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Legacies Project Oral History: Jim Crowfoot

When: 2020

Jim Crowfoot has spent the majority of his career advocating for social and environmental justice as a professor and then dean at the University of Michigan. He began his education at Knox College, attended seminary, and then got his PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan. He co-founded U-M’s Program in Conflict Management Alternatives and was dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment. He has two children from his first marriage, and has been married to his second wife, Ruth, for over twenty years.

Jim Crowfoot was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2016 as part of the Legacies Project.


  • [00:00:11.55] INTERVIEWER 1: This is legacy interview part two. Just remember that you don't have to answer every question. You can terminate the interview for anytime-- at any time for any reason. So we left off on your high school and college career. So what do you remember about school after high school?
  • [00:00:33.12] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, I have-- I have a lot of memories, because I did a lot of school after high school. And it started in a small liberal arts college in Western Illinois. And like I said before, no one else in my family had gone to college. And I don't think I had any friends in college, so I didn't quite know what to expect.
  • [00:01:03.03] And it turned out that just by chance, I was assigned a roommate from someplace else in Illinois. But it didn't work out very well. This person slept a lot, and I came to realize over time-- he dropped out after the first semester-- that he is struggling with a drug problem. So I didn't have many friends in the dormitory, a couple.
  • [00:01:40.33] In the winter of my first year, I decided to try to pledge a fraternity, and that's where a lot of my friendships began to happen. And it was a fraternity-- it was pretty interesting in that it had a lot of athletes in it, and I was not an athlete. I was more of a bookworm, but they were wanting some diversity in their fraternity. And I think they were also looking for some diversity that would boost the grade point of the house.
  • [00:02:20.31] But at any rate, it was good. It was a good experience for me, because I didn't date very much in high school and outside of my interest in radio and so on I didn't have a big friendship network, except a few guys who lived in my neighborhood. So the fraternity was a good experience. Also I remember a first year course I took in philosophy that I liked a lot, though. Because I came from a very religious background, I had quite a struggle untangling religious ideas and beliefs from what you need to do in terms of rationality and so on and so forth in philosophy, but it was it was a good experience.
  • [00:03:13.78] Ultimately, somewhere pretty early on, I decided that I would focus on physics and math, and I eventually majored in physics with a minor in math. And like in high school, I needed to work to make some money. So I worked at a local commercial radio station. It was my source of revenue in college and made a fair amount of money.
  • [00:03:46.76] And I also helped the college along with a couple other people in the college, they had a local radio station that was just wired for the campus. And they wanted to upgrade that to a regular FM station that could be heard in the community. I was involved in trying to make that happen.
  • [00:04:06.73] Also while I was in college, I was elected to the honor board. And they had an honor system in this college that was totally overseen by the students. And exams were not monitored, and so this honor system was quite important. And I really found that to be a very challenging experience to try to deal with people who were charged with violations and dealing with what was just. And so I decided that I would only stay at the college for three years, because I wanted to simultaneously get a Bachelor of Arts in physics but also a Bachelors in engineering.
  • [00:04:57.13] So I transferred to Columbia University in New York City. They had two universities that had a program with this college. You can go out and do engineering at Stanford and Columbia. And I transferred to Columbia, and in Columbia I never experienced such an intense competition where grades were posted by name outside of classes and right to the hundredth digit in terms of points. And I was not doing nearly as well as I had done at Knox College.
  • [00:05:36.97] And I realized then that being at the top academically was more about something deep inside of me than it was about how interested was I in the course and questions like that. And I transferred along with a fraternity brother from Knox, and we actually roomed together in New York in Columbia. And our dormitory was right on Broadway. And for somebody who'd grown up in a small Midwestern town and had gone to college in a small Midwestern town, to have more people on the street at midnight than at noon it was pretty astounding to me.
  • [00:06:24.01] But as the fall term went on, I felt that my interest in engineering was really not about engineering. It was much more about being academically outstanding, and so it was a real crisis in my life. But one thing that was going on all along was that I'm still religious. I wasn't going to church on Sundays, but the big church in Morningside Heights had a Sunday evening thing for college students. And it was a social time and dinner, and you could meet people from other colleges.
  • [00:07:05.47] And so I met some young men studying to be Russian Orthodox priests. They had a small seminary close to Columbia, and we hit it off pretty well. And they took me to-- there was some Greek Orthodox would be priests in the seminary as well. And so they took me to the Russian part of the city and the Greek part of the city, and I really talked to some people whose motivation for what they were doing was pretty different than what my motivation had been to get a good job, get into the whole tech and business management thing. And so I think it was about November I dropped out of college and went home and felt like I had been heading for math physics, and it just wasn't for me but then what, OK?
  • [00:08:02.70] What was I going to do. Was I going to go to law school or just-- I didn't know what I was going to do. I'd finished all my required hours at Knox, but I had a few more hours I needed for graduation. So I returned to college for my final semester, and I remembered taking a music appreciation course. I took my first psychology class, and religion was still in the back of my mind. Though, I wasn't active in any I'm campus religious group. I attended a church in the community that was Lutheran on occasion.
  • [00:08:43.45] But I talked a lot with a professor of religion. I had never taken a course from this person. And as I talked, I really realized that perhaps my interest was in the area of religion and becoming-- maybe becoming a minister. And this man spoke highly of a place where he had gotten an advanced degree in the University of Chicago. So come the following fall, I was a matriculated student at the University of Chicago which had an interreligious divinity school or seminary that was a part of the university, a very diverse group of people, a very academically oriented kind of place and found myself again in a dormitory like I was my freshman year in college. Only this dormitory was very different.
  • [00:09:38.15] We had students from a lot of the cultures of the world were in this dormitory, and most of the students cooked their own meal. In the basement this dormitory was one huge kitchen with a lot of stoves and refrigerators and all these different languages being spoken and all these different cuisines being cooked, and it was a quiet experience. And I liked it a lot it was. It really opened me up to a whole crowd of people. It was very much more diverse than the college that I attended and even more diverse than Columbia University, at least part of it I was associated with.
  • [00:10:21.22] But the church that I was a part of if I was going to be a minister, they were very skeptical that the University of Chicago was a very orthodox place to be. So I transferred after the first year to a small Lutheran seminary that was in a suburb of Chicago. And it was OK academically, but it was just as lonely as the dickens. And the only thing I had going for me a little bit is that those summers in graduate school I worked as a director of a program at a Y camp in southern Wisconsin that was very important to me. And I met some people that I continued to have a connection with, but I never really connected very much with the other students at this suburban seminary.
  • [00:11:22.01] But while there I again ran into just a crisis of what did I really want to do. And at one point I just, sort of, disappeared for a couple weeks, and out of it I decided that I didn't want to go back to the seminary for another year. It was pretty dismal as a social experience, and I had met some students at the University of Chicago that were PhD students, and they were becoming young professors at a very old Lutheran seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
  • [00:11:54.89] It was-- It is located on the battlefield at Gettysburg. It was there during the Civil War, and I knew these guys who would become professors. And I also knew the guy who had just become the president of the seminary.
  • [00:12:14.12] I'd met him. I think he was dean of the place where I'd been at Chicago, and we hit it off well. And so I took my last year-- I was going to take my last year of seminary at Gettysburg. But before that you had an option of taking a third of this four year degree program in some kind of outdoing ministry as opposed to reading about it and all this other stuff. So I took a three month training at a State Hospital. It was called a clinical pastoral training, and it was offered in physical illness hospitals but mental hospitals.
