Special Events

Nature of Writing Fall Speaker Series at Village Books in Bellingham

September-November, 2016

As the days grow shorter and nights longer, head into autumn with new books that explore and celebrate the natural wonders of the world! Join Village Books and North Cascades Institute in welcoming writers to Bellingham to share their latest works. From intrepid explorers to mountaineers, cairns to the interconnectedness of nature, you'll learn more about our wondrous planet through the voices of our country's most gifted nature interpreters. All readings are free and take place at the Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham.

September 22, 7:30 pm
Leigh Calvez's The Hidden Lives of Owls

Join a naturalist on adventures into the world of owls, owl-watching, avian science, and the deep forest—often in the dead of night. Whether you’re tracking Snowy or Great Gray Owls, these birds are mysterious, and that’s what makes them so fascinating. Owls are iconic, and there are lots of them in the Western states, even though we hardly ever see them. Calvez makes the science entertaining and accessible while exploring the questions about the human-animal connection, owl obsession, habitat, owl calls, social behavior, and mythology.

Leigh Calvez is a scientist and nature writer whose work has been published in American Nature Writing 2003, Between Species: Celebrating the Dolphin-Human Bond, Ocean Realm, the Ecologist, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Seattle Times. In 2013 she published her first book entitled Whale Watching Adventures on the Pacific Coast. She has been involved in whale research and observation projects in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Zealand, and the Azores. 

October 8
Hob Osterlund's Holy Moli: Albatross and Other Ancestors

Albatross sport many superlative qualities. They live long—sometimes longer than sixty years—and spend the majority of their time airborne, gliding across vast oceanic expanses. They are model mates and devoted parents, and are among the only animals known to take long-term same-sex partners. In nesting season, they rack up inconceivable mileage just to find supper for chicks waiting on the islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. It is from the island of Kauai that Holy Mōlī takes flight. Hob Osterlund moved there after being visited in a dream by an ancestor. It was there where she happened upon a few courting albatross and felt an inexplicable attraction to the birds—an attraction too powerful to be explained by their beguiling airbrushed eye shadows, enormous wingspans, and rollicking dances.

Osterlund relates a true tale of courage, celebration and grief—of patience, affection and resilience. This is the story of how albatross guided the author on her own long journey, retracing distances and decades, back to the origin of a binding bargain she struck when she was ten years old, shortly after her mother’s death. Holy Mōlī is a natural history of the albatross, a moving memoir of grief, and a soaring tribute to ancestors. Within its pages are lyrics of wonder—for freedom, for beauty, and for the far-flung feathered creatures known to us as albatross.

October 14, 7 pm
Kim Stafford's Having Everything Right

A collection of essays first published to critical acclaim in 1986, Having Everything Right revolves around the history, folklore, and physical beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Kim Stafford writes poetic and evocative prose as he reflects on such subjects as Indian place names, bears, and local eccentrics. An essay titled "Pine, Fir, Cedar, Yew," begins with Stafford describing his workbench, which he fashioned from scavenged boards, and slowly turns into a beautifully rendered meditation on wood. "Any table of virgin fir, any maple chair, any oak floor is a bundle of stories," Stafford writes, artfully pointing out what most of us would never take time to notice. Pharos Editions is very pleased to announce this 30th Anniversary edition of Kim Stafford’s critically acclaimed book with a new introduction by Robert Michael Pyle and a new essay by the author.

Kim Stafford has taught since 1979 at Lewis and Clark College, where he is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute and co-director of the Documentary Studies program.  Stafford has published a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft; Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford, and most recently 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do, an account of his brother’s death by suicide, and the struggle of a family to understand, and to live beyond that event.

November 4, 7 pm
O. Alan Weltzien's Exceptional Mountains: A Cultural History of the Pacific Northwest Volcanoes

Over the past 150 years, people have flocked to the Pacific Northwest in increasing numbers, in part due to the region’s beauty and one of its most exceptional features: volcanoes. This segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire has shaped not only the physical landscape of the region but also the psychological landscape, and with it the narratives we compose about ourselves. Exceptional Mountains is a cultural history of the Northwest volcanoes and the environmental impact of outdoor recreation in this region. It probes the relationship between these volcanoes and regional identity, particularly in the era of mass mountaineering and population growth in the Northwest. Each chapter probes the mountain-based regional ethos and the concomitant sense of privilege and entitlement from different vantages to illuminate the consumerist mind-set as a problematic version of experience and identity in and around some of the nation’s most striking mountains.

Raised in Bellevue, WA, O. Alan Weltzien is now a professor of English at the University of Montana. He has published many books, including a memoir and three books of poetry, and is the editor of The Norman Maclean Reader.

November 13, 4 pm
Robert Michael Pyle's Chinook & Chanterelle (poetry) and Through a Green Lens: Fifty Years of Writing for Nature

More info coming soon....

