Past Special Events

Village Books and North Cascades Institute present The Nature of Writing Speaker Series Spring 2018

As the days grow longer and life sprouts up around us here in Cascadia, head into spring 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 poetry to children's books to essays on the healing power of nature and a history of North Cascades National Park, 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

Tuesday, March 6, 7pm in Fairhaven and Saturday, April 28, 4pm in Lynden
Lou McKee / Klee Wyck Journal
After many years of paddling the waterways and outer coasts of the Pacific Northwest, author and artist Lou McKee planned a short kayaking trip near Vancouver Island with friends and family that unexpectedly became a yearly tradition. During the first trip that Pacific Northwestern summer, they chanced upon an enchanting stretch of beach and spent several days collecting stones polished by the ocean, exploring the nearby creek, and breathing in the wonder of untamed water and wilderness.
This remote coastal beach drew them back year after year, though the coastal rains become almost too much to endure. Thus, the Klee Wyck Cabin, as it came to be named, was borne from found cedar beach logs and other reclaimed wood to shield the travelers from summer storms. For a few weeks each year, friends and family came together to share stories, heartaches, celebrations, and the building of the tiny wilderness retreat cabin. Lou took her journal and sketchbook with her to the cabin, documenting the construction and rendering local flora and fauna in colored ink and pencil drawings. Collected together in print for the first time, Klee Wyck Journal showcases the cabin and Lou's remarkable lifetime on and near the water in exquisite, full color sketches.

Lou McKee is a professional artist, a kayaker and now, an author. Born on the coast of British Columbia, the sea and misty islands are in her blood and still call her to travel and explore in Sweet Chariot, her 47 year old kayak. She and her husband, David Verwolf, live in downtown Bellingham, Washington.

Thursday, March 22, 7pm
Lauren Danner / Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018, and a new book from Washington State University Press, Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park, offers the first comprehensive account of its creation—a narrative that involves more than a decade of grassroots activism and political maneuvering. Widely considered the first wilderness national park in the United States, its most scenic and undisturbed areas were preserved without roads or other accommodations, adding to its crown jewel image. The story includes the unprecedented turn of events that left the National Park Service and United States Forest Service, agencies that often had adversarial viewpoints and objectives, working side by

When she's not out hiking on our public lands, Lauren Danner writes about Pacific Northwest and environmental history, outdoor recreation, and public lands policy from her home in Olympia, Washington.
Thursday, April 5, 7pm
Jennifer Wilhoit / Writing on the Landscape: Essays & Practices to Write, Roam, Renew
Dr. Wilhoit narrates a journey, demonstrating how vital balance is in our pursuit of writing, as well as in our pursuit of life. And she evidences convincingly that we can achieve wholeness through conscious, reflective, and introspective immersion in nature. Dr. Wilhoit observes simply that the principal point of this book is the pairing of nature and writing toward being complete. Writing on the Landscape explores the sense of wholeness we feel when we engage a few simple, easy to exercise practices … deep and guided, step-by-step interactions with nature and its elements: land-, sea-, and sky-scapes.
Jennifer J. Wilhoit, PhD is a published author, spiritual ecologist, editor, mentor, consultant, researcher, educator, & peacemaker; she is also a longtime hospice/bereavement volunteer. Her books, articles, & blog ( focus on the human/nature relationship—what she calls “the inner/outer landscape.” Jennifer founded TEALarbor Stories through which she offers compassionate guidance through writing, nature, & life's difficult landscapes.
Thursday, April 19, 7pm
Scott Freeman & Susan Leopold Freeman / Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land
What can one family do to change the world? Saving Tarboo Creek, a new book by biologist, professor, and legacy conservationist Scott Freeman, sets out to explore that question. Together with his wife (Susan Leopold Freeman) and sons, the Freemans purchased 17 acres of clear-cut land on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Through the center of the property runs a small creek, an ancient salmon stream badly damaged by a century’s worth of ditching, clearcutting, and channeling. Saving Tarboo Creek follows the Freemans as they work to rehabilitate the land back to a natural state. They knew the task ahead would be formidable: pollution, climate change, funding, curious beavers—there were many roadblocks waiting for them along the way. But the Leopold’s held a special key: a core belief in their duty that could not be shaken.

Scott Freeman teaches biology at the University of Washington, where he received a Distinguished Teaching Award. His textbooks Evolutionary Analysis and Biological Science are in their sixth editions, and he is recognized as a world authority on undergraduate biology education. Susan Leopold Freeman received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She paints, teaches piano, and creates mosaics and fabric art.
Friday, April 27, 7pm
Tom Fleischner, Saul Weisberg, & Edie Dillon / Nature, Love, Medicine: Essays on Wildness & Wellness
A diverse array of authors—psychologists and poets, biologists and artists, a Buddhist teacher—share personal stories that reveal a common theme: when we pay conscious, careful attention to our wider world, we strengthen our core humanity. This book declares that nurturing a love for our planet is essential in this time of turbulence and change. 
Thomas Lowe Fleischner is a naturalist and conservation biologist, and founding director of the Natural History Institute at Prescott College, where he has taught interdisciplinary environmental studies for almost three decades. Saul Weisberg is the founder and executive director of North Cascades Institute; his collection of poetry, Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes, was published by Pleasure Boat Studio in 2015. Edie Dillon is a nationally exhibited sculptor, painter and environmental artist whose work seeks to honor the beauty and mystery of the world. She has also worked as an educator, environmental advocate, and national park ranger.
Tuesday, May 1, 7pm
Peggy Shumaker & Maurya Simon / Poetry Night!
Drawn from forty years of writing, the poems and prose in Peggy Shumaker's Cairn trace journeys in this world and in the inner life.  Landscape becomes a major force, especially the subarctic desert of Interior Alaska and the Sonoran desert of southern Arizona.
 Maurya Simon’s new volume, The Wilderness, spans thirty years of poetry writing and explores the most vital aspects of our lives: the power of language, the mysteries of the natural world, and how we may endure and transcend the losses that besiege us as we live fully in the world.

