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Narratives Worth Exploring

Environmental Studies, Essays, Short Story / 06.07.2018

Most mornings I started my run about an hour before the ferry arrived from the mainland. The game wardens and lab technicians undoubtedly thought I was a bit odd. Who in his right mind would run in the jungle heat for exercise? Of all the professors, grad students, and undergraduates like me conducting research on Barro Colorado Island I was the only runner. To the Panamanians I was simply “El Negro Gringo Loco”.I arrived in Panama a few weeks earlier. I quickly came to appreciate the Latin propensity...

Environmental Journalism, Nelson Institute, Outdoor Recreation, Outdoors For All / 27.06.2018

In the summer of 2018 my course called Outdoors For All met three days a week for three hours each day for four weeks. At first I thought I’d have difficulty filling the time, but with subject matter spanning more than 150 years of racial oppression I had compiled enough historical references and case studies to fill the pages of my next book. Each day of class constituted a chapter on a specific element of the long narrative of discrimination from the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 through the...

Diversity, Nelson Institute, Outdoors For All / 31.05.2018

 My class Outdoors For All at the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies is a 12-day course presented over 4 weeks. I'm presenting each day as a series of chapters like a book.  In Chapter 5 my students are learning about the Green Book. Written by a U.S. Postal Service employee named Victor Hugo Green, this travel guide for African-American motorists was an essential tool for the ability of Black people to safely navigate the highways, small towns and big cities of the United States from...

Diversity, Nelson Institute, Outdoors For All / 24.05.2018

Over the past several months I've been preparing materials to teach a college course on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in outdoor recreation and environmental conservation. Despite having spent the last decade of my life working to unravel the mysteries behind the desparities of those who spend time in nature and those who don't, I still struggle to understand what we can do to correct them. Having literally written a book on the topic I suppose it was inevitable that would be asked to more thoroughly...

National Monuments, National Parks, New Century Vision, Politics, Public Land / 08.05.2018

Within minutes of my flight touching down at McCarran International Airport I felt that unique buzz of kinetic energy. Like a force of nature the city of Las Vegas, Nevada seems to vibrate with the thrum of living creatures writhing in a primeval forest of tall buildings. Throughout an ecosystem whose atmosphere teams with the smell of cigarettes, the sound of slot machines and the fuzzy glow of neon lights, the temperature was relatively cool, even pleasant on this day in early spring. A gentle breeze wafted across the...

Books, The Joy Trip Project Reading Circle / 03.05.2018

 At the core of her 2015 book Trace, author Lauret Savoy aspires to reconcile a profound contradiction. Though settled under the belief that all people are created equal, the American landscape is fraught with cultural restrictions that deprive both individuals and communities of the right to live and travel freely throughout the natural environment. As a writer and educator Savoy explores her own family’s experience and history to better understand the disparities between the various expressions of humanity and their ability to form an enduring and substantive relationship...