Past Special Events

BeWild Speaker Series

APRIL 10, 2015

Colin Haley

For as far back as Colin Haley can remember, he’s been exploring the Cascades, hiking and skiing, always looking upward, drawn to the summits of the high peaks. At the age of twelve, Haley ascended the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak in the North Cascades with his father and older brother. It was the beginning of a new life.

“Everything I learned,” he says, “I learned in the North Cascades.”

It was one of the best classrooms a young, hungry climber could hope for. Like the legendary Fred Beckey, Haley has used his time and training in the North Cascades to prepare himself for extreme expeditions in Alaska and British Columbia, as well as climbs farther afield in the Karakorum, Himalaya, Patagonia and Alps.

Join us for a special presentation as Haley — featured in the bestselling book The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby — takes us on climbing adventures in spectacular locations throughout the world, from Shuksan to Cerro Torre!

North Cascades Institute friends can use promo code NCI for $2 off the Colin Haley ticket, or $10 off of the entire BeWild series, when buying tickets via eventbrite at

The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby

Book Launch Celebrations with William Dietrich, Craig Romano and Christian Martin

Special Events Book CoverCelebrate the arrival of a new book that explores the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades in lyrical words, informative maps and awesome photographs: The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, publishing September 2014 by Braided River, a conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books.

In its colorful pages, Pulitzer Prize–winning author William Dietrich takes an imaginary hike through the region, explaining the rich natural and cultural history of the region while also examining future challenges facing this remote yet accessible ecosystem; Christian Martin profiles local folks who live, paint, write, study, recreate and educate in the North Cascades, including Fred Beckey, Saul Weisberg, Libby Mills, Bill Gaines, Molly Hashimoto and Ana Maria Spagna; prolific guidebook author Craig Romano offers routes to getting out and exploring the region, detailing day hikes, bicycle rides, paddling expeditions, ski outings, and car-camping options on both sides of the border. Other elements of this one-of-a-kind book include excerpts from Gary Snyder's 1957 fire lookout journal, an inspirational foreword by Richard Louv, essays on native peoples, early explorers and pioneers of the North Cascades, a detailed conservation timeline and bibliography, lots of maps and — last but certainly not least — inspiring color photographs by the likes of Steph Abegg, Paul Bannick, Benj Drummond, John Scurlock, Andy Porter, John D'Onofrio, Brett Baunton, Paul Bannick, Ethan Welty and Art Wolfe and many other leading nature photographers.

Learn more about the book at

October 10: The Mountaineers Program Center, Magnuson Park, Seattle, 6–9 pm

Come celebrate the release of The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby by Braided River at The Mountaineers homebase on Lake Washington!

Inspiring speakers, stirring photography and a silent auction will transport you to the majestic peaks and lush river valleys of Washington's North Cascades.

Proceeds from the silent auction and ticket sales will help support ongoing outreach on behalf of conservation and recreation in the North Cascades.

Tickets: $10-25. Facebook RSVP at

October 11-12: North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

This engagement begins around sunset with wine and hors d'œuvres at North Cascades Institute's historic lakeside dining hall, followed by an informal gourmet dinner of local and organic foods prepared by our renowned kitchen staff. A presentation, slideshow and facilitated discussion with our guest speakers will follow, followed by book buying and signing. After the next morning's continental breakfast, Institute naturalists offer options to get you outdoors exploring the wild and scenic neighborhood of Diablo Lake. A commuter rate is available for $75 and includes hors d'œuvres, dinner and the presentation. A cash bar with beer and wine will be available.

Tickets: $75-225

October 15: Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Auditorium, Everett Community College, Everett, 7-9 pm

Celebrate the release of The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby by Braided River at the auditorium named after North Cascades National Park’s senatorial sponsor Senator Jackson, hosted by special guest Peter Jackson, Editorial Page Editor for the Everett Herald and son of Senator "Scoop" Jackson!

Admission by donation. RSVP at

November 4: Twisp River Pub, Methow Valley, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
"The North Cascades: Wildness, Renewal, and Communities on the Edge” with Ana Maria Spagna

Join our friends at the Methow Conservancy for this special engagement with Institute instructor Ana Maria Spagna, a Stehekin-based writer who is also profiled in the book! More information at

November 5: Skagit station, mt. vernon, 7-9 pm

Celebrate the release of The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby with all three authors in downtown Mt. Vernon, just blocks away from the mighty Skagit River. Special guest: local photographer Andy Porter!

Admission by donation. Co-sponsored by Skagit Land Trust. RSVP at

November 6: Heiner Theatre, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, 6:30-7:30pm
Chuckanut Radio Hour with Village Books

Join all three authors and North Cascades Institute Executive Director Saul Weisberg at WCC for a fun variety show! The Chuckanut Radio Hour, a recipient of Bellingham's prestigious Mayor's Arts Award, is a radio variety show that features authors, musicians, performance poet Kevin Murphy, Cascadia Weekly columnist Alan Rhodes, an episode of "The Bellingham Bean" serial radio comedy, and some groaner jokes by hosts Chuck & Dee Robinson and Rich Donnelly. The Radio Hour airs every Saturday evening at 6pm and Sunday at 9pm on SPARK RADIO, KMRE 102.3 FM.

