The Nature of Writing Speaker Series * Spring 2015 in Bellingham
A SERIES OF FREE NATURAL HISTORY AUTHOR READINGS AT VILLAGE BOOKS / 1200 11 STREET, BELLINGHAM
Join Village Books and North Cascades Institute in welcoming our region’s most gifted writers on the natural world to Bellingham. From wildlife in the city to botany, local marine ecology to poetry inspired by our Wild Nearby, you’ll learn more about our wondrous planet when these gifted writers share their latest literary works.
Friday, April 3, 7 pm
John Marzloff’s Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife
We all know that human development is threatening our environment. Runoff pollutes our streams. Homes and businesses encroach on wilderness habitat. Energy use warms the planet. Too many species are in decline. And yet, for some of our most charismatic wild creatures, suburban and urban habitats offer surprising opportunities to thrive. Our suburbs and city parks are often remarkably rich in bird diversity—holding more species than either wilderness areas or urban centers. In fact, suburbs may play a key role in preventing loss of species in the face of the dramatic disruptions of climate change and other human impacts. Welcome to Subirdia shows us how. This event is part of our Nature of Writing series, in partnership with North Cascades Institute. John Marzluff is James W. Ridgeway Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington, where he teaches classes in ornithology, urban ecology, conservation and field research. His previous books include In the Company of Crows and Ravens (with Tony Angell), Dog Days, Raven Nights (with his wife Colleen) and Gifts of the Crow (with Tony Angell). He is teaching the class In the Company of Corvids at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center June 26-28.
Friday, April 11, 7 pm
Thor Hanson’s The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History
Seeds are everywhere. From our morning coffee to the cotton in our clothes, they give us food and fuels, intoxicants and poisons, oils, dyes, fibers, and spices. Without seeds there would be no bread, rice, beans, corn or nuts. They support diets, economies, lifestyles, and civilizations around the globe. And yet, despite their importance in nature and their role in human survival, their awesome story has never fully been told.
In The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History, award-winning conservation biologist Thor Hanson explores the story of seeds by asking a simple question: why are they so successful? Seed plants have become so abundant that it’s hard to believe that for much of evolutionary history, they did not even exist. Hundreds of millions of years passed where other plant life dominated the earth – first algae, and then spore plants like quillworts, horsetails, mosses, and ferns. Once they evolved, though, seeds became an incredibly efficient mechanism for plants to reproduce, protect themselves, and travel long distances. The evolutionary history of seeds shows not only why they have been able to thrive in nature, but also why they are so vital to human survival.
Blending expert, yet understandable, explanations of science with humorous first-person reportage and fascinating historical anecdotes, The Triumph of Seeds deftly traces the history and science of seeds. From a mountaintop overlooking the Dead Sea to 300 feet below an Illinois coal mine, from an encounter with vipers to a misguided attempt to crack and ironclad nut, Hanson takes readers on a fascinating scientific adventure through the wild and beautiful world of seeds.
Thor Hanson is a conservation biologist, Guggenheim Fellow, Switzer Environmental Fellow, and member of the Human Ecosystems Study Group. The author of Feathers and The Impenetrable Forest, Hanson lives with his wife and son on an island in Washington State.
Thursday, April 16, 7 pm
Audrey DeLella Benedict & Jospeh K Gaydos’s The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest
The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest combines a scientist’s inquiring mind, breathtaking nature photography, and wondrous stories. Straddling the western border between Canada and the United States, this unique ecosystem is brought to life on the page with a lively narrative that looks at the region’s geology, fauna, and history.
Audrey DeLella Benedict is a biologist, a writer, and a passionate advocate for the conservation of the global ocean and Arctic and alpine environments the world over. She is founder and director of Cloud Ridge Naturalists and is currently a member of the board of the SeaDoc Society.
Joseph K. Gaydos is Chief Scientist for the SeaDoc Society, a marine science and conservation program focused on the Salish Sea. He is a licensed wildlife veterinarian and has a PhD in wildlife health. For over a decade he has been studying the fish and wildlife of the Salish Sea.
