What It Means to Be American
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Ideas

Do Beautiful Parks Strengthen Democracy?

To Frederick Law Olmsted, Designer of Many of America’s Most Iconic Landscapes, Common Spaces Are Key to Getting Beyond Our Own Narrow Individualism

By Garrett Dash Nelson
December 17, 2015

In 1846, shortly after his 24th birthday, Frederick Law Olmsted wrote to a friend, full of dismay about the prospect of finding a purpose in life. “I want to make myself useful to the world—to make happy—to help to advance the condition of Society and hasten the preparation for the Millennium—as well as other things too numerous to mention,” he fretted. “Now, how shall I prepare myself to exercise the greatest and best influence in the situation of life I …

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Ideas

The Christian Roots of Modern Environmentalism

Presbyterianism Inspired Teddy Roosevelt’s Conservationist Zeal

By Mark Stoll
June 26, 2015

Like only a handful of presidents, Theodore Roosevelt lives in our memory and popular culture. He is the bespectacled face gazing from Mount Rushmore, the namesake for the teddy bear, and the advice-giving Rough Rider, played by Robin Williams in the movie Night at the Museum. We remember him, too, as the trust buster who broke up monopolies, the avid outdoorsman and conservationist who preserved parks, forests, and wildlife, and the politician who crusaded for a “fair deal,” a just …

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