Nature of Writing Speaker Series ⎸ Fall 2023

Presented by Village Books and North Cascades Institute

Find your next book for the Fall and Winter months ahead in presentations by authors, poets and naturalists sharing their new works. This series is particularly close to our hearts as several of our instructors and long-time friends will be presenting their new books, including Tim McNulty, John D’Onofrio, Tele Aadsen (with Holly Hughes), David Williams, Kim Freier and John Miles. Most events are in-person at Village Books (RSVP recommended); two events are part of the fun Chuckanut Radio Hour series. We hope to see you at some of these readings!

Chuckanut Radio Hour Events

David Williams’ Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound
September 14  at The Firehouse Arts & Events Center in Bellingham

Not far from Seattle skyscrapers live 150-year-old clams, more than 250 species of fish, and underwater kelp forests as complex as any terrestrial ecosystem. For millennia, vibrant Coast Salish communities have lived beside these waters dense with nutrient-rich foods, with cultures intertwined through exchanges across the waterways. Transformed by settlement and resource extraction, Puget Sound and its future health now depend on a better understanding of the region’s ecological complexities.

Focusing on the area south of Port Townsend and between the Cascade and Olympic mountains, Williams uncovers human and natural histories in, on, and around the Sound. In conversations with archaeologists, biologists, and tribal authorities, Williams traces how generations of humans have interacted with such species as geoducks, salmon, orcas, rockfish, and herring. The book also takes an unflinching look at how the Sound’s ecosystems have suffered from human behavior, including pollution, habitat destruction, and the effects of climate change.

David B. Williams is a naturalist, author, and educator. His many books include the award-winning Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography and Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City.



Graham Zimmerman’s A Fine Line: Searching for Balance Among the Mountains
November 8 at the Hotel Leo in Bellingham

In his debut book A Fine Line: Searching for Balance Among Mountains, renowned alpinist Graham Zimmerman grapples with how to reconcile the love of outdoor adventure with the cost of such endeavors, both human and environmental. A world-class mountaineer, Zimmerman has made first ascents from Alaska to Kyrgyzstan, and in 2020 he received the Piolet d’Or (alpine climbing’s highest honor) for his climb on Pakistan’s Link Sar with Steve Swenson. But beyond cutting-edge climbing and a mountaineering culture that typically demands one’s full devotion, Zimmerman realizes he is interested in the balance of pursuing alpinism with social responsibility above all.

Having faced grief and personal loss in the mountains, as well as witnessing firsthand the effects of climate change on these beloved places, Zimmerman shares lessons learned on his journey from adventuring for fun to becoming an outspoken conservation advocate, questions an adventure culture that is built upon privilege and explores the theme of a “100-year plan” for a long life in the outdoors. Mountain lovers everywhere will see themselves in this optimistic and accessible story of adventure, growth, and personal reckoning.



Events in Village Books Reading Gallery

Friday, September 1, 6 pm
Soul of the Skagit with Christian Murillo

Soul of the Skagit tells the riveting story of the Skagit River, from its glacial headwaters all the way to the Salish Sea. Featuring a pairing of stunning photography and engaging writing, Christian Murillo takes you on an immersive journey through the Skagit, revealing a narrative of unexpected relationships between the rugged landscape, wildlife, mankind. Understanding these relationships helps this book build the foundation for a holistic approach to conservation that can be applied beyond the boundaries of the Skagit River Watershed.

In Soul of the Skagit, Murillo takes us on a compelling journey through the Skagit River Watershed, from the top of Eldorado Peak to the waters of the Salish Sea. Through his writings and imagery, we learn the story of a critical waterway and the variety of life it supports. This is a highly readable book for those interested in how this local landscape shapes us all.”

—Scott Kranz, Photographer



Thursday, September 28, 7 pm
Cascadia Field Guide: Art, Ecology, Poetry with editors Elizabeth Bradfield & Derek Sheffield

Like a traditional field guide, Cascadia Field Guide is a compendium of 128 plants and animals that reside in the Cascadia Bioregion. However, this is where the likeness stops. Rather than solely including objective observation, Cascadia Field Guide seeks to capture the deeper connection one feels to the plants and animals who encompass the region. A “feel guide” if you will!

With over 120 separate contributors, Cascadia Field Guide highlights diverse voices throughout the region, including Tribal Nation members, Black voices, up-and-coming poets and artists, well-known authors and many others from the Western Washington area.



Sunday, October 1, 4 pm
Tele Aadsen’s What Water Holds
n conversation with Holly Hughes

Tele Aadsen met the ocean as a child when her parents traded jobs as veterinarians for a migratory life shared with sea birds, salmon, and fishermen. In the mist of the Tongass rainforest, Tele learned to explore life within endless shades of gray, coming to know firsthand how fine the line between life and death and the precarious balance of sea, land, and sky. She’s spent the four decades since trolling for salmon on Southeast Alaska’s offshore waters.

