-america-over-diversity/

    “Fox Suggests Diversity Initiatives to Blame for Soldier Deaths in Jordan”
    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/maria-bartiromo-diversity-blame-jordan-deaths-1234956744/

  11. One correction from the Environmental Defense Center: none of our current attorneys or staff members have talked to Robert or advised him about this situation. Respectfully, EDC does not have a position on any of these allegations. Alex Katz, Executive Director

    • Alex Katz I should have said “A long time lawyer friend at the Environmental Defense Center was outraged at how I was treated”. I was not aware that he was not currently a lawyer there.

      He is a long time friend and was a lawyer for many years at the Environmental Defense Center. Including work on behalf of the Sierra Club. His initials are MC. And he was at the EDC TGIF event. And I never meant to imply that the EDC took an official position on this. Thank you.

  12. Robert- I’m so sorry this happened to you! I only know you in passing at events and of course on here, but you seem like a stand-up guy, and I appreciate you. This world is a bit crazy! Just continue being you and don’t let the world, as it is, change you! Trolls, just stop…

  13. You either support Robert or you don’t. I support him. Most people take a stand when they get shafted, thankfully. That’s the basis of how things change, socially. MLK is a perfect example. But some people are wafflers – you know, those that try to play both sides at the same time so as to not wind up being on the wrong side when the game is won, so to speak. Maybe those folks never played a sport with teammates, fought in combat, or have ever been in a real effort with others committed to what they believe in.

  14. I know something about the situation. Sierra Club is an excellent organization that does a tremendous amount of good and important work. They have a careful process for investigating and handling complaints and would not “cancel” someone for a grudge. There were multiple complaints and a fair process. Robert has many strengths and is often right about issues but not in this case.

    • Anoy- They used to and I used to be a member. They have become far too political. If you know the actual reasons WHY, then post it. Multiple complaints? Seriously? Don’t just say it, prove it. “Fact checks” remember?

        • Isn’t the problem that Robert hasn’t been told the specific complaints about him? How can he share the evidence when he doesn’t know what it is? How can he respond or defend himself without details? It seems terribly unfair to him to be banned from Sierra Club activities without some sort of due process.

          • In the comments above Robert stated: “I have plenty of evidence… I have no obligation to share this evidence with a random person who posts as Anonymous.”

            So he’s refusing to share details of this yet wanting a public forum to excoriate an organization. Maybe they deserve it, but I’d like to see all the evidence before making a decision. Certainly the people who made complaints did so for a reason, whatever that may be.

            • Thanks. I have read the info in the link, and it seems to me that if the issue was that someone disapproved of his photos, he should have been told to stop taking photos, or, better yet, be informed of what sort of photos they approve of. To ban him from hikes is overkill, and a wildly inappropriate action against a man who has given so much to Sierra Club and our community. So glad he will continue to lead hikes another way.

              • Ahchoo I am trying not to reply to every comment, but yours really is the most sensible comment anyone has posted, including my own. For 20 years we had the same Outings Chair, almost exactly coinciding with my era as a hike leader. Not once did he convey any message of concern or disapproval from any third party.

                But if there were a concern, people used to be able to talk to one another as adults to express their concern. Thank you for your common sense. You give me hope.

              • We don’t know what the extent of the complaints were but considering how he’s responding to women feeling uncomfortable with his photos by not acknowledging it at all and blaming DEI and other inclusivity policies as the culprit and not his actions… I can’t imagine it was a productive conversation with the Sierra Club.

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective. While it’s clear Robert is hurt and emotional about the situation, it’s prudent to have a balanced perspective before demonizing an organization. For starters, we really don’t know the situation, only vague references to DEI, cancel culture, and grudges from one person’s point of view. If it’s true that there were many complaints and it was thoroughly investigated then the hope is the Sierra Club is doing right by those who complained. Maybe the nature of these complaints should be shared with Robert so he could possibly learn or change whatever it was. If he’s open to it that is.

  15. Look man, you made some women feel uncomfortable. So much so that they filed complaints. Perhaps it was unintentional on your part but their feelings and experiences are valid. So take it on the chin and attempt to learn from this experience. Maybe some sensitivity training or something. Being a man of a certain age, there may be some things you say or do that aren’t ok any more.

  16. This is really getting out of hand. I have been writing articles showing the joys of Sierra Club hikes for decades. I wrote this article to explain to the thousands of people who read my articles why they haven’t seen any such articles for about four months. Now I see people are digging into unpublished areas of my web site. Now that is creepy.

    As I wrote above: “they were able to confirm that no actual person who came to one of my hikes was “excluded” or filed a complaint against me.” No one. Not one person filed a claim against me that I did anything to make them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.

    This is how tyranny begins. Most people in my situation would say nothing publicly and the bad guys get away with bad behavior. I am in a unique position of having decades of established reputation that this charge is absurd. That is why my friends urged me to go public. There is no reward for me by doing this. It is painful in every way.

    I do appreciate the many kind words of support. But people need to understand this goes way beyond me. Here was a New York Times article from last month
    https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/14/opinion/dei-diversity-unconstitutional.html?unlocked_article_code=1.Nk0.HJPv.D07Ec-r4SqyK&smid=url-share

    It references liberal Harvard Professor Steven Pinker:
    “Disempowering DEI. Many of the assaults on academic freedom (not to mention common sense) come from a burgeoning bureaucracy that calls itself diversity, equity, and inclusion while enforcing a uniformity of opinion, a hierarchy of victim groups, and the exclusion of freethinkers.”

    Those on my side politically need to wake up and acknowledge that some on our side have made a terrible mistake. And it must stop.

