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A California City That’s Taking Beauty Seriously

Vallejo is working on conserving open space and beautifying the city as part of a national campaign to unite Americans

Bob Sampayan believes in the transformational power of beauty.  Now in his sixties, Sampayan is the mayor of Vallejo, California, a primarily working-class city at the north end of San Francisco Bay that once built ships for the American Navy and for…
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by: John de Graaf – July 18, 2018

An Immodest Proposal: Make America Beautiful Again

David Brower once proposed a large-scale focus on the restoration of America’s damaged ecology. The time for that effort is now.

No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty! — John of the…
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by: John de Graaf – December 6, 2016

Finding Time for Our Parks

Americans are visiting more parks but spending less time in them. What does this mean for the future of our wild spaces?

photo George Wuerthner When I was at Yosemite’s spectacular Tunnel View a few years ago, I watched in disbelief as visitors poured out of vehicles and rushed to snap photos, bringing cameras or smart phones to their eyes before they’d even looked at the scene. Their first view of El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls was mediated through a lens. And those were the visitors who had time to stop. Many others simply…
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by: John de Graaf – Summer 2016

A Legacy of Fighting for Justice

Lawyer behind youth climate change lawsuit comes from a family that’s championed social and environmental causes for generations

On the morning of March 9 2016, 21 young plaintiffs, aged 8 to 19, crowded into a courtroom in Eugene, Oregon, to sue the United States government for failing to protect their environment by allowing continued fossil fuel development that was leading…
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by: John de Graaf – May 30, 2016

In Celebration of John Muir

The American legend’s legacy is especially relevant to today’s environmental movement

Born in Scotland, raised in Wisconsin, John Muir is considered the father of our National Parks system, called by many "America's greatest idea" and later adopted around the world. He was a founder and guiding spirit of the Sierra Club, one of…
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by: John de Graaf – December 23, 2014

The Greatest Modern Presidential Speech Turns 50

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson chose not to believe Americans were condemned to "soulless wealth" and elucidated a new version of American exceptionalism, "The Great Society," valuing quality of life above quantity of stuff. President Lyndon Johnson could have been a…
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by: John de Graaf – May 22, 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

A New Measure of Societal Progress Can Help Save the Planet – and Us

“Open Happiness.” That tagline – the centerpiece of Coca-Cola’s 2009 advertising campaign – sounds like the perfect encapsulation of our culture’s definition of bliss. The idea of happiness on offer (or on sale) couldn’t be simpler: Consumption equals contentment. Pop open a soda and all will be well. If only it were that easy. It’s not, of course. Since antiquity, humans have struggled to define the good life. What makes us happy?…
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by: John de Graaf – Autumn 2011

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