The Outdoors


Let’s get a definition going here: What is “The Outdoors?” In its most literal translation (out. doors.), this suggests that it is any place not within a building — a pretty all-encompassing idea. It allows for discourse on a broad range of topics: wildlife, plant life, human impact, the environment, land use, agriculture, etc.

With such plasticity and freedom, why then do so many “outdoor writers” limit themselves to the subject of recreation? The outdoors and outdoor living is not simply taking something away — an experience, a photograph, a “turty-point” buck. It is not simply using the land for our own purposes and goals. It is not simple. It is a lifestyle that relies on balance, cooperation and humility. And it is a lifestyle that is ever transforming.

With this said, I do my fair share of recreating. I enjoy backpacking, canoeing, snowboarding, fishing, biking, hiking, camping and talking about camping gear. I love experiencing the great outdoors. I chose Northern, Marquette and the U.P. in part because of this passion.

Throughout the year, my writings will include more day hikes, paddles and rides, overnight backpacking and car camping ideas than you will have time for. There will be places you have heard of and places you have not. There will be how-to’s and what-not-to-do’s. I will encourage you to get outside and provide you with simple ways to enjoy yourself. I will be the best cheerleader “the outdoors” has ever seen.

I will also bring to you the greater issues that will ultimately determine if I will be able to continue to enjoy the outdoors in my lifetime and provide the same experiences for future generations. With the theme of sustainability, I will discuss different ways of cultivating the land, the role of local agriculture, food and energy consumption/production, and land use/abuse. I will try to debunk the complex policies and regulations that govern this land, and hopefully provide you ways of connecting with and engaging directly in issues that will shape and affect your future.

Our university’s tagline is “Northern. Naturally.” And although some of the practices that happen on this campus contradict this au naturel image, there are many cool ways of being involved with outdoor-related groups and events. I will bring you information on these student-led organizations, clubs, and functions — some I have been a part of and some I will be exploring and learning about along with you.

There are a myriad of possibilities outside of NMU that I will share with you as well. Different organizations and employers across the country and around the world specializing in “The Outdoors” want to involve and employ college students. Jobs, internships, education and volunteer opportunities are available to people with all levels of experience.

Today’s world demands a greater comprehension with globally-focused goggles. People are recognizing the importance of international cooperation in dealing with such pertinent issues concerning “The Outdoors.” According to a New York Times article, when discussing the most pressing current issues at the “Global Town Hall” on the opening day of the World’s Economic Forum’s 2005 Annual Meeting, approximately 700 leaders named “climate change” as a top-three concern. They recognized its “global scope and impact” and potentially irreversible nature. But they also noted that the opportunity for reversing this trend was hopeful and was seen as “an achievable change.”

It is often difficult to make a connection with such enormous problems that seem to be taking place a half a world away. But what is happening locally and domestically are simply microcosms of these globally pertinent issues. I want to provide NMU students with a dialogue that encompasses – in every sense, not just recreation – “the Outdoors” and all the joys and frustrations of those who love it. I am not going to limit myself in outdoor writing because I do not believe that “the outdoors” is a limited subject