The January (#23) issue of the FoJMB Newsletter is now available online. Please see the Current Newsletter page for full details.
Friends’ ‘Boyhood and Youth’ Centenary Plans for 2013
When the Muirs settled in Wisconsin in 1849, Daniel Muir chose 80 acres of wild land adjoining a lake in Marquette County. The area is still rural and the lake and 120 acres of land is now the John Muir Memorial Park. The nearest town is Montello, the county seat. The Muirs then moved to a new area, Hickory Hill, nearer Portage, which is the county seat of neighbouring Columbia County. Here is a comparison:
County East Lothian Marquette Columbia
Area (sq mi) 262 464 774
Population (est.) 97,500 16,000 55,000
Density (/sq mi) 388 35 67
Town Dunbar Montello Portage
Population (est.) 9,000 1,600 11,000
With the centenary of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ coming along in 2013, an exchange of e-mails between Friends and the president of the Wisconsin Friends of John Muir (WFoJM), Tiffany Lodholz, began at the beginning of November. Not surprisingly, the Wisconsin FoJM (www.johnmuir.org/wisconsin/) were also intending to mark the occasion and readily agreed to an exchange of ideas. As well as exhibitions, here are some of the others that were shared:
- linking classes and schools in East Lothian, particularly the Dunbar cluster, and Marquette/Columbia Counties with strong connections with John Muir;
- creating a Victorian classroom in Dunbar Town House and enlisting volunteers to act as teachers (MCHS already has a restored one-room school house that could be used for similar programming.);
- holding a Muir-inspired writing and/or art contest in local schools;
- encouraging readings of ‘A Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ and arranging a readers night;
- creating a shared digital anthology or box about John Muir in Dunbar and Wisconsin;
- encouraging relationships between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Queen Margaret and/or Heriot Watt Universities (or appropriate departments). (Others? – Edinburgh University has a John Muir Building);
- enabling contacts between Dunbar & District History Society (DDHS) and Marquette County Historical Society (MCHS) (there are already links);
- setting up a formal link between Dunbar and Montello at community council level (leading possibly to one between Dunbar and Portage at twinning level).
Other possibilities for Dunbar could be:
- a short series (say, four) of information sessions on John Muir for parents, carers, grandparents, friends, etc, for all the cluster schools, at times which suit (each talk would stand alone e.g. John Muir’s family and growing up in Dunbar (could include his return in 1893); main milestones and influences in Muir’s life; Muir’s literary & other achievements; Muir’s legacy in the US and worldwide – what he has left for Dunbar and Scotland; bubbles to burst – some common misconceptions.);
- how to find out about John Muir for school projects – an information session and or a source sheet of what is where;
- a book of walks in the Dunbar and East Linton area, to commemorate Muir’s life, and perhaps, associated with the book, an annual photographic, art and writing competition;
- a young person’s book of John Muir’s adventures – any writers or illustrators of young folks’ books out there?
- an annual display of young folk’s projects, art work, etc, from John Muir in the primary and secondary curriculum.
- as a family, or adults only, complete a John Muir Award. For more information go to www.jmt.org/jmaward-home.asp
The list is limited only by our imagination (or lack of it!). There have already been positive responses from staff at Heriot-Watt University, Dunbar Grammar School and Dunbar Primary School. Have you any other suggestions? Would you like to help with any of the above? Contact Friends at John Muir’s Birthplace, 126 High St, Dunbar EH42 1JJ, 01368 865899, or e-mail info (at) muirbirthplacefriends.org.uk
 The John Muir Building at Heriot-Watt University houses the School of Life Sciences, which includes the departments of Biology, Marine Science & Environmental Management, and also H-W’s famed International Centre for Brewing & Distilling!
|October 24, 2012|
|7:00 pm||to||8:30 pm|
Dunbar and John Muir – A Conversation
Wednesday 24th October 2012 at 7.00pm
Bleachingfield Community Centre, Dunbar
This event has been inspired by the Conversations that have been held over the past couple of years in Dunbar Library. The idea for these Conversations came from Friends member Steve Tossell and they have been instrumental in engaging the public with various topics of interest to the Dunbar community – and beyond.
The intention of the Dunbar and John Muir ‘conversation’ is to encourage a discussion about John Muir’s connection to Dunbar and to generate ideas that Friends, and others, can incorporate into future plans that support, and promote, Muir’s legacy.
Members of Friends are encouraged to participate, and to invite others to come along as this is a public event open to non-members and the more the merrier. It will be an opportunity for everyone to have their say on the future of Friends and to contribute to the aims and objectives of the charity.
The Conversation will be chaired by Kilvert Croft and contributions will be made by Robert Russel (Friends), Heather Hackett (Dunbar Primary School), Richard Woof (or A N Other, Dunbar Grammar School), Pauline Smeed (John Muir Birthplace) plus, of course, audience participation.
|October 10, 2012|
|7:30 pm||to||9:00 pm|
Wednesday 10th October 2012
7.30pm – 9.00pm
Dunbar Town House, High Street, Dunbar
John Muir in the New World first aired nationally in the USA on Monday, April 18, 2011 in honour of Earth Day (4/22) and John Muir Day (4/21). Explaining his impact then and now, this 90-minute documentary delves into Muir’s life and influences with re-enactments filmed in high definition throughout the majestic landscapes he visited: Wisconsin, Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, the Alhambra Valley of California, and the glaciers of Alaska. Placing our nation’s most important natural assets in a cultural and social context, John Muir in the New World is a timely reminder of America’s unique and, ultimately, threatened eco-systems.
