White privilege in the national parks: remaking parks as inclusive spaces

White privilege in the national parks: remaking parks as inclusive spaces

Can we move away from the master narratives of white privilege in our parks? Can we begin thinking of our park system as places of reconciliation? Can they become spaces for listening to what the myriad voices—human, natural, spiritual—have to teach us? Can we move from narratives of conquest to queries of connectiveness?

Labor that Built the Parks

Labor that Built the Parks

When Depression settled over the once-robust American economy in the 1930s, young men found work building American park infrastructure and engaging in a variety of conservation projects undertaken by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The program developed from an idea that had been around for a while, and it became one of the first relief programs instituted shortly after Franklin…

The First National Park? Maybe Not What You Thought

The First National Park? Maybe Not What You Thought

Journalists and many historians like to say that Yellowstone reigns as America’s, indeed the world’s, first national park. Yellowstone’s standing as originator of national parks, though, comes with some contingency. At least two parks came before Yellowstone, an easily ignored fact that sometimes shows up as a footnote in the accounts of more astute historians. Yosemite National Park, more widely…

100 Years of the National Park Service

100 Years of the National Park Service

Happy centennial day for the National Park Service! On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson took up his pen and made official the National Park Service Organic Act. To be clear, Wilson’s autograph did not originate our national parks system. That distinction goes to the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872, or to federal protection of Yosemite in 1864, or to…

Celebrating a Government Agency

Celebrating a Government Agency

America celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service this year with some high-profile publicity for the nation’s parks. First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush are serving as honorary co-chairs of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration, highlighted by Find Your Park, a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary, specifically targeting millennials;…

San Antonio Missions Added to the World Heritage List

San Antonio Missions Added to the World Heritage List

Today’s announcement from the World Heritage Committee approving the addition of five cultural sites on their World Heritage List, including the San Antonio Missions in Texas, has me wondering about the process of gaining World Heritage status. Certainly, the Spanish colonial missions in San Antonio are as deserving as any site of cultural significance, but so are the Newark Earthworks…