The next day, April 19th, I’ll be giving a writing workshop appropriate for journalers, memoirists, essayists, journalists, gardeners, nature-lovers, and scientists interested in communicating with the public through writing. I have put together a fun evening of exercises, sharing, and encouragement for “Writing the Natural World in Complex Times.”
Then on April 25th, I’ll be giving two back-to-back talks. The first is going to focus on design and engineering with nature in a changing world, and will be at 4:00 at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. More info here.
The second is a conversation with conservation biologist Joe Roman on “The Future of Wild on a Tamed Planet” at New York University at 6:00 PM. More info here. A big day!
Further out, I am planning a reporting trip to Australia (Sydney and Simpson Desert) in early June and a trip to the Bay Area and Yosemite in late June.
National Parks are awesome. They represent some of the most gorgeous and amazing nature the world has to offer. But because so many people want to see them, and because they often enclose fragile and rare ecosystems, they generally come with some sensible restrictions on what you can and can’t do there.
Kids are generally less interested than we adults are in the vistas and grandeur of a typical national park. They want to get up close and personal with nature and touch it–and they aren’t snobs. Worms and moths can be just as enchanting as a bugling elk or giraffe on the horizon.
So it is worth trying out a few more hands-on adventures in other kinds of public lands: state, county and city parks, which all have different rules and regulations. And national forests and Bureau of Land Management land, where visitors can often wander off trail, collect mushrooms and Christmas trees (check if a permit is required) or camp wherever they like.
Our family enjoys mushroom hunting, and the local forest service office issues permits and gives us maps of where we are allowed to pick. We wander the woods (remember to take a compass!) and find all kinds of interesting things along the way. If we find a big sugar pine, the kids are totally allowed to take some monster cones home. And they later end up incorporated into backyard fairy houses. My kids also love to fish. Check out the regulations in your state, then buy a cheap pole, or make your own cane pole with a wine cork bobber. Then dig up some worms and head to the closest fishing spot! Calling your state fish and game office can help you identify the best spots. Throw your catch back or fry it up for dinner!
Plan a weekend trip
Identify a public area within a day’s drive where the crowds are thinner and the opportunities for interactive experience greater. In the U.S., start by contacting your local state fish and game office, forestry service office, or BLM office to learn more about fishing, hunting, swimming holes, mushroom picking, rock or pine cone collecting, and in some places, even making a bonfire on the beach!
I’m very excited to be speaking at and attending this upcoming conference at the Minnesota Arboretum. The 2016 Pollinator Summit will be a packed day of information sharing, networking, and meeting and mingling with wild bees in the garden. Pollination is one of my favorite natural history subjects, as well as being a topic that conservationists and gardeners can both become passionate about.
The conference website’s list of “who should attend” reads like my ideal invite list for a fascinating dinner party: Landscape designers • landscape architects • land managers • state and local agency staff • parks and public works staff • community planners • non-profit staff • urban gardeners • elected and appointed officials • commercial growers • builders and developers • educators • concerned citizens • nurseries/garden centers/plant production staff • others inspired to protect pollinators
It is also a steal in terms of price. If you are thinking of attending, let me know, and we can start the pollination conversation early!
If you are in the area, consider coming to see me give a free lecture at Santa Clara University Thursday, 5/19 at 4:30. There will also be a reception afterwards. I’ll talk about the meaning of “wild” in the 21st century. Not so easy to pin down, as I’ve been finding in my recent reporting!
Welcome to my new website. I’ll be posting here information about new stories I’ve written, lectures I will give, and miscellaneous news and thoughts.
I’ve also set up a newsletter–you can sign up at the bottom of the page. I’ll send out occasional notices when I publish something new. I’ve got some exciting projects underway, so go ahead and sign up to be the first to hear when they go live.