The Wildness Within: Remembering David Brower

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The Wildness Within is a collection of interviews… read more. The Wildness Within is a collection of interviews Kenneth Brower did with well-known environmentalists who were influenced by his father. He was interviewed by Malcolm Margolin and responded to questions from members of the audience in the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California.

Colleagues of David Brower in the audience who were interviewed for the book also spoke. C-SPAN has agreements with retailers that share a small percentage of your purchase price with our network. However, C-SPAN only receives this revenue if your book purchase is made using the links on this page.

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The Wildness Within: Remembering David Brower

He was interviewed at the …. Josh Margolin and Ted Sherman talked about one of the largest federal sting operations in U. But kids take what their parents do for granted. I just remember this episode where I was in the High Sierra with him, and a woman came to me on the way to the commissary in the mountains. Was it natural for you to take on the faith of environmentalism?

It was.


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He was a very persuasive guy. He was always evangelizing for this movement.

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No audience was too small for him, even the kids at the dinner table. All our dinner table conversations turned to this subject.

It was maddening in a way, but it was also exciting because it was a dinner table full of ideas and things that really were important. Everybody who came down the road, he drafted into the movement, including his own family. He was never ad hominem with the personalities of his enemies.

He confronted them on the issues.

In fact, he grew very fond of some of his old enemies, like Floyd Dominy of the Bureau of Reclamation. Who are the gods? He was very influenced by Howard Zahniser of the Wilderness Society , who was as much as anyone his mentor. He was very good at finding the voices that supported his basic notion.


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  • Thoreau was there. Muir was there, although he got tired of this Muir comparison. It was very common for the press to say he was the reincarnation of Muir, and he never expressed any enthusiasm for that. Your father had a Theory of Everything approach to environmentalism.

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    Can you explain what that means? It arose out of those dinner table conversations. Within five minutes he would pirate any subject and see how it applied to environmentalism and conservation. It should have been very annoying because it implied a sort of narrowing of him.

    Remembering David Brower

    But the subject as he saw it was huge because everything funneled through it in his view of things. Almost anything that happens has implications for the health of the earth.

    Wildness Within, The: Remembering David Brower

    So he became interested in nuclear and population and labor problems, immigration, and all kinds of things that in the '50s were not considered proper subjects for environmentalism. But he continually broadened the focus. He pointed out again and again how much is tied up with this problem of saving the earth.

    Do environmentalists still take that broad approach today? There are people who do have the big view. Not enough with the kind of charisma he had. The movement, largely, has been corrupted by its own success. So many organizations are now run by MBAs as opposed to grassroots, fire-in-the-belly environmentalists, with lots of corporate types on the board.

    It was more simple and pure in the '50s.

    A Voice for the Wilderness

    Your father believed in letting nature take its course. How important is that? There are various proposals on how to restore it. Nature has had much more practice managing itself since the beginning of time. This is one of the basic things we were taught as kids in those dinner table conversations.

    What does modern environmentalism owe to David Brower?