In What Water Holds, a series of lyrical, reflective essays first shared at Oregon’s FisherPoets Gathering, Tele examines questions of equity, identity, community, the changing climate, and sustainability with loving, detailed attention, revealing the complexities within their many shades of gray. Weaving stories of what lies beneath the surface and—if we choose—the possibilities beyond, What Water Holds speaks to anyone who has fallen under the spell of the sea, struggled to find their own uncharted path, or wrestled with big philosophical questions—in short, anyone seeking to live a full, deeply considered life.



Tuesday, October 3, 7 pm
John Miles’ Teaching in the Rain: The Story of North Cascades Institute—LAUNCH PARTY!

In the early 1980s, five young men who loved teaching, the natural world, and the North Cascades dreamed of creating a field school to teach about the place and its many histories—natural and cultural. The North Cascades Institute emerged from that dream in 1986 with the help of North Cascades National Park. This is the story of how the Institute grew from humble beginnings to become a model nonprofit environmental education organization admired throughout the United States.

“Teaching in the Rain tells a most unlikely story, one that is far from over but has a happy outcome just the same. John Miles, as the genius loci of the North Cascades and the Institute that took their name, is the perfect person to tell it. In prose both elegant and engaging, sleek yet omitting nothing important, he takes his lucky readers through the life so far of a most wonderful flowering, from outset through evolution to its present place as an essential Northwest institution. If every eco-region had something like the North Cascades Institute, and someone like John to tell us all about it, we might actually scrape through our ecological crisis in good shape. As it is, this book gives me hope.”

— Robert Michael Pyle, author of The Butterflies of Cascadia,
, and The Thunder Tree

“Washington State has a long history of teaching outdoor environmental education with various facilities providing for teacher and student instruction. Teaching in the Rain is a singular summary of the North Cascades Institute, one of Washington State’s most unique, successful, and sustained programs. John Miles has written an important and intriguing history of how the Institute was created and has been sustained for over 35 years. This important book is an essential guide to what it takes to direct education meaningfully in this age of environmental stress and to marshal the common ground of community to develop skills and shape attitudes necessary to address the environmental challenges we all face.”

— Tony Angell, Artist/Educator, Seattle, WA

John C. Miles is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies at the College of the Environment, Western Washington University. He taught at Western for four decades where he focused his work on environmental education and environmental humanities, especially history of the US national park system. He served as Dean of the college from 1985-1992 and also helped found the Institute’s Graduate M.Ed. program.

Read Mary Vermillion’s review of Teaching in the Rain published in Cascadia Daily News.



Friday, October 27
Tim McNulty’s Salmon, Cedar, Rock, & Rain: Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

This wild, wooded, water-carved corner of the Pacific Northwest represents one of the most diverse and spectacular natural areas on the planet. This book is a stunning celebration of place and call to collaborate across difference. The book has come together with an incredible lineup of regional writers and naturalists—Tim McNulty, David Guterson and Lynda V. Mapes, and a depth of tribal perspective—including a foreword by Fawn Sharp, President, National Congress of American Indians. It also includes essays from individuals representing five of the sovereign tribes on the Peninsula, and signature to Braided River—stunning photography throughout the book to awe and inspire. 

Tim McNulty is the main writer, and would be the author/presenter for this book event. Tim is a poet, essayist, and nature writer based on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. He is the author of ten poetry books and eleven books of natural history. Tim has received the Washington State Book Award and the National Outdoor Book Award among other honors.

Read Christian Martin’s review of Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain published in Cascadia Daily News.



Saturday, Nov 18 at 4pm
Kim Freier’s Wild Heart

Through lyrical language and enchanting illustrations Wild Heart transports young readers to wilderness landscapes across the globe—from majestic mountains to mysterious rainforests, golden deserts, frozen tundra, arid savanna, to the ocean depths and more. The allure of these captivating places nurtures delight in, kinship with, gratitude for and responsibility toward the earth’s abundant gifts. But is wildness found only in faraway places? Where and how do you find your very own wild heart?

No tickets required.


Friday, December 8
John D’Onofrio’s Hiking Mt. Baker & The North Cascades

This is not your typical hiking guide. In addition to providing information to navigate the trails, this book focuses on the inspiring beauty to be found on these extraordinary footpaths. More than a book to tell you how to get to these spectacular destinations, this book tells you why to go. John D’Onofrio is a writer and photographer who has spent 40 years exploring the Mt. Baker area and the North Cascades. He is the co-author (with Todd Warger) of Images of America: Mt. Baker (Arcadia Publishing) and his essays on wilderness travel have been published in numerous national and regional magazines. His photography has been exhibited throughout the United States, widely published, and utilized by the U.S. Park Service, Forest Service, North Cascades Institute, and the National Parks Foundation. A resident of Bellingham, WA, he has published and edited Adventures Northwest Magazine since 2012.




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