  • [00:12:50.13] And that was a life changing experience for me, because in order to take the chaplaincy training that went along with it you had to spend a month as an aide on a ward. And I was an aide on a maximum security ward for men. And this was hospital over 15,000 patients, one US certified doctor psychiatrist was the director of the hospital. And my work on the ward was simply to assist the aides. And the lowest ranking job was to walk around his big day room where there's 50 men sitting in a circle of chairs, many of them psychotic, and it was to identify who had soiled themselves, try in some way not to get yourself beat up, make some contact with the individual and take them into the shower and get him showered down and get him into a fresh set of clothes.
  • [00:13:52.66] Well a month of doing that really was way outside my life experience in many, many dimensions, and this hospital was-- a large proportion of the patients were African-American. If you came in the hospital, your likelihood of ever going out was low. The average length of hospitalization patients was over three years. So it was a pretty grim place.
  • [00:14:22.91] I then went to Louisville, Kentucky and had been planned to be an assistant pastor in a church. It was the fall that John Kennedy was killed, and I remember it because part of my responsibility was to prepare a religious service the night of the assassination. And so it's very vivid in my mind. But the pastor who was the pastor who was going to be my supervisor for a year, he started going away on weekends, and I was left with a total responsibility for this church which was pretty huge.
  • [00:14:56.63] And one time when that happened and I was exhausted on a Sunday, I got a call from the pastor's wife when I was asleep at night. And it was 11:30 going on 12. And she said a family needs your help. And I said what kind of help do they need?
  • [00:15:12.11] And she said, well their daughter was out visiting him and part of this parish was very suburban, part of it was very rural. The parish was founded about 1796, very old parish. And she said this was part of the rural parish out the country, and their daughter had came out from Louisville where a granddaughter spent the day with them. On the way back to Louisville, she was killed in a car crash.
  • [00:15:35.90] And so this family was waiting for the minister to show up. And so I was it, and I didn't even know if I could find this place. It was a bunch of dirt roads, and didn't turn out to be very hard to find, because there was cars parked everywhere. So I had no idea what was next. But I came into this farmhouse in just jammed with people in the parlor. It was people all sitting around and immediate family was sitting in a place, and there was one vacant chair. And that was for me.
  • [00:16:12.27] And I quickly figured out that part of what I was to do was to help people pray in the midst of all of this. It was a profound experience for me. Later, I went to the funeral and burial for the daughter, but the minister was back and so I didn't have to do anything except observe.
  • [00:16:39.38] Much to my surprise, come the end of November, early December, the minister announced he was leaving the parish. So the people in the parish by this time respected me. They had seen me in the pulpit on Sunday mornings, because the minister had been. Gone and they seemed to like what I was doing, so they wanted me to stay and take over this sizable church.
  • [00:17:02.63] And I decided that I had was learning so much at the State Hospital that I would go back. I called up and sought to seek an assistant chaplain's role at the hospital. And they liked what I had done at the hospital and my training, and so I told the church that this just wasn't what I was up to at this point. Where I needed to be learning was back at the hospital.
  • [00:17:30.80] At the hospital, I was assigned to be the chaplain at one of the intake wards, the one for a men. There was a female and male intake ward, and there were just coincidental to my taking this, they wanted-- there was a psychiatrist assigned to that ward. But he was from the Dominican Republic. He didn't have a full US certification.
  • [00:17:54.74] And usually a psychiatrist there would be the person who'd make a judgment on which of these people coming in after they'd been processed and had little treatment could go out. And he knew that he didn't know anything about US culture, and making those kinds of decisions would not be done very well. So he proposed to the lead psychiatrist in the hospital, the only US certified one that he thought that there could be an experimental program on this intake unit to do something to get some of these people coming in with a little bit of treatment to go back out so they wouldn't get stuck in this place for the rest of their lives.
  • [00:18:34.89] So they asked everybody on the ward, the occupational therapist, the social worker, the head of the aides, the chaplain, everybody to do some group conversation about what we were each good at. And rather than doing just what our professional gig was, do that in addition to your regular gig. And so I wound up being the administrator of the maximum security part of the intake ward where transfers from prisons and teenage training schools, which were the teenage prisons at that point and that they had trouble with patients dying on that unit. And so anyway-- and meanwhile, the psychiatrist who really was good working with everyday people and relating to mentally ill people, he headed up the training of our attendants. And it was very hard to find people who would do frontline attended on this kind of mental hospital ward.
  • [00:19:48.08] And so he ran buses in the Southern Illinois to coalfields where there was a lot of unemployment and recruited, and recruited aides that we desperately needed and then trained them. And he was terrifically good at that, as well as helping all of us as a team function outside of just our professional niches with a goal of trying to help find people who could move back into the community with community support and treatment and not get buried in the wards of the hospital. Well, that was a transformative experience to me, because I discovered in administering this ward that there was a Polish doctor who is trying to protect some female staff on the ward, and males were acting out toward the female staff.
  • [00:20:38.06] And so he was prescribing very heavy doses of antipsychotic medications, which were just coming into use. And it's very easy on some diagnoses of mental illness to overdose under those circumstances, and that was what was happening. It was killing patients. And so I had to intervene with the doctor and the director of the hospital and with the staff to find other ways to protect the female staff and how in doing that to not overreact and hit somebody with lethal doses of medications.
  • [00:21:16.76] Well, I went back to seminary in the fall now at Gettysburg on the battlefield a very different person than the man who'd left a year early year. For me with Illinois, I'd had these incredible experiences being an aid on a ward, being in this ministry position along with chaplaincy, having this experience in this church in Louisville, Kentucky. Talking about being outside my life space prior to that, it was huge.
  • [00:21:49.97] And the church at the point when I finished Gettysburg-- I made a very close friend at Gettysburg, a man who was chaplain at Gettysburg College, which was very influential in my life having another adult mentor who I respected greatly. But I decided that having had this experience of the year that I described to you that there was a lot that was wrong with this society, and I wanted part of what I was up to be about bringing social change. And so I still intellectual, still deep into my head I said, well, I need to get a PhD in something that's about social change.
  • [00:22:35.81] And I have one psychology course. I decided that social psychology, putting sociology, psychology together was the way to go. And I applied to a number of schools. And with one psych course but a stellar academic record, part of it in hard science and math and part of it in theology and philosophy, one place decided to take a chance on me. It was the University of Michigan, the social psychology program. And so away from physics, away from the theology, philosophy, I was now in sociology and psychology.
  • [00:23:11.66] And I came university of Michigan in 1965 thinking I'd be gone in five, six years. And meanwhile I'm slugging through social psychology courses and finding a lot that was pretty interesting about society and about psychology and how humans function and so on, but it was all heading for a research-- a very research a version of a very narrow specialty in psychology. And I came toward the end of my program and two things happened. One thing happened is I had an offer from Gettysburg College largely because of this mentor that I had met when I was last year of the seminary. It was five years later, and they offered me a position that was half time chaplain and half time in the psychology department.
  • [00:24:11.00] So that happened, but while I was a graduate student at Michigan there were other graduate students who I got to know and we all were committed to social change and justice. And at that time, huge disruptions were going on in US high schools. And we had a twin diagnosis that racism and youth oppression were the keys to what was going on, and so we developed intervention teams to go into those disruptive high schools to try to work with the adults and the young people and community representatives on what changes could occur such that the high school could return to operations.
  • [00:24:57.83] And it was tough seeing, because there were weapons in the schools and so on. But this team of graduate students, it was a black, brown, and white group of people. Like this team that I was on at the hospital, collaboratively sought out to create a unit that there was none like it in the university. Part of it was these intervention teams, young graduate students going into these disruptive high schools. Part of it was research on what the heck was going on with these socially and psychologically in these scenes.
