An environmental activist, educator, and intrepid traveler recounts his efforts to protect the wilderness.
In May 1970, Henley (As If the Earth Matters: Recommitting to Environmental Education, 2007, etc.), soon to be a senior at Michigan State University, took off for a summer of backpacking in Mt. McKinley National Park. Suddenly, he received word from his parents that he was wanted by the FBI for failure to respond to a draft notice. An objector to the Vietnam War, Henley became a fugitive—and his life of adventure began. For much of the early 1970s, the author traveled around Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, taking odd jobs and living among the hippies, conscientious objectors, and assorted eccentric characters with whom he shared “a throbbing sense of community spirit” and copious amounts of cannabis. Ending up in Haida Gwaii in Queen Charlotte Sound, he felt a powerful, visceral connection to the land. When he discovered that the South Moresby Wilderness Area was threatened by the logging industry, he mounted a vigorous environmental campaign. “Its creation,” he writes, “marked the first registered environmental group in Islands’ history.” At the same time, Henley saw the need to educate Haida children about nature: the area had a high juvenile crime rate as well as considerable antipathy between First Nation and nonindigenous boys and girls. With the support of the community, he established the Rediscovery program and camps that grew to become recognized “as a global model for reconciliation.” The Haida adopted him, giving him the clan name Raven Walks Around the World, but Henley’s rigorous, often perilous adventures hardly stopped in that community. Consumed by wanderlust, he traveled to 130 countries on every continent, including Antarctica, by air, land, and sea. Lecturing on a superluxurious private ship, he reflected on his peripatetic life: “From hitchhiking barefoot and penniless in Central America to cruising aboard the largest and most exclusive passenger vessel that continually circumnavigates the globe, I’d pretty much seen it all.”
A celebration of nature and passionate call for stewardship of the planet.