Tickets for the Chuckanut Radio Hour are $5 and are available at Village Books and Doors open at 6:30pm, and you must be seated by 6:45pm as the show begins promptly at 7pm.

November 7-8: Painting and Sketching the Wild Nearby with Molly Hashimoto, Frye Art Museum, Seattle

In this class, students study the landscapes, flora and fauna of the North Cascades, using watercolor and portable water-based media. Specimens from this nearby wilderness such as skulls, skins, and flora are brought into the studio for study and inspiration. Hashimoto also supplies students with her own photographs and encourages students to bring their own images, as well.

Students learn about nineteenth- and early twentieth-century plein air artists including George Catlin, Thomas Moran and Abby Williams Hill. Additionally, students discover contemporary artists and outdoorspeople who continue to enjoy and preserve these wild and celebrated places. Presented in partnership with Braided River Press, the conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books, on the publication of The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby.

Register at

An artist and dedicated naturalist, Molly Hashimoto's most beloved places are America's parks and wild areas. When not painting or making prints, Hashimoto teaches for the North Cascades Institute and Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. She writes about art, nature, and ideas at

November 7: Red Barn, Leavenworth, 7 pm

Join Wenatchee River Institute and A Book for All Seasons in welcoming author William Dietrich and wildlife biologist Bill Gaines for a presentation on the book as well as the ongoing search for elusive grizzly bears in the North Cascades. Barn Beach Reserve, a nine-acre nature sanctuary bordering the Wenatchee River and Waterfront Park, is just a short walk from downtown Leavenworth. Entrance fee is $5 for non-members/$3 for current Wenatchee River Institute members. Come early and enjoy a no-host bar along with great comraderie! Doors open at 6:30 p.m. More info at

November 20: Mountain Loop Books and Coffee, Darrington, 6 pm

Guidebook author Craig Romano will give his insights on the best recreational opportunities in a dozen of the best regions in the North Cascades, in both British Columbia and Washington state; and lead a spirited discussion about the stewardship challenges and opportunities facing this ecosystem. Whether you’ve hiked its trails for decades, or have only just begun to get to know this place, you will learn something new about this remarkable mountain range.

December 6: Salmon and Eagles of the SKAGIT / field excursion with Libby Mills

“I have worked twenty-four winters on the upper Skagit River, studying the eagles and salmon, the river and forest and all their interactions,” field biologist Libby Mills explains. “This is something everyone in the Northwest should know about to be ecologically literate.”

Join Libby Mills, one of the personalities profiled in The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, to experience one of the most fascinating natural dramas in the North Cascades. Every winter, hundreds of bald eagles migrate to the Skagit River to feast on the Puget Sound's rich salmon runs — the largest concentration of Haliaeetus leucocephalus in the lower 48 states! This trip will focus on the Upper Skagit River as the abundance of chum salmon reaches its apex, and the eagle numbers are swelling to feed on them. We will examine the intertwined biology of salmon and eagles, their migratory patterns and the impacts they have on other flora and fauna. You'll also learn about local conservation strategies for these keystone species.

Libby is a naturalist and artist who has taught North Cascades Institute seminars for more than 25 years. She is on the board of Skagit Audubon as the Field Trip Chair, leads regular classes in natural history for Padilla Bay Foundation and enjoys taking people into the a natural world to observe, learn and sketch on both east and west sides of the North Cascades and beyond.  A biologist for The Nature Conservancy’s Skagit River Bald Eagle Preserve for 23 winters, Libby worked for nine years as a ranger/naturalist in national parks

Information and registration at or (360) 854-2599. Bundle up, grab your binoculars and join North Cascades Institute in celebration and discovery!

March 12, 2015: Recreation Northwest Expo, Lakeway Inn, Bellingham, 7 pm

Bring your friends and family to check out the best and the brightest in the local and regional outdoor recreation at the Recreation Northwest EXPO at the Best Western Plus Lakeway Inn. Information at


Chuckanut Writes and North Cascades Institute present

A Nature Writing Workshop with author Gary Ferguson

Tuesday, November 18, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm at Whatcom Community College, $75

Over the past several years, Gary Ferguson’s writing has explored the truth of a comment novelist Lawrence Durell once made, that “we are the children of our landscape.” His nature-writing classes are designed to help participants strengthen their voice by more fully understanding how landscape has influenced their own lives. Participants begin with a mix of storytelling, contemplative writing exercises and lecture, exploring commonly recurring themes within the nature myths of various cultures. From this general perspective, the class will move on to specifics, using powerful exercises to help participants identify the transcendent, or archetypal themes of their own links to the natural world.

To register, visit or call (360) 383-3200.

