This week’s featured wilderness thinker is Jeff Baldwin, Associate Professor of Geography at Sonoma State University. Jeff’s paper reminds us that non-human actors have shaped wilderness for millennia and that we should consider them as important partners in the ecosystem we share. Jeff proposes a thought experiment; to reflect and reconsider our position and move away from an anthropocentric perspective reminding us of the potential of the constant “processes of organization, self-organization, and decay in hybrid human-nature combinations” (Radkau, 1978: 308-325)
The article is in part a response to recent calls in the environmental history literature both to engage more fully with social theory and to re-invigorate an examination of human-environment dialectics. Through a re-visitation of Marx’s work on material historicity in light of recent research on animal behavior, the article provides a theoretical framework through which non-human beings can be understood as historic actors, in and of themselves. That argument provides a theoretical framework to support practical projects which seek to ‘partner’ with non-human actors in efforts to modify and/or restore landscapes and ecosystem services. Read More….
Digital image still from featured video work, Down, Up, Down: Pine Mountain Breathing (2014)
This week’s featured wilderness thinker is Zoé Strecker, artist, writer and art professor. Zoé’s ‘multi-modal thinking’ is consolidated through her durational exploration of Pine Mountain, a ridge in the Appalachian Mountains that runs through Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Pine Mountainrepresents the last great contiguous stretch of unfragmented forest in Kentucky, breached only by six roads in 110 miles and is also a significant unprotected wilderness area.
Zoé’s engagement develops a mindful ecology around Pine Mountain extending her wilderness thinking into other communities through the students and volunteers with whom she works and collaborates, which includes SITE, an arts-led interdisciplinary educational collaboration with philosopher, Prof. Peter S. Fosl at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. This exploration of Pine Mountain generates creative and scholarly responses along with Zoé’s personal arts practice, which celebrates the exceptional biodiversity of Pine Mountain in southeastern Kentucky. Read More….
Sundews, Prince William Sound. Image: Marybeth Holleman
This weeks featured thinker, writer and teacher Marybeth Holleman grew up in North Carolina’s Appalachian mountains and transplanted to Alaska’s Chugach mountains after falling head over heels for Prince William Sound. “As a writer,” she says, “I owe it all to natural places.” It’s there that we meet the real world unmediated by daily distractions, and rediscover our proper scale in the greater scheme of life. Art, in all its forms, can help lead the way, and wilderness, as this week’s featured thinker reminds us, is an inspiration. Read more….
View over Northern part of the Lairig Ghru. Image: Nigel Brown, 1996 Geograph.org.uk
This week’s feature takes a slightly different format as we wanted to introduce you to a wilderness thinker we have selected in memoriam, Nan Shepherd (1893 – 1981). We introduce her work, The Living Mountain, through a re-reading and link to a radio broadcast by Robert Macfarlane, an english scholar who writes about landscape, place, travel and nature. The broadcast includes extracts from Shepherd’s work alongside Robert Macfarlane’s narration of his ‘poetic pilgrimage’ to her beloved Cairngorms.Read more……
Tobi Luck is a gardener, living and working on the edge of the wild Atlantic, in County Sligo. His garden exists in a constant dynamic; the gentle sensitive cultivation and management of growing food against an uncontrollable elemental backdrop of an edge-dwelling location.
Between land and sea, Tobi has created a niche that exists alongside wilderness. This week’s featured thinker reminds of our interdependence with a system that does not rely on us. Read more….
Grand Staircase, Escalente National Monument, Utah. Image: Phil Hanceford, 2008
Phil Hanceford is the Assistant Director, of The Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center and uses his knowledge of natural resource law and policy to protect desert wildlands in the West stewarded by the Bureau of Land Management. This article co-written with his colleague, Nada Culver, senior counsel and director presents the BLM’s work to protect desert wilderness.
Illustrated with Phil’s beautiful images, the article relates the ‘coming-of-age story about an agency that was late to receive the responsibilities of its sibling agencies’.
Sea ice in the Chukchi Sea, north of Bering Strait, March 18 2015. (Image:Marine Live-ice Automobile Expedition (MLAE).
Writer and conservationist, Eleanor O’Hanlon, grew up in the rainy temperate climate of the West of Ireland and has has worked in conservation since the 1980’s, working for Greenpeace International, Environmental Investigation Agency and ITV’s Discovery channel. Winner of the 2014 Nautilus Gold Book Award for Nature Writing, with Eyes of the Wild, Eleanor re-visits her 2008 trip to Spitsbergen (Svalbard Archipelago) updated with with images and information from the Marine Live-ice Automobile Expedition (MLAE), March 2015.
We hope you enjoy Eleanor’s timely and sensitive piece, her work, guided by biologists and other observers is illustrated with beautiful images, reconnecting us and renewing our longstanding relationship with the natural world.
Kevin Lehto is Assistant Recreation Ranger for the Forest Service in the Carson National Forest, Questa District. Based on 20 years with the Forest Service and his life-long love of the outdoors, Kevin mulls over his own reflections on Wilderness, protection and “management”. He skillfully delves into these large topic areas through a series of related evocative questions and answers. Read more….
This week, the work of our 26th Featured Wilderness Thinker, Irene Owsley, takes us to the far north, to remote Alaskan Wilderness that many of us dream of witnessing with our own eyes. Irene’s magnificent panoramic photographs are a close second. They make you feel like you are almost there with her, as she explores these beautiful places as an artist in residence with two Forest Service Rangers. And it’s not just me who thinks her work is amazing. Her piece “Glacial stream” was one of thirteen finalists chosen from over 5,000 entries for the Smithsonian’s 50th anniversary “Wilderness Forever” exhibition, at the National Museum of Natural History. Without further, ado enjoy Irene’s beautiful work and her insightful description of her experiences as a Voices of the Wilderness Artist in Residence: Read More…..
Anna Keleher, from Devon, England, develops ideas, techniques, processes, skills and participatory artworks to expand 21st century perspectives. As our 24th Wilderness Thinker, Anna brings characteristic creativity, dedication to turning a topic on its head and to quote her directly, “shifting our thinking.” Her essay, “The Wilderness Inside” turns the concept of wilderness “inside out.” Read more…