Peggy Shumaker is the daughter of two deserts—the Sonoran desert where she grew up and the subarctic desert of interior Alaska where she lives now. She received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Shumaker is the author of eight books of poetry, including Cairn, her new and selected volume. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Professor emerita from University of Alaska Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA at PLU.

Maurya Simon has authored ten acclaimed volumes of poetry. Simon’s poetry has appeared in over 250 distinguished literary magazines and in more than two dozen poetry anthologies. Simon has taught college-level literature and creative writing courses for thirty years and serves currently as a Professor Emerita in Creative Writing and as a Professor of the Graduate Division at the Univ. of California, Riverside. Simon lives with her husband in the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. 
Saturday, May 5, 10:30am
Story Time Featuring Toni Yuly /  Kids event!
Thank You, Bees                                              
Clouds bring the rain that makes puddles to splash in. Sheep give us wool for our sweaters and hats. The honey that sweetens our bread comes from bees (thank you, bees). With spare, repetitive text and bright, torn-paper collage artwork, this picture book gives even the youngest readers a subtle sense of how everyday things are related — and inspires an appreciation for life’s simple gifts. This gentle message of gratitude and connection, enhanced by beautifully simple collage illustrations, makes for a charming gift. Join Toni Yuly in the readings gallery for this special story time. She will read her book and lead the children in a craft.
Toni Yuly has been an early bird her whole life and loves to start the day in her studio listening to other early birds sing outside her window. She lives in a small house by the water in Bremerton, WA, a short ferry boat ride from Seattle, WA where she was born. Toni fell in love with Eastern sensibilities during a year spent in Sendai, Japan when she was just 17 years old. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA in Painting where she studied with the great American painter, Jacob Lawrence. Now, after many years as a librarian in the King County Library System, Toni works full-time as a designer, artist and writer.
Saturday, May 5, 4pm
Story Time Featuring Nina Laden/  Kids event!
Yellow Kayak
You just never know what a new day will hold if you are brave enough to find out. On one quiet afternoon, a boy and his special friend’s unexpected adventure bring joy and excitement and sights never imagined. And the best part of any adventure is returning home with stories to tell and your best friend at your side. We're thrilled to welcome local children's author, Nina Laden, back to the readings gallery! 
Nina Laden is the author of many books for kids, including Peek-a-Who?, Who Loves You, Baby?, The Night I Followed the Dog, and Yellow Kayak. She lives with her husband on Lummi Island, Washington.

Saturday, June 2, 7pm
Amber Casali / Hiking Washington's Fire Lookouts
Discover a quintessential Northwest experience! From a mountaintop perch near a historic fire lookout, soak up dramatic views of distant ridgelines while getting a glimpse into Washington’s past. The state’s fire lookouts not only have played an important role in forest-fire management, but have also been temporary homes for the interesting people who spend summers isolated from civilization to watch over the forests below. Hiking Washington’s Fire Lookouts highlights 44 memorable lookouts in the Cascades and Olympics, all accessible by trails on public lands. Brimming with fascinating history, this guide details how to stay in or near the lookouts overnight and how to help maintain or volunteer at these historic structures.

Fall Nature of Writing 2017

Village Books and North Cascades Institute present The Nature of Writing Speaker Series Fall 2017

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 authors to Fairhaven to share their latest works. From Sasquatch to clouds, climate change to razor clams and dragonflies to nature’s color palette, 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

Friday, September 8, 7pm

James S. Walker
Common Dragonflies of the Pacific Coast: A Life Size Field Guide

Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast is a unique field guide that combines state-of- the-art features for identifying dragonflies, such as range maps, flight season charts, life size and annotated photos for each species. It also features exciting new discoveries about their lives like the splash-dunk/spin-dry behavior, in which a dragonfly plunges into the water multiple times to bathe, and then spins at 1,000 rpm in mid flight to shed the water—the fastest known spinning motion of any animal! Filled with beautiful photos and original illustrations, this field guide will help to get you on a first name basis with these wonderful, yet little-known creatures.

James S. Walker is a retired professor of theoretical physics from Washington State University. He received his Ph. D. in theoretical physics from the University of Washington and has taught physics courses at Western Washington University. Professor Walker and his wife Betsy divide their time between Washington and Arizona, and enjoy birding and dragonflying in both locations.