Ferguson’s workshop will be followed by a free public reading at Village Books at 7pm for his new book, The Carry Home. Info at

Read about the harrowing backstory of Ferguson’s new book at

For the past 25 years, Gary Ferguson has traveled thousands of miles down the rivers, trails and back roads of North America: trekking 500 miles through Yellowstone to write Walking Down the Wild, wandering through the seasons with the first 14 wolves released into Yellowstone National Park for The Yellowstone Wolves: The First Year, and spending a season in the field at a wilderness therapy program for the best-selling Shouting at the Sky. His latest book, The Carry Home, is both a moving celebration of the outdoor life shared between Gary and his wife Jane, who died tragically in a canoeing accident in northern Ontario in 2005, and a chronicle of the mending, uplifting power of nature. Ferguson has written for a variety of publications, from Vanity Fair to The Los Angeles Times. He is also the author of 22 books on science and nature, including the award-winning Hawks Rest, published by National Geographic Adventure Press. He is currently on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop Masters of Fine Arts program at Pacific Lutheran University.

Bill McKibben

Saturday, May 17th, 2014
, 3 p.m., PAC Main Stage at Western Washington University, Bellingham

"350: The Most Important Number in the World"

MCKIBBONIn the summer of 2007, Arctic ice began to melt far more rapidly than scientists had expected. Before the season was out, they'd begun to conclude that the earth was already moving past tipping points -- that indicators, from the thawing of glaciers to the spread of droughts, showed global warming was a present crisis, not a future threat. Our leading climatologists even gave us a number for the red line: 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. That's a tough number, since we're already past it.

Bill McKibben describes not only the science of the situation, but also the inspiring global movement that he's led to help change the world's understanding of its peril, and spur the reforms necessary to get the planet back to safety. The first big global grassroots effort to involve people from every nation, McKibben's has crossed the boundaries of language and faith, and even the great gulf between rich and poor. It's become a vibrant, powerful movement for real change, and the basis for an utterly fascinating and necessary talk.

Bill McKibben is one of America's best-known environmentalists. He has written books that, over the last quarter century, have shaped public perception--and public action--on climate change, alternative energy, and the need for more localized economies.

McKibben is the founder of, the first large global grassroots climate change initiative. McKibben's seminal books include The End of Nature, widely seen as the first book on climate change for a general audience, and Deep Economy, a bold challenge to move beyond "growth" as the paramount economic ideal and to pursue prosperity in a more local direction -- an idea that is the cornerstone of much sustainability discourse today. A former New Yorker staff writer and Guggenheim Fellow, he writes for various magazines, including Rolling Stone,The Atlantic, National Geographic and The New York Review of Books.

Tickets available at the Western Box Office — recommended to purchase by phone at (360) 650-6146 / $10 WWU students, $12 general admission.

The Nature of Writing Spring 2014

The Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11 Street, Bellingham FREE!

Cameron MacDonald’s The Endangered Species Road Trip: A Summer’s Worth of Dingy Motels, Poison Oak, Ravenous Insects and the Rarest Species in North America

Saturday, March 22, 4pm

CMACDONALDA wildlife adventure and family holiday like no other, The Endangered Species Road Trip documents the hilarious and thought-provoking journey of natural biologist Cameron MacDonald as he tracks down North America’s endangered species with his young family.

Crammed into a minivan with wife, toddler, infant and dog, MacDonald sets out to observe the continent’s uncommon creatures while navigating the tribulations of back-road travel and vacations with young children. In California, the family camps in the brutally hot Mojave, where MacDonald hopes to see a rare desert tortoise. And in Churchill, Manitoba, he seeks out the dwindling polar bears and meets them at a closer proximity than he had imagined.

Along the way, MacDonald offers fascinating details about the natural history of the animals he seeks and offers insight into the threats they face, such as overpopulation, commercial fishing, and climate change, that are driving them towards extinction.

Sharing the adventure of a lifetime for wildlife lovers, The Endangered Species Road Trip offers an engaging exploration of family dynamics, life on the road, and the natural history of a vast continent.

Cameron MacDonald has worked as a wildlife biologist across North America. His writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Georgia Straight, and elsewhere. He lives in Vancouver, B.C

Holly Hughes’ Sailing By Ravens
Saturday, April 12, 7pm

HHUGHESUsing a variety of poetic forms, former Alaskan salmon gillnetter, mariner, and naturalist Holly J. Hughes deftly explores how we find our way, at sea, in love, and in life.

Hughes draws from more than 30 seasons working at sea, offering a lyrical view of the history of navigation, plumbing its metaphorical richness. From the four points of the compass, Hughes navigates “the wavering, certain path” of a woman’s heart, learning to trust a deeper knowledge.

This collection offers wisdom culled from direct experience and careful attention, taking us with her in her quest to chart her own course. "How will she learn to ride the swell, let the earth curve her?" This poet's questions open us to possibilities as vast as the ocean.



Robert Michael Pyle's Evolution of the Genus Iris
Saturday, May 10, 7 pm

BPYLEJoin Village Books and North Cascades Institute as we welcome beloved lepidopterist and naturalist Robert Michael Pyle for his first full-length book of poetry.

