Outdoors For All

Books, Commentary, Diversity, Essays, Madison, Outdoors For All, River Restoration, Special Events, Wisconsin / 08.11.2018

  At the end of October I had the great honor and privilege to host a distinguished guest to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Author and explorer Eddy L. Harris made a rare appearance on campus to share his experiences paddling the Mississippi River from its source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota to its terminus in the Gulf of Mexico at the City of New Orleans. Depicted in his film “River to the Heart” Eddy paints an intimate portrait of what awaits those willing to venture out into the unknown...

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filling the time, but with subject matter spanning more than 150 years of racial oppression I had compiled enough historical references and case studies to fill the pages of my next book.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...

Diversity, Environmental Protection, Nelson Institute, Outdoor Recreation, Outdoors For All, Podcast / 08.03.2010

In 1971 John Francis witnessed a catastrophic oil spill in San Francisco Bay. The greasy black sludge that coated resident sea life and stained nearby beaches left an indelible impression him as well. As a young man at the dawn of the environmental movement he felt compelled to act. But what can one person do to change a society bent on its own destruction?

Left with little do that would make a difference in world Francis abandoned all forms of motorized transport. He started walking. But still hoping to make an impact on his community and himself Francis took his devotion a step future and swore a vow of silence. For 17 years he did not utter a word. And yet he still managed to earn college and graduate degrees in science and environmental studies.

Dr. John Francis went on to become the United Nation’s goodwill ambassador to the world’s grassroots communities and the U.S. Government hired him to help establish policies for the management of oil spills.