Spring 2024 Nature of Writing Speaker Series in Bellingham

Presented by Village Books and North Cascades Institute

Discover your next great read with this series of presentations by authors, poets, artists and naturalists sharing their latest works. As part of this Spring Series, we’re honored to welcome back Institute instructors, friends and contributors including David B. Williams, Tele Aadsen, and Nikki McClure. Dig through Washington’s prehistoric past, celebrate our kinship with wolves or listen to Rachel Carson’s words echo through the clouds as guest speakers share readings and artwork inspired by the wonders of the unique region we call home. 

All events except for McClure are at Village Books’ Reading Gallery, 1200 11th Street in Bellingham. McClure will present at the Hotel Leo in Bellingham as part of the Chuckanut Radio Hour. Registration is requested for each event – your $5 registration will save you a seat and can be used towards a purchase at Village Books – tickets may be available at the door if space allows.

We hope to see you at a reading this Spring to celebrate the season, new books and old friends!

Saturday, March 23, 6pm
Spirit Whales & Sloth Tales: Fossils of Washington State
David B. Williams

From trilobites near the Idaho border and primitive horses on the Columbia Plateau to giant bird tracks near Bellingham and curious bear-like beasts on the Olympic Peninsula, fossils across Washington State are filled with clues of past life on Earth. With abundant and well-exposed rock layers, the state has fossils dating from Ice Age mammals only 12,000 years old back to marine invertebrates more than 500 million years old.

In Spirit Whales and Sloth Tales, renowned paleontologist Elizabeth A. Nesbitt teams up with popular science writer David B. Williams to offer a fascinating, richly illustrated tour through more than a half billion years of natural history. Following an introduction to key concepts, twenty-four profiles—each featuring a unique plant, animal, or environment—tell the incredible stories of individual fossils, many of which are on display in Washington museums. The spectacular paleontology of Washington is brought to life with details of the fossils’ discovery and extraction, their place in geological time, and the insights they provide into contemporary issues like climate change and species extinction.

Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>

Monday, April 8, 6pm
The Madrona Project Volume VI: The Empty Bowl Cookbook
Readings by Michael Daley, Tele Aadsen, Luther Allen, Jane Allyn, Jessica Gigot, Georgia Johnson, Charles “Chuck” Luckmann and William J. Weissinger

POETRY FEST ALERT! Join several incredible local contributors of The Madrona Project’s sixth issue as they serve up and share a new literature of sustainability! This banquet of writers and artists addresses the ways our species sustains itself with ancestral foods and recipes, adheres to earth’s cycles, and protects our habitat of food sources. This beautiful anthology contains poetry, photography, essays, and more.

Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>


Sunday, April 21, 2pm
Cascadian Zen: Bioregional Writings on Cascadia Here and Now
Readings by Paul Nelson, Jason Wirth, and Adelia MacWilliam

What is the nature of the bioregion known as Cascadia? How is this insight expressed by the people who live, work, practice, and play here? Is there a connection between Zen practice, broadly construed, and the Cascadia bioregion? If so, what is it? Who have been the teachers in the relatively short time that Zen has been known in this bioregion? What role does water play here, more so than in other bioregions and what implications does that have for the people who live here, for their practice?

It is these questions, and other questions brought on by these, that are explored in the new title Cascadian Zen: Bioregional Writings on Cascadia Here and Now. Join all three editors of this gorgeous anthology that brings together nonfiction, poetry, interviews, translations, and artwork in the Readings Gallery to explore Zen practice in the Cascadia bioregion.


Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>


Monday, April 22, 6pm
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific Northwest
Natalie Hammerquist

The new guide offers detailed identification for 35 of the most common medicinal plants, explains how and when to harvest, how to process and preserve plant material, and which toxic and poisonous plants to watch out for. Step-by-step recipes guide readers in making such remedies as Cottonwood Bud Throat Spray, Nettle Seed Salt, and Spruce Tip Oxymel while also offering insights on effective dosing and how to select the right herbal remedy. Materials lists and a comprehensive seasonal harvest chart round out this essential guide.

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific Northwest is ideal for both beginner and more experienced foragers who are looking to identify, harvest, and prepare natural medicines with wild plants. Expert forager and herbalist Natalie Hammerquist developed this guide based on her many years of teaching hundreds of students through her Adiantum School of Plant Medicine, incorporating detailed visuals to assist in plant identification and the preparation of herbal remedies. Her holistic approach combines Eastern and Western traditions and folk knowledge, with an emphasis on conservation and sustainable harvesting.

Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>


Wednesday, April 24, 7pm
(Doors open at 6:30 pm)
Something About the Sky
Nikki McClure


Rachel Carson once wrote, “It is not half so important to know as to feel.”