  • [00:25:33.14] And part of it became a team looking at alternative high schools at that time in the country. There were a number of high schools that most of them were private, but they were operating very, very differently in their relationships to young people. The curriculum was different. The process of education was very different. So we had a research team, part of it that worked on that.
  • [00:25:55.66] And so we had this program-- the program went on for about five years. We got major funding from the Department of Justice, other federal agencies, from the Ford Foundation, and the US Office of Education very much supported what we were doing. It was one of the things that-- the only things that was effective in these high schools. But the Vietnam War was going on, and then President Nixon decided to invade Cambodia. It was very controversial. The countries in turmoil over the Vietnam War.
  • [00:26:32.60] Well, a lot of the top level of the US Office of Education resigned in protest for the decision to invade Cambodia. With that went a lot of our support, financial support for the program. And so we knew that we couldn't keep this program going. The Institute for Social Research where we started it didn't like the program, because we had all this intervention going on. It wasn't pure research.
  • [00:27:01.28] We graduate students committed to social change and like it a lot. That's why we were doing it, OK. So we'd been moved to a physical facility on the edge of town up on North Main Street, got us about far from campus as possible. Because remember this is a time when the first black action movement protests happened at the University of Michigan and the place was shut down over issues of racial injustice, OK. And here we are we've got a black, brown, white team committed to justice intervening in the parallel situations in high schools.
  • [00:27:34.16] So they got us about as far off a campus as they could, but with the finances going we knew that we were going to have to shut the program down. While I was scrambling to finish my dissertation and using some of the research data that came out of this whole program, and I'm back in the Institute for Social Research where all that data was and I'm working away in my office one day and pounding on the door. And I open the door, and there was a group of students.
  • [00:28:04.13] I didn't know them. I wasn't teaching at that point. I taught a little bit in the psychology of religion course, but I wasn't teaching and I was just grinding data and trying to work on my dissertation.
  • [00:28:16.07] So they said you're Jim Crowfoot, and I said, yes, I am Jim Crowfoot. They said, well, we need to talk to you. And I said, well, OK. Come on in. So they sat down, and they told this story that they had transferred out of LS&A, the liberal arts, the big college part of U of M in response to the first environmental teaching in the country that went-- environmental teachings went countrywide in '71, '72, but the first one was at Michigan because some of the planners with Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who helped young people get this movement of teachings going was from the University of Michigan.
  • [00:28:59.89] And because of Michigan's schedule getting out of school early April where others universities and colleges were going to have this in May, it first happened in Michigan, OK. And it was a tremendous success as teaching. Closed the university down for a couple of days, and out of that about 150 students from LS&A transferred in mass into the small school of natural resources, fisheries, forestry, and wildlife. About 300 students all-male faculty, all-male students, lot of women, a lot of people out of the civil rights movement now working on the environmental movement transferred into LS&A.
  • [00:29:43.65] Well, there were some radical students in all that group. They did a lot of things, and we'll talk about that. But they-- the school expanded. They needed more faculty. So a small group of these students along with a couple of faculty wanted to create a new program putting environmental justice and environmental quality together, and it would be a program at the master's level to train people to go out and do social change work that would incorporate social and environmental justice.
  • [00:30:13.74] And so they had a job search going on nationally for faculty who would come in and create that program with the students. And they had been looking for a year. Couldn't find anybody. And they were out in Seattle somewhere trying to find somebody, and they said, well, there's this group at the University of Michigan. And it's the group I've been describing called the educational change team is what we were called in.
  • [00:30:38.04] And they mentioned to people in that group, and one was me and another was an African-American colleague soon to be Dr. Bunyan Bryant was his name. And so these students determined that we might be great candidates for this thing, and so they were in my office. And I said, look, I've been on this campus for almost six years, and I don't even know where the school of natural resources is located. It's not a good bet to become a tenured track faculty member in a college that is on your campus and you don't even know where it is, OK.
  • [00:31:13.80] And I said your aspiration to create this social change program is attractive to me, and I'm amazed that you have this vision and have been successful in school allowing you to go out and recruit faculty. But thanks, no thanks. So they called me up and kept-- they wanted me to come over and give a job talk at the school. And I kept saying no, but they strategized to go to my PhD advisors and to all my peers on this educational change team to persuade me, and finally Bunyan Bryant and I went and gave a job talk.
  • [00:31:48.14] INTERVIEWER 2: Excuse me. There was a buzz up there.
  • [00:31:50.77] INTERVIEWER 1: All right, we'll pick up right where [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:31:55.54] JIM CROWFOOT: We went over and did the job talk, and the students and the faculty who wanted this program to happen were very, very enthusiastic. Initially, they were even more enthusiastic, because obviously they knew my colleague was African-American. And they thought because of my last name, I was Native American, OK. Well, I'm glad I figured out that was the assumption early, because I said, hey, folks, this is a white guy. I'm asked this question a lot, but, no, I'm not Native American.
  • [00:32:33.59] So anyway, we went in as a black white team thing, and we decided that we knew before we took this job that there was no graduate program in the US doing environmental advocacy. That's a very common term now, but you even said environmental advocacy in those days and people's like what? What are you talking about?
  • [00:32:57.14] Because working for the environment was just beginning to come into the fore in the early 70s, and putting it together with social justice was only to come really big time in the 80s, in the mid 80s. And here it was, this was '71. But any rate, we got the offer. We decided to take the job.
  • [00:33:26.42] And we decided to do two things, one, to involve the students in creating the program, which isn't the usual way in higher education. It usually comes out of the heads of professors and out of some academic discipline and so on and so forth. And we decided the other thing to do is to get resources from around the country from social change projects that were going on.
  • [00:33:52.43] And we visited movement for a new society stronghold in West Philadelphia that was doing grassroots advocacy and change largely around social justice, not much environment. There was a man who had a lifelong career working for racial justice in Kentucky. And we got a hold to him and invited him up to spend time with the group and out of all that. We put together a mantra for our program. There's a lot of work to be done meaning we need this in society, but there are absolutely no jobs.
  • [00:34:39.03] There's nothing labeled environmental advocacy out there with any kind of salary or money associated with it. And we learned from these programs that what you really needed to learn is a lot about community organizing, how in fact do you create power from the bottom up that addresses issues that are important to some constituency of people who want their lives to be better environmentally and in terms of social equity. So we put a curriculum together.
  • [00:35:20.81] Some of it was things out of grassroots social movements around the country. Some of it was tying in to some of our knowledge of sociology and psychology, and we knew that a big piece of the curriculum had to be, well, how are you going to create your own job. Because coming out of this thing, that's what you're going to be up to. And we didn't know-- we didn't know if this thing was going to fly or not. These initial students were very committed. They had this idea in their head, but what about what about the next wave of students? If you had a mantra, a lot of work to be done in society, no jobs, who was going to bite at that?
  • [00:36:02.96] Well, it turned out that the first group of students, some of them created their own social change organization, got funding. Others join labor unions, religious groups who were working on justice and beginning to work on environment. So they finally got jobs, and low and behold, once we hung out the shingle for this program here came another group of young people looking for graduate work wanting to do this.
  • [00:36:33.10] And then we had a few undergraduates who really wanted this even though they weren't graduate students. And a couple of those younger students became a part of this program. Funny things happen too, because one of the younger students came from a very wealthy family in Bloomfield Hills, very wealthy. And I don't know Thanksgiving came one of the semesters she was in the program. She went home, and she refused to drive her parents Cadillac anymore, OK.
  • [00:37:07.70] Well, when I heard about it, I understood why and everything. But next thing I knew her father had called their local congressman. They had me investigated as a communist. So all kinds of things happen out of this program, OK, and I won't go into that. I did finish my PhD in 1972, and I began teaching in the fall of '72. Thinking this thing might last three, four, or five years, but it was very radical and, low and behold, I stayed the rest of my-- most of the rest of my career at the University of Michigan.
