Wilderness, Water, and Rust: A Journey toward Great Lakes Resilience asks us to consider what we value about life in the Great Lakes region and how caring for its remarkable ecosystems might help us imagine new, whole futures. Weaving together memories from her life in the upper Midwest with nearly fifty years of environmental policy advocacy work, Jane Elder provides a uniquely moving insider’s perspective into the quest to protect the Great Lakes and surrounding public lands, from past battles to protect Michigan wilderness and shape early management strategies for the national lakeshores to present fights against toxic pollution and climate change. She argues that endless cycles of resource exploitation and boom and bust created a ‘rust belt’ legacy that still threatens our capacity for resilience. The author lays out the challenges that lie ahead and invites us to imagine bold new strategies through which we might thrive.
Jane Elder was executive director of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters for ten years. She consults on environmental and nonprofit strategy and volunteers with groups working on Great Lakes and climate issues. She headed the Sierra Club Midwest office in Madison, Wisconsin, leading the Great Lakes program. She has written for Sierra, Wisconsin People & Ideas, and The Living Wilderness magazines. She holds degrees from Michigan State University (BA, communications) and University of Wisconsin (MS, land resources), and was awarded distinguished alumni status by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in 2019.
Jane Elder has been at the center of the struggle to protect the Great Lakes for four decades. Her memoir is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. While not overlooking setbacks and defeats, Jane, in exquisite prose, provides hope for the Great Lakes, the planet, and ourselves. —Dave Dempsey, author of Half Wild: People, Dogs, and Environmental Policy and The Heart of the Lakes: Freshwater in the Past, Present, and Future of Southeast Michigan, and former policy advisor, International Joint Commission