"Robert Michael Pyle’s voice is an essential element in the culture of our literary and scientific community. His deep knowledge of the ecology of the earth and the life patterns of a wide variety of living forms, his careful attention to detail, his passion and energy and commitment to humanity that appear in his past work are present in abundance throughout the poetry in Evolution of the Genus Iris. We are fortunate readers indeed to have this new book and its poems abroad in the world," writes Pattiann Rogers

Robert Michael Pyle writes essay, poetry, and fiction from an old Swedish farmstead along a tributary of the Lower Columbia River in southwestern Washington. His sixteen books include Chasing Monarchs, Mariposa Road and The Tangled Bank. A Guggenheim Fellow, he has received the John Burroughs Medal and several other writing awards. Pyle’s poems have appeared in magazines including the North American Review, and in a chapbook, Letting the Flies Out. He has taught natural history and creative writing classes for North Cascades Institute for over 25 years.


Joshua Howe’s Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming<
Tuesday, May 20, 7pm

JHOWEIn 1958, Charles David Keeling began measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. His project kicked off a half century of research that has expanded our knowledge of climate change. Despite more than fifty years of research, however, our global society has yet to find real solutions to the problem of global warming. Why?

HIn Behind the Curve, Joshua Howe attempts to answer this question. He explores the history of global warming from its roots as a scientific curiosity to its place at the center of international environmental politics. The book follows the story of rising CO2—illustrated by the now famous Keeling Curve—through a number of historical contexts, highlighting the relationships among scientists, environmentalists, and politicians as those relationships changed over time.

The nature of the problem itself, Howe explains, has privileged scientists as the primary spokespeople for the global climate. But while the “science first” forms of advocacy they developed to fight global warming produced more and better science, the primacy of science in global warming politics has failed to produce meaningful results. In fact, an often exclusive focus on science has left advocates for change vulnerable to political opposition and has limited much of the discussion to debates about the science itself. As a result, while we know much more about global warming than we did fifty years ago, CO2 continues to rise. In 1958, Keeling first measured CO2 at around 315 parts per million; by 2013, global CO2 had soared to 400 ppm. The problem is not getting better - it's getting worse. Behind the Curve offers a critical and levelheaded look at how we got here.


Paula Wild’s The Cougar: Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous
Saturday, June 7, 7pm

PAULACougars, mountain lions, pumas…no matter what you call them these powerful animals are undoubtedly intriguing. In The Cougar: Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous, author Paula Wild uses a skillful blend of natural history, scientific research and first-hand accounts to explore our evolving relationship with this enigmatic predator. Sge also includes amazing photos and detailed information on what to do in the case of a cougar encounter. Throughout, Wild delves into what makes this animal that both fascinates and frightens us so beautiful, so dangerous, and why cougars remain such an important and valuable part of our environment.





Village Books, North Cascades Institute and North Cascades Audubon Society present David Allen Sibley

Sunday, April 20, 4pm at Village Books, Bellingham

DASIBLEYThe publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000 quickly established David Allen Sibley as the author and illustrator of the nation’s supreme and most comprehensive guide to birds. Used by millions of birders from novices to the most expert, The Sibley Guide became the standard by which natural history guides are measured. The highly anticipated second edition builds on this foundation of excellence, offering massively expanded and updated information, new paintings, new and rare species, and a new, elegant design.

The second edition offers a wealth of improvements and updates including: All illustrations reproduced 15 to 20 percent larger for better detail; nearly 7,000 paintings digitally re-mastered from original art for enhanced print quality; Expanded text that includes habitat information and voice description for every species and more tips on finding birds in the field; and much more! The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition, brings the genius of David Allen Sibley to the world once again in a thoroughly updated and expanded volume that every birder must own.

David Allen Sibley began seriously watching and drawing birds in 1969, at age seven. Since 1980 he has traveled throughout the North American continent studying the natural world, both on his own and as a leader of bird-watching tours. This intensive travel and study culminated in the publication of his comprehensive guide to bird identification, The Sibley Guide to Birds, followed by The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, Sibley’s Birding Basics, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America and The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.


Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference

<Special_Events_WHESCFebruary 6-7, 2014, at Western Washington University

The 2014 Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WAHESC) will explore ways to advance campus sustainability through the sharing of best practices, presentation of cutting edge examples of creative solutions to common challenges, and the development of regional collaborative networks. Attendees will gain new ideas, analyze sustainability management programs, build relationships, share transferable lessons with peers, and endeavor to form a more united coalition to support key statewide sustainability approaches, goals and policy initiatives.

Exclusive promotion! The North Cascades Institute network saves 20% on tickets when you use promotional code NCASCADES (Code must be used at time of ticket purchase).

Sign up at

Edison Bird Festival: Art, Conservation, Fascination

Special_Events_EdisonBirdFestFebruary 8-9, 2014

In conjunction with the Skagit Valley Hawk Census, the Edison Bird Festival features events that will inspire veteran birders and novice enthusiasts alike!

