Most road-trip tales are literal, but sometimes they are figurative, and such is the case for my long-time friend and writing mentor Dr. Leslie Poole, professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Leslie has been on a life-long journey to walk in the footsteps of those who pioneered Florida’s conservation and environmental movements. It turns out that quite a few were women, and many had gone without proper historical recognition. For example: sculptor/artist Doris Leeper’s dogged efforts resulted in one of Florida’s most beautiful stretches of beach, on the central-east coast, being established as the Canaveral National Seashore—a part of the National Park system. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas formed the Friends of the Everglades and battled to save it from development, when she was 79 years old. Another Marjorie, Marjorie Carr, halted the construction of the boondoggle Cross Florida Barge Canal in the 1970’s.
The fitting destination for Leslie’s journey is her just released, comprehensive book Saving Florida that tells these (and more) women’s stories. And it turns out that their stories are, in a larger sense, the true history of conservation and environmental accomplishments in Florida.