In a society where technology is advancing and becoming progressively more reliable, it has become increasingly important to remember the impact that nature still has on lives. No one knew the importance of nature more than John the Mountains himself, John Muir.
Muir was a Scottish-born American who came to be known as “The Father of our national parks,” and “citizen of the universe” through his dedicated pursuit of the protection and admiration of wildlife all around the world. Muir’s work was most prominent in California.
Becoming the most renowned conservationist in American history happened naturally to Muir through his work. Included among his work, he founded the now famous conservation club, the Sierra Club, and persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt to put in place a system of national parks and monuments. Muir set in action a system that would last until the present day.
Muir died in 1914, at the age of 76. Since his death, there have been numerous schools and colleges named after Muir, along with wildlife monuments and trails dedicated to his memory and efforts.
Through all of Muir’s accomplishments, though, one stands in the memory most – his 1,000 mile walk from Louisville, Ky., to the Gulf of Mexico. That is where Richard E. Shore, history interpreter, comes into play.
Shore has been doing a living history interpretation of Muir since 1987. Performing in front of more than 31,000 audience members up till now, Shore has become known as Muir’s alter ego.
“I’m very humbled to be considered by so many to be Muir’s alter ego,” Shore said. “Muir was such a complex man. I’m honored that people can grab that sense of him through my interpretation.”
Shore presented his show “John Muir’s 1,000 Mile Walk and Other Adventures” to students in the Quad on Tuesday from 4 to 5 p.m. Shore brought in a moderate crowd of around 20 for the event, keeping them entertained through information and entertainment, alike.
Through his interpretation sets, Shore looked to inform the audience about the man responsible for the national parks and whatever understanding of nature people already have.
Shore begun his show as himself, educating the audience about what Muir was like. As his show goes on he begins to change in Muir, putting on the clothes Muir would’ve worn, and even talking in Muir’s Scottish Accent, giving the audience as authentic an experience they can have without talking to Muir himself.
One thing that differentiated Shore’s show from others is that he acted as though Muir was still alive today. This brought another aspect to his show, letting modern day events be relevant in the discussion about the environment.
Shore informed audience members of just how important nature really is to everyone: how it provides out the oxygen people breathe, how it makes the water everyone drinks, and how without it, humanity wouldn’t exist.
“In 1978 I was teaching an environmental biology class,” Shore said. “The text was predicting the trials that would be coming to the environment. One of my students then suggested something that made me realize that the methods I was teaching them weren’t working. It was time for me to come up with a way to really reach people. That’s when I found Muir’s story, and I knew I had found the way.”
Any additional information about Muir or Shore can be found on the Sierra’s club website, www.sierraclub.org.