  • [00:38:01.43] INTERVIEWER 1: So what about your school experience is different from school as you think it is now or as you know it is now?
  • [00:38:15.59] JIM CROWFOOT: It's sad to say that a lot of the school experience today isn't that much different, OK. Some of the education that I created with the environmental advocacy program and things I've done since then is very different, but the schooling is pretty much the same. For me, the things that really made things come together were experience, was being out actually doing stuff.
  • [00:38:49.85] Now there are more service learning opportunities now. There are more internship kinds of things coming in through some secondary education and a lot in colleges, OK. But there wasn't very much when I was going through high school and college at all. So it was those times out of school at the State Hospital in Louisville, the summer jobs. I didn't talk about a summer job.
  • [00:39:19.84] I worked in a factory with a lot of-- I was the only college student working with the factory laborers, and the laborers were very diverse, some ethnics from Eastern Europe, some Latino people. That experience also was changing. But schools are all too much the same top down the adults in control, a lot of information pumped at people, and most of it out of the status quo, very little of it really around justice and social change.
  • [00:39:58.47] Now there's nothing like-- I didn't have anything in my college or my high school or college experience like the course you guys are taking. So that's hopeful. And when I look at the skyline student body, I read the mission of Skyline, this is alternative, OK. And a little bit like some of those schools that we were looking at in the 60s that were way outside public education at that point and way outside the mainstream. I think so. There's signs that some of that is finally coming through the wall of the status quo.
  • [00:40:36.64] INTERVIEWER 1: So we're going to go a little in the pop culture on that time. Was the popular music like and maybe some of the dances that were associated with it.
  • [00:40:46.11] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, one of the things you probably know about me by this point is that I was not into popular culture very much. I was an academic bookworm, nerd. And I was socially not very confident.
  • [00:41:09.02] And I did date more in college. I did it when I was in graduate school. I began to date when I was in seminary. I dated more then and actually got married in 65 before I-- well, just we got married-- my fiance and I moved to Michigan when I started graduate school, but we didn't get married to the following summer.
  • [00:41:41.76] But now to the issue of pop culture. Remember that 67 was what many people talk about as a race riot in Detroit. I referred to it as a rebellion, OK. And remember I talked that later the black action movement happened at the University of Michigan. And with all that, black culture is beginning to invade or be invited into popular culture.
  • [00:42:15.67] So you have-- you begin to have the music coming out of the African-American experience, and particularly the experience of protest and rebellion that's coming into pop culture. And some of that and some of the jazz was very attractive to me. But hip hop and all that kind of stuff was-- that was nowhere close to being in the scene at that point.
  • [00:42:51.24] INTERVIEWER 1: What were the popular clothing or hair hairstyles like?
  • [00:42:56.48] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, I told you about high school and the blue suede shoes. Of course, you had the duck tail stuff coming off of Elvis. So you had that kind of thing. When did I start my beard. I don't think I started with my beard until I was a graduate student in Michigan. I had a full beard at that point.
  • [00:43:23.28] So some of that was beginning to come in, and 60s, the youth culture, I was not into the drug culture. But drugs were very big. And youth rebellion, people dropping out of school and going in the communes or going on the road, all that kind of stuff was going on.
  • [00:43:50.41] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any slang terms used that aren't really common today?
  • [00:44:01.52] JIM CROWFOOT: None that I can recall.
  • [00:44:05.26] INTERVIEWER 1: Now we're going to head onto a routine in special activity.
  • [00:44:11.14] JIM CROWFOOT: What was a typical day like for you during this time? Well, for me in this time of higher education, the typical day was going to classes and to try to get your classes late in the morning. And early on in college, they figured that out. So you had required stuff at 8:00 and all that kind of stuff.
  • [00:44:43.68] So my life was organized around classes, OK, and study time. Those were the two big organizing kinds of principles. There were times with the fraternity where there were parties, and I remember school vacations with great affection. Because I studied a lot, and some of the vacations I also studied. So academics organized my day to day life.
  • [00:45:20.65] INTERVIEWER 1: Aside from the vacations, did you do anything else for fun or was it just studying.
  • [00:45:30.31] JIM CROWFOOT: I enjoyed fishing, and that usually happened during vacations. I did enjoy working at this camp in southern Wisconsin, Camp Edwards. I had a person from Decatur, Illinois and myself headed a leadership-- leaders in training program. This was an all boys game. Most of these camps are co-ed now, but they weren't at that time.
  • [00:45:57.98] And so I really enjoyed working with teenagers-- I was in my 20s at this point-- on leadership, and this program was not on the main campus of the camp. It was on an island in the middle of a lake. And that-- it was sweet. I really liked that and enjoyed doing that a lot.
  • [00:46:25.43] I enjoyed Chicago. I had gotten a little dose of New York City the brief months that I was in Columbia. So I was much more-- and we were on the south side of Chicago, And we were an island called Hyde Park and all surrounding us is the west side of Chicago, south side of Chicago, which were dominantly people of color and lower socioeconomic neighborhoods. But I was more comfortable than I was when I'd been in New York City. So I enjoyed that. I enjoyed that.
  • [00:47:00.07] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any special family days or traditions that you had during this time.
  • [00:47:05.54] JIM CROWFOOT: I think during this time I return home until I married. I returned home most Christmases, Thanksgivings when I was in the Midwest. And I had very close relationships with three of my four grandparents, and so I made it a point of maintaining those relationships all through these years. And that was special when I returned home. My fourth grandparent died before I was born, and so I was always very curious about this person who I didn't know, but I knew my other three grandparents. They all-- their primary residence was in Belgium where my family lived, so.
  • [00:48:07.73] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any significant changes in your family life during your schooling years or?
  • [00:48:14.61] JIM CROWFOOT: The biggest change in my life-- my family growing up was when I was nine years old I ceased to be an only child and a sister was born. Though I never really knew her very well, because I was out of the house by the time she was eight or nine years old. So that was a huge change. But my grandparents were healthy and functioning through all that period. I lost one uncle early to cancer, and that had a lot of impact on my extended family.
  • [00:49:01.29] What
  • [00:49:01.47] INTERVIEWER 1: Special food traditions does your family and now and they had back then?
  • [00:49:08.43] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, now, they're mostly vegetarian, OK. I can assure you that wasn't the case when I was growing up. If you didn't have meat with an evening meal, it was for economic reasons. You might have macaroni and cheese or maybe some eggs or something, and I remember my mother grew up in a farm. And they raised and preserved much of their own food. So canned food was big, and there were a lot of vegetables in the canned stuff.
  • [00:49:49.25] Fruitcakes, I don't know if you ever had a fruitcake at holiday time. It's made of candied fruits, and the best fruitcakes are aged. And you wrap a cloth soaked in rum around them. And my mother made these and aged them for several years before they were-- and so that was special. And coming from her mother, Christmas cookies were huge, OK, all kinds of varieties of Christmas cookies. And some of them had ethnic origins in Europe.
  • [00:50:30.79] INTERVIEWER 1: So we got through part three. I think we have about five minutes left. So I don't really want to get too much in the next section, because it's another one of those, kind of, long questions.
  • [00:50:43.21] JIM CROWFOOT: Anybody wants to ask any other questions about what you heard, feel free.
  • [00:50:48.48] INTERVIEWER 1: You guys have?
  • [00:50:50.07] INTERVIEWER 2: That's for like the follow up.
  • [00:50:53.28] JIM CROWFOOT: I'm only saying that, because my wife was here for one yesterday, and the other people besides the interviewer said can we ask questions? And the person said fine. That's the only reason I asked.
