Dan Chapman

June 6

6:30pm Doors Open
7:00pm Program

$20 / person

$15 / 2+ tickets

$100 / table for 6

A Road Running Southward

Following John Muir’s Journey through an Endangered Land

A Road Running Southward is part travelogue, part environmental cri de coeur, and paints a picture of a South under siege. It is a passionate appeal, a call to action to save one of the loveliest and most biodiverse regions of the world by understanding what we have to lose if we do nothing.

In 1867, John Muir set out on foot to explore the botanical wonders of the South, keeping a detailed journal of his adventures as he traipsed from Kentucky southward to Florida. One hundred and fifty years later, on a similar whim, veteran Atlanta reporter Dan Chapman, distressed by sprawl-driven environmental ills in a region he loves, recreated Muir’s journey to see for himself how nature has fared since Muir’s time. Channeling Muir, he uses humor, keen observation, and a deep love of place to celebrate the South’s natural riches. But he laments that a treasured way of life for generations of Southerners is endangered as long-simmering struggles intensify over misused and dwindling resources. Chapman seeks to discover how Southerners might balance surging population growth with protecting the natural beauty Muir found so special.

Each chapter touches upon a local ecological problem—at-risk species in Mammoth Cave, coal ash in Kingston, Tennessee, climate change in the Nantahala National Forest, water wars in Georgia, aquifer depletion in Florida—that resonates across the South. Chapman delves into the region’s natural history, moving between John Muir’s vivid descriptions of a lush botanical paradise and the myriad environmental problems facing the South today. Along the way he talks to locals with deep ties to the land—scientists, hunters, politicians, and even a Muir impersonator—who describe the changes they’ve witnessed and what it will take to accommodate a fast-growing population without destroying the natural beauty and a cherished connection to nature.

Dan Chapman is a longtime writer, reporter, and lover of the outdoors. He grew up in Washington D.C. and Tokyo, the son of a newspaper man and an English teacher. He worked for Congressional Quarterly, The Winston-Salem Journal, The Charlotte Observer, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has also reported from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He currently writes stories about conservation in the South for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He lives in Decatur, Georgia with his wife Bita and their two boys, Samad and Naveed. This is his first (published) book.


“Dan Chapman’s new book is a celebration of America’s nineteenth-century Southern wilderness, and a wake-up call for the beloved, yet endangered, region today. Chapman guides us through a long-ago dazzling, buzzing, glittering world of forests, meadows, rivers, and marshes—dangerously diminished today by urban sprawl and heedless development, but not yet completely vanished from the earth.”

Melissa Fay Greene, author of “Praying for Sheetrock” and “The Temple Bombing”

“Dan Chapman balances grave outlook with wry humor in new book…an engaging hybrid — part lyrical travelogue, part investigative journalism and part jeremiad, all shot through with droll humor….[with an] immersive, sometimes mischievous approach….His easy enthusiasm is infectious enough to make ardent tree huggers of us all.”

“Not all journeys in somebody else’s footsteps prove especially comforting. In A Road Running Southward: Following John Muir’s Journey Through an Endangered Land, the Georgia journalist Dan Chapman retraces the ecologist John Muir’s thousand-mile walk through the Reconstruction-era South, and what he finds there today is alarming..”

“[A Road Running Southward alternates] between jeremiad and dark satire…[where] walking, for Mr. Chapman, is a form of activism as well as personal penance, a way of making himself see, and feel, the drastic changes in a lacerated landscape he still loves.”

Books by Dan

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