Located in Edison, Washington — 70 miles north of Seattle & 20 miles south of Bellingham in the Heart of the Samish Valley — the Edison Bird Festival will feature guided birding tours of the lower Skagit Valley with North Cascades Institute naturalists (register by contacting, live raptors, bird ecology presentations, bird decoy carving and painting demonstrations, an invitational art exhibit, the infamous chicken parade down Main Street and more!

Details at

This project received funding from Skagit County:



Vanishing Ice Speaker Series

Len JenshelAmerican, b. 1949Narsaq Sound, Greenland, 2001C-print26 x 30 in. (66 x 76 cm)Courtesy of the artist and Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, CA

Whatcom Museum Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street, Bellingham


In partnership with the Whatcom Museum and upcoming exhibition Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art 1775-2012, we're excited to present conversations on climate change in Bellingham.

Generous support provided by Humanities Washington and The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation


Kathleen Dean Moore, author
Saturday, November 9, 2013, 2-4 pm

“Although climate change is an economic and scientific issue, it is fundamentally a moral issue, and it calls for a moral response.”

This is the thesis explored in Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, a book that explains, in plain and poignant language, the many reasons why we have a moral obligation to the future to leave a world as rich in possibilities as our own. It is a call to ethical action, in the words of moral leaders all around the world.

Kathleen Dean Moore, co-author of Moral Ground, will lead an interactive presentation incorporating art and small-group conversations that explores answers to values-based questions related to climate change. Moore is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University, where she teaches environmental ethics and philosophy of nature, and the author of the essay collections Riverwalking, Holdfast, The Pine Island Paradox and Wild Mercy.



Anna McKee, artist in Vanishing Ice and Eric Steig, isotope geochemist
Saturday, December 7, 2013, 2-3:30 pm

The history of our planet’s climate is coming into clearer focus thanks to an 11,171-foot ice core collected by West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide scientists.

University of Washington Professor of Glaciology and Geochemistry Eric Steig, who has researched polar regions for more than 20 years, is part of this pioneering project that is allowing scientists to peer back 100,000 years into the past.

Expeditionary artist Anna McKee also has a fascination for frozen places, and that curiosity led her to visit the Antarctic research site on a National Science Foundation grant. Her paintings and prints reveal characteristics of snow and ice that may not be obvious: “There's something about the quality of freezing and capturing things like atmosphere, capturing somebody's breath. I had all these fantasies: does it catch the voices and hold those?"

McKee and Steig will share their experiences with the WAIS Divide Ice Core Project and lead a discussion about how collaborations among artists and scientists enrich each discipline and deepen our connection to the natural world.

"I'm really interested in looking at the world and figuring out 'what is this?,'” explains McKee. “Scientists in a very different way, with very different tools, are asking the same questions: what is around us? How do we understand it?"



Henry Pollack, geophysicist, author and Nobel laureate
Sunday, December 8, 2013, 2-4 pm

Why should we care about vanishing glaciers and melting polar icecaps? Henry Pollack, author ofA World Without Ice, explains how the history—and future—of global civilization are inextricably linked to our planet’s ice and water. Globally, the distribution of ice and water is critical in setting the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere, governing major weather patterns, regulating sea levels and dramatically affecting agriculture, transportation, commerce and geopolitics.

Dr. Henry Pollack has been a professor of geophysics at the University of Michigan for more than forty years, travels regularly to Antarctica and has conducted scientific research on all seven continents. He and his colleagues on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

During the past three centuries, rapid population growth and the rise of industrial economies have pushed the relationship between ice and people to a tipping point. Soon, for the first time in human history, we may live on a planet without ice. Pollack will answer questions about this pending crisis and lay out steps we must take to avoid serious impacts on the planet we call home.



Maria Coryell-Martin, expeditionary artist and Kristin Laidre, marine mammal biologist
Saturday, January 11, 2014, 2-3:30 pm

How can science and art work together to provide our society with a more comprehensive understanding of our warming planet?

Expeditionary artist Maria Coryell-Martin and Arctic biologist Kristin Laidre will share their process of collaboration in communicating the impact of sea ice loss on narwhals and polar bears in Greenland.

Laidre is a research scientist for the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center studying how environmental factors change the movement and behavior of top marine predators. Coryell-Martin works in the tradition of traveling artists as naturalists and educators. She supports scientific outreach and education through art, to cultivate observation, scientific inquiry, and environmental awareness.

The Nature of Writing Fall 2013

The Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11 Street, Bellingham FREE!

As the days grow shorter and nights longer, head into winter with new books that explore and celebrate the natural wonders of the world! Join Village Books and North Cascades Institute in welcoming Institute instructors to Bellingham to share their latest literary works. From wildlife in the city to foraging for mushrooms, birds of the Pacific Northwest to poetry inspired by our land- and waterscapes, you'll learn more about our wondrous planet through the voices of America's most gifted nature interpreters.

