'The Outdoor Citizen' Inspires and Instructs in Activism

By Annie Tobey | July 22nd, 2020

How to Be a Champion for the Outdoors and Build Outdoor-Centric Lifestyles

John Judge


Get Out, Give Back, Get Active
By John Judge, President and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club
Reviewed by Annie Tobey

Contemporary society holds no shortage of issues worth our attention. One worthwhile issue can result in far-reaching consequences across a spectrum of problems. By championing the outdoors and outdoor-centric lifestyles, we can simultaneously improve physical and mental health, positively affect global warming and a measure of racial equity, and bring back struggling natural environments. In his book, The Outdoor Citizen: Get Out, Give Back, Get Active, John Judge tells readers how to become activists in natural conservation.


Judge draws from a rich background of experience, most recently as president and chief executive officer of the Appalachian Mountain Club. He’s been active as an advocate for connecting people with the outdoors and with conservation stewardship. And he’s served as chief planning and economic development officer for Springfield, Massachusetts – so he knows the practicalities of government. He has also worked as executive director of Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston, a perspective that informs his book.

The Outdoor Citizen book coverThose who already love the outdoors already understand the benefits of nature, to individuals and to the entire world. They have experienced the restorative effects of Earth’s natural environments. Those who aren’t yet convinced can find fresh appreciation for nature in Judge’s words. And all readers, from a variety of interests and skill sets, can find a way to heal the scars upon our planet.

John Judge recognizes the different motivations and strengths that activists for nature (whom he terms “Outdoor Citizens”) bring to the table. He divides the book into chapters that can stir these various passions and provide strategies for achieving change.

In “The Outdoor City,” for example, he lays out a vision for achieving “a city rich with thriving green spaces easily accessible by all residents.” His vision embraces the importance of a circular economy (which reuses and repurposes materials, as opposed to a linear economy, which readily disposes of used resources); transportation infrastructures – both motorized and human-powered; and multiple kinds of green spaces. He even examines how affordable housing fits into the equation. He spotlights Palo Alto, examining how the California city established its Parks, Trails, Natural Open Space and Recreation master plan; an individual activist; and an urban cemetery.


If you are interested in infusing urban and suburban environments with natural assets, local agriculture, environmentally friendly infrastructure and transportation, and plenty of outdoor recreation? The Outdoor Citizen has suggestions for you. Or do your interests lean more toward the challenges of modern fitness and contemporary food deserts and the challenges of accessing fresh foods? Toward energy conservation? Toward environmental policies, funding challenges, or global activism? Check, check, check, check, and check.

In each chapter – “The Outdoor City,” fitness and food, energy, digital ecosystems, policies and economics, funding, and global perspective – Judge provides motivation, practical solutions, and examples (spotlights) of cities, organizations, and individuals that have found success. The Outdoor Citizen is well-documented, easy to read, and full of takeaways for a diversity of readers.


Judge closes with the reminder that “purpose leads to vigor, clarity, and intention, and … a shared purpose fosters robust relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and even people across the globe. Outdoor Citizenship provides purpose – it is a gateway to a more fulfilling life.”

In “The Outdoor Global Community,” the author spotlights the 180-square-mile South Pacific archipelago, Palau. Although its economy relies upon tourism, Palau saw that tourists were contributing significantly to pollution, poaching of wildlife, and damage to coral reefs. So it instituted the Palau Pledge: all visitors watch a short animated film highlighting treatment of the island’s natural resources and then are asked to sign the pledge:

Children of Palau,
I take this pledge,
As your guest,
to preserve and protect
your beautiful and unique
island home.

I vow to tread lightly,
act kindly and
explore mindfully.

I shall not take what is not given.

I shall not harm
what does not harm me.

The only footprints
I shall leave are
those that will wash away.

The Outdoor Citizen can guide us in taking this pledge for our entire Earth.

The Outdoor Citizen: Get Out, Give Back, Get Active

By John Judge

Published by Apollo Publishers, July 4, 2020

Hardcover, 280 pages

Kindle version: The Outdoor Citizen: Get Out, Give Back, Get Active

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