April 18, 2015
Saul Weisberg’s Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes
North Cascades Institute is excited to announce the forthcoming publication of selected poems of Institute Founder and Executive Director Saul Weisberg!
Over 25 years in the making, Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes will feature more than 100 poems written from a seasoned naturalist’s perspective on wilderness and imagination. Weisberg’s poetry grows out of specific images and distinct moments gathered from the natural world. It celebrates green and misty landscapes and the wilderness they hold. In the tradition of poets like Basho, Buson, Robert Sund, Gary Snyder, Tim McNulty and Sam Greene, the poems are an invitation to walk alongside a perceptive observer on rambles in the mountains, runs down the river and ruminations in desert canyons, investigating the ties that bind people and place.
“I have always been drawn to mountains; I came late to the love of rivers,” Weisberg explains. “I was born near the East River on the lower east side of Manhattan, and spent my childhood close to Ohio’s Cuyahoga River. After college, I followed friends and the writings of the beat poets to the Pacific Northwest. I got to know my new home place through work, mostly outside, doing whatever it took to keep me in this special part of the world: commercial fishing, fire lookout, tree-planting, field biologist, environmental educator, naturalist and wilderness ranger in North Cascades National Park. My poems have been born from these experiences, mostly written outdoors, seasoned by solitude, sunrises, campfire smoke and morning dew.”
Published by Pleasure Boat Studio, Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes features art by Seattle painter and woodblock artist Molly Hashimoto. Sections include Natural History, Encounters, Walking Into Mountains, Home Ground and Field Notes.
Weisberg will be giving readings from Headwaters at independent bookstores throughout Cascadia in 2015. Please visit www.ncascades.org/headwaters for venues, dates and more information.
Tuesday, May 12th, 7 pm
Dave Tucker’s Geology Underfoot in Western Washington
(offsite at Whatcom Museum’s Rotunda Room)
Ancient volcanoes preserved as deeply eroded scraps. Seafloors forced high into the sky. Fossils of a long-extinct, 385-pound flightless bird that roamed subtropical floodplains. From the crest of the Cascades to the Pacific, and from the Columbia River north to the Canadian border, the ghosts of deep time are widely exposed in western Washington.
But geology never really dies. It is very much active and alive in the region: volcanoes periodically erupt, showering their surroundings with ash; earthquakes shake Earth’s surface and the constructions of humans, sending tsunamis ashore to wreak havoc; and melting alpine glaciers send forth great floods of water.
Join us for a free event at Whatcom Museum with Dave Tucker, who will present his new book Geology Underfoot in Western Washington, one of the most comprehensive guides to our region’s geology ever written. Dave lives in Bellingham snd is a research associate in the geology department at Western Washington University. He is a director of the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that raises funds to support research at the active volcano and educate the public about volcanic hazards of Mount Baker. Tucker has been mapping Baker’s geology since the mid-1990s, in particular the distribution of volcanic ash deposits. He leads public field trips and gives presentations about the geology of northwest Washington, and is author of a popular blog, Northwest Geology Field Trips.
Wednesday, June 10, 7 pm
Jack Nisbet’s Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest
Jack Nisbet weaves a story like no one else can in Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest. Nisbet engages touchstones in Northwest history in this assemblage of nonfiction stories that reveal the symbiotic relationship of people and place in the Pacific Northwest. From rural Oregon, where a controversy brewed over the provenance and ownership of a meteorite, to the great floods 15,000 years ago that shaped what is now Washington, Oregon and Idaho, this is a compelling collection of stories about natural and human history. Although the scale of time and space in some of the pieces is immense, individual characters still manage to leave their marks; even though the force of modern civilization sometimes seems overwhelming, small places and their key components somehow persevere.
PNBA Book Award winner and best-selling author Jack Nisbet is a historian, teacher and author who focuses on the intersection of human history and natural history in the Pacific Northwest. He is the author of the highly regarded Sources of the River, for which he was awarded the Murray Morgan Prize by the Washington State Historical Society, The Collector, David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work and Visible Bones.