Saturday, September 23, 7pm

David Montgomery
Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

Growing a Revolution cuts through debates about conventional and organic farming, showing how a “soil health revolution” could bring farmland soil back to life. Combining ancient wisdom with modern science, Montgomery offers a vision where agriculture becomes the solution to environmental problems, helping feed us all and cool the planet.

David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow, professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington and an internationally-recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies. An author of award-winning popular science books, he has been featured in documentary films and a wide variety of TV and radio programs including NOVA, PBS NewsHour and All Things Considered.

Sunday, September 24, 4pm

Molly Hashimoto
Colors of the West: An Artist’s Guide to Nature’s Palette

Colors of the West explores wild places through the lens of watercolor painting. Steeped in the natural world, award-winning artist Molly Hashimoto has sketched in the outdoors and worked as a plein air artist for more than 20 years. In that time she has filled more than 40 sketchbooks with landscapes, vignettes, studies of flora and fauna, and natural history notes – created while visiting some of the West’s most stunning landscapes.

This new book is organized by color, a unique approach to teaching how to really see color in the outdoor spaces around them, and then apply it to journals, art projects or simply beautiful memories. Molly explains the concept of palette — the range of colors that unites elements of geography, geology and the different kinds of light created by atmosphere, season and latitude. Molly’s own hand-drawn sketches and paintings of familiar Western landscapes help convey these colors, along with natural history information and historical notes related to the park or site she has sketched. Tips and techniques for outdoor journaling and painting are included throughout.

From the blue hues of Diablo Lake at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center to the green hues found on Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast and in Yellowstone’s quaking aspens, readers and artists of all levels will learn a new appreciation for the colors of the West—and how the details of natural beauty can be revealed when we stop, observe and pay attention to the outdoor world.

Molly Hashimoto’s paintings have been exhibited at a variety of galleries throughout the Northwest and at the Whatcom Museum of Art in Bellingham, Washington. Her work has a long association with outdoor and conservation organizations, and she has taught art classes with North Cascades Institute, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and the Yellowstone Institute for many years. Molly lives in Seattle.

Wednesday, September 27, 7pm

Erin McKittrick
Mud Flats & Fish Camps: 800 Miles Around Cook Inlet

Alaska holds a mythological place in the American imagination as our wildest, coldest, largest and farthest frontier. It is also the home of writer Erin McKittrick, who lives in a yurt on the shore of Cook Inlet with her husband and two preschool-age children. Mudflats and Fish Camps chronicles McKittrick’s journey, along with her family, as they set out to hike and paddle the entire coastline of Cook Inlet, a distance of 800 miles. This is unconventional parenting in the extreme, bringing kids not just into the woods, but into quicksand, snow and the realm of grizzles! And while their story includes all the stubbornness, excitement, and sleet-in-the-eyes awefulness that comes from walking their way through the world, it also provides an intimate history of a wild and fascinating place and the people who call it home.

Erin McKittrick has walked, paddled and skied more than 8000 miles through Alaska’s trackless wilderness, including a thousand miles with her two young children. She has a master’s degree in molecular and cellular biology, writes regularly for Alaska Dispatch News and gives public presentations on her adventures and work. She lives in Seldovia, Alaska.

Sunday, October 1, 4pm

Robert Michael Pyle
Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide

Welcoming back to Bellingham our good friend and mentor Bob Pyle with the long-awaited reissue of his classic book on Sasquatch! Updated with fresh experiences and finds, Where Bigfoot Walks is a thought-provoking and witty exploration of not only the phenomenon of Bigfoot, but also the human need to believe that something is out there beyond the light of the campfire.

Awarded a Guggenheim to investigate the legends of Sasquatch, Bob trekked into the unprotected wilderness of the Dark Divide near Mount St. Helens, where he discovered both a giant fossil footprint and recent tracks. He searched out Native Americans who told him of an outcast tribe, the Seeahtiks, who had not fully evolved into humans. He attended Sasquatch Daze, where he met scientists, hunters and others who have devoted their lives to the search, and realized that “these guys don’t want to find Bigfoot—they want to be Bigfoot!” A handful of openminded biologists and anthropologists countered the tabloids he studied, while rogue Forest Service employees and loggers swore of an industry conspiracy to deep-six accounts of unknown, upright hominoid apes among us.

Robert Michael Pyle is the author of eighteen books, including Wintergreen, Rambles in a Ravaged Land, Chasing Monarchs, The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland, Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place and the poetry collection Evolution of the Genus Iris. He taught a butterfly field class for the Institute in our first summer of field courses and 1986 and has returned to teach in natural history and writing retreats many times over the next three decades! A Yale-trained ecologist and a Guggenheim fellow, he is a full-time writer living in southwestern Washington.

Friday, October 6, 7pm

Maria Mudd Ruth
A Sideways Look at Clouds

When she moved to the soggy Northwest, Ruth assumed that locals would know everything there was to know about clouds, in the same way they know about salmon, tides and the Seahawks. Yet in her first two years of living in Washington she never heard anyone talk about clouds. Puzzled by this lack of cloud savvy, she decided to survey folks she knew—men and women, new friends, family on the East Coast, outdoorsy and indoorsy types, professional scientists and liberal arts majors like herself. The results showed that, while people knew a little bit about clouds, most were like her: they had a hard time identifying clouds or remembering their names; as adults, life had largely sidetracked their sky-gazing time. A captivating storyteller, Ruth blends science, wonder and humor to take the scenic route through the clouds and encourages readers to chart their own rambling, idiosyncratic course.