  • [00:51:14.15] INTERVIEWER 1: We're starting our third interview, and we're going to go over par four. This set of questions will cover a long period of your life from the time you completed your education, entered the labor force, or started a family. You can deny to answer any questions, terminate the interview at any time. After you finished high school, where did you live?
  • [00:51:38.81] JIM CROWFOOT: I lived in several different places, always going to school or going to work. I lived in Galesburg, Illinois College. I lived in Chicago for part of my graduate work in theology and philosophy. I lived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, then I came to Ann Arbor as a graduate student, mostly lived here, because I wound up working here.
  • [00:52:10.31] Then for a bit I lived in Yellow Springs, Ohio, because that's where I was working. I lived in Northern Michigan for a year, because I was involved in some volunteer work there and then back to Ann Arbor. So I've been mostly here since then, so.
  • [00:52:30.51] INTERVIEWER 1: OK now I'd like you to tell me a little about your marriage and family life. First, tell me a little about your spouse and where are you guys met.
  • [00:52:39.36] JIM CROWFOOT: I've been married twice, first marriage 23 years and the second marriage is ongoing an 23 years. I met my first wife in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She was a student at Gettysburg College, and I was in my final year of this four year theology, philosophy thing at Gettysburg seminary. She became a high school English teacher, actually taught a pioneer-- OK, that's OK.
  • [00:53:15.36] INTERVIEWER 1: What was it like when you were dating?
  • [00:53:21.17] JIM CROWFOOT: We met in February at a Valentine's Day-- somebody introduced us. We were engaged I guess about June that year, and we moved to Michigan. And I was going to graduate school. And she was going to teach at a high school in Hartland, Michigan.
  • [00:53:43.34] We didn't live together. That was important to her and our families. That period of our engagement, we lived kitty corner from each other in different houses in Brighton Michigan for six months, and then we were married at Christmas time. Moved back to Michigan as married people, so we had sort of a short dating period, short engagement.
  • [00:54:10.99] INTERVIEWER 1: OK. What was your wedding like?
  • [00:54:14.56] JIM CROWFOOT: Wedding was we both came from Lutheran backgrounds, and it was in the church in the town she grew up in Demarest, New Jersey. It was a church wedding with the reception afterwards.
  • [00:54:30.50] INTERVIEWER 1: Now could you maybe repeat those questions for your second marriage.
  • [00:54:35.52] JIM CROWFOOT: OK, I met my second wife, though, I had no idea she'd become my wife at a church in Ann Arbor, a small multiracial congregation Church of the Good Shepherd in Ann Arbor on Independence Street. We were friends for a period of time.
  • [00:55:01.78] I then under-- in that period of time, I was separated from my first wife and then finally we were divorced after a couple of years of separation. The friendship with my now wife Ruth Kerry went on, and we became engaged I think, gee, my golly, in 1991. I was separated in '88, divorced in '89, I think became engaged in '91.
  • [00:55:36.54] Married in an outdoor wedding, summer wedding outside of Dexter, Michigan. And she was a widow with two children. My children were grown by that point in time. So our children were at our wedding, so a very different weddings.
  • [00:56:03.76] INTERVIEWER 1: Now could you tell us a little about your children when they were young and living with you.
  • [00:56:10.11] JIM CROWFOOT: Yeah, my daughter was born in '69, and we lived briefly at a rental place on Miller street. And then my family and another family bought a house together on campus. Two families lived in the same house. So their childhood was there before we moved back up-- the joint house lasted about four years, and then we bought our own house on Sunset Street. She went to wine school.
  • [00:56:50.76] My son was born in '72, '73, and we were living in this jointly owned house at the time. But shortly after his infancy, we'd moved into the separate house. He went to wine school.
  • [00:57:07.86] It was the open school at that time, so both my kids were in an open school, in a multiracial school. That was very important my wife and I. And they went on into [INAUDIBLE], which was the alternative junior high at that time.
  • [00:57:24.93] They both wound up-- my daughter did a year at community and was partly community, partly pioneer. My son went straight to pioneer. He was involved in athletics a lot. She was involved in girls soccer.
  • [00:57:47.12] I worked a lot through their childhood and high school days. In retrospect, I wish I'd spent a lot more time at home than I did. They both did well in school. There was never a hassle about studying-- or I mean, maybe rarely.
  • [00:58:13.08] They both didn't have huge crises in their growing up, but they both went to college and are very successful at what they're doing. At this point, they're both married now.
  • [00:58:30.03] INTERVIEWER 1: Tell me a little now about your working years and maybe what a typical day was like for you.
  • [00:58:36.48] JIM CROWFOOT: My working years I was either a teacher or an administrator. I was a dean for about eight years, and I was a college president for a couple of years. I'll talk about work life when I was a teacher, OK . I usually-- I'm an early morning person, so I get up early and I'd be preparing for class.
  • [00:59:04.22] I'd go to campus to my office. I'd have individual meetings with students. I'd do more preparation for class, and then I'd be off for a couple hours. Often I'd be teaching two classes at the same time.
  • [00:59:21.94] And so a chunk of my day was actually in the classroom teaching, and sometimes part of it was in the library doing preparation. I was doing research at the same time, so part of the day, different days of the week would be set aside for writing and the research projects that I was working on.
  • [00:59:45.36] INTERVIEWER 1: After work, what did your family do or where did they go together to, kind of, like, have fun?
  • [00:59:53.41] JIM CROWFOOT: Did a lot of different things. We were involved in different churches, so we'd go to family night kinds of things in church. We'd sometimes go to the movies together, or the children were involved in sports all the time growing up, so we'd go to sporting events.
  • [01:00:17.53] A big time together was in the summer, because I wasn't teaching. Early on in the children's lives my daughter was 2 and 1/2, and when my son was born, we bought a place up in the wilderness in northern Ontario with another family, same family that we owned a campus house with. And every summer we'd go up there for a month or six weeks.
  • [01:00:42.37] This place had no electricity, no running water in a beautiful wilderness setting. And small towns around. We'd do a lot of small town, kind of, activities, a lot of fishing, swimming. Spent a lot of time together, because often the family wouldn't-- nobody would visit this remote place. So we really had time together.
  • [01:01:06.66] We got up when it got light. Go to bed when it got dark. We had kerosene lamps.
  • [01:01:12.75] INTERVIEWER 1: Are there any special family traditions that you had when you were a kid that you, kind of, brought with you for your kids?
  • [01:01:20.52] JIM CROWFOOT: During vacations when I was a kid, the best years we did go up north and we did spend part of a week or two with another family. So what I've described is-- what we did in northern Ontario was a much expanded version. It was my hope as a kid to have more time up north away from our day to day home, in this case, Ann Arbor. So that was a very special time. And part of the times, those evenings we'd take separate time.
  • [01:01:54.57] So we'd alternate, but one of our-- we'd have one on ones with our children and we'd choose an activity together. So those separate times were special, and then we'd play cards. We'd play games. We create art projects together in this northern retreat, so.
  • [01:02:19.47] INTERVIEWER 1: What was the popular music like at this time?
  • [01:02:24.60] JIM CROWFOOT: I don't have the faintest notion, OK.
  • [01:02:30.35] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you know maybe any of the popular clothing or hairstyles?
  • [01:02:36.72] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, by that time, I had a-- I had a full beard, and my hair was long, not to shoulder. But it was-- it was long, OK. And that wasn't particularly the popular hairstyle, though, there were a lot of academics who looked that way. And Ann Arbor had its share of post 60s hippies. I guess I would probably be seen as one of those folks.
