Sempervirens Fund Podcast

Episode 1

Russell Varian: The Man Behind the Klystron Tube, Silicon Valley and Castle Rock State Park

Welcome to the inaugural episode of the Sempervirens Fund Podcast, an audio foray deep into the natural and cultural history of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains.

Join Ryan Masters, Director of Communications for Sempervirens Fund, as he links the establishment of Castle Rock State Park in 1968 to Allied Victory in WWII and the birth of Silicon Valley by tracing the life of Russell Varian and his family.

From his childhood on the Utopian community of Halcyon to international fame as a wartime inventor to his tragic death in Alaska, Russell Varian’s brief, wonderful life lies at a unique intersection of wilderness, technology, spirituality and grit.

With the help of Henry Lowood, curator for History of Science & Technology Collections and Film & Media Collections in the Stanford University Libraries, this podcast examines how the man’s footfalls continue to echo loudly throughout Silicon Valley, Castle Rock State Park and the world today.

Episode 2

The Language of Birds with Jon Young

Interpreting Bird Language is an art form. The calls, postures, and other behaviors of birds convey much information to those who understand their patterns. The attentive, trained observer can deduce through bird language the location of predators and other forces on the landscape. The reaction of birds and animals also speaks volumes about the awareness and behavior of the observer. In this way, birds become a barometer for one’s own awareness of the landscape, both inner and outer. The voices of the birds become a beacon that enrapture the senses in a three-dimensional game of hide and seek that is being played on the land and in the air. Predator and prey, observer and observed merge into one as the language of the birds calls us on a journey of connection and wonder. Learn how to expand your senses with bird language with Jon Young, author of What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World.

Episode 3

Josephine McCracken: Pioneer Environmentalist and Feminist

In this episode of the Sempervirens Fund Podcast, explore the epic life of pioneer environmentalist and feminist Josephine McCracken. At the turn of the 19th century, McCracken became an indispensable voice for redwood preservation. Her activism inspired the women’s network essential for the successful 1901 campaign to create Big Basin Redwoods State Park. McCracken was also a leading figure in the San Francisco Bay area literary scene. She authored a collection titled the Overland Tales and was a close friend and contemporary of such luminaries as Bret Harte, Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce. Late in life, McCracken also befriended and mentored some of the biggest female stars in the burgeoning movie industry Mary Pickford, Zasu Pitts and Beatriz Michelena as they made silent films in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Join historians Traci Bliss and Randall Brown as they convey how this remarkable woman overcame major obstacles, including escaping a homicidal husband in the badlands of New Mexico and losing her Santa Cruz Mountains home to fire, to become a full-time journalist and advocate for women. Along the way, they will also reveal much about the founding of the Sempervirens Club and some common misconceptions regarding the establishment of Big Basin Redwoods State Park.