Maria Mudd Ruth has been researching, watching, photographing and blogging about clouds for many years. She is the author of more than a dozen books on natural history topics, including Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet and lives in Olympia.

Sunday, October 15, 4pm

Iris Graville
Hiking Naked: A Quaker Woman's Search For Balance

Knocked off her feet after twenty years in nursing, Iris Graville quit her job and convinced her husband and thirteen-year- old twins to move to Stehekin, a remote village in Washington State’s North Cascades. They sought adventure and yearned for the solitude of this community of 85 residents accessible only by boat, floatplane, or hiking. Hiking Naked chronicles Graville’s journey through questions about work and calling as well as how she coped with buying groceries by mail, black bears outside her kitchen window, a forest fire that threatened the valley and a flood that left the family stranded for three days.

Iris Graville is the author of Hands at Work: Portraits and Profiles of People who Work with their Hands and Bounty: Lopez Island Farmers, Food, and Community. She also serves as publisher of Shark Reef Literary Magazine. Iris lives and writes on Lopez Island.

Friday, October 20, 7pm

Langdon Cook
Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon From River to Table

Will wild salmon still be swimming a decade from now? This is what Seattle author and journalist Langdon Cook sets out to discover, as he travels every stage of the salmon pipeline, from Alaskan spawning grounds and Columbia River hatcheries to chefs' frying pans and 4-star restaurant menus. Upstream interweaves nature, commerce, cuisine, adventure and the environmental impact on how we consume this once seemingly limitless food source.

Langdon Cook is the author of Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager, which The Seattle Times called “lyrical, practical and quixotic.” Cook has been profiled on the Travel Channel, in Bon Appetit, WSJ magazine, Whole Living and, and his writing has appeared in Sunset, Gray’s Sporting Journal and Outside.

Saturday, October 21, 7pm

Kate Troll
The Great Uncomformity: Reflections on Hope in an Imperiled World

Part adventure, part memoir, part policy – always exciting, The Great Unconformity takes you on a fun, fast-paced tour of environmental, political and spiritual issues surrounding sustainability and climate change. Kate Troll, sometimes called “the Naomi Klein of Alaska,” fills her colorful stories with humor, wisdom and hope for a brighter future. With an eye toward the millennial generation, Troll wraps her stories with the wisdom of recognized global thinkers. Troll is an important new voice to the now-or-never discussion on sustainability and climate change. Combining her Alaskan experience with her international work, Troll shows in her book that there is indeed hope – worldwide climate change can be tackled.

Kate Troll, a long-time Alaskan, has more than 22 years’ experience in climate and energy policy, coastal management, and fisheries. She’s been elected to public office twice and is currently a regular columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News. In between, she climbs mountains, kayaks with the whales, runs wild rivers and writes screenplays.

Wednesday, October 25, 7pm

David Berger
Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest

In this lively history and celebration of the Pacific razor clam, David Berger shares with us his love affair with the glossy, gold-colored Siliqua patula and gets into the nitty-gritty of how to dig, clean and cook them using his favorite recipes. In the course of his investigation, Berger brings to light the long history of razor clamming as a subsistence, commercial and recreational activity, and shows the ways it has helped shape both the identity and the psyche of the Pacific Northwest.

Towing his wife along to the Long Beach razor clam festival, Berger quizzes local experts on the pressing question: tube or gun? He illuminates the science behind the perplexing rules and restrictions that seek to keep the razor clam population healthy and the biomechanics that make these delicious bivalves so challenging to catch. And he joyfully takes part in the sometimes freezing cold pursuit that nonetheless attracts tens of thousands of participants each year for an iconic "beach-to-table" experience.

David Berger has been a contributor to the food feature "Northwest Taste" in Pacific Magazine and is former art critic for The Seattle Times. He is a recipient of a Metcalf Fellowship for Marine and Environmental Reporting.

Harvest Dinner 2017: “A Life in Mountain Rescue”

October 21-22, 2017 at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center

Celebrate the arrival of autumn with a special harvest dinner in our lakeside dining hall on Diablo Lake, a fascinating presentation on mountain rescues in the Cascades and comfortable overnight accommodations in the heart of North Cascades National Park!

Join North Cascades Institute for a special feast featuring the bounty of the local harvest. Our chef will prepare a dinner showcasing the flavors of our regional foodshed, with an emphasis on local growers and producers in Skagit and Whatcom counties. Our bar will serve local microbrews and wine to compliment the palette of autumnal flavors.

Register Now

After dinner, we'll enjoy an intimate evening presentation on “A Life in Mountain Rescue” with Seatttle-area author Bree Loewen. Bree Loewen’s to-do list isn’t quite the same as most people’s. On any given day, it might include:

  • Go grocery shopping

  • Bake pie seen on Pinterest
  • Figure out what to do with my life

  • Rescue climbers caught in avalanche on Chair Peak

  • Pick up Vivi at Mom’s 


Harvest Dinner 2017: A Life in Mountain Rescue

Bree Loewen has been a climbing ranger on Mount Rainier, an EMT in Seattle and a contributor to Climbing and Alpinist magazines. As a current volunteer with Seattle Mountain Rescue, Loewen has been on more than 100 rescues in the past three years — and countless more over her career. Locals will recognize many of the Cascadian locations where her dramatic stories take place: Snoqualmie Falls, Little Si, Chair Peak near Alpental, Rattlesnake Ledge and others.