What do we know about clouds? There are three basic types: stratus, cumulus, and cirrus. Some are fleecy and fair-weathered while others portend storms. But clouds are more than pretty or ominous backdrops. They’re the vehicle of water between sea and land, land and sea, in a cycle without end or beginning. They are the writing of the wind on the sky, a language all their own.

Bringing the soft edges of clouds and the natural world to vivid life with a new, more fluid approach to her signature cut-paper technique, Nikki McClure inspires true emotional engagement with the world we all share. An antidote to “get your head out of the clouds,” this art-meets-science tribute to curiosity and wonder is a gift for daydreamers and nature lovers of all ages.

Tickets are required – this event will sell out! >>


Sunday, May 5, 6pm
Angela’s Glacier
Jordan Scott

Join us for an all-ages family event on a Sunday in the Reading Gallery to listen to award-winning author Jordan Scott’s luminously-illustrated love story of a girl growing up in the shadow of a glacier that’s always there to listen.

As soon as she’s born, Angela’s father introduces her to her glacier: “Angela listened to the glacier; the glacier listened to Angela.” He carries her on his back up the icy expanse as the wind makes music of the snow and the water underneath. Over time, Angela gets big enough to walk beside him, and then, to go alone. She tells her glacier everything, and it answers.

But then, life gets busy. Angela’s days fill up with school, homework, violin and soccer and friends. Until one day, Angela’s heart doesn’t sound right anymore. Luckily, Angela’s dad is there to remind her what she needs: a visit to her ancient icy friend.

From the Schneider Family and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award-winning author of I Talk Like a River, Angela’s Glacier is a moving story about growing up without losing yourself, loving nature, and allowing it to love you in return. Diana Sudyka’s breathtaking artwork pulls the reader into a world of warm hugs from shining blue-green ice— and from Dad, too.

Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>


Friday, May 17, 6pm
Wild Chorus: Finding Harmony with Whales, Wolves, and Other Animals
Brenda Peterson

In a book Sy Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) called “…beautiful, brave, and important,” award-winning author Brenda Peterson draws on her lifelong relationship with animals to explore the wisdom we humans can glean from them. Looking beyond the companionship we enjoy with domesticated animals, Peterson explores how wild animals can become our guides and fellow travelers, helping us navigate the stresses of daily life and a rapidly changing planet.

From beluga whales to wolves, raccoons to bears, elk to herons, the stories in this collection offer insights into the intricacies of animals’ intuitive communication, compassionate attention, and peaceful adaptation. Featuring vivid, visionary stories, Wild Chorus reveals a world filled with inspiring lessons of kinship, connection, and living in the present. Join Peterson on an incredible journey as she speaks for animals as both an artist and an activist to discover the power of learning from the natural world.

Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>


Thursday, May 30, 6pm
Seth Zuckerman and Kirk Hanson
A Forest of Your Own

Throughout Oregon and Washington there are several hundred thousand family forest owners, in addition to millions of forest acres under the care of community forests, municipalities and Indigenous tribes, all of whom manage trees for sustainable wood harvest as well as recreation, inspiration, and a range of cultural connections. Yet there hasn’t been a complete resource for Pacific Northwest forest stewards until now.

In this comprehensive how-to, authors Kirk Hanson and Seth Zuckerman explore all aspects of forest management―everything from how to evaluate a piece of land before you buy it through implementing long-term plans that may include establishing new stands of trees, harvesting mushrooms as well as wood, and protecting your forests far into the future through wildfire risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and conservation easements. Loaded with helpful tables and illustrations that address the pros and cons of various species and how to best care for wildlife and the land, A Forest of Your Own is a clear guide to the many rewards of ecological forestry.

Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>


Saturday, June 15, 6pm
Wisdom of Place: A Guide to Recovering the Sacred Origins of Landscape
Elizabeth Boults and Chip Sullivan

This book aims to help readers rediscover the sacredness of the everyday landscapes around them in order to shed light on the ecological imperatives of our time.

Drawn from the union of art, nature, and metaphysics, it presents some of the myths and legends of antiquity as they might be recognized by our modern society of earth-shapers. Through word and image the authors reference the ecological and environmental concepts found at the core of traditional environmental knowledge and provide a new context for environmental engagement that merges the spiritual and phenomenological with the scientific and empirical. Wisdom of Place can be used by anyone—from creatives to spiritual seekers, landscape architects to coders—to call forth the voice of the genius loci—the spirit of place—and reveal the creative forces and hidden currents of nature.

Registration is requested but tickets available at the door >>

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