    • Robert, based on your own document you seem to know the issue centers around women making complaints about being uncomfortable with your photo taking. Why didn’t you bring that up in your original article?

      The way you’re defiantly pushing back against what apparently are these women’s feelings and experiences is very concerning. And the fact that you’re blaming DEI as a cause for you being “cancelled” when it really seems like some people filed complaints about your actions, the Sierra Club investigated, and they found the complaints valid then asked you to stop. That seems like a pretty reasonable course of action for any organization.

  17. Robert, I’m so sorry to hear about your treatment from the Sierra Club by anonymous denouncement. It’s like the climate of the old Soviet Union or East Germany has come back to life.

    I’m also sorry that you are getting such toxic treatment from anonymous posters. Several friends of mine detest EdHat because of the toxic nature of people who use their anonymity to bully others here.

    You have done a splendid job bringing the wonders and joys of nature to be enjoyed right here. I especially enjoyed your posts last year as I was unable to do much because I was recovering from long Covid. Hiking was out of the question for many months, so your posts brightened my endless days of fatigue. Don’t give up, and I hope to join you on one of your future hikes.

    I could not believe when John Muir was cancelled by the Sierra Club. 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual. Hang in there and just ignore all those anonymous toxic trolls.

  18. How astute of you, Robert, to shroud yourself behind a veil of DEI rhetoric.

    I, among other women, found your excessive penchant for taking photographs, particularly of young women who caught your eye, rather distasteful. Your comments regarding young attractive women, especially those who were not part of our hiking group but merely passing by on the trail, were reminiscent of the crude remarks one might expect from a hormonal teenager. Upon expressing my concerns to two other hike leaders, their response was merely a dismissive eye-roll accompanied by the statement, “That’s just Robert for you; he’ll get in trouble one of these days.” It appears that they have finally taken the necessary steps to report your inappropriate conduct to the relevant authorities within the organization.
    As a result of your behaviour, I chose to cease my participation in all Sierra Club hikes. Furthermore, I am aware of two other women who share my sentiments and likewise opted not to return to Sierra Club hikes following their experience on only one of your hikes.

    • Thank you for having the courage to share your thoughts and experience. While reading through Robert’s statement, the comments, and the document a commenter found on his website, it became clear there was much more to the story that Robert wasn’t telling. I didn’t want to accuse him but all signs seemed to point to him being inappropriate, or at the very least unaware, with his interactions with women. Per his document, it seems like the Sierra Club did inform him of the reason he was being removed but typical of some fragile male egos, he cannot accept the truth and concocted some ridiculous story about a grudge and DEI because that made more sense to him than it ever being possible of him behaving poorly.

      This is another example of how women’s voices, thoughts, experiences are invalidated by men who refuse to stop, listen, and enact some form of behavior change. Robert so believes that he did nothing wrong he’s essentially calling all of these women liars. Repeatedly. And that is truly disgusting. If you have any sense Robert, I hope to read your mea culpa on edhat soon.

    • Really? sounds to me Robert is not the problem. I am a woman and do not find it distasteful being thought as young and attractive..it is a compliment! That is a building block of confidence and empowerment and not an ingredient to insecurity. When one’s state of mind is fearful of everything when out in the public, assuming that other people has malicious agenda on everything and anything, needs to re evaluate her/his psychological state and, address that first! Otherwise, do not go out in public and maybe, hike under a rock, in the dark or in the shadows. It also sounds to me, he didn’t really get a due process. They just “investigated” and handed him verdict. To me it’s their loss, Robert can just go travel the world if he chooses.

      • If I didn’t know any better I’d think this comment was written by a man. This type of misogyny belongs back in the 1950s when men thought it was ok to slap their secretaries on the bottom because it made them feel attractive and desired. In today’s world complimenting a women on their body/appearance and simply making them feel uncomfortable with these “compliments” is plain wrong. Are you insinuating that all these women who complained about Robert’s creepy behavior are the problem? Grow up and leave this type of commentary in the 50s where it belongs. Robert had is due process, he was investigated and they determined women should be able to hike with Sierra Club without feeling like an older man is perving on them.

        • YES I’m a grown up that’s why I do not not assume everybody and everything is out there to get me… I know where and when to fight my battles that matters. I do not formulate thoughts that are malicious, detrimental to other being. I wasn’t born in the 50’s I cannot relate to their “morals” and I didn’t say it’s okay to slap somebody’s bottom either (unless you are goofing around your friends and people you are familiar with). You are so out of context. Geez. You are formulating thoughts that is beyond me and, that is what is wrong with the world today. And mind you, it is slander to say “older man is perving on them”. Are you saying Robert is perving on… ? because it will be another story? Because it sounded to me you are formulating that thought against Robert? So it’s you not Robert. Robert is a man far from being creepy. I come to realize that it’s pointless to present another argument with you because, obviously you have a biased judgement and sounds like you have a grudge against Robert too. Good luck and good day. Just Live, eat and, laugh if you still can ….:-)

  19. The problem posed by Robert’s intrusive photographs of women has been well known among local hikers and hike leaders for several years. Like others, I stopped hiking regularly with the Sierra Club because complaints about his behavior, whether made directly to Robert or to senior Sierra Club chapter officers, were ignored or, worse, met with dismissive responses. Several of my female friends stopped hiking with the club after similar experiences. His hikes were not a ‘joy’ for them. I have also personally overheard Robert make derogatory comments about a woman who challenged him on his photos. I agree that Robert is clearly using these arguments about DEI as a smokescreen to conceal the real reason for his exile, and hope the Humanist Society is now aware of the real reason he is so keen to lead for them.

    I would like to know why the local chapter did nothing about this for so long. However, the national Sierra Club should be commended for finally dealing with this.

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