Bree and her fellow volunteers provide critically important help, reaching stranded individuals when mountain conditions are too difficult for helicopter access, and collecting data for the medical examiner when it’s too late for a rescue.

Bree is the author of the acclaimed mountain memoir Pickets and Dead Men, which Adventure Journal calls “A deeply drawn memoir . . . and an achingly true picture of the raw grace we find in the outdoors.” In her new book Found, she shares the drama and the camaraderie of this work, as well as the challenges of trying to fit her other roles as wife and mother into what is still largely a masculine environment. In a fearless voice — disarming yet laced with humor — Bree guides us through intense recoveries, vivid wilderness landscapes and the grounding she discovers in motherhood, community and finding her purpose.

Praise for Found:

“Bree Loewen is in a class by herself. Found is not only her masterful tale of mountain rescue, it also clearly articulates a hero’s journey filled with existential angst, internal conflicts, and ultimately, balance.” —Brent Bishop, climber and SMR team member

“In Found, Bree Loewen brings readers along with her in a constant race against death, while illuminating the people and work of mountain rescue—as well as her own challenges to juggle family demands and discern her life calling. A great read for anyone who enjoys the adventure, peril, and responsibility that goes with life in wild places.” —Shannon Huffman Polson, author of North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey.

Click here to register, email or call (360) 854-2599.

Your registration includes the Harvest Dinner, Bree Loewen presentation, overnight accommodations in our guest lodges and breakfast the next morning. Commuter option featuring dinner and presentation is available for $50. The Harvest Dinner sells out every year, so don't delay!


Nature of Writing Speaker Series at Village Books in Bellingham

Spring 2017

Village Books
As the days grow longer and life sprouts up around us here in Cascadia, head into spring 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 sustainable gardening to hiking to the natural history of our mountains, 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.

Saturday, April 8, 4pm    Dual presentation!
Zsofia Pasztor & Keri DeTore's Design & Build Your Own Rain Gardens for the Pacific NW

Homeward: Restoring Hope and Nature in the Urban Wild is the deeply personal journey of a newcomer to the Pacific Northwest who learns that home isn’t simply where you live, but where you create belonging. Set in Seattle and Western Washington’s urban and suburban “altered” landscapes, Turning Homeward creates an accessible narrative of the complicated joys of rolling up one’s sleeves to help repair our beautiful, broken world. For over twenty years, Adrienne Ross Scanlan has immersed herself as a volunteer in all things nature: as a citizen scientist monitoring salmon runs for county and local agencies, a restoration volunteer salvaging native plants and removing invasive weeds, and as a docent at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and Wolf Haven in Tenino, Washington. Adrienne’s writing has appeared in a variety of literary publications, including City Creatures, Pilgrimage, The Fourth River, Rikkun, and Tiny Lights. She has received a Seattle Arts Commission award and an Artist Trust Washington State Literature Fellowship.

Rain Gardens for the Pacific Northwest details best practices for building your own rain garden. Filled with sound advice and colorful photography, Rain Gardens offers clear instructions tailored to Pacific Northwest landscapes. Rain gardens are one of the most impactful ways to preserve salmon habitats. Pasztor and DeTore’s comprehensive guide to creating your own rain garden offers a method to tangibly engage in the health of your local environment.  Zsofia Pasztor , CPH, co-author of Rain Gardens for the Pacific Northwest, is the founder and director of Farmer Frog, and an instructor at Edmonds Community College and Stewardship Partners rain garden workshops. Rain Gardens was co-authored by Keri DeTore and illustrated by Jill Nunemaker.

Friday, April 14, 7pm 
Tami Asars' Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Washington: Section Hiking from the Columbia River to Manning Park

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Washington breaks down the state’s more than 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail into stunning routes that can be easily knocked off in four days, a week or more. This is boots-on-the-ground trail beta from one of the state’s most experienced hikers. Hike from the skirts of Mount Rainier National Park to the pristine Alpine Lakes Wilderness; or from the vivid waters of Lake Chelan to the dry ridgelines of the Pasayten Wilderness near the Canadian border.

Tami Asars is a nature-based writer, photographer, and a third generation Washingtonian with a complete passion for trails. She is the author of the book Hiking the Wonderland Trail and Day Hiking Mount Adams & Goat Rocks Wilderness, Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Washington (Mountaineers Books), as well as a Regional Correspondent/Columnist for Washington Trails Magazine, contributor to hiking blogs and various outdoor publications. For more information, please visit her web site,

Saturday, April 15, 7pm
Lynda Mapes' (Environmental reporter at the Seattle Times) Witness Tree: Seasons of Change with a Century Old Oaks

The Witness Tree is an intimate look at one majestic hundred-year-old oak tree through four seasons--and the reality of global climate change it reveals. While stark in its implications, The Witness Tree is a beautiful and lyrical read, rich in detail. It is a story rooted in hope, beauty, wonder, and the possibility of renewal in people's connection to nature.

