Newsletter No.

21, August 2012

Mono Lake Visitors ................................................................. 2 Visit by Harold and Janet Wood ............................................ 3 Sand Sculpture Competition 2012 ........................................ 4 Dunbar’s Shore and Harbour Neighbourhood Group.......... 5 Friends of John Muir Country Park ....................................... 6 Membership News .................................................................. 7 Annual Sand Sculpture Competition
Saturday 11th August, 2:00-4:00pm East Beach

Mono Lake Visitors
Among recent Birthplace visitors were Californians Geoff McQuilken, Executive Director of the Mono Lake Committee, wife Sarah, daughters Caelen and Ellery. They were accompanied by Geoff’s father, now a Glasgow resident. Avoiding showers (almost) President Jim Thompson took the family on an abbreviated walk (more a dash than a John Muir saunter) round Muir’s Dunbar. The visitors then took a more leisurely look round the Birthplace and were suitably impressed. Mono Lake lies 13 miles east of Yosemite National Park. It covers 66 square miles and has no outlet, so evaporation means it is salty and alkaline. However, far from being lifeless, single-celled algae serve as food for brine shrimp and brine flies which are the major food source for millions of water birds. It is estimated that some 85% of California's seagulls started their life at Mono Lake and at least 80 species of waterfowl call the lake home. Mono Lake is a geologist’s paradise, surrounded by new and old volcanoes but it is perhaps best known for its spectacular tufa towers, limestone structures growing from underwater springs. Falling water levels have exposed the tufa, some of which are over 30 feet above the lake’s surface. The Mono Lake Committee was set up in 1978 to halt the falling level which was threatening the bird population and now the volume of the lake is again increasing. The Committee now has 16,000 members and the aim of protecting and restoring the Lake and its surrounds, which were declared a State Park in 1981. Most recently their energies have been directed to ensuring that the Park was taken off California’s closure list, a fight that was successful in December 2011. Significantly, a leader in the campaign was Muir’s great-great-grandson Robert Hanna. John Muir wrote about his first visit to Mono Lake in Chapter 9 of ‘My First Summer in the Sierra’1


Muir described meeting a band of Mono Indians on the trail and wrote of them, “The dirt on some of the faces seemed almost old enough and thick enough to have a geological significance.” Then he reminded himself of Burns’ lines, “It's coming yet, for a' that, that man to man, the world o'er, shall brothers be for a' that.” On his return “to the green side of the mountains”, he wrote, “I have greatly enjoyed the gray east side and hope to see more of it. Reading these grand mountain manuscripts ... we see that everything in Nature called destruction must be creation, – a change from beauty to beauty.”

Visit by Harold & Janet Wood
Friends are looking forward to welcoming a Californian life member, Harold W Wood Jr, and his wife Janet. The couple are touring the UK in September and plan to take advantage of a two-night stay in Edinburgh to spend time in Dunbar and make their first visit to the Birthplace since it reopened in 2003. Harold is a Government attorney, Sierra Club activist and author. He was a co-founder of the Sierra Club’s John Muir Exhibit website in 1994 and has been its volunteer webmaster since 1996. He is also chair of the Sierra Club’s John Muir Education Team, chair of the Sierra Club’s Le Conte Memorial Lodge committee, which oversees the Club's educational program in Yosemite Valley and one-time chair of the grassroots campaign organisation Restore Hetch Hetchy. The last seeks to return Muir’s ‘second Yosemite’ to its original splendour before it was dammed in 1923 to provide a reservoir for San Francisco. Harold now serves on the Restore Hetch Hetchy Advisory Committee. Janet is the College of the Sequoias Adjunct Professor of Geology and Earth Science at Visalia, California, where the Woods have their home. She is also a volunteer NASA/JPL Solar Systems Advisor and presents public programs about space exploration to community groups and schools The photograph shows Harold giving his presentation ‘John Muir in India’ at the 2006 John Muir Conference at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, where he met Birthplace manager Jo Moulin and Friends members Val and Will Collin. 3