  • [01:03:09.33] INTERVIEWER 1: Thinking back on you're a working adult life, were there anything really important events that affected you and your family dramatically?
  • [01:03:19.26] JIM CROWFOOT: Yes. The 60s and the struggle around racism in the 60s. It led us to change where we lived to get into multiracial schools. It led us to change the religious group from being in an all white scene to a multiracial scene. The comings of the environmental movement that happened in the early 70s ultimately affected where I worked and what I focused on, and it affected our lifestyle.
  • [01:03:58.24] We lived a simpler life. We got involved with recycling. We were big garden people. Yeah, so yeah some of the big social movements around us did affect us.
  • [01:04:15.49] INTERVIEWER 1: OK, now we're onto part five. And this is going to focus strictly on your work and your retirement times in your life. What was your primary field of employment, and how did you really get started with it?
  • [01:04:33.37] JIM CROWFOOT: Higher education, colleges, universities were my primary field of employment. And I, sort of, backed into it in that I really came to get a page the trying to understand more about organizations and social change thinking that I was going to take that out and be a pastor in a church or some kind of community leader doing that kind of work. And these students knocking on my door and talking about this academic opportunity, it was a decisive change in my life. I became a professor, and then a dean and then a college president, so.
  • [01:05:22.23] INTERVIEWER 1: Describe the steps of the process involved in your job from start to finish. What was involved? What raw materials were used?
  • [01:05:32.42] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, the raw materials were information, research-based information. The other raw materials were students wanting to learn, and both what I was looking at in terms of information and what the students were interested in, how could we make a better world in terms of justice for humans but also for the natural environment.
  • [01:06:06.46] INTERVIEWER 1: What specific training or skills were required for your job, and how is it different today?
  • [01:06:13.56] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, certainly, a lot of academic degrees and that kind of academic-based learning. And given what I did, I did quite a bit of experiential learning. I think today-- and of course, all this was done without computers. So you could spend a couple of days chasing stuff down in the library, I now can sit at my desktop and have it delivered to my office. So that's greatly different.
  • [01:06:50.20] Also I think there are more opportunities for experience for learning now than were institutionalized when I was going through education. Service learning, internships, all kinds of things, and even that's built into a lot of courses now, more engaged learning available now. Everything was slower. I mean, we didn't have a computer to develop a paper and revise it through typing and then second drafts of typing it. Everything was slower, I mean, to do academic work.
  • [01:07:36.87] INTERVIEWER 1: So what technology did you have?
  • [01:07:43.19] JIM CROWFOOT: Typewriters and mimeograph machines, OK, that was the dominant technology. And libraries, I mean libraries were-- I mean to have a library like the University of Michigan as it was, woah, I mean, incredible because you didn't have an internet in there. So yeah.
  • [01:08:05.51] INTERVIEWER 1: How do you judge the excellence within your field, and what makes someone respected in your field?
  • [01:08:14.02] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, being able to achieve promotion from lecture to assistant professor, associate, full professor, there were very high standards in each of those steps. And they involve both mostly the quality of your research but increasingly the quality of your teaching. And those judgments, particularly the research, were made by your academic peers and which journals, how many articles you had in journals.
  • [01:08:54.51] In the line of my work in a professional school, increasingly student evaluations played a major role. And I was a strong advocate for students to be able to evaluate and for there to be public access to those evaluations.
  • [01:09:14.80] INTERVIEWER 1: What do you value most about what you did for a living?
  • [01:09:20.20] JIM CROWFOOT: Oh, I was tremendously fortunate in being able to make my living by doing what I was most passionate about, and that is working with young people in the interest of making this a better world. And I had tremendous opportunities to do that, and just the opportunity to work with young people, highly motivated. My teaching very little of it was required. And so I very seldom got into things of chasing students around about doing work or attendance at class. I mean sometimes people had serious problems with addiction or something, but I just worked with incredible students.
  • [01:10:12.52] And my understanding of teaching is that it's teaching learning. It's an integral process. And if you're not learning from the people you're teaching, you're really not engaged in what I understand to be the teaching learning process. So I've learned immense amounts from my students.
  • [01:10:38.48] INTERVIEWER 1: Tell me about any moves you made during your working years in retirement prior to your decision to move to where you live now.
  • [01:10:47.63] JIM CROWFOOT: OK, I made a big decision in 1994 to retire early from the University of Michigan and to become president of an alternative college, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It's a college where the governance of the college is shared between the faculty and students. It doesn't have fraternities sororities or intercollegiate athletics. Students are very activist.
  • [01:11:19.57] It was a highly gay friendly college at a time when gay rights were way different than they are at present, and that required us to leave a large university in a college town like Ann Arbor and fight in and get into a small village in southwestern Ohio. Fortunately, it was a multiracial small community in southwestern Ohio, because we've got a big stop on the Underground Railroad. Because southwestern Ohio was under martial law during much of the Civil War, because it was allied with the Confederacy. So a lot of racism in southwestern Ohio that I hadn't fully gotten a peek at in terms of its overtness earlier.
  • [01:12:17.00] INTERVIEWER 1: So how did you come to live back in Ann Arbor.
  • [01:12:22.34] JIM CROWFOOT: I didn't last a long time, couple of years as president of Antioch College. It was the most challenging, difficult job of my life, and ultimately I wound up not being supported by the Board of Trustees. And that was painful, but when that ended the question was, well, what am I going to do? I retired from the University of Michigan. So we had about a year and a half, and we had been involved in Northern Michigan with emerging work on the environment and issues of justice. And we were on the board of a nonprofit organization up on the old vision peninsula outside of Traverse City.
  • [01:13:10.04] And it operated out of a small inn, and we were good friends with the owners of the inn and the directors of this nonprofit working on environment peace and justice issues. And they invited us to come up and share the operation of the inn and the nonprofit organization for a year. So we pulled up stakes, put all our stuff in storage, went to Northern Michigan for a year doing all the work you do in a B&B, a Bed and Breakfast, and then doing the work that redirecting this nonprofit into a more full focus on the issues of sustainability, pulling the piece, justice, and environment work into one, sort of, package.
  • [01:14:00.60] And so we spent a year up there. We thought we might travel and work in some other alternative organizations, but there was an opportunity to return to Ann Arbor and join this c-housing, this intentional community. And so we came back south to do that.
  • [01:14:22.49] INTERVIEWER 1: How do you feel about your current living situation?
  • [01:14:28.33] JIM CROWFOOT: I feel good about it. It's not been an easy situation, because it is an alternative community. It demands a lot of collaboration among a large group of people. And there are social and environmental issues, because we own 20 acres of land. We're a diverse group of people in our backgrounds, and we're trying to do be a cooperative community.
  • [01:14:54.85] And none of us grew up in cooperative communities. None of us grew up trying to do sustainable caring for a woods and prairie and gardens. So it's challenging.
  • [01:15:13.19] INTERVIEWER 1: How did your family life change when you or your spouse retired, and all of your children left home?
  • [01:15:21.93] JIM CROWFOOT: My children were in the process-- When I separated from my first wife, one daughter was just going to college, and my son was midway in high school. And those were difficult years simply because any time there is a divorce that is challenging, and divorces happen but families continue. And so trying to figure out how a family continues after a divorce is challenging.
  • [01:16:01.97] We chose not to go through an adversarial divorce. We used a mediator to try to work out things in a collaborative fashion. We were open with our church community and our friends about what was going on and why and so forth, but it was still-- it was still rugged. And it was tough on our children to have this happen. And it was coincident with their leaving home on their own, so all that was shriveled together.
  • [01:16:41.95] INTERVIEWER 1: What's a typical day like in your life now?