Lynda V. Mapes is an environmental reporter at The Seattle Times and the author of several books, including Elwha: A River Reborn and Breaking Ground. Read more at

Friday, April 21, 7pm
Daniel Mathews' Natural History of the Pacific NW Mountains

Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains is an engagingly written, portable history of the Cascade region identifying the flora, fauna, and geology of the region. This guide also includes information about the landscape and weather. Packed with 800 color photographs, this is the perfect overview of the region if you are looking for a simple way to discover the great outdoors.

"Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains is a love poem to the creatures that inhabit the mountains and rivers of Washington, coastal Oregon and southwestern British Columbia. This book is so much more than just a field guide, it’s a series of lessons in how to pay attention to the amazing diversity of the natural world. Dan Mathews shares tips for finding and identifying over 950 species as well as describing, in soulful writing, the landscapes they inhabit from the mountains to the sea. This is one of the books I will find room for in my pack. Striking photographs combine with excellent descriptions and sprinkled throughout are compelling stories that bring these wild mountains alive in ways that mere identification can never do. From descriptions of landscapes to stories of early naturalists to musings about slug sex and the impacts of climate change, each page of this book draws me deeper in. In one packable volume it’s the best introduction and graduate course in northwest natural history that I’ve ever seen.”
— Saul Weisberg, Executive Director, North Cascades Institute

Daniel Mathews comes from a line of botanically knowledgeable forebears, who began teaching him the names of trailside plants at an early age. His writing is informed by literally thousands of scientific papers as well as five decades on and off hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest.

Daniel will also present from his book at Elliott Bay Books (1521 10th Ave) in Seattle on Sunday, April 23!

Friday, April 28, 7pm Mark Leiren-Young's The Killer Whale Who Changed the World

Journalist, filmmaker, playwright, and author Mark Leiren-Young shares the fascinating and heartbreaking account of Moby Doll, the first publicly exhibited captive killer whale―a story that forever changed the way we see orcas and sparked the movement to save them.

Leiren-Young will share rare film footage of Moby Doll and other orcas, and discuss how the capture of Moby Doll led to the captivity and exhibition of other whales including Namu at the Seattle Aquarium and the notorious star of Blackfish, Tilicum. Moby Doll changed public perception of whales but also inspired a whole generation of scientists to learn more about how these creatures live and communicate in the wild. Because of Moby Doll, we stopped fearing “killers” and grew to love and respect “orcas.”

Mark Leiren-Young is a journalist, filmmaker and author of numerous books. His article for the Walrus about Moby Doll, the first orca publicly exhibited in captivity, was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and he won the Jack Webster award for his CBC Idea’s radio documentary Moby Doll: The Whale that Changed the World. Leiren-Young is currently finishing a feature length film documentary on Moby Doll.

friDAY, May 5, 7PM
Joshua Stilts' Whatcom Fish Tales: A Historical Look at the County's Seafood Industry

This is a local narrative on Whatcom County fishing history. Firsthand accounts and historic photos shed light on the importance of the industry to the community.

Joshua Stilts, a Bellingham native and son of a commercial fisherman, graduated from Western Washington University in 2006, earning degrees in theater and psychology. He returned to Western in 2008 to earn his degree in journalism. A year later, he and his wife moved to New Hampshire where he started working as a investigative reporter and photographer. Joshua spent nearly four years as an editor and lead reporter covering crime, education, business, arts, politics, and breaking news in the granite state, Vermont, and Massachusetts. He and his wife now live in Seattle with their daughter Emmeline.

"The Wild Nearby" Exhibit at the Burke Museum

June 18, 2016 – april 9, 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

ANCA 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.


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

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.

Click here to view conference schedule »

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

Online registration at

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

Nature of Writing Fall Speaker Series at Village Books in Bellingham

Village Books
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. 


Chinook & Chanterelle is Robert Michael Pyle’s second full-length book of poetry. Rich in natural images, stories, and indelible episodes from the whole world around us, Pyle’s poems also track the territory of loss and grief as it rises onto the higher ground of rediscovery, redemption, and re-enchantment. They exalt the ordinary even as they find the extraordinary in physical details that we too often look right through.


Arranged by decade, Through a Green Lens presents a sampling of Pyle’s work over fifty years, from that first heartfelt essay, written on mountain motel stationery in 1965, to a book foreword written in 2015. Culled from notable magazines and contributions to edited collections, these essays range across broad topical, geographic, and textual territory. They grow out of near-lethal English brambles, vacant lots and ditches in suburban Denver, and railroad yards of the industrial Northeast.

From commentary to criticism, polemic to profile—from the lyrical to the elegiac—Through a Green Lens demonstrates the qualities for which Pyle’s work is well-known: clarity, readability, sharp wit, undiluted conviction, and good-natured tolerance. Pyle’s half-century-long view, acute and uncommonly attuned to the physical world, gives readers a remarkable window on the natural setting of our life and times.


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 MonarchsMariposa 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.

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. 

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.

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

October 26, 7 PM, Town Hall Seattle

Join conservation photographer and Institute instructor Paul Bannick for an intimate look into a year in the lives of owls.  