More information at


Travel to the Arctic with Debbie Miller

Multimedia presentation & book release party

Oct 17: Mt Baker Theatre, Bellingham

Wednesday, 7 pm

Oct 18: Skagit Transit Hub, Mt Vernon

Thursday, 7 pm

On Arctic Ground cover
Join North Cascades Institute October 17 and 18 in welcoming Alaska author Debbie Miller when she presents a multimedia program about her explorations in the Arctic for her new book, On Arctic Ground: Tracking Time Through Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve. In this important new conservation book published by Seattle’s Braided River, Debbie collaborates with a team of photographers and scientists to create the first book of stunning images and essays about the wildlife, landscapes and cultural history of the Reserve.

Join Debbie’s journey as she paddles 600 miles through the Reserve, the largest single unit of public lands in the nation, full of special areas in need of lasting protection. Miller has explored and studied the wilderness and wildlife of the Arctic for more than three decades. Her new book describes the grandest expanse of wild lands remaining in America, with its rich diversity of Arctic wolves, caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, wolverine, dinosaurs fossils and a host of migratory birds from all corners of the world.

“Seeing the beauty and wonder of Alaska has inspired me as a writer to share my journeys with adults and children nationwide,” said Debbie Miller. “This year is a critical one for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The Department of Interior is in the process of developing its first comprehensive management plan for the Reserve. Now is the time to tell the Obama Administration to protect special areas within the Reserve, safeguarding key habitats and wildlife for the Arctic’s future.”

Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt wrote the book’s preface, drawing on his years of experience managing both the economic and biological resources of the Reserve. It also features essays and insight from Alaskan writers and science authorities–including wildlife biologist Jeff Fair, senior Audubon Alaska scientist John Schoen and noted author and soundscape artist Richard Nelson. Paleontologists Jack Horner and Patrick Druckenmiller share the most recent research and remarkable discoveries associated with dinosaur studies in the Alaskan Arctic.

The acclaimed author of 15 nature books for children and adults, Debbie is the author of Midnight Wilderness: Journeys in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a co-author of Arctic Wings: Birds of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She is a founding board member of the Alaska Wilderness League, an organization whose mission is to protect Alaska's extraordinary wilderness.

No advanced tickets required; donations accepted at door.
Co-sponsored by Braided River and Conservation Northwest.

Cheryl Strayed in the Skagit Valley: A Fundraiser for North Cascades Institute

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Public reading of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail at the Conway Muse, 1-3 pm, $10 tickets available
Private dinner and reading with Cheryl Strayed at Nell Thorn restaurant in La Conner, 5 pm, $100 tickets available at or (360) 854-2599.

North Cascades Institute is excited to welcome author Cheryl Strayed to the Skagit Valley on Saturday, September 29, for two fundraisers for Institute youth programs. Strayed will read from the best-selling book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, her powerful, blazingly honest memoir that was recently chosen as the first book in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club 2.0.

In the afternoon, join us at the Conway Muse, a charming and eclectic venue inside a converted 1915 Scandinavian barn in the lower Skagit Valley, just minutes off of Interstate 5. Strayed will read favorite passages from "Wild," answer questions and sign books. Wild, along with her new title Dear Sugar, will be available for purchase, along with lunch, beer and wine.

In the evening, you’re invited to join Strayed at a dinner engagement for a more intimate experience with this in-demand author. Nell Thorn restaurant in La Conner specializes in preparing meals in tune with the seasons, with an emphasis on delicious food, sustainable ingredients and nourishment.

Proceeds from both events will support North Cascades Wild, Mountain School and Cascades Climate Challenge, Institute programs designed to get kids outdoors in to the North Cascades for free or reduced cost. More info at

*     *     *      *      *

Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey up the Pacific Crest.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she'd lost everything when her mother died young of cancer. Her family scattered in their grief, her marriage was soon destroyed and slowly her life spun out of control. Four years after her mother's death, with nothing more to lose, Strayed made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone.

She had no experience as a long-distance hiker – indeed, she'd never gone backpacking before her first night on the trail. Her trek was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and intense loneliness of the trail.

“The Fire Inside”

Documentary screening & discussion with Saul Weisberg



On Tuesday, August 28, at 7 pm, North Cascades Institute co-presents a screening of the documentary film “The Fire Inside: Place, Passion and Primacy of Nature” at Village Books (1200 11th St, Bellingham). The showing will be followed by a discussion led by Saul Weisberg, executive director of North Cascades Institute, and film producers Phil Walker and Dr. Rebecca Gould. “The Fire Inside” is a 30 minute documentary that asks provocative questions and offers thoughtful perspectives on our relationship to the natural world and the ecological crises we face today. What is nature? And what is the human experience of that world? In the everyday push of our modern lives , what connections have been lost and what remain? This film, set in the San Juan Island, follows a small, diverse group on a contemplative retreat as they explore the wildness about them and the passion for place within.

