It’s the 1980s, and Bill Maxwell is taking his sister to Everglades National Park. As they drive down Krome Avenue, Maxwell’s sister catches a view of the distant pine forest. “I don’t want to go there,” his sister proclaims. “There’re too many trees.”
Maxwell tells this story to point out that many urban residents have a deep discomfort with the natural landscape, and he wants to change that.
As the November artist in residence at Everglades National Park, Maxwell wants to deal with the hard issues regarding the park as well as work on ways to increase African-American visitation to National Parks.
A seasoned journalist who is currently a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, Maxwell will write two commentaries during his residency. The first will deal with his personal experience in AIRIE and the second, based on interviews with park rangers, scientists and elected officials, will take a comprehensive look at the causes of the pollution in the Everglades and the steps that will be taken to change it. These commentaries will be published on Sunday, Nov. 24, and in January, respectively.
“I’m angry about what we’ve done to the Everglades,” Maxwell said. “We have dominion over many living things and we have abused that power.”
In another initiative, which will continue after his residency, Maxwell wants to support and increase African-American visitation to the National Parks.
His plan is to start in the public schools and reach out to teachers, principals and superintendents. He also wants to put together trips to parks, use his writing platform to write about the parks, and host talks about visiting the parks and what they have to offer.