For owls, every day brings a new challenge to survive. Bannick will share images and insights 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 conservation and birding experts will be on hand before the talk to share tips on where to see owls, how to protect owl habitat and more. Bannick will be signing copies of his new book, Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls (Braided River, 2016) following his presentation. If you love birds, you don’t want to miss this night of owl celebration.

Tickets are available at

North Cascades Institute supporters can get $5 off the Admission+Book ticket package by entering this promo code at checkout: NCI-PB-Owl.



Terry Tempest Williams at the Mount Baker Theater

June 15, 2016

"As we mark the centennial of the National Park Service, my question is this: What is the relevance of our national parks in the twenty-first century — and how might these public commons bring us back home to a united state of humility?"

As part of our year-long celebration of the National Park Service's Centennial, North Cascades Institute is excited to partner with Village Books to present acclaimed nature writer Terry Tempest Williams at the Mount Baker Theater in Bellingham to share her new book The Hour of LandA Personal Topography of America's National Parks.

For years, America's national parks have provided public breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why close to 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now, to honor the centennial of the National Park Service, Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the beloved memoirs Refuge, Finding Beauty in a Broken World and When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, what they mean to us, and what we mean to them.

"By definition, our national parks in all their particularity and peculiarity show us as much about ourselves as the landscapes they honor and protect. They can be seen as holograms of an America born of shadow and light; dimensional; full of contradictions and complexities. Our dreams, our generosities, our cruelties and crimes are absorbed into these parks like water."

Through twelve carefully chosen parks, from Yellowstone in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas, Tempest Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America. Our national parks stand at the intersection of humanity and wildness, and there's no one better than Tempest Williams to guide us there. Beautifully illustrated, with evocative black-and-white images by some of our finest photographers, from Lee Friedlander to Sally Mann to Sebastião Salgado, The Hour of Land will be a collector's item as well as a seminal work of environmental writing and criticism about some of America's most treasured landmarks.

"Restoration is what is required today. Can we engage in the restoration of a different kind of storytelling...stories that foster integrity within a fragmented nation? Can we change America's narrative of independence to one of interdependence — an interdependence beautifully rendered in the natural histories found in our public lands?"

Tickets are $5 and are available at Village Books and the Mount Baker Theater box office. Stay tuned for more information on our Facebook page at and by subscribing to our monthly eNewsletter at

Watch Terry Tempest Williams read from "When Women Were Birds" on her last visit to Bellingham

Saul Weisberg's Headwaters Fall 2015 Book Tour


North Cascades Institute is excited to announce the publication of selected poems of Institute Founder and Executive Director Saul Weisberg!

Over 25 years in the making, Headwaters: Poems & Field Notes, published by Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press, features more than 200 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.

Click here for Fall Tour dates in Olympia, Mazama, Darrington, Sedro-Wooley, Guemes Island, Seattle and Port Townsend, along with an interview, book reviews and more!

An Evening of Mountain Spirit


November 21, 7pm • Free

Join visual artist Tori Karpenko and Institute Founder and Executive Director Saul Weisberg at Traver Gallery in downtown Seattle for an evening steeped in the transformative power of the mountains.  Inspired by the stories of Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Jack Kerouac (who spent summers in the North Cascades in the 1950’s as fire lookouts) and his own experiences in the mountains, Karpenko’s paintings surround a 14’x14’ recreation of a Fire Lookout Cabin.  The iconic hermitage serves as a crystalized form that encapsulates the sanctuary and spiritual inspiration of high mountain wilderness.

The evening will feature an artist’s talk about the “Lookout” project and selected readings by Saul Weisberg from his own writings as well as those of the Beat Poets during their time in the North Cascades. The “Lookout” show runs from November 5 through December 23.   Please join us for this special evening of paintings and poetry; come early at 6:30 for wine and socializing.  

Harvest Dinner at the Learning Center
Return of the Cascadian Carnivores

In a time of environmental crisis, there is something amazing happening here in our own backyard: the renewed presence of rare, large mammals in the North Cascades.

Join North Cascades Institute for a special feast featuring the bounty of our local harvest and an evening presentation on the exciting “Return of the Cascades Carnivores” with wildlife biologists Scott FitkinJohn Rohrer and Bill Gaines. Drawing on their decades of hands-on field work with these rare species, they’ll share the fascinating ecology of the elusive gray wolf, wolverine, lynx and grizzly bear through slides, video, audio and a thoughtful discussion.

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. Optional field excursion on Sunday 10/18: Head out into the field with Rohrer, Fitkin and Gaines to the Washington Pass area to get a first-hand view of trap sites and wild areas under study.

More information and registration at

The Nature of Writing Speaker Series
Bellingham Fall 2015

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 this fall. From the transformation of the Seattle landscape to inspiring stories of reclamation to celebrating the 30th anniversary of a Northwest classic, you'll learn more about our special corner of the planet when these writers share their latest literary works.


Residents and visitors in today's Seattle would barely recognize the landscape that its founding settlers first encountered. As the city grew, its leaders and inhabitants dramatically altered its topography to accommodate their changing visions. In Too High and Too Steep, David B. Williams uses his deep knowledge of Seattle, scientific background, and extensive research and interviews to illuminate the physical challenges and sometimes startling hubris of these large-scale transformations, from the filling in of the Duwamish tideflats to the massive regrading project that pared down Denny Hill. 