  • [01:16:46.97] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, it's interesting because I retired from the University of Michigan in '94, and I went to Northern Michigan. I came back to Ann Arbor. I didn't think I'd become involved with the university again, and I in '98 I began teaching again in a different alternative program in the university, a new living learning program where students of all different backgrounds and races were trying to become a cooperative community in their residence halls. And I was trying to teach them about sustainability in academic seminars.
  • [01:17:24.08] So I was retired from the University, but I was still deeply engaged. This is the first fall that I haven't been teaching in the university. So full retirement is brand new, OK. So I sleep a little later in the morning. I'm no longer getting up at 7 o'clock.
  • [01:17:43.02] I'm a little bit confused about what am I doing for heaven's sakes. I am involved in a lot of social issues. I'm still involved with some students at the university, and I still use the libraries. I'm reading a lot, thinking about what I'm going to write next.
  • [01:18:01.95] But it's pretty confusing, because I miss the students. I told you how important students and teaching have been to me. By the same token, it's giving me more time to think about myself and about more time with Ruth. And so there is a freedom, but there is also the necessity to make choices.
  • [01:18:29.98] What am I going to focus on now? And also to be much more in touch with I'm 76 years old, and this is the final phase of my life. And so what's the ending of my life knowing I don't know when it's going to end, but what's that all going to be about?
  • [01:18:46.31] And my wife and I made a critical decision a couple of years ago to join a new retirement program called Life Choices. And it's a program rather than moving to a retirement community on a campus somewhere, this program tries to keep you in your home until you die, OK, with a lot of support and so on and so forth. And we were the eighth or ninth persons to sign up for this. So we're feeling our way into what a dying at home agenda would be like, so.
  • [01:19:25.59] INTERVIEWER 1: What does your family enjoy doing together now?
  • [01:19:29.82] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, we enjoy traveling. We spent some time on the Gulf Coast in March and April-- I mean, in February and March now. We enjoy that a lot. We're learning a lot about the deep south. Some of it painful to learn about, but we love the beach. We love-- there's a small alternative Quaker community down there that we are a part of.
  • [01:19:57.21] So enjoy to travel. We enjoy our grandchildren a lot, and we're very involved with this local the religious society of friends called Quakers. We're very involved in that community. I do environmental social change stuff through the Quakers, through this co-housing community where I live. I've been involved in this recent selection of the new police chief for Ann Arbor, because of my sorrow and anger about the police killing [INAUDIBLE] a year ago. And I enjoy continuing to try to make the world a better place.
  • [01:20:43.10] INTERVIEWER 1: Are there any special days or family traditions that you still enjoy today?
  • [01:20:51.42] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, certainly the holiday times of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter where various configurations of my now blended family take place. So we enjoy those a lot. We really do enjoy times with our grandchildren. Those are very special. The Grand kids' birthdays, and times where we get several days together camping or just hanging out.
  • [01:21:28.36] INTERVIEWER 1: When thinking about your life after retirement where your kids left home up to the present, what important social or historical events were taking place. And how did they positionally affect you and your family?
  • [01:21:45.07] JIM CROWFOOT: That's interesting, I think what's been going on in the country on environmental and social issues has been very important. My son has been deeply involved in politics in California. He's now a senior aide to the governor of California and works on the drought right now. My daughter and her family have elected to live in a very diverse neighborhood in Chicago, and my grand sons in Chicago are growing up in the public schools. In Chicago, oh, man, so much more diversity than anything I knew growing up.
  • [01:22:37.56] My son-in-law in Chicago works on affordable housing, and my daughter works on alternative programming at DePaul University, which does a lot of recruiting and work with first generation college students. My son and his wife live in Oakland, California, another hugely diverse community very involved in the social and environmental issues in California. So the continuing journey of this country on those issues very much has influenced my children's choice of where to live and what to work on.
  • [01:23:17.81] INTERVIEWER 2: [INAUDIBLE]
  • [01:23:22.74] JIM CROWFOOT: How we doing in terms of fighting our way through.
  • [01:23:26.23] INTERVIEWER 1: Four or five questions left, and then I'm going to ask the question. Basically, you just say whatever you want. Is there anything you'd like to add that I haven't asked yet. So if there's not, then we can go back and touch up on some things if you want to maybe look at this to see what-- sure of if you want to ask further, that would be fine with me.
  • [01:23:45.80] INTERVIEWER 2: Don't we have follow-up questions that she wanted to--
  • [01:23:49.98] INTERVIEWER 1: I mean, I don't know if we have any. I think there's just other [INAUDIBLE]. What family keepsakes and mementos do you possess? What's their story, and why are they valuable to you?
  • [01:24:09.91] JIM CROWFOOT: My mother spent a great deal of time doing genealogical research on her father's family going back into the 1600s. So that, that's very, very-- I treasure that work, and it stimulated me to learn a lot more about my ancestors. So that's a keepsake.
  • [01:24:45.13] My own Crowfoot family, there isn't as much genealogical stuff but I have some on it. And I have a lot of the tools of my grandfather and my father both-- they were both were-- they could build things. They had all kinds of skills with wood and all that, so I have-- I have a number of their tools and I have collected some of my own antique tools. But they were also both of them accomplished watchmakers, and so I have a lot of tools and things that I don't even know how to use, magnifying glasses and so on that they used.
  • [01:25:29.68] And then my father, they used to have really good metal working classes in high school, and they would actually cast brass objects. And so I have some of those that my father did in probably the 1920s. I have-- I think I still have one quilt by grandmother on my mother's side made. So those are some of the family mementos. And family is very, very important to me, and so having those mementos are very precious.
  • [01:26:17.39] INTERVIEWER 1: Thinking back on your entire life, what important social or historical event had the greatest impact.
  • [01:26:39.05] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, there's two. One is the 60s, and everything that happened on issues of justice. And then into the early 70s on the environment. I mean, both of those really supported me in being able to do my professional work, as well as what I'm about in political terms the rest of my life.
  • [01:27:12.40] The other thing that is very important event that's not as well known socially, but it was the beginning of women explicitly writing and talking about healing from abuse, both abuse that happened to them as children and particularly the abuse of physical or sexual violence as adults. And why that is so important to me is that a piece of my background that I was aware of increasingly in my 20s and 30s was I have very few memories of my childhood inside the houses where I grew up. And in my late '30s, early '40s, it became increasingly clear to me that despite my success as a faculty member and a dean, I was very unhappy and depressed.
  • [01:28:24.62] And so I entered a period of therapy. And in the course of that discovered that I was abused as a child emotionally and sexually, some physical abuse. And it was very hard to get in touch with, because it injured me deeply, and also I love my parents. And my parents did bring strength to me, but there was this other side of them that deeply impacted me.
  • [01:29:10.61] And the one person in my family that supported me through all this was my maternal grandmother, Amelia, not because she knew the specifics of what was going on, but she knew that I didn't want to be living in my parents' home. And she as a young child, well, I think she probably was 10 or 11 when her second parent died, and this is back in the late 19th century.
  • [01:29:46.38] And she was-- she and her siblings were taken over by I believe one of her mother's sisters and her husband, and they were quite cruel to these children. And the day my grandmother-- maternal grandmother was 18 years old, she left that house and took her siblings with her. So somehow she had a capacity to continue to love me and support me through all these difficult times. And I had a rapport.
  • [01:30:28.12] And so why women going public on their violation and particularly how they went about healing was important was that at the time that I discovered that this was part of my own personal history. Men were just beginning to realize that men were also abused as children, and a lot of what became available for healing for therapists to use and then for peer support groups to use were really modeled on what women had pioneered. And early on when I discovered this about myself, I felt almost disbelieving and felt very lonely.
