California Trail by Deon Reynolds
"Ecological Urbanism for the 21st Century" is an essay that I wrote with colleagues Rob McDonald and Carrie Denning for The Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review. E-mail me if you don't have access to the Chronicle and need a copy.
"Land trusts thrive despite, and because of, the Great Recession" is an analytical report that I wrote with colleagues Jenny Rempel and Judee Burr, and with graphics by Geoff McGhee, for High Country News.
"San Francisco Bay Conservation 2.0" is an essay I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle's Insight section exploring new visions of nature around the Bay with Emma Marris author of the terrific new book Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. I also have a review of Emma's book in Conservation Magazine.
"Saving California's Golden Grasslands" is an essay I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle's Insight section on the importance of the "working landscapes" of ranches and rangelands that surround and are mixed into our metropolitan matrix in the Bay Area.
"Ecology Lost and Found," is an essay I wrote for the journal Nature exploring the uses and abuses of history in ecology, while reviewing the book Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery by Steve Nicholls. It's in the 14 May 2009 issue of the journal. If you don't have online access to Nature, e-mail me for a copy.
"Inside the Map-Maker's Mind" is a review essay I wrote for the journal Nature on a terrific, beautiful, and useful new book by Denis Woods and John Fels entitled The Nature's of Maps: Cartographic Constructions of the Natural World. It's in the 26 February 2009 issue of the journal. If you don't have online access to Nature, e-mail me for a copy.
"Environmental Prospects in the 21st Century," is an essay in A Companion to California History, Blackwell Publishing, 2008. E-mail me if you would like a review copy of my chapter in this book.
"Smoking Out Objectivity: Journalistic Gears in the Agnogenesis Machine," in Agnotology: The Making and Umaking of Ignorance, Stanford University Press, 2008. E-mail me if you would like a review copy of my chapter in this book.
"Blazing a New Trail for Nature" — Could the army of green workers who transformed the U.S. landscape inspire today's ecological revolution? Read my review of Neil Maher's book Nature's New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement in the April 17, 2008 issue of Nature. And if you don't have online access to Nature, e-mail me for a copy. I also reviewed this book and the CCC's history from a western perspective in High Country News.
"Measuring Tahoe's Blues," an essay on the ineffability of measuring things by the point at which they disappear, in High Country News, August 4, 2008.
"Who Moved My Glacier?" from the Sunday Opinion page of The New York Times on December 23, 2007.
"Remembering the Gulf: changes to the marine communities of the Sea of Cortez since the Steinbeck and Ricketts expedition of 1940" in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
In The New York Times. For links to all of my stories enter "Jon Christensen" in the author field of an advanced search.
ON PBS NOW:
"How Green?" A Republican congressman and the Idaho Conservation League have joined forces to try to designate the first new big wilderness in a generation in the reddest state in America. But some environmentalists, including singer-songwriter Carole King, oppose the quid-pro-quo compromise, which includes public-land giveaways and concessions to off-road vehicle riders.
ON THE WEB:
Integrate Expectations: An Interview with integration advocate Sheryll Cashin in Grist. Space is the place where race, poverty, and the environment get sorted out, for better or worse. And the spaces where we live, work, learn, and play are the places where integration succeeds or fails, argues Georgetown Law's Sheryll Cashin in an interview I conducted with her as part of Grist's series on poverty and the environment. Getting communities to integrate all of their concerns on the same map using tools like GIS and Google Earth is one important step forward.
In The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review:
A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster and A Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy: by Bonnie J. Gisel and Stephen J. Joseph
Interpretive Work by Elizbeth Bradfield
Historical Atlas of California by Derek Hayes
Seizing Destiny: How America Grew From Sea to Shining Sea by Richard Kluger
The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area by Richard A. Walker
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben
Home Ground : Language for an American Landscape edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney
The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism by Aaron Sachs and California's Frontier Naturalists by Richard G. Beidleman
Dam! Water, Power, Politics, and Preservation in Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite National Park by John Warfield Simpson
The Man Behind the Microchip by Leslie Berlin
The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906 by Philip Fradkin
The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy by Robert Righter
In High Country News:
In Conservation in Practice:
"Auditing Conservation In an Age of Accountability" Instead of just seeing conservation as a good cause, people are starting to ask, "What are your results?" And conservationists are trying to come up with good answers. (PDF 4.1 MB)
"Is Conservation Ready for the Light of Day?" from The Uneasy Chair.
