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A New Muir Association Formed In Scotland

(Reprinted from the John Muir Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 3, Winter 1994)

Below is the first e-mail issue from Dunbar's John Muir Association, written by Don Bracewell and distributed by Duncan Smeed, who can be reached at the Department of Computer Science, Strathclyde University, 26 Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XH, Scotland, UK; Tel: (+44) 41 552 4400 x3587; Fax: (+44) 41 552 5330; E-Mail:

"Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever", John Muir

Dunbar's John Muir Association Newsletter - July 1st 1994

At the Public Meeting, chaired by The Rt Rev Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh, in Dunbar in October 1993, it was clear that there was considerable support for the creation of a Centre in the town to commemorate the life of John Muir and his international significance as the pioneer of world conservation. His enormous fame and importance for Americans was stressed, as was the virtual ignorance of most British people about this world-famous Scot. The potential for the creation of the national centre for conservation issues, which would celebrate Muir's life-work and act as a tourism gateway to East Lothian and Scotland, was outlined. It was urged that Dunbar should grasp this opportunity.

After another meeting held in Dunbar in March 1994, a number of people indicated their willingness to become further involved in establishing a John Muir Centre in the town, by forming a Steering Group of about 35 persons. This Group met at the end of April to discuss the aims, management and scope of such a centre. They decided that the first priority was to establish a local charity to take on the project. This would be called: Dunbar's John Muir Association.

This Association, membership of which would be open to all, would: - have its roots firmly in Dunbar - Muir's birthplace, but invite membership and support from Scotland and from all over the world; - stimulate a greater awareness of Muir's outstanding role as the Scottish "Father of Conservation" and help to spread his philosophy, here and abroad; - set up a Trust or Company to establish the John Muir Centre in Dunbar as a venue with national and international environmental prestige, a major tourism attraction bringing economic regeneration and international recognition to the town and East Lothian. . . .

[A Working Group was formed and] ... has now met three times and sub-groups have worked on various aspects of the project, investigating statutory and legal concerns, drafting a constitution, proposing publicity material and methods and making contacts with potential interested individuals and bodies. In addition, progress has been made onn the proposals for the feasibility study for the Centre.

The Working Group decided at its meeting on 18 May that an experienced professional co-ordinator and fund-raiser was required to be employed on a part-time basis. Pauline Jaffray of PJ Designs, Belhaven, Dunbar was approached and she has agreed to take on this role. Pauline has been involved with many local organisations as well as the John Muir Trust and the Sierra Club and has been involved in this project since its origins in 1989. The preparatory work will be completed so that an inaugural meeting can be held on 27 July to register Founder Members, adopt the Constitution and elect members of a Council which would later elect its Office-Bearers. The Association, for which charitable status is being sought, would then take responsibility for the John Muir Centre Project and eventually set up a Trust to manage it.

The Association wil be formally launched at a high-profile meeting in Dunbar in September, with prominent speakers and presentations, at which the aims of the Centre will be set out.

Publicity for the new Association and for the project is beginning locally with the distribution to all addresses in the Dunbar postal area of a leaflet enclosed in the Dunbar Traders' Association publication: Working for Dunbar. There will be wider targetting of potential sponsors and interested agencies with both information about the Association and Outline Proposals for the John Muir Centre.

Through the computer-linked international network, Internet, Duncan Smeed has already made contact with many people, at home and overseas, especially in the USA, who have already sent more than 300 enthusiastic messages of support. These include, for example, the Dean of John Muir College at the University of California, San Diego. It is visualised that new technology will allow even closer links between the new Centre and institutions world-wide, as well as making its own archive instantly accessible to interested people in every continent. This will fulfil the dream of: "...not merely a tourist attraction to describe Muir, but a powerhouse for action, participation and development and a true WORLD Environment Centre."

Meanwhile the contact address is:

Dunbar's John Muir Association
John Muir House
126 High Street
East Lothian
EH42 1JJ

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