The Archdruid Is Dead. Long Live the Archdruid!

Feb 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

"There were two giants in the conservation movement in the last 50 years: Rachel Carson and David Brower. Brower was daring, versatile, and never pulled his punches. He was an editor, a writer, a lecturer, but most of all a missionary and a preacher, out there getting the people stirred up. He had the power to get things done."
Stewart Udall, 81, Secretary of the Interior, 1961–1969

"Among environmentalists, David Brower had the sharpest teeth. He was the most vigorous fighter. He jump-started things, got the momentum going in the 1960s. The environmental movement has since bloomed and spread out, but in those days he was showing the way."
John McPhee, 69, writer and author of Encounters with the Archdruid (1971), a book-length profile of David Brower

"We'll never know what personal price David paid to walk point for us on so many environmental issues. Even as we mourn the loss, we remain profoundly grateful for the example. He was a warrior and a teacher."
Barry Lopez, 56, author of Arctic Dreams and Light Action in the Caribbean

"The problems we're having today—the whole shooting match—it's underscored by a loss of a usable tradition of human behavior, a practical wisdom that lives among traditional people, especially passed along by shaman and tribal elders. More than anything else, that's what David Brower was to me: He was one of the last few living elders I had, people like Aldo Leopold, Ed Abbey—people who are mostly gone now. He was one of the few people still on earth who could call me on my bullshit."
Doug Peacock, 58, conservationist and author of Grizzly Years

"David Brower is the outstanding wilderness advocate of the 20th century. I was at a meeting once with David, talking about the Grand Canyon, and it was running late. I said, 'David, I've got to catch an airplane.' He looked at me and said, 'There will always be another airplane, but there won't be another Grand Canyon.' That was typical of his stance. He said, in effect, we are dealing with remnants of wilderness, and we ought to stand tall, put our spears in the sand, and protect them. It's also important to remember that David was one of the premier mountaineers of our time."
Roderick Nash, 62, author of Wilderness and the American Mind

"David Brower is, forever, a planetary hero. His legacy lives on in the wild and natural places of this earth that he fought so hard to protect, and in those still unprotected places that need all people to stand up as heroes for them today. His love for young people, and the inspiration he gave us to live a life committed to a healthy, respectful, and loving world, will be passed on."
Julia "Butterfly" Hill, 27, tree-sitting activist and founder of the Circle of Life Foundation

"All my life as a steelworker I've been a human-rights activist. The labor movement is about human rights and about dignity for human beings. What David Brower did for me is open up my eyes to the other side of the coin—the need for the same kind of justice and dignity for the environment. One of the things we talked about was the fact that if we don't have justice and dignity for ourselves, we probably can't expect that we're going to have it for the earth, too. The man just had incredible common sense."
Don Kegley, 47, co-founder with Brower of the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment

"In the eighties and nineties, we did a lot of speeches together. Afterwards, we closed down bars together, and he always drank me under the table. So my memory of Dave Brower is largely him being totally sober while I was drunker than a skunk. When I heard that Dave had died, my wife and I went out and toasted him with some Tanqueray martinis—which I suggest is a very appropriate thing to do."
Dave Foreman, 54, co-founder of Earth First! and head of the Wildlands Project   

Compiled by Bruce Barcott and Christian DeBenedetti

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