“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
Above is one of many quotes from the work of naturalist and environmental philosopher, John Muir; a man who is attributed to a new wave of ecological thinking and often described as the father of the national park movement in the US. This week, surrounding the anniversary of his birth, begins the celebrations of Muir’s work and his legacy through events and promotion of his ideologies all over the world.
John Muir Day Celebrations run from the 16th until the 24th of April with a large focus here in Muir’s home country of Scotland but also in the US where Muir would lived out his adult life and composed his works on nature. So what can you do for John Muir Week?
Learn about the work of John Muir
John Muir was a nature writer who was a strong believer in the protection and also appreciation of wilderness areas and experiencing the natural world. Much of his work focussed around his own experiences of nature and his observations of the environment but Muir is also famed for his role in the creation of the US National Park System.
Much of Muir’s work can now be found free to read online and a number of resources from original texts to reviews, documentaries and stop motion videos depicting his story can all be found on the Discover John Muir resource site.
One of John Muir’s most influential works, Our National Parks, can also be downloaded from Sierra Club site but for those looking for a quick preview of the ideas of John Muir why not try the graphic novel version from the Scottish Book Trust.
Join an event
In line with the John Muir Day Celebrations a calendar of events has been created covering much of central Scotland. The multi-partner venture hosts events from the Scottish Natural Heritage, Bugslife and the John Muir Trust as well as independent talks and workshops. Some of the highlights include guided walks around Duchess Wood Local Nature Reserve or Balloch Castle and Country Park; habitat creation workshops in Edinburgh Botanic Gardens and Beecraigs Country Park; and a whole line up of outdoor sporting activities as part of the John Muir Coast Festival in East Lothian.
If you happen to be in the US then you can also take advantage of National Park Week with free entry to site across the states between April 16th and 24th. As America’s biggest celebration of its national heritage the event centres on making connections with and exploring unique places, discovering open spaces and highlighting the work of the national parks.
Explore on your own time
If you can’t make it along to a scheduled event, there are still lots of ways to experience nature as part of the John Muir legacy. Why not explore the John Muir Way? Stretching between John Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar to Helensburgh, the route runs coast to coast covering 134 miles and taking around 7-10 days in total to complete on foot. The path can accommodate walkers, cyclist and even those on horseback with many stopping points and sections so you can split up the journey over time.
You can also work towards a John Muir Award, an environmental award scheme focused on helping people connect with nature and appreciate both urban greenspace and wild places. Working as part of a group, alongside a conservation organisation or just as an individual or family you can aim for different levels and achieve your goal simply by visiting natural places, spending time there and sharing your experience with others.
If you’re inspired by the work of John Muir and the continued messages of his work you can become a member of the John Muir Trust who protect wild land and rewild habitats of Scotland and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with wild places throughout the world. During the John Muir Day Celebrations between the 16th and 24th of April you can receive membership for half price.
Whatever you choose to do for John Muir Day let the world know how you’re celebrating using #JohnMuirDay on social media.
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