You can find out more about the film at

Local visionaries in the video include:

Kurt Hoelting - Wilderness guide and author of Circumference of Home
Stella Chao - Environmental and social justice activist
Victoria Santos - Community organizer and activist
Barak Gale - Jewish environmental activist
Emily Gunn - Wilderness guide
David Gunderson - Episcopal Priest


Saul Weisberg, executive director and co-founder of North Cascades Institute. Saul is an ecologist, naturalist and writer who has explored the mountains and rivers of the Pacific Northwest for more than 30 years. Saul worked throughout the Northwest as a field biologist, fire lookout, commercial fisherman and National Park Service climbing ranger before starting the Institute in 1986. He authored From the Mountains to the Sea, North Cascades: The Story behind the Scenery, Teaching for Wilderness, and Living with Mountains. Saul serves on the board of directors of the Association of Nature Center Administrators, the Natural History Network, and the Environmental Education Association of Washington. He is adjunct faculty at Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. Saul and his family live near the shores of the Salish Sea in Bellingham, Washington.

Phil Walker is the owner and creative director of Jump\Cut Productions. His work has focused primarily on education, history, community, and the environment. During an 8-year tenure at the Georgia Tech, Phil worked on a variety projects including  a series of global media campaigns for United Nations featuring world leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Al Gore, Jacques Cousteau and Prime Minister Gro Brundtland from Norway. He co-produced the documentary, D-Day: Down to Earth, which debuted on PBS in June of 2004 for the 60th anniversary of D-Day. He also worked as producer and editor on the critically acclaimed art documentary, General Orders No. 9, which screened at numerous festivals in the US, Canada and Europe and was honored with the Kodak Vision Award at Slamdance in 2010.

Rebecca Kneale Gould is Associate Professor of Religion and Affiliate in Environmental Studies where she teaches courses in American Religious History, Religion and Nature, Religion and Social Change in America, and Simplicity in American culture. Her book, At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America, was published by The University of California Press (2005) and is an ethnographic and historical study of back-to-the-land experiments based on research she conducted while living and working at the homestead of Helen and Scott Nearing. She is currently engaged in a research project entitled "Religion on the Ground: The New Environmentalism of Religious Institutions," funded by the Louisville Institute. She is a fellow in the Young Scholars Program of the Center for American Religion at IU-IUPUI. She is a Board Member of two national non-profit initiatives: The Simplicity Forum and Take Back Your Time


Tom Fleischner & "The Way of Natural History"

July 8, 4 pm

Village Books (1200 11th St, Bellingham)


The Way of Natl Hst TF

"The simple, elegant practice of natural history -- which every person is wired to do, and which costs almost nothing -- helps us fall in love outwardly with the world."

In The Way of Natural History, scientists, nature writers, poets, and Zen practitioners show how mindful attention to the natural world can bring rewarding and surprising discoveries. They call for a renewal of natural history and provide models for personal interactions with nature. Attention to nature, the contributors argue, is a key pathway to nurturing our humanity, and it's more important than ever to connect with the natural world and the positive energy we can find there. Learn more about the book at

Thomas Lowe Fleischner is a naturalist, conservation biologist, and teacher. The author of two books, Singing Stone: A Natural History of the Escalante Canyons and Desert Wetlands, and numerous articles, he has taught for more than two decades in the interdisciplinary environmental studies program at Prescott College in Arizona. Cofounder of the North Cascades Institute and founding president of the Natural History Network, he has served on the board of governors of the Society for Conservation Biology and as president of its Colorado Plateau Chapter.

Listen to Tom talk about the "intentional attentiveness" of natural history and other topics at

Village Books and North Cascades Institute presents

The Nature of Writing Series

June 2012 in Bellingham, Washington

Start your summer of reading with new books that explore and celebrate the natural wonders of the world! Join Village Books and North Cascades Institute in welcoming a slate of authors and artists for presentations and book signings in Bellingham. From clever crows to Arctic Alaska, American history to environmental memoir, you'll learn more about our wondrous planet through the voices of our country's most gifted nature interpreters.

Mark Fiege, The Republic of Nature
Saturday, June 9, 7pm
Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham

Republic of Nature book coverIn the dramatic narratives that comprise The Republic of Nature, Mark Fiege reframes the canonical account of American history based on the simple but radical premise that nothing in the nation's past can be considered apart from the natural circumstances in which it occurred.

Among the historical moments revisited here, a revolutionary nation arises from its environment and struggles to reconcile the diversity of its people with the claim that nature is the source of liberty. Abraham Lincoln, an unlettered citizen from the countryside, steers the Union through a moment of extreme peril, guided by his clear-eyed vision of nature's capacity for improvement. In Topeka, Kansas, transformations of land and life prompt a lawsuit that culminates in the momentous civil rights case of Brown v. Board of Education.

By focusing on materials and processes intrinsic to all things and by highlighting the nature of the United States, Fiege recovers the forgotten and overlooked ground on which so much history has unfolded. In these pages, the nation's birth and development, pain and sorrow, ideals and enduring promise come to life as never before, calling on readers to reconnect with fundamental forces that shaped the American experience.

