Introduction of 2006 John Muir Conservation Award Winner
Dr. Bonnie J. Gisel
Truly a Kindred and Related Spirit to John Muir
“I am really interested in changing the way we live in the world – but
it all starts here.”
- Bonnie Gisel.
“Bonnie, as 'Doctor Nature' comes to the John Muir Mountain Day Camps and weaves her own web of life’s enthusiasm around and among the campers in a way that has a lasting effect.” - Jill Harke – co-director of the Camp
Dr. Gisel organized the 2001 John Muir: Family and Friends and Adventures Conference at the University of the Pacific. In this conference, participants actually got out and walked in some of Muir’s tracks, as well as attending seminars and discussions.
Dr. Gisel has written a book about John Muir and Jean Carr’s long friendship: Kindred and Related Spirits. It shows how both of them grew and developed and deepened their love of the wonder of the world.
Recently, with photography Stephen Joseph, she researched, designed, and installed a special exhibit at he John Muir House at the Historic Site featuring Muir's botanical specimens that he collected on his many rambles.
“Bonnie creates information, analysis and solutions for pressing environmental issues and exists quite simply always in nature.” - Garrett Burke, creator of the Muir California Quarter and 2004 recipient of the John Muir Conservation Award.
"For the last five years, Dr Gisel has been the
Curator of the Sierra Club Le Conte Memorial Lodge. She has energized
the 100-year-old building into “a vibrant place that engages
Yosemite visitors in ways that no other facility in the National Park
does, in a way that John Muir would most definitely approve.”
– Harold W. Wood, Jr. – Chair of the Sierra Club’s John Muir Education Committee and 1996 recipient of this award.
“I want to instill in others a wonder of the world and an appreciation of the world so it becomes part of our daily breathing”- Bonnie Gisel
Bonnie Gisel has gone about finding ways to do just that. She has developed the following formula:
- 1 + 1 + 52:
- 1 hour
- 1 day of the week
- 52 weeks of the year
- Do something:
- Tell a story
- Take a walk
- Connect with the natural world
Another project she uses to engage visitors is the Green Shoes Project:
Green Shoes Project
- Trace your footprint on green paper
- Cut it out
- Paste it to a hiking boot sculpture
- Each step taken becomes a reminder to care for the natural world and be a steward of the wilderness.
Bonnie Gisel can sure “talk the talk”
She also “walks the walk”
She lives very simply:
She lives in a tent for five months of the year as curator for LeConte Memorial Lodge.
Her volunteers share the campsite. This promotes a connection with nature and with each other.
She did not set out to “walk in Muir’s footsteps”. She is her own person, not a Muir wannabe. And yet, in her own way, on her own terms, in her words, in her philosophy, her life has a resonance and an convergence with John Muir.
John Muir believed that Nature is God made visible.
“Climb the mountains, and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
Bonnie Gisel said:
“Let us then – upon the convictions, the faith of our ancestors – those who came before us to this mountain temple – let us pledge to move and keep moving toward a more sustainable world, to strengthen our relation with Nature, and slow down enough to really enjoy it, explore and protect it.”
“May we find strength in each other and in and through nature. May we share our stories, our love, and teach the good lessons we find here.”
To which John Muir would have surely said:
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor and privilege to present to you the recipient of the 2006 John Muir Conservation Award:
Doctor Bonnie Johanna Gisel!
- Read Bonnie Gisel's acceptance speech, Nature's Universal Abounding Glory
John Muir Association (JMA)
P.O. Box 2433
Martinez, CA 9455
Phone: (925) 229-3857