Written By Wildlands Network
Earlier this week, visionary conservationist and Wildlands Network cofounder Dave Foreman passed away. The author of numerous books including Confessions of an Eco-Warrior and Rewilding North America, Foreman’s ideologies were—and continue to be—the very core of our mission. His vision for continental-scale rewilding inspires us and many other wilderness and biodiversity protection and restoration efforts around the world.
Dave had a profound influence on the lives and careers of our staff, board and others from the Wildlands Network community. We’re gathering an ongoing compilation of stories and memories of Dave, below. If you would like to contribute, please reach out to email@example.com.
“I am saddened to learn of Dave Foreman’s passing, even though I met him only once or twice. His writings in Wild Earth were a ray of light for me during my early career many years ago. I was inspired then (and still am) by his understanding that there are wild beings with whom we share our planet, who would be just as happy to never learn of our civilizations and cultures, and that they have an inherent right to go about their business without us modifying their landscape, altering the sky above them, soiling the water they drink and filling them with microplastics and other horrible byproducts of our ignorance and arrogance. I know he was devoted to such wildeors as he called them, embracing an ancient word that fitted them better than any newer term. That devotion attracted me to Wildlands Network many years ago. May his proverbial campfire shed light on many future generations so that we may learn one day to respect all beings as they deserve. Compost in peace, Dave.”
— Juan Carlos Bravo, Conservation Programs Director, Wildlands Network
“Dave was an unapologetic warrior for nature. His influence and impact cannot be overstated, particularly in the formative years of the Wildlands Project. RIP Dave.”
— Wendy Francis, Board President, Wildlands Network
“Dave’s presence and vision set a high bar for my expectations of conservationists at the start of my career. He was the first eco-warrior I’d met in person, in the early 1990s, through my work with a philanthropy. His embodiment of his beliefs—to protect those without voices, and the right of all beings to exist—resonated with my worldview, and has deeply influenced me personally and professionally. Little did I know during those memorable times with him in early planning meetings for the Eastern Wildway that I would find myself working with Wildlands again in this chapter of my career. With his passing, I will act on his primary exhortation to me: That in order to protect the wild, we must spend time in the wilderness with our coinhabitants. Rest in peace, Dave, and thank you. See you in the wild.”
— Christine Laporte, Eastern Program Director, Wildlands Network
“Dave touched so many people, and I was certainly one of them. I can honestly say that I would not have had the same career in conservation without Dave. I met him first on in the pages of The Big Outside and could not have been more thrilled to finally meet him in person as a fellow Sierra Club board member. We shared red wine, a trip down the Colorado River, and late nights talks after long board meetings. He always inspired me to think big, and I was honored when he invited me to join the board of what was then the Wildlands Project. His vision will continue to inspire me, as will the thrilling memory of his wolf howls that called us to action. RIP Dave.”
— Susan Holmes, U.S. Federal Policy Director, Wildlands Network
““Dave was a character, indeed, but a vitally important one who pushed the environmental movement forward in many respects and to places it didn’t always want to go, but needed to.””
— David Miller, President, Island Press
“I first heard of Dave Foreman when he came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where I was a young graduate student). He gave a fiery speech about the Wildlands Project and his vision for robust North American conservation. That speech ended with Dave giving his best wolf howl, and the entire auditorium filled with hundreds of people joined in; it was a beautiful chorus. That talk must have planted a wild seed inside my head, as it wasn’t long before I was reading Wild Earth magazine in the university library and thinking ambitiously about restoring wolves and other wildlife to the USA.
“Roughly a decade later I had the chance to come work for Wildlands Network, and I’ve been chasing Dave’s dream ever since. I did get to meet him in person a couple of times during my time at Wildlands Network. He was such a cool guy with so many experiences to share from his adventures and from his advocacy. I always assumed I’d eventually get the chance to join him on a river trip somewhere wild and remote, to haggle over the campfire over how to protect the cores and corridors that needed to be protected. While I seem to have missed the last boat on that opportunity, I know I’ll carry on trying to implement Dave’s vision of a wild and free North America. I’ll also lift my voice to join the chorus of wolf howls that must be haunting the night air across the world right now, as people realize what a leader we’ve just lost.”
— Dr. Ron Sutherland, Chief Scientist, Wildlands Network
“I encountered Dave shortly after arriving, in 2001, at what was then the Wildlands Project. Anyone who met Dave knows he was a force of nature—in more than one sense. I will readily admit that his passionate, uncompromising advocacy for the natural world in its most fundamental and primeval forms was, shall we say, uncomfortable at times, particularly in the context of conservation then happening in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada. Yet his vision—of healing a world of wounds, of valuing wild nature in its own right—stuck with me and, as it turns out, is a lodestar for millions across the world.
