Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus


Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Phil Condon

Commitee Members

Dan Spencer, Henriette Lowisch


revolution, ecology, circumambulation, circumnavigation, ecopsychology, human ecology


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | Nonfiction


The Way Around: Walking into Revolution

Chairperson: Phil Condon

The Way Around investigates revolution through personal accounts of pilgrimage, ecopsychology, and activism. For ten years (2006-2016), I engaged in various forms of circular travel across the world to understand the true shape of revolution—its etymology, its use throughout history, and if revolution might be some universal inertia that drives us all forward.

The journey begins in 2006, where I travel around the world for a year. I weave together discoveries of place and planet with a 500-year historical account of human circumnavigation. Returning to Portland, Oregon, I’m introduced to the practice of long-distance running through circling around several Pacific Northwest volcanoes on foot. This more localized form of circumnavigation further attunes me to the cyclical patterns of ecology, which pulls me into more political orbits of activism and civic engagement to protect these spaces. I get involved with Occupy Wall Street and one evening run for several hours around the Portland encampment, a kinesthetic revolution evolving into a meditation on political revolution.

After circling the globe, orbiting volcanoes, and budding as an activist, in 2014, I travel 7,000 miles to Western Tibet and circumambulate 21,778-foot Mount Kailash. Here, I find circumambulation functioning both as spiritual practice and cultural survival. This journey would direct me a year later back to Northern California, my birthplace, where, in 2015, I organize a fifty-year anniversary circumambulation of Mount Tamalpais, a tradition started in 1965, by poet Gary Snyder.

The aperture of my personal revolution through all of these experiences continues to focus locally inward, towards home. In my new home in Missoula, Montana, on the opening day of the 2015 COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, I hold a demonstration on the University of Montana campus and incorporate circular walking to represent the planet’s six mass extinctions.

In the end, after a decade of circuitous experiences, each brought me closer and closer to home, closer to a shared tension of rootedness and curiosity for the whole. I discovered that transformation—personal, political, planetary—moves in sweeps of cycles, and The Way Around attempts to illustrate this revolutionary heritage we all carry with us, not just as humans but as expressions of a planet ever-revolving, ever-renewing, and constantly requiring overthrow to thrive.

Revolution, I found, is everywhere.

Included in

Nonfiction Commons



© Copyright 2016 Nicholas T. Triolo