John Muir (1838-1914) is the focus of a documentary that will be shown at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, June 26) at the Alameda Free Library, 1550 Oak Street. The film is “a first” for Alameda resident Anthony Garvin, who works as an environmental lawyer and has admired Muir’s life and work as a nature enthusiast, park pioneer and Sierra Club founder for many years.
Garvin says he was glad to make the effort. “I’ve been an environmental lawyer for 40 years and a bit of a one-trick pony throughout my life,” he explained. A Seattle native, he grew up hiking, mountain climbing, skiing and “always being interested in the environment. This led him to begin reading Muir’s books, of course.
“I started [the film project] about one and a-half years ago as part of a film class I was taking through Cal Extension,” said Garvin. “I turned it in, expanded it, broadened it and made it into a full-length feature of nearly an hour.”
The film he made includes footage of Muir’s birthplace in Scotland, Yosemite National Park, the Sierras, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. It aims to highlight significant events in Muir’s career as a naturalist and tell the story of his life.
“Making the film took me to Scotland, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and many areas that he explored in California. Muir took eight trips to Alaska and was the first person of European descent to discover Glacier Bay,” said Garvin.
One of the biggest lessons of Muir’s life that Garvin aims to stress in the film “is how much a single individual can accomplish,” he said. “It’s pointed out through the interviews that I did … Muir was largely self-taught and made amazing contributions in scientific areas and in conservation, preservation and environmental ethics. He’s a real inspiration!”