More information and registration at villagebooks.com


Harvest Dinner at the Learning Center

October 15-16, 2016

Join North Cascades Institute for a special feast featuring the bounty of our local harvest and an evening presentation on the glaciers of the North Cascades with National Park Service geologist Jon Riedel and photographer John Scurlock. Through science, storytelling and art, they’ll share their insider's view on the importance of the North Cascades glaciers to local agriculture, wildlife, urban populations and the Salish Sea, as well as reveal the beauty of ice from perspectives seldom seen.

Our kitchen staff will prepare a dinner sourced from local producers to showcase the bounty of our foodshed, with an emphasis on local growers and producers in Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Your registration includes the Harvest Dinner, after-dinner presentation, comfortable accommodations in our guest lodges and breakfast the next morning.

More information and registration at www.ncascades.org/signup/programs/harvest-dinner-2016.


"Why Grizzly Bears?" with Chris Morgan

October 20, 7 PM, The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center

Chris Morgan – ecologist, award-winning film producer and TV host on PBS Nature, BBC, National Geographic and The Discovery Channel – has spent his career working around bears across the globe. Join us for an evening of captivating stories from his travels, thoughts on why he believes “what’s good for bears is good for people, too” and a discussion of ongoing efforts to restore a healthy population of grizzly bears to the North Cascades — an area where these iconic animals are on the brink of disappearing.

More information at www.northcascadesgrizzly.org.

Tickets: http://whygrizzlybears.brownpapertickets.com 



"Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls" with Paul Bannick

October 26, 7 PM, Town Hall Seattle

For owls, every day brings a new challenge to survive. Award-winning conservation photographer Paul Bannick will share images and insights from his new book that show how owls use the resources available to them in their habitat to survive and thrive. Follow along as each stage in an owl’s life is chronicled: courtship, mating, and nesting in spring; fledging and feeding of young in summer; learning independence in fall; and, finally, winter’s migration. Local birding experts will be on hand before the talk to share tips on where to see owls and Bannick will be signing copies of his new book, Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls.

Tickets available at http://bit.ly/Owl10-26-16



"The Wild Nearby" Exhibit at the Burke Museum

June 18, 2016 – Feb 5, 2017

The Wild Nearby at the Burke Museum tells stories of the North Cascades that only the Burke can tell using concepts and images from the book The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby. In The Wild Nearby, visitors explore change in the North Cascades through geologic material and research projects focused on archaeology, plants and animals. Visitors step into the role of Burke scientist/researcher as they have an exploratory, multi-sensory experience of Burke collections and the North Cascades. This exhibit transports visitors from Seattle to the North Cascades ecosystem, where they experience the region as a scientist through natural history and cultural objects and see the region’s intense beauty and vastness through large photography pulled from The North Cascades. The Wild Nearby imbues visitors with a sense of connectivity to and behind-the-scenes knowledge of the North Cascades, which can be independent of or complimentary to an outdoor experience in the region.

More info at www.burkemuseum.org/exhibits/wild-nearby.


Residential Environmental Learning Center Conference at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

January 6-10, 2017

North Cascades Institute is honored to host the Association of Nature Center Administrators’ biannual gathering of administrators (directors and coordinators) and those with an interest in residential environmental education programs at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center in Washington State. This gathering of professionals in the heart of North Cascades National Park seeks to advance the residential environmental education movement through the sharing of current ideas, concerns, solutions and insights.

About the location for the 2017 gathering:

The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center is a LEED Silver-Certified facility completed in July 2005 located three hours from Seattle. Operated in partnership with the National Park Service and City of Seattle, the Environmental Learning Center is a hub of discovery in one of the wildest, most biologically diverse landscapes in North America. People of all ages come to explore, learn and participate in innovative programs that inspire and enrich their lives. More information at www.ncascades.org/learning_center.

The North Cascades Institute is an award-winning conservation education nonprofit organization with the mission to conserve and restore Northwest environments through education. Since 1986 the Institute has helped connect people, nature and community through science, art, literature and the hands-on study of natural and cultural history. As operator of the Environmental Learning Center, the Institute works with community partners throughout the region to design, fund and implement programs that help people experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest – so all will care for and protect this special place we call home.

Guests to the Learning Center will stay in dorm-style bunkhouses, with common living rooms and bathrooms. All meals are included and served in our dining hall, which uses over 70% local and organic food. Our kitchen staff is responsive to diet restrictions and preferences. The campus offers groups wireless internet, a range of meeting spaces and resources and nearby recreation opportunities.

Registration Cost: $325 per person, includes 5 days/ 4 night accommodations and 12 meals (dinner Friday through lunch Tuesday).

Online registration at www.ncascades.org/signup/programs/relc-anca-2017.

Questions? Feel free to contact us at  or (206) 526-2565.