#64 Around the Campfire; Closing Keynote Talk at the 50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act Conference
Editor’s note: Given without notes or outline, this Campfire is Dave’s closing plenary talk (October 19, 2014) from the conference to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act in Albuquerque. Thanks to Vicky Hoover for helping clean up the transcript. The copy here is nearly verbatim.
Well, thank you for being here on a Sunday morning. I generally don’t do Sunday mornings, but I am very glad to be here this Sunday morning.
This conference has been thoroughly wonderful for me seeing so many old friends. And, in some ways, probably this is meant, me being the closing speaker, as recognition of rehabilitation for Dave Foreman, the bad boy of the Wilderness Movement, but I have to disappoint you all. I’m not rehabilitated, and never will be.
I thought the greatest pleasure of this would be seeing all of my old friends from the last 45 years, but actually my greatest pleasure has been meeting young people, like Christina, Monica, and others. To know that there are those coming behind you who share the same values, the same passion, the same commitment to action, is a truly wonderful thing.
The most terrible thought I could possibly have upon dying would be to think that there was nobody coming after me to carry on my work and that of my peers. I can die happy because I know that there are a lot of people coming to carry on wilderness conservation. As you will hear in a few minutes, as clumsy as I am and as adventurous as I am, that’s always just around the corner.
Thank you, all you folks, who are in your 30s and 20s and younger, who are here, and those like you who are carrying on—because you are the hope of the future. You truly are the greatest generation and you have the greatest responsibility of any generation that has ever lived since we came out of Africa 50,000 years ago and spread around the world.
Your job is nothing less than to save Earth from all the damage all the previous generations of Homo sapiens have done. And don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of help from the past. All you have to do is look back at the great champions of life on Earth, the great champions of humility, and know that you’re following in those footsteps. You just need to have bigger shoes than we had and do more and really save it.
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Dave Foreman is the founder of The Rewilding Institute, co-founder of The Wildlands Project and Earth First!, and author of several acclaimed books on wildlands conservation. Books: Rewilding North America | Man Swarm: How Overpopulation Is Killing The WIld World | Take Back Conservation …among several other Rewilding books you can find here.