I’m very excited to be on a Smithsonian program with Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum and Anthony Barnosky, professor of integrative biology at the University of Calfornia, Berkeley. Our topic is “How Humans Changed the World.” Whew. Good luck us covering that in an hour and a half. It should be a throught provoking and lively talk, and it will be at the very beautiful National Museum of the American Indian. I hope to see you there at 6:45 PM!
I’ve started an experimental tumblr blog, Everyday Nature, posting pictures and short thoughts about the small nature I see every day here in Columbia, Missouri and on my travels. Here’s what I wrote about it in my first post:
Little kids don’t get landscapes. Hike them through Arches National Park and they’ll whine for ice cream and shade. Try to get them to “look at the scenery” on long car trips and all they ever notice are the semi trucks and billboards.
But little kids get small nature. They love collecting items from the natural world and putting them in their pockets. They are closer to the ground, after all, so the buckeyes and acorns and pretty leaves and dandelions are closer to them.
This blog is inspired by my daughter’s ever expanding collection of natural specimens, a part of which you see here. She relates to nature by picking it up and asking me to carry it. As a result, I have begun really looking at and thinking about everyday nature in our backyard, on the street, and on our travels. This is exactly what I prescribed in my 2011 book, Rambunctious Garden. Nature isn’t the epic stuff you see on Planet Earth documentaries, I said. Nature is all around us, in the city, on the highway median. And now, all over my house.
See it here. This one was fun to report and write, since I talk about my own family and friends who hunt. The bearded fellow is my brother-in-law. My own hunting activities have so far been pretty experimental, and I’ve yet to bag anything myself. I need more target practice before I start shooting at real animals.
Photo courtesy Charlie Croskery
Today the New York Times is publishing an op ed that I wrote with The Nature Conservancy’s Peter Kareiva, Stanford’s Joe Mascaro (who is also a character in Rambunctious Garden) and the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Erle Ellis. We argue that the Anthropocene–the epoch marked by widespread human influence–is not by definition a disaster, and that accepting the scope of man’s changes to the Earth can set the stage not for hopelessness, but for a more hopeful environmental movement. I hope it gets people who have been feeling gloomy about Earth thinking, active, even optimistic again. We can make things better, not just less worse.
I’ve done a few radio programs to promote the book, and thanks to the magic of the internet, that formerly ephemeral medium now has some kind of permanence. If you are interested in learning more about the ideas in the book while you do the dishes or walk the dog, I recommend the following interviews and programs.
- A great 28-minute conversation with Gene Bradley of Portland’s KBOO. We had the space here to really dig into the ideas; Mr. Bradley was a very thorough interviewer and a bit of a convert to my point of view, which was exciting for me.
- For those of you with green thumbs, this fun, freewheeling gardening hour on Weekday, a program on Seattle’s KUOW, is a great introduction to how my ideas apply to your backyard. I share the hour with host Steve Scher and Northwest gardening guru Marty Wingate, who knows a hell of a lot more about horticulture than I likely ever will! (She’s got a book coming out about Landscaping for Privacy that looks very cozy. I’ve often daydreamed of creating a little secret garden to hide out in in the midst of the busy city.)
- Harvest Public Media‘s Jessica Naudziunas created a very nice produced piece about the book. Naudziunas is a local Columbia, Missouri-based journalist and a rising public radio star; her piece on a national peanut shortage was recently featured on All Things Considered. In eight minutes, this piece manages to capture one of the book’s main messages: love the nature around you; don’t yearn for the unattainable perfection of mythical pure wilderness that you never have time or money to visit. Features great sound of my local chorus of late summer bugs.
There’s more great radio to come, so stay tuned!
I am a huge fan of High Country News, the magazine “for people who care about the West.” So I am thrilled to have my first piece there, an essay that springs directly from my experience writing Rambunctious Garden. Once you learn about the dynamism of nature and the massive changes pre-European people made to North America, how does your emotional response to that holy of holies–Old Growth Forest–change? Read here to find out how it changed for me.
Are coming in. Publisher’s Weekly says the book is “a stimulating examination of the questions of stewardship and the future of our delicate planet that will challenge any simple answers.” And the Reason magazine says “This gracefully written and well-argued book deserves a wide readership. One hopes that readers will take to heart Marris’ chief insight about conservation: ‘There is no one best goal.’”
The book comes out September first!
Two upcoming radio appearances to mention. Tomorrow, Friday August 11th, during the noon hour (Pacific time) I will appear on The Conversation with Ross Reynolds on KUOW in Seattle. That is 94.9 on your FM dial or www.kuow.org. I will be talking mostly about my recent essay in Nature about the 40th anniversary of The Lorax.
Then, on September 1st, the day Rambunctious Garden comes out, I’ll be on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Here on Earth. That airs live at 3 PM central and again at 9 PM central on the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio. You can also hear it at 7 PM Mountain on Idaho’s Boise State Radio. Or, listen online during the live broadcast here, or later by clicking on the program in the archive.
The Madrona Woods, by Bryn Nelson
Last week I walked through a Seattle greenspace–the Madrona Woods–with journalist Bryn Nelson. The steep wooded area has been adopted by the neighborhood. They’ve pulled out many exotic species and planted many natives. The result is a quasi-garden that pays homage to the beautiful native flora of the Northwest, provides habitat for wildlife like eagles, and a natural space for urban Seattleites.
The result of our chat was a Q&A for the New York Times’ Green Blog, which I think turned out quite well, thanks to Nelson’s skill with questioning, editing and scene setting.
Check it out and leave a comment!
The nice thing about secondary forest is you can pound nails into it.
I was thrilled to be asked to write a guest post for the fabulous group blog The Last Word on Nothing. I decided to write about my own childhood in second growth forests, and how that may have prepared my mind for the new ideas at play these days in ecology and conservation.
I start with a description of my childhood friend Taya killing a tree. Read the post here.