David B. Williams is the author of several books, including Cairns: Messengers in Stone and The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City. He lives in Seattle. 


Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around ninety-five years old (he lost count a while ago) and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native, he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska. When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson.

Award-winning writer, photographer and conservationist Kim Heacox has lived in Alaska for 25 years. He has written four books for National Geographic, most recently An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks. Kim has made numerous journeys to Arctic Svalbard and Antarctica, and spends much of his time writing about and photographing life in Earth's polar regions.

For most of the past century, Humbug Valley, a forest-hemmed meadow sacred to the Mountain Maidu tribe, was in the grip of a utility company. Washington’s White Salmon River was saddled with a fish-obstructing, inefficient dam and the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland was unacknowledged within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.

Until people decided to reclaim them.

In Reclaimers, Ana Maria Spagna drives an aging Buick up and down the long strip of West Coast mountain ranges—the Panamints, the Sierras, the Cascades—and alongside rivers to meet the people, many of them wise women, who persevered for decades with little hope of success to make changes happen. In uncovering their heroic stories, Spagna seeks a way for herself, and for all of us, to take back and to make right in a time of unsettling ecological change.

Ana Maria Spagna is the author of several books, most recently Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness. She lives in Stehekin, Washington. 

award-winning Natural History classic, Wintergreen. In the Willapa Hills of southwest Washington, both the human and the forest communities are threatened with extinction. Virtually every acre of the hills has been logged, often repeatedly, in the past hundred years, endangering both the land and the people, leaving dying towns as well as a devastated ecosystem. Weaving vivid portraits of the place and its inhabitants - animal, plant, and human - with the story of his own love affair with the hills, Robert Michael Pyle’s book is so even-handed in its passion that it has been celebrated by those who make their living with a chain saw as well as by environmentalists. 

Pyle is teaching a writing workshop entitled "Conjuring Words from the Land" on Oct 10, 1-4 pm. Spend an afternoon parsing the territory where literature meets the land. Guided by Robert Michael Pyle, you will have a chance to make fresh words inspired by places, people and other species fresh in your mind. We'll share our words and you'll leave with a  broadened palette of expression and imagination. Details and registration at

Robert Michael Pyle is the author of eighteen books, including Chasing MonarchsThe Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban WildlandSky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place and the recent poetry collection Evolution of the Genus Iris. A Yale-trained ecologist and a Guggenheim fellow, he is a full-time writer and naturalist living in the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington.

David Guterson is the author of the novels East of the MountainsOur Lady of the ForestThe OtherEd King, and Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award; two story collections, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind and Problems With People; a poetry collection, Songs for a Summons; a memoir, Descent; and Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. He lives with his family on Bainbridge Island in Washington State.

AUGUST 23, 2015 / 10 AM - 3 PM / FREE!


North Cascades Institute, Seattle City Light and the National Park Service invite you to a free picnic and open house celebrating the 10th anniversary of the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center and the 25th anniversary of Mountain School! Join us for a BBQ picnic with local farms, Diablo Lake Boat Tours, campus sustainability tours, canoe voyages, naturalist hikes, family-friendly activities and live music by Jumbled Pie and New Wilderness Project featuring Benjie Howard! The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, field campus of the North Cascades Institute, is a hub of discovery for all ages built around the idea that learning together in community inspires stewardship. The green-built campus hugs the shore of Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park, one of the wildest, heaviest glaciated, and most biologically diverse areas in North America. In 2015, the Environmental Learning Center — named a “Top Ten Great Getaways” by ParentMap — celebrates its 10th anniversary! This year also marks our 25th consecutive year of offering our influential residential environmental education program Mountain School in cooperation with North Cascades National Park! Twenty-five years and 26,000 students later, the core values of Mountain School are the same: get children out of the classroom to explore their wild backyard and connect with this special part of the world that we all call home. Look back at 25 years of Mountain School memories at, and send in your own recollections to No RSVP required * Space is limited: arrive early to sign up for activities How to get there: The Learning Center is nestled on the shores of Diablo Lake, just three hours from Seattle or two from Bellingham/Winthrop, surrounded by the pristine wilderness of North Cascades National Park. Directions at Shuttles: From Concrete: Park at Silo Park for 9 am shuttle, arrive back at your car around 4 pm. UPDATE: Due to fire activity, the Newhalem shuttle has been cancelled. We will be offering off-site parking at the Diablo Lake Overlook and shuttles to the ELC on the hour, 10 am - 2 pm. Big thanks to our sponsors AMS Print & Mail, Cascadia Weekly, Collins Office Supply, National Environmental Education Foundation, Percolator Consulting and Skagit State Bank and to our our Foodshed Sponsors: Breadfarm, 5B’s, Acme Ice Cream, Highland Farm West, Blue Heron Farm, Smallwood Farms and Plowhorse Farm. Check out the brand-new video from New Wilderness Project!

The Nature of Writing Speaker Series * Spring 2015

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 Marzluff'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.

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.

Saturday, 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, 7 pm
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 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 and 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.

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 Cover
Celebrate 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"

In 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

A 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

Using 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

Join 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

In 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

Cougars, 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

The 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


February 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

February 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 cover
In 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 2
In 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 cover
Largely 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

Twenty 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.