“I’m not sure if Dave coined the term rewilding, but he certainly had a hand in popularizing it. An idea that seemed obscure those many years ago is now used freely and frequently in places as far-flung as the UK, Australia, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. A few days ago, my mother-in-law sent me an article from The Guardian about rewilding a river in the Netherlands; just this month, the New York Times reported on efforts to restore cheetahs to India; in April, a glossy travel magazine featured the headline, ‘Scotland is Poised to Become the World’s First “Rewilding Nation.”’ This is Dave’s legacy. We have lots more to do, but I’ve got to hope that he’s smiling and happy with all he accomplished.”
— Conrad Reining, Wildlands Network Board and former staff member
“I first met Dave in the Zimbabwe Lowveld when he came to learn more about Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE natural resources management program. We guided him on a tour around the Bubiana Conservancy to showcase the conservancy’s black rhino conservation work. We spent the evenings consuming martinis, gripped by his passionate storytelling. Twenty years later, by a fortunate twist of serendipity, I would find myself working with Dave at the Wildlands Project. This time, we would gather in the giant redwoods of California to share stories, chase funding, and partake in many more martinis. People will largely remember Dave for his unbridled conservation prowess, but I will remember, and miss, his sense of humor, his love of martinis, and his mastery of storytelling. Rest in peace, Dave.”
— Tracey Butcher, Senior Major Gifts Officer, Wildlands Network
One of my favorite writers and poets … rŌbert
“A poem is never done,” the writer Sandra Cisneros told me in July, over dinner at La Posadita, a restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, the Mexican city where she’s lived for almost ten years. Wearing a black-and-white huipil and her hair in two small, high buns, Cisneros ordered platters of fideo seco and nopales for the table. We had met to talk about her new poetry collection, “Woman Without Shame,” just out from Knopf. Though it’s been twenty-eight years since she’s published a book of poems, she’s never stopped writing them. “I’d throw my poems under the bed, like Emily Dickinson,” she said.
The sixty-seven-year-old Cisneros is the author of short stories, personal essays, novels, and three previous poetry collections. But she is best known for “The House on Mango Street,” a semi-autobiographical novel in vignettes that conjures a hardscrabble childhood in nineteen-sixties Chicago. First published by Houston’s Arte Público Press in 1984, and reissued by Vintage in 1991, it has become a coming-of-age classic, one that’s read in classrooms across the country and has sold more than six million copies. As Ricardo Ortiz, an English professor at Georgetown, told me, it helped make Cisneros an “indispensable voice.”
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The only daughter of a Mexican upholsterer father and a Mexican American mother, Cisneros grew up with six brothers in Chicago’s West Side, a neighborhood so divided by racial and income inequality that, in 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr., moved into one of its slum tenements in protest. Throughout Cisneros’s childhood in the sixties and seventies, she and her family regularly went back to Mexico. Cisneros expressed her sense of dislocation by writing poems in her bedroom, whose door didn’t close, leading to continual interruptions.
Cisneros attended Loyola University Chicago, and, in 1976, she entered Iowa’s poetry program, where she studied under Donald Justiceand Louise Glück, learning alongside Joy Harjo and at the same time as Rita Dove, both future Poet Laureates. Iowa’s poetry and fiction programs were separate duchies, but Cisneros merged the disciplines by writing prose poems. “It was a new form, but Donald Justice thought it was a waste of time,” the writer and historian Paul Alexander, a former classmate, said. Back then, teachers admired confessional poets such as Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton. “We had no voice,” Harjo said, describing her and Cisneros’s feelings of being outsiders at Iowa. “Culturally, it was sideways. . . . We come from places that are land-centered, Indigenous. Our relationship to land and language is essentially different.” Cisneros has said that she felt “homeless” at Iowa, and, although she went on to teach, she never found a permanent place in the academy.
While Cisneros was at Iowa, she started writing what would become forty-five lyrical vignettes—a book she titled “The House on Mango Street.” Influenced by the experimental Latin American Boom novels, she wrote the book in the voice of Esperanza Cordero, who observes the poverty surrounding her Chicago family. “Dead cars appeared overnight like mushrooms,” one passage reads, describing a vacant lot where she and her friends play. Reading “The House on Mango Street” has become a rite of passage for many Latinxers. David Bowles, a Texas-based Chicano novelist, encountered it as a child and felt recognized. “My mother and my brothers and I had lived several years in Section 8 housing,” he said. “It made me feel seen.” The Latina writer and artist Carribean Fragoza studied it in fourth grade, during a summer writing camp, a moment when she remembers being “surrounded by white kids for the first time.” The book helped Cisneros win, among other prizes, the Lannan Literary Award, the American Book Award, and a MacArthur “genius” grant. The same year she won the MacArthur, Cisneros started teaching a class in San Antonio that developed into the Macondo Writers Workshop. Now in its third decade, Macondo offers workshops to a diverse student body on subjects ranging from young-adult literature to translingual poetics.