Mark Fiege is an associate professor of history and the William E. Morgan Chair of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. He is the author of Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West.

John Marzluff & Tony Angell, Gifts of the Crow
Monday, June 18, 7pm
Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham

Crow cover 2In Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans, John Marzluff, the preeminent researcher on crows, teams up with artist Tony Angell to offer an astonishing look at the little-known and largely underappreciated intelligence of the birds of the amazing corvid family, which includes crows, ravens, and jays.

Showing that these "bird brains" are actually quite sophisticated, Marzluff and Angell tell fascinating, true stories of surprising crow behavior, such as crows using tree bark to wind surf along ridge tops, jar tops to sled down steep roofs, tools to get food from hard-to-reach places that human babies can’t figure out, and, most surprising of all, giving gifts to people who help or feed them.  Along with these and other amazing stories, the authors explain the engrossing, breakthrough science that accounts for this behavior, as well as arresting illustrations of the crow's antics and anatomy. Finally, Gifts of the Crow proves that crows are highly intelligent, undeniably emotional and much more similar to humans than we ever imagined.

In fact, Marzluff and Angell reveal, crows have taken on seven key human characteristics: language, delinquency, insight, frolic, passion & wrath, risk-taking, and awareness. Their unusually large and complex brains, long lives social lifestyles, and shared habitat with humans have led to crows evolving these human traits.

With surprises on every page, Marzluff and Angell recount mindboggling anecdotes of crows who, like humans, acknowledge their recently deceased, bestow gifts, seek revenge, warn of impending danger, recognize people’s and other's faces, commit murder, dream, play tricks, design and use tools, and work together to accomplish tasks. These riveting stories present a thrilling look at some of nature’s most wondrous creatures.

John Marzluff, Ph.D., is Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington. The author of four books and over one hundred scientific papers on various aspects of bird behavior, his research has been the focus of articles in the New York Times, National Geographic, Audubon, Boys Life, The Seattle Times, and National Wildlife.

Tony Angell has authored and illustrated a dozen award-winning books related to natural history, including Ravens, Crows, Magpies and Jays, Marine Birds and Mammals of Puget Sound and In the Company of Crows and Ravens with Marzloff. His sculptural forms celebrating nature are found in public and private collections throughout the country. Tony has worked actively as a board member of Washington's chapter of The Nature Conservancy, is an elected Fellow of the National Sculpture Society, and retired in 2002 as Director of Environmental Education for the state of Washington after 30 years.

Subhankar Banerjee, Arctic Voices
Wednesday, June 20, 7pm
Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham

Arctic coverLargely uninhabited and long at the margins of global affairs, in the last decade Arctic Alaska has quickly become the most contested land in recent US history. Shell has spent more than $4 billion over five years in its quest to exploit the vast oil and natural gas resources believed to lie off the north coast of Alaska, and are pushing to begin exploratory drilling as soon as this summer.

World-renowned photographer, writer, and activist Subhankar Banerjee brings together first-person narratives from more than thirty prominent activists, writers, and researchers who address issues of climate change, resource war, and human rights with stunning urgency and groundbreaking research. Arctic Voices includes 32 pages of color photographs of this breathtaking region, Gwich'in activist Sarah James's impassioned appeal, "We Are the Ones Who Have Everything to Lose" from the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in 2009, an travelogue by acclaimed historian Dan O'Neill about his recent trips to the Yukon River fish camps and essay by Peter Matthiessen, a three-time National Book Award–winning novelist and environmental activist.

Subhankar Banerjee is an Indian born American photographer, writer, educator and activist on issues of arctic conservation, indigenous human rights, resource development and climate change. In 2003 Subhankar published Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land, a photo book of his fourteen-month long journey in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Through a Lannan Foundation grant, 10,000 copies of the book were donated to libraries and policy makers across the country. The accompanying exhibition at the Smithsonian was censored during the Bush administration. In 2010 Subhankar founded and in 2011 he was appointed Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds
Thursday, June 21, 7pm
Bellingham High School

womenbirds.jpgTwenty years ago, Terry Tempest Williams published her iconic book Refuge, a juxtaposition of natural history and haunting, personal tragedy. Written just five year after the death of Williams's mother, Refuge posits the seven deaths of women in her family from cancer (and nine mastectomies), all likely the result of exposure to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s, against the flooding of both the Great Salt Lake and a bird refuge. Refuge transformed tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace.

Before her death, Williams's mother gave Terry her journals. Later, when Williams went to read them, longing to hear her mother's voice again, she found each one was blank. Through When Women Were Birds, Williams meditates on why her mother might have left the journals unfilled. What did that signify to her mother? What was her mother telling her?

In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation on voice and the strength found in silences. Williams says that she wrote Refuge from the point of view of a daughter; she wrote When Women Were Birds from the point of view of a woman. It is the book, she says, she was meant to write.

Terry Tempest Williams has been called "a citizen writer," a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice.  Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Terry Tempest Williams is the author of the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field; Desert Quartet; Leap; Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert; and The Open Space of Democracy.