Sand Sculpture Competition 2012
Hooray! It’s that time again. Get out your buckets and spades and put your thinking caps on! Our popular Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace Sand Sculpture Competition will take place this year on Saturday 11th August from 2pm – 4pm at the East Beach, Dunbar. Come along and make a sea creature ... a mermaid ... a boat ... historic landmark etc. Let your imagination run wild! ‘Community’ judging and award of prizes will take place at 4pm. There will be adult, child and family/group categories and prizes will be awarded for the best sculpture in each category. Entry will be £2 per adult, £1 per child and £5 per family. This year will also see the introduction of a new category in memory of Susan Panton as she was the driving force behind all previous sand sculpture competitions and a special award to honour her dedication to Friends seems most fitting. We trust that summer will truly have arrived by August, but if the weather is poor on the day, please phone John Muir’s Birthplace - 01368 865899 - after 10am to find out if the event has been postponed. Friends are also pleased to acknowledge the offer of help from Dunbar’s Shore and Harbour Neighbourhood Group to prepare the East Beach for the sandcastle competition. We are also very grateful for the following article that they have contributed to this newsletter. 4

Dunbar’s Shore and Harbour Neighbourhood Group
John Muir grew up aware of the importance of both the Shore and the Harbour to the well-being of Dunbar. In 2010 those living in the area to the east of Church Street and Castle Street came together to work out what could be done to look after the Shore and the Harbour area. There was a determination to do things for ourselves rather than just talk about things that others might do for us. High on the list of priorities was a desire to restore Dunbar’s East Beach as a recognised visitor attraction. The Neighbourhood Group worked with East Lothian Council to obtain a Keep Scotland Beautiful Seaside Award for 2012. Members of the group can be seen on a regular basis ensuring that the beach is keep litter free. The management of the kelp accumulations is a challenge and the Neighbours have taken it upon themselves to take responsibility for monitoring the kelp levels and communicating with the Council and its contractor when the kelp needs to be harvested. The kelp is recycled into fertiliser and returned to the soil. Before John Muir’s time and to the present day the fishing industry has been an important part of Dunbar. The memorial to those fishermen who risked their lives at sea stands at the end of Dunbar’s Cromwell Harbour. The weather has taken its toll and the Neighbourhood Group is working with Dunbar’s Harbour Trust by taking on responsibility for raising the funds to refurbish and restore this important monument. The plan is to complete this work in 2012. 5

The Neighbourhood Group has carried out its own inspection to ensure that roads, pavements, walls and drains are in proper working order and are safe. During the course of this work fly-tipping sites have been identified and the Group was instrumental in arranging for an abandoned site off the Church Street vennel in Dunbar being converted into a Community Garden where vegetables are currently being grown. This has made productive use of the garden and is turning what was an eyesore into a place of beauty. Where to next? The Neighbourhood Group is currently exploring ideas about how it might be possible to bring more life back to the shore area in front of the East Beach through the development of a Coast Life Centre and hopes to have a trial for people to see later on this year. There is another idea developing as to how the Group might support a flourishing Sea Cadet corps by making it easier for them to store their boats and canoes closer to the water. These are all ideas we hope that John Muir would have approved of.

Friends of John Muir Country Park
The Friends of John Muir Country Park is a voluntary group led by the site Ranger Tara Sykes and the Coastal Communities Project Coordinator Katy Green. The Friends of John Muir Country Park is a local group that was formed in early October 2011. It gives an opportunity for local people and users of the Park to become involved with the practical management and ecological recording on the park. Joining this group will enable you to learn new skills, keep fit, meet new people and look after your local environment. Tasks will include practical Will Collin stomping out habitat management, for example path work, sea hoof prints! buckthorn removal. There will also be ecological monitoring of vegetation, birds and butterflies. The group is always looking for new members, so if you’d like to join please contact Katy Green at The next meeting will be August 25th and more details will be posted to the FoJMCP website2 nearer the time.


Membership News
Membership Renewal Reminders
April was the month that most membership renewals fell due. Renewal forms were included with the April newsletter for Friends who had taken out their membership on an annual basis and whose renewals are not automatically paid by standing order. Friends’ Council hopes that the initiatives, events and publications that are produced to help promote Muir’s life and work and that support John Muir’s Birthplace have been of interest to the membership. It’s still not too late to renew a lapsed membership and if our records show that your membership has lapsed then a subscription form will be included in this newsletter mailing.

Online Delivery of Newsletters
Following a January e-mailed ‘mailshot’ to all members that had supplied their e-mail address, a significant number of Friends have opted out of receiving paper copies of the Newsletter and now read the online version3 instead. This is a significant saving since the production and delivery cost of the Newsletter is now a substantial proportion of the membership subscription – especially as the cost of Royal Mail delivery was increased recently. If you still receive paper copies of the newsletter and would like to opt out of receiving paper copies in the future then please do let us know.

FRIENDS CONTACTS Official address: Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace, John Muir’s Birthplace, 126 High Street, Dunbar EH42 1JJ: tel: 01368 865899 Friends Email: Friends Website:



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