Cisneros’s home in San Miguel’s San Juan de Dios parish is named Casa Coatlicue, after the Indigenous goddess, and Latina archetypes such as Coatlicue and La Llorona echo throughout her work. Cisneros, along with writers such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Ana Castillo, and Cherríe Moraga, was an integral part of a late-twentieth-century Latinx movement that celebrated the subversiveness of Indigenous folktales. She was one of the first Latina authors to write books to mainstream publishing success that feature abused women, and today her influence can be seen in writers such as Natalie Diaz and Reyna Grande, whose complex poetry and memoirs limn violence in Native American and Latinx communities. “Discovering Sandra’s book [“The House on Mango Street”] was a revelation,” Grande said, in an e-mail. “She gave me permission, and her bendición, to embark on my own writing journey.”
Cisneros’s success, and her support of programs such as Macondo, have given her a totemic reputation. “It’s like Sandra’s existing in this heaven, this other space,” Fragoza told me. In conversation with Latinx writers, I heard numerous tales of Cisneros’s magnetism and outsized generosity. The Chicana novelist Helena María Viramontes said that when her husband was ill, Cisneros invited the couple to her house. Speaking with emotion in her voice, Viramontes recalled, “She read to us as a present. It almost chokes me up.”
Cisneros’s magnanimous gestures occasionally backfire, as when she blurbed Jeanine Cummins’s 2020 book, “American Dirt,” a thriller about an Acapulco woman whose family is murdered by a cartel kingpin. “This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas,” Cisneros wrote. After it came out, the book was widely criticized for its racial stereotypes. Backers such as the actors Gina Rodriguez and Salma Hayek and the poet Erika L. Sánchez walked back their praise of the novel. But Cisneros refused to retract her endorsement, inciting viral criticism, especially in the Latinx community. Fragoza said Cisneros’s blurb is a “betrayal” that “revealed some serious disconnections between Sandra and writers today, with Sandra existing as the untouchable queen of Chicana Latinx literature, and the rest of us are just bottom feeders, trying to get into publishing.”
I asked Cisneros about such responses, and she said that the reaction to “American Dirt” “was as bad as the extreme right that bans L.G.B.T.Q. books.” Perhaps candor and contention are to be expected from a writer who regularly takes up taboo subjects ranging from poverty and violence to female sexuality.
Cisneros’s fearlessness runs through “Woman Without Shame,” whose poems capture her solitude, erotic longings, and life in Mexico with rich language and sharp humor. I spoke to her in a series of interviews in San Miguel de Allende, and in subsequent phone and text conversations. The following has been condensed and edited.
Just got this email from a very much alive Eric Beck this morning (May 4th) with the answer to the question in this thread about the origin of his quip. So Veblen does play a part in its genesis:”Hi Bruce;
Very nice to hear from you. Here’s the story. It is raining and many of us are sitting around Yosemite Lodge. Roper is reading Thorstein Veblen, THEORY OF THE LEISURE CLASS. In my usual smart ass manner, I happen to remark that there is a leisure class at both ends of the social spectrum. That’s it, apparently this caught on with climbers.
We have been in Bishop for 8 years. We go to Tuolumne often in the summer. Some of our favorites remain your old routes, Great Circle and Crying Time.
Eric and Lori Beck”
Fiestas Patrias in Chile or Chilean Independence Day is held each year on 18 September to celebrate their independance from the Spanish Conquistadores.
Tim & son Vicente
Tim & Don Frank
Part of the crowd with Colin Mitchell
Video by Johnny Harris and Michelle Cottle
Mr. Harris is a video journalist. Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.
For the past two years, Americans have been overwhelmed by a deluge of headlines suggesting democracy in the United States is under threat: Voter suppression. A shortage of drop boxes. Election deniers seeking key state offices. It can be difficult to gauge what stories suggest a truly terrifying threat to democracy, and which are simply disheartening or even petty. The Opinion Video film above aims to unpack one of the most dire threats to democracy, which includes a sophisticated plot to control not only who can vote, but which votes get counted.
One thing is certain: The 2020 race was not stolen. But Mr. Trump and his Republican enablers have been working to rig future elections to their advantage. (Of course it’s the people shrieking most loudly about fraud that you really need to watch.) The former president has convinced his followers that the electoral system has been so corrupted that the only way to save America is for MAGA patriots to take over the system to ensure that the “right” candidates win going forward. His allies have been busy engineering such a legal takeover, and key pieces of the plan are already in place.
In this short film, we shine a light on those machinations, so that those who care about democracy can act to stop them.
For our Democracy to survive, we need to agree on a shared reality and for the losers — that is those who lose in honest and fair elections — to accept defeat.
By Robert K. Elder
In an untitled, three-page short story, Ernest Hemingway casts F. Scott Fitzgerald as a scrappy boxer who leaves the ring battered and disfigured but ultimately victorious.
He sketches out a novel he’ll never write, “A New Slain Knight,” calling it a “picaresque novel for America” that will follow his protagonist through a prison escape, a bank robbery and noirish double-crosses.
Wearing his American Red Cross uniform and smiling at the camera, an 18-year-old Hemingway huddles in a trench with Italian soldiers during World War I, just days before he was wounded by a mortar shell and machine-gun fire, an experience that inspired him to write “A Farewell to Arms.”
And in a notebook entry from 1926, there is a three-page meditation on death and suicide — 35 years before he took his own life.