NumbersUSA has thousands of members who are too old to ever enjoy the better American future for which they fight. And, yet, fight they do with all their heart -- none more so than Alan Kuper, 84, of Cleveland. (His memorial service is Thursday.)
The day before he died of stomach cancer last weekend, Alan sent out an email to the hundreds of people on his CUSP mailing list, calling for more activism in his triple causes of U.S. population stabilization, immigration reduction, and environmental sustainability.
This is the kind of perseverance we should remember when when we grow weary with months or years of battling Congress. I've known many people who said they just had to give up the fight for sensible immigration because it was too depressing. Instead, they said, they were just going to try to ignore how the federal government was deteriorating the quality of life through its forced-population-growth policies and find a way to live as much for themselves as possible. Many who give up try to find a place in America that has had less exposure to the deterioration; South Dakota is an often-spoken destination.
But Alan's fight to the very end reminds us of a very different model that selflessly works for a better American future that may only be enjoyed by later generations.
Over the last 15 years within environmentalist communities, Alan may have been the most indefatigable voice for U.S. population stabilization and the reductions in immigration necessary to achieve it.
One of the Sierra Club's most loyal and committed local volunteers and fundraisers, Alan never stopped trying to return the organization to its earlier support for sustainable population/immigration policies. He was a regular fixture at national board meetings, never seeming to mind how much the national leaders cringed to see him and hear him yet again questioning why they remained silent while the federal government used immigration to fuel unending suburban sprawl and habitat destruction. He was the catalyst for several years of bruising national Sierra Club elections focused on immigration and population.
WIDE DIVERSITY IN OUR MOVEMENT
Alan's death reminds us of the tremendous diversity among all of us who try to reduce overall immigration.
As we so often note, the effort to reduce immigration is joined by Americans on every point of the political and ideological spectrum. To win on immigration, we have to be willing to set aside our other political differences at least for the periods of time we are working on this.
Alan's political views were close to universally liberal, and he moved within very liberal circles. But I never saw Alan shrink from joining arms with some of the most conservative members of our movement. I never saw him fail to remind his conservative colleagues of some of his more liberal opinions, nor am I aware of his apologizing to his liberal friends in other circles for his immigration activism.
A TRUE PATRIOT & ENVIRONMENTALIST
I can't -- and won't -- eulogize every great activist who dies. But as a new Administration prepares to take over Washington with promises of deep environmental sensitivity, I would like for it to consider Alan Kuper, Ph.D. This was a man who for 30 years was known throughout the Greater Cleveland area as the "Voice of the NE Ohio Sierra Club" with his daily "Notes from the Sierra Club" on radio station WCLV-FM, Cleveland's classical music station.
His profound sense of duty and patriotism evolved in part from his experience becoming an Eagle Scout and serving in the U.S. naval air corps as a radio technician during World War II.
Educated at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois and Princeton, Alan was a solid state physicist who taught at Case Western Reserve University, but it was his work as a volunteer that made him famous.
He received two national Sierra Club awards and was named the nation's "most effective population-environment volunteer" by Population Communication International. He became chairman of the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club, building its membership to all-time highs with extensive fundraising projects bringing in renowned adventurers and speakers.
In 2000, in response to the refusal of the US environmental establishment to consider immigration numbers as being a significant population issue, he founded CUSP (Comprehensive US Sustainable Population) a national non-profit organization that ultimately listed over 1000 "partners" in 48 states and DC. He created and distributed his own unique environmental score card of the voting records of US legislators. He combined the immigration grades and the environmental grades assigned by other organizations to create a composite environmental grade.
Environmental scientist Leon Kolankiewicz noted this week how much he "loved Alan for his spunk, indefatigable spirit, tremendous initiative and sense of humor in the never-ending struggle for sustainability and population sanity." Leon recalled a meeting of Sierra Club population activists in San Francisco in 1998, when the whole bunch fled the meeting room for "a wonderful hike above the city in a park whose name escapes me. Alan expressed such delight in seeing the wildflowers, among other things. He had, and never lost, the childlike sense of curiosity and appreciation that are the hallmark of a genuine scientist."
Last Saturday morning, I read an email that Alan had sent out to his CUSP list on Friday. He said he was too sick to continue and that it would be his last mailing to all of us. I immediately fired an email back to him (that turned out to already be too late):
I am so sorry to see your last bulletin and about your illness. I have just read it to Shirley who is sitting at her desk across from mine here at home. We are remembering her first time to meet you at the Estes Park hotel. Was that around 1996? We have that wonderful photo of you and me out in the mountain sunlight out on the big hotel patio.
You have been the very definition of indefatigable in your pursuit of a sustainable world that will nurture generations to come. You have given of yourself selflessly and often to an audience of ingratitude from people who hold positions that supposedly should cause them to shower honors on you. But you have always been confident in what you were doing, and that seemed to be reward enough.
Thanks for all you have done, dear friend. You know that your many comrades will continue with the fight.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA