The Way We Nature

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Imagine On Air’s The Way We storytelling series presents The Way We Nature, featuring four non-fiction writers whose books put our relationship to the environment centre stage: Clayton Thomas-Müller, Adam Shoalts, Suzanne Simard, and Edith Widder.

Each will perform an open-mic style monologue on the theme as well as answer questions from the host, Pam Rocker. The hour-long Imagine On Air event starts at 7:00 p.m. MT (The pre-show starts at 6:50 p.m. MT.) The broadcast on Wordfest.com is free, but if you RSVP, we'll send you a reminder along with easy instructions to help you get set up, as well as our unique Digital Doggie Bag after the event with links, goodies, and references from the conversations.

We are grateful to Penguin Random House Canada for helping us connect you with these thoughtful and inspiring writers.

About Adam Shoalts

Adam Shoalts has been called one of Canada’s greatest living explorers and in 2018 was named an Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He is also an historian, archaeologist, and geographer, and his book Alone Against the North was a #1 national bestseller. His second book, A History of Canada in Ten Maps was also national bestseller. Shoalts holds a Ph.D. from McMaster University where his doctoral research examined the influence Indigenous oral traditions had on explorers and fur traders in Canada’s subarctic and Pacific Northwest. He has done archaeology in four countries and enjoys long walks in the woods.

Follow him on Instagram @adam_shoalts.

About The Whisper on the Night Wind

One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year –Indigo

A spellbinding adventure from Canada's most beloved modern-day explorer.

Traverspine is not a place you will find on most maps. A century ago, it stood near the foothills of the remote Mealy Mountains in central Labrador. Today it is an abandoned ghost town, almost all trace of it swallowed up by dark spruce woods that cloak millions of acres.

In the early 1900s, this isolated little settlement was the scene of an extraordinary haunting by large creatures none could identify. Strange tracks were found in the woods. Unearthly cries were heard in the night. Sled dogs went missing. Children reported being stalked by a terrifying grinning animal. Families slept with cabin doors barred and axes and guns at their bedsides.

Tales of things that “go bump in the night” are part of the folklore of the wilderness, told and retold around countless campfires down through the ages. Most are easily dismissed by skeptics. But what happened at Traverspine a hundred years ago was different. The eye-witness accounts were detailed, and those who reported them included no less than three medical doctors and a wildlife biologist.

Something really did emerge from the wilderness to haunt the little settlement of Traverspine.

Adam Shoalts, decorated modern-day explorer and an expert on wilderness folklore, picks up the trail from a century ago and sets off into the Labrador wild to investigate the tale. It is a spine-tingling adventure, straight from a land steeped in legends and lore, where Vikings wandered a thousand years ago and wolves and bears still roam free.

In delving into the dark corners of Canada’s wild, The Whisper on the Night Wind combines folklore, history, and adventure into a fascinating saga of exploration.

About Suzanne Simard

Suzanne Simard was born in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia and was educated at the University of British Columbia and Oregon State University. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls in James Cameron’s Avatar), and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

She is Professor of Forest Ecology in the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Forestry.

Follow her on Twitter & Instagram @drsuzannesimard.

About Finding the Mother Tree

A world-leading expert shares her amazing story of discovering the communication that exists between trees and shares her own story of family and grief.

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths
that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard describes up close in revealing and accessible ways how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved; how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about their future; how they elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication: characteristics previously ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies. And, at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. Simard, born and raised in the rain forests of British Columbia, spent her days as a child cataloging the trees from the forest; she came to love and respect them and embarked on a journey of discovery and struggle. Her powerful story is one of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward. And it is a testament to how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology: it’s about understanding who we are and our place in the world. In her book, as in her groundbreaking research, Simard proves the true connectedness of the Mother Tree to the forest, nurturing it in the profound ways that families and human societies nurture one another, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.

About Clayton Thomas-Müller

Clayton Thomas-Müller is a member of the Treaty #6 based Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan located in Northern Manitoba, Canada. He is a campaigner for 350.org, a global movement that's responding to the climate crisis. He has campaigned on behalf of Indigenous peoples around the world for more than 20 years, working with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project, and Bioneers, among others. Thomas-Müller has led Indigenous delegations to lobby United Nations bodies, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Earth Summit (Johannesburg, 2002 and Rio+20, 2012), and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He has coordinated and led delegations of Indigenous peoples to lobby government in Washington, DC, Ottawa, and the European Union (Strasbourg and Brussels).

Follow him on Twitter @creeclayton & Instagram @clayton_thomas_muller.

About Life In the City of Dirty Water

An electrifying memoir that braids together the urgent issues of Indigenous rights and environmental policy, from a nationally and internationally recognized activist and survivor.

There have been many Clayton Thomas-
Müllers: The child who played with toy planes as an escape from domestic and sexual abuse, enduring the intergenerational trauma of Canada's residential school system; the angry youngster who defended himself with fists and sharp wit against racism and violence, at school and on the streets of Winnipeg and small-town British Columbia; the tough teenager who, at 17, managed a drug house run by members of his family, and slipped in and out of juvie, operating in a world of violence and pain.

But behind them all, there was another Thomas-
Müller: the one who remained immersed in Cree spirituality, and who embraced the rituals and ways of thinking vital to his heritage; the one who reconnected with the land during summer visits to his great-grandparents' trapline in his home territory of Pukatawagan in northern Manitoba.

And it's this version of Thomas-
Müller that ultimately triumphed, finding healing by directly facing the trauma that he shares with Indigenous peoples around the world. Now a leading organizer and activist on the frontlines of environmental resistance, Thomas-Muller brings his warrior spirit to the fight against the ongoing assault on Indigenous peoples
’ lands by Big Oil.

Tying together personal stories of survival that bring the realities of the First Nations of this land into sharp focus, and lessons learned from a career as a frontline activist committed to addressing environmental injustice at a global scale, Thomas-
Müller offers a narrative and vision of healing and responsibility.

About Edith Widder

Edith Widder, Ph.D., is an oceanographer, a marine biologist, and the co-founder, CEO, and senior scientist at the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, a nonprofit organization where she is focusing her passion for saving the ocean into developing innovative technologies to preserve and protect the ocean’s most precious real estate: its estuaries. She has given three TED talks; has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as well as the Explorer’s Club Citation of Merit; and is the first recipient of the Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration established by the Marine Technology Society and the Society of Underwater Technology.

Follow her on Twitter @ediewidder.

About Below the Edge of Darkness

Edith Widder’s story is one of hardscrabble optimism, two-fisted exploration, and groundbreaking research. She’s done things I dream of doing.” James Cameron

Edith Widder’s childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist was almost derailed in college, when complications from a surgery gone wrong caused temporary blindness. A new reality of shifting shadows drew her fascination to the power of light as well as the importance of optimism.

As her vision cleared, Widder found the intersection of her two passions in oceanic bioluminescence, a little-explored scientific field within Earth’s last great unknown frontier: the deep ocean. With little promise of funding or employment, she leaped at the first opportunity to train as a submersible pilot and dove into the darkness. 

Widder’s first journey into the deep ocean, in a diving suit that resembled a suit of armor, took her to a depth of eight hundred feet. She turned off the lights and witnessed breathtaking underwater fireworks: explosions of bioluminescent activity. Concerns about her future career vanished. She only wanted to know one thing: Why was there so much light down there? 

Below the Edge of Darkness takes readers deep into our planet’s oceans as Widder pursues her questions about one of the most important and widely used forms of communication in nature.

In the process, she reveals hidden worlds and a dazzling menagerie of behaviors and animals, from microbes to leviathans, many never-before seen or, like the legendary giant squid, never before filmed in their deep-sea lairs. Alongside Widder, we experience life-and-death equipment malfunctions and witness breakthroughs in technology and understanding, all set against a growing awareness of the deteriorating health of our largest and least understood ecosystem. 

A thrilling adventure story as well as a scientific revelation, Below the Edge of Darkness reckons with the complicated and sometimes dangerous realities of exploration. Widder shows us how when we push our boundaries and expand our worlds, discovery and wonder follow. These are the ultimate keys to the ocean’s salvation and thus to our future on this planet.

About Host Pam Rocker

Pam Rocker is a native Texan turned Albertan, atypical activist, award winning writer, speaker, and musician. Rocker has worked for over a decade for the full inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people in faith communities and beyond. She was chosen as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Calgary, and as one of the top 30 activists in Canada. She was a frequent panelist on CBC Radio's Unconventional Panel, is the Chair of Broadview Magazine, and an Instructor with YouthWrite Alberta and YOUth Riot. Rocker is currently the Director of Affirming Connections, performs queer feminist ukulele comedy music, and speaks and plays across in the US and Canada.

Visit her at www.pamrocker.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @realpamrocker.

Curiouser?

  • In new memoir, activist Thomas-Müller traces impact of extraction industries on First Nations, and his own life Vancouver Sun
  • Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard review a journey of passion and introspection  The Guardian
  • The Wonders That Live at the Very Bottom of the Sea The New York Times
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