The publicity blurb which preceded its first showing on American TV in April 2011 said, “A lover and champion of the American wilderness, Muir believed that it was our responsibility as citizens to protect our natural surroundings… [The film] … illustrates how Muir developed his ideas about nature and became a respected scientist, writer and ‘publicist for nature’ during a critical period in U.S. history.”
Please note: due to the limitations on the sized of the audience that can be accommodated in Dunbar Town House please contact the Birthplace – by phone [01368 865899] or e-mail [info (at) jmbt.org.uk] or in person – to check the availability of places.
|October 10, 2012|
|6:45 pm||to||7:30 pm|
Wednesday 10th October 2012 at 6.45pm for 7.00pm
Dunbar Town House, High Street, Dunbar
(i) Report on year’s activities
(ii) Filling any vacancies on Council*
(iii) Other competent business*
Non-members will be warmly welcomed
* Please note that nominations for Council accompanied with the nominee’s agreement in writing and items for consideration under other competent business should be lodged with the Secretary, c/o 126 High Street, Dunbar, EH42 1JJ by Monday 8th October 2012
Following the AGM at 7:30pm there will be the Dunbar premiere showing of the American PBS film
John Muir in the New World
See this event post for more details.
Harold Wood, renowned webmaster for the Sierra Club’s John Muir Exhibit, is a long standing life member of Friends. Among his many roles Harold is also chair of the Sierra Club’s Education Committee and an expert on all things regarding John Muir. Accompanied by his wife Janet, a professor of geology and earth science at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California, and a NASA Solar Systems Ambassador, Harold took time out from a recent tour of the UK to visit Muir’s birthplace.
A two night stopover in Edinburgh proved too tempting and on Thursday 6 September Harold and Janet took a morning train to Dunbar station where they were met by Will Collin. From there they sauntered on to the High Street, stopping off at Kirk Close, the site of the Erskine Memorial attended by Daniel Muir and his family, and the St George Hotel which Muir booked into at the start of his 1893 return visit to Dunbar. Then it was on to the Birthplace where they were met by Jim Thompson and Jo Moulin.
Harold had seen the building before it was acquired by the Birthplace Trust. On that visit there was a top floor reconstruction of what the Muir home might have looked like back in the 1840s. But Harold wasn’t ready for the new interior. Fair to say both Janet and he were hugely impressed by what they found. They spent over two hours exploring every nook and cranny, finding Muir quotations in places they didn’t expect and being impressed by the amount of information to discover in so small a space.
Eventually Will had to pull them away to a lunch arranged at The Rocks where they were joined by a few Friends including honorary member Winifred Sillito and community council chairman Stephen Bunyan.
The afternoon programme was a walk round part of ‘John Muir’s Dunbar’ and a visit to the revamped Town House, led by Jim and Will. Fortunately the weather was fairly kind, no rain but blustery, typically Dunbar. Then a walk back to the station for the 5 pm train back to Edinburgh brought the visit to a close. Harold and Janet have promised to write up an account of their visit and we await it with interest
The 50 State Quarters were released by the United States Mint every ten weeks, or five each year. They were released in the same order that the states ratified the Constitution, starting with Delaware 1787 and ending with Hawaii 1950. Each quarter’s reverse commemorated the State with a design emblematic of its unique history, traditions and symbols. Some of you may remember the California one which featured John Muir released in 2003. Dunbar Rotary purchased one for each child in the Dunbar catchment area and Friends obtained some which were attractively packaged and sold for the bebefit of the Birthplace. Friends have now received a presentation box of all 50 coins given to us by Mr and Mrs Morton from Haddington
|August 11, 2012|
|2:00 pm||to||4:00 pm|
Hooray! It’s that time again. Get out your buckets and spades and put your thinking caps on! Our popular Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace Sand Sculpture Competition will take place this year on Saturday 11th August from 2pm – 4pm at the East Beach, Dunbar. Come along and make a sea creature … a mermaid … a boat … historic landmark etc. Let your imagination run wild!
‘Community’ judging and award of prizes will take place at 4pm. There will be adult, child and family/group categories and prizes will be awarded for the best sculpture in each category. Entry will be £2 per adult, £1 per child and £5 per family. This year will also see the introduction of a new category in memory of Susan Panton as she was the driving force behind all previous sand sculpture competitions and a special award to honour her dedication to Friends seems most fitting.
We trust that summer will truly have arrived by August, but if the weather is poor on the day, please phone John Muir’s Birthplace – 01368 865899 – after 10am to find out if the event has been postponed.
Friends are also pleased to acknowledge the offer of help from the Dunbar Shore & Harbour Neighbourhood Group to prepare the East Beach for the sandcastle competition.