"Why Good Governance Matters for Conservation" from The Uneasy Chair.
"How to Stop Conservation Donors From Cheating on Their Taxes," with Terry Anderson in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
"Who Will Take Over the Ranch?" in High Country News, 3/29/04, on changing demographics, the booming real estate market, and efforts to keep ranch land from being carved up in the West.
You will be redirected to my new web site momentarily. If this doesn't work, please click this link: http://christensenlab.net.
I am the former Executive Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West and a Principal Investigator in the Spatial History Project and the City Nature digital humanities project at Stanford University. I am currently working on a dissertation and book entitled "Critical Habitat: A History of Thinking with Things in Nature." An animal, plant, and mineral are at the heart of this story, along with a person: Paul Ehrlich. The animal is the Bay checkerspot butterfly. The plant is California dwarf plaintain. The mineral is serpentine.
You can contact me at the e-mail address at the top of the lefthand column, and follow me on Twitter @the_wrangler, where I attempt to wrangle environmental history, journalism, communications, digital humanities, spatial history, and ecological urbanism out West and beyond on a regular basis.
I have also been a free-lance environmental journalist and science writer for more than 30 years. My work has appeared in The New York Times, High Country News, and many other newspapers, magazines, journals, and radio and television shows.
That spring I helped organize the Sea of Cortez Expedition and Education Project retracing the journey that John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts took to the Gulf of California in 1940. You can read a copy of a talk I have given telling the story of their voyage and ours in PDF form here: "From the Tide Pool to the Stars: Sailing with the Spirits of John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts on a New Voyage of Discovery Around Baja California." You may also read a PDF preprint of a scientific report on our expedition "Remembering the Gulf: changes to the marine communities of the Sea of Cortez since the Steinbeck and Ricketts expedition of 1940" in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. I have a book in the works about their voyage and ours and changes in ecology and the environment over the years.
Before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, I lived in Nevada for 12 years, and still maintain close ties through family, friends, community, and work in the interior West. The Great Basin Web, which I founded, reflects that love, as does my book, Nevada, with photographer Deon Reynolds, whose panorama of the California Trail graces the top of this page.
This is the butterfly at the center of my current research: the Bay checkerspot.
The map below — drawn by Lieutenant Edward Belcher, a surveyor on His Majesty's Ship Blossom, which visited San Francisco in 1826 while exploring the Pacific — is the first known map of the serpentine formations upon which my work is grounded.
City Nature: citynature.stanford.edu
Spatial History: spatialhistory.stanford.edu
Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and Woods Institute for the Environment: Longterm studies of the Bay checkerspot butterfly and feasibility of reintroduction.
COURSES I TEACH:
History 243J - Earth Systems 143: Climate Change in the West: A History of the Future (Stanford University, Department of History and Earth Systems Program, Spring 2010). Global warming is changing the American West. Bigger more intense forest fires, dangerous summer heat waves, less water for cities and farms, species on the move, and rising seas are just some of the effects. But this region is no stranger to dramatic environmental change and human adaptation to harsh environments. How can history help us think more clearly about the current global warming crisis and our choices for the future? We will move from a deep history of climate change in California and the West, up to our current global warming crisis through scientific research, historical sources, histories of environmental change and human adaptation, and consider future visions through science fictions and prognostications.
History 53S. What Went Down on the Farm: Stanford Campus as a Laboratory for Environmental History (Stanford University, Department of History, Winter 2007). Environmental history is made from earth and trees, maps and dreams, plans and problems, a world made and a world that might have been. The 8,400-acre Stanford campus and surrounding community from the foothills to the bay is our laboratory, archive, and classroom for learning hands-on techniques to uncover the past, understand the present, and think about the future anywhere. Sources include archaeology, ecology, university business files, letters, photographs, trees, buildings, and the land.
Journalism 784. Environment of the West (Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno, Summer 2006 and 2007). Analysis of the most pressing environmental issues in the West, as seen through the expertise of scientists, policy makers, citizen advocates, and journalists, focusing on the Lake Tahoe basin in the Sierra Nevada. For more information about the course and work by the students in the Interactive Environmental Journalism M.A. Program, click here.