  • [01:31:17.47] But not long after that, the research was beginning to document that this wasn't that unusual and that sad as it is 25% of women have been-- had sexual improprieties and abuse by the time they're 18. And about 13% of men have also had the same experience. So the fact of this finally coming to the surface and becoming public and women's proactive action on healing was a very important social event that ultimately shaped my working on my own healing as opposed to becoming-- and I found out other men who'd had similar experiences to me and some of them were living out of their cars.
  • [01:32:17.74] Some of them committed suicide, and many of them were addicted to substances in ways that were highly destructive. Some of us were addicted to work, and a lot of such men were also in prison. They had gone in their anger into highly anti-social often being violent toward other people.
  • [01:32:48.59] INTERVIEWER 1: Again, thinking over your life, what are you most proud of?
  • [01:32:58.55] JIM CROWFOOT: I'm most proud of my ability to adapt and to change and do it in a way that focuses on injustice toward people and toward nature and the injustice that I experienced myself, and to try in the midst of all that not to turn into a cynic and to be someone committed to nonviolence. So that's what I'm most proud.
  • [01:33:38.71] INTERVIEWER 1: What advice would you give to my generation?
  • [01:33:52.34] JIM CROWFOOT: I think the advice I would give would be to become aware of where we are in the history of the planet that we're sitting on and the history-- about a 200,000 year history of our human species. Because we're in the midst of a highly unprecedented conditions and challenges to the species. We all know about climate change, and a bunch of us don't yet believe it, but we know about that. But that's the tip of the iceberg of what we're doing to the larger environment that impacts our ability physically to survive and the kind of migrations we see going on in Europe now will eventually touch the US. We've gotten a little taste of the children coming out of Central America, but that's again the tip of the iceberg.
  • [01:34:55.57] And secondly, the challenge of being a global civilization now where we know what's going on in other parts of the world, and we're increasingly interdependent is unprecedented. The size of the human population born it was about 2 million, and it's just been hockey stick exponential growth since then. And it looks like we're headed to 10 billion and simultaneously to all this is this pattern of growing inequity within our own country but most of the countries of the world and within these different regions of the world.
  • [01:35:41.18] So it looks to me and to many who study this that unprecedented changes are ahead of us simply because we're on a finite planet with this economy that you all are studying in micro and macro that embraces ongoing infinite economic growth. Whoa, whoa, some-- and we're already beginning to get up into some of those constraints. Meanwhile we're the richest economically country in the world, and to do that we've had to exploit our natural resources and a good deal of natural resources of other parts of the world. That can't go on indefinitely.
  • [01:36:31.97] So my advice to your generation is to really look ahead and anticipate that major changes are ahead. Broaden your skills. My grandfather could build his own house, and I think my dad could do too. I lost all those skills in becoming this academic whatever, but those skills are going to some of those kinds of practical skills in addition to the intellectual learning you're doing and so on are going to be very, very critical.
  • [01:37:07.01] So those are some thoughts , and if you want to think about a vision for the future I recommend that you get hold of the earth charter. You can just go on the internet and put earth charter in the browser. And this is a vision that's been worked on both top down and bottom up, and it's been vetted by grassroots groups on all the continents of the world except the Antarctic. It's, sort of, here are the principles that we need to embrace as we think about this kind of future that I just talked about.
  • [01:37:49.47] INTERVIEWER 1: Is there anything that you want to add that we haven't really talked about or anything else you want to touch upon?
  • [01:38:04.52] JIM CROWFOOT: Just that I have been grateful for the rich opportunities I've had with some great difficulty along the way. But nonetheless, I had an opportunity in the course of all that to learn a lot about my society, its history, my species, the global, and to learn a lot about myself and how humans function at the best and their worst. And so I just have a lot of gratitude to be able to do that.
  • [01:38:39.94] I mean, my grandparents they just worked to survive, OK-- I mean, all of them. Both sides of the family knew a lot of deaths, premature deaths of children, deaths, of tuberculosis. I've had the luxury of good health and tremendous economic health care resources. And because of my whiteness and my maleness, I've had a lot of access to the advantages and the goodies of this society way more than anyone could say that they deserve. So I'm very grateful.
  • [01:39:22.04] INTERVIEWER 1: You have guys have any questions?
  • [01:39:24.96] INTERVIEWER 3: Do you want to ask about political affiliations or how-- what [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:39:31.88] JIM CROWFOOT: Sure, I can talk about that. My family was I grew up on both sides were very conservative, rock-ribbed Republicans, and I was I think I even-- I think it was at the point of John Kennedy's the opportunity for him to become president was first time I've worked as a Democrat. And I'm now well left of the mainstream Democratic Party. And I embrace a lot of the principles of feminism. That's been very positive for me in political terms.
  • [01:40:28.16] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you have any questions for us?
  • [01:40:30.36] JIM CROWFOOT: Well, at some point just what's it like. I mean, I can't imagine the opportunity at high school and doing what you guys are doing, just what the heck that's like. You know, to get an ole stranger to get an opportunity to do. I mean, what the heck is that?
  • [01:40:51.03] INTERVIEWER 1: This has been, like, life changing almost. I mean, like, I've never heard a story like yours before, and it really like sometimes I'll complain about doing work, but you've worked way harder than I ever have. So I'll be like I'm really motivated now to just go out there and try my best.
  • [01:41:11.14] INTERVIEWER 2: Yeah, I'm not sure how to answer that question.
  • [01:41:16.01] JIM CROWFOOT: Yeah, well, and I know you got other teams doing this with other people. I know a few of the other people, because my wife's one of them. And there's a couple other Quakers, Nancy and Tom Taylor, and they're doing this. And so you got a lot of it to do yet, and how are all these different stories are going to come together, which--
  • [01:41:34.48] INTERVIEWER 3: It's going to be a great product.
  • [01:41:35.89] JIM CROWFOOT: I'm going to look forward to seeing that final.
  • [01:41:38.65] INTERVIEWER 1: Yeah.
  • [01:41:39.34] INTERVIEWER 2: It'll be so good.
  • [01:41:40.65] INTERVIEWER 1: It's gonna be good.
  • [01:41:42.04] INTERVIEWER 2: Especially with Jesse and [INAUDIBLE].
  • [01:41:46.79] JIM CROWFOOT: How has this been for you given so much of this has been my talking about race?
  • [01:41:53.40] INTERVIEWER 2: I like that you bring it up a lot, because not a lot of people like to talk about it. Especially like, global likewise, like, bringing up a lot of issues that really don't get addressed, especially today, racism, natural environmental type stuff.
  • [01:42:11.88] JIM CROWFOOT: Yeah, OK. Because it's funny for me, because I'm used to my teaching and just who I am, I mean, I'm always in dialogue. And so for this to be a one way thing is it a little strange to say the least. But good, good. Like I say, it's gotten me to reflect.
  • [01:42:30.77] INTERVIEWER 3: It's Interesting. Yeah, I've never heard like a full, like, complete life story in like what a timespan of what--
  • [01:42:41.46] INTERVIEWER 1: I don't even know if I know this much about my parents honestly. I should ask them these questions.
  • [01:42:47.67] JIM CROWFOOT: I wish-- I wish that I had been able to ask my parents and grandparents a lot more than I did for sure. All
  • [01:43:01.44] INTERVIEWER 1: Right.
  • [01:43:02.64] JIM CROWFOOT: Good.
  • [01:43:04.14] INTERVIEWER 3: OK, I'm going to turn it off.
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Knox College
Gettysburg College
University of Michigan - Institute for Social Research
Environmental Activism
Antioch College
Child Abuse
Oral Histories
Social Issues
Legacies Project
Jim Crowfoot
Bunyan Bryant