Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

David Brower: Reflections on the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute

Interviewee(s):
Brower, David
Interviewer(s):
Large, Anne
Title:
David Brower: Reflections on the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute
Abstract:
This oral history with environmentalist David Brower was recorded in 1999 as the Bancroft Library embarked on a project to organize and catalogue the extensive David Brower papers.1 It supplements an earlier biographical oral history conducted as part of the Sierra Club Oral History Project in 1980. By the time of this second oral history, Brower had written his autobiography, in two volumes,2 and an autobiographical tract, Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run.3 And as a frequent public speaker on environmental matters, he had honed his thoughts on his most pressing concerns and favorite topics. My challenge as oral history interviewer, then, was to get new information and new insights on David Brower’s life and work, as he reflected on his career at age eighty-six. I chose to organize our conversations by focusing on his relationships with the two environmental organizations that he founded, Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute, and on his return to Sierra Club leadership in the 1980s and 1990s. It was, however, a challenge to keep him to our scheduled topics, as we both acknowledge in the recorded sessions. Brower was often very presentoriented, focused on his current concerns and projects. At the same time, discussions of events over the past thirty years would remind him of friendships from the more distant past, sometimes difficult relationships and conflicts, and more recent reconciliations. Our long association as fellow members of the Sierra Club History Committee perhaps encouraged these reflections. While he lamented aspects of the Sierra Club’s direction over the past twenty years, his deep attachment to the club of his youth and his friendships from those years, as well as to his vision of the club’s potential, was always evident. (He resigned from the club board of directors in May 2000, saying the club was fiddling while the Earth went up in flames.)
Subject area(s):
Natural Resources, Land Use, and the Environment
Advocacy and Philanthropy
Interview date(s):
1999
Project:
Sierra Club
Oskicat record:
b21345813
Rights:
Brower, David. "Davird Brower: Reflections on the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute." Interview by Anne Large in 1999. Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2012.