Magazine article Sierra

Farewell to the Archdruid

Magazine article Sierra

Farewell to the Archdruid

Article excerpt

Earth's best friend, David Brower, 1912-2000

By the time I met David Brower, in 1969, he was more indoors than out. He was only 12 years younger than the 20th century, and he had spent a large part of his life escaping interior scenes by getting himself up into the Sierra Nevada and away from confinements of both the natural and the figurative kind. He was shy, and that spurred him, too, to get away. He came to know the mountain country in such detail that it was said he would know exactly where he was if, magically, a hand were to set him down anywhere at all from Sequoia National Forest to the Feather River. He took up technical climbing and achieved the first ascents of 33 Sierra peaks. By his account, he would have liked to choose one and stay there.

When incursions in various forms threatened his Sierra, though, Brower had to come down and fight. He fought in theaters, halls, and chambers, and in a way that Homer would best understand. His voyages through the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute and other loci for defenders of his faith were punctuated with mutiny, fratricide, and triumph. He was feisty, heaven knew. And arrogant, possibly. And relentless, certainly. And above all, effective--for he began his mission when ecology connoted the root and shoot relationships of communal plants, and he, as much or more than anyone in the mid-century, expanded its reach and inherent power until it became the environmental movement. …

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