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Dog-ear: Ninety Percent of Everything, Claire of the Sea Light, Paleofantasy

April 21, 2014, by Orion staff

Since 2007, Orion has given an annual award to a book that deepens our connection to the natural world, presents new ideas about the relationship between people and nature, and achieves excellence in writing. What follows are short reports from Orion staff on some of their favorite Orion Book Award contenders. In April, five books published in 2013 will be chosen as finalists for the 2014 Orion Book Award; one will win.

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filed under: Dog-ear



Five Questions for Nina Montenegro and Nolan Calisch

April 18, 2014, by Scott Gast

In the fall of 2013, artists Nina Montenegro and Nolan Calisch pulled seven abandoned tires from a creek near their home; they brought them inside, photographed them, and began an investigation into the psychology of waste in contemporary culture. Images from “Seven Tires at Miller Creek,” Nina and Nolan’s ongoing collaborative series, appear on pages 14 and 15 of the March/April 2014 issue of Orion.


Where did you discover these tires, and what state were they in when they were salvaged?

We encountered them while walking the length of the Miller Creek watershed, near our home in Oregon. Miller Creek is a two-mile stream originating in an ecologically intact forest area, but it empties into the Willamette River within proximity to several Superfund sites. The tires inhabited a physical and conceptual grey area, a place where the lines blur between industrial land use and conservation.

We came upon the tires sequentially at the bottom of the creek. Some were embedded in the landscape, covered in ferns and moss, while others appeared to have been dumped only recently, resting at the surface of the creek bed.

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filed under: Five Questions , In the Magazine



Recommended Reading: Akiko Busch

April 16, 2014, by Akiko Busch

Both in response to the long-awaited warm weather, and in preparation for a workshop I’ll be teaching this summer at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute about walking and writing, I’ve been revisiting the gorgeous literature of, well, walking and writing—everything from Henry Thoreau’s “Walking” and Virginia Wolfe’s “Street Haunting: A London Adventure,” to books by Bill Bryson, Colin Thubron, and Rebecca Solnit.

Add now to this archive On Looking, by Alexandra Horowitz, in which she invites assorted companions to accompany her on an assortment of urban walks. Among what she calls “experts eyes” are those of a typographer, an illustrator, a geologist, and an urban planner.

“People walk faster by banks,” she learns from urban planner Fred Kent. And Horowitz’s definition of space changes when she walks with artist and illustrator Maira Kalman, who “walked straight off the sidewalks. I don’t mean she floated in her blue canvas sneakers, hovering inches off the ground…. Instead, she veered, she abandoned the course. She left the route and wandered into buildings that interested her.”

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filed under: Recommended Reading



Dog-ear: Countdown, The Urban Bestiary, Hear Where We Are

April 14, 2014, by Orion staff



Since 2007, Orion has given an annual award to a book that deepens our connection to the natural world, presents new ideas about the relationship between people and nature, and achieves excellence in writing. What follows are short reports from Orion staff on some of their favorite Orion Book Award contenders. In April, five books published in 2013 will be chosen as finalists for the 2014 Orion Book Award; one will win.

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filed under: Dog-ear



Peter Matthiessen, 1927 - 2014

April 10, 2014, by H. Emerson Blake

When we received word that Peter Matthiessen, a longtime friend and advisor to Orion, died on Saturday, I was reminded of a night in March 1999, when Peter was presented with the John Hay Award (an annual award that Orion once presented to writers). The award ceremony took place in Easthampton, New York, and was attended by writers, conservationists, Peter’s family and friends, and Orion staff members. As part of the award there was a colloquium devoted to discussing Peter’s work, then a dinner, and then an after-dinner reception.

It was also the day of the first fight between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, which another Orion staff member and I wanted to watch. Halfway through the after-dinner reception, Robert and I disappeared quietly through a side door of the reception hall and decamped to a sports bar across the street where we found the fight being broadcast. We knew it did not reflect terrifically on us that we were choosing to watch a boxing match over being in the same room with Peter Matthiessen, but we really wanted to see the fight. And we were sure no one would notice.

The fight was entering the tenth round when a tall man materialized next to us and took his place in front of the television. Robert and I looked over. It was Peter. Peter looked over and saw us. We all blinked. In having abandoned the reception, it was unclear who was more in the wrong: the people who were supposed to be celebrating another person, or the person who himself was being celebrated. After a moment, Peter, in his utterly distinctive voice, said, “I really wanted to see the fight.” Robert said, “So did we.” With that we turned our attention back to the television and watched the rest of the fight, which some readers will remember was awarded by decision, pointlessly, to Holyfield. When the fight was over we all walked back to the reception hall.

Peter Matthiessen was the kind of person who could equally enjoy boxing and birdwatching. As a writer, he was able to seamlessly knit environment, Native Americans, sailing, human rights, and fishermen into narratives that engaged vastly disparate readerships. For me, Peter’s book The Snow Leopard, and its fusion of adventure, science, and spiritual quest, changed what I expected for myself and from my life. Mostly, Peter was just a hell of a writer whose skill and versatility were matched by few modern writers. We will do well to remember his appetite for life, his hunger for justice, and his vision for a wilder world.

H. Emerson Blake is the editor-in-chief of Orion.

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filed under: Orion Noteworthy



New Books: Farmacology

April 09, 2014, by Daphne Miller, M.D.

Author and family physician Dr. Daphne Miller has long suspected that human health and agriculture are connected—but most modern medical practices seem blind to their linkage. Her new book, Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing, explores how that connection works. Here’s Daphne on how thinking more holistically about planetary and bodily ecosystems can change the way we understand both medicine and agriculture.

***

“I think we can blame our record-breaking drought,” I said to my patient S. She shot me a quizzical look, the kind you give when someone answers your question with a total non sequitur. Here she was, worried about her all-time worst eczema flare, and all I could offer her was a weather report? And yet S., who has suffered from eczema her entire life, has often told me that her condition is exacerbated by parched skin. So why would my comment about our parched landscape seem irrelevant?

I thought about this after S. had left my office, armed with prescriptions for a strong emollient and a steroid cream (to use sparingly on the worst spots) and a recommendation to exempt herself from water rationing and take long, hydrating baths while she prayed for rain.

Like S., most of us can easily see how environmental conditions might impact our lives in the form of relatively minor inconveniences (foiled travel plans) as well as catastrophes (destroyed homes and neighborhoods). But understanding how the ecology that surrounds us can directly affect the ecology within us is harder to grasp. We tend to think of our own cells as a closed system, impervious to everything that occurs outside, and science reinforces this notion since relatively little research is dedicated to bridging the two worlds.

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filed under: Authors on Books



Concrete Progress: Gliding Through Anchorage

April 06, 2014, by Peter Brewitt

Concrete Progress is an ongoing series of columns by Peter Brewitt devoted to exploring America’s infrastructure. It is part of Orion’s Reimagining Infrastructure project.


It’s five p.m. on a Tuesday, Alaska Standard Time, and all across Anchorage businesses are closing up for the end of the workday. Outside, the thermometer reads eight degrees above zero. Night fell just after lunch. Nonetheless, the people of Anchorage shut down their computers, put on their jackets, lace up their ski boots, click into their bindings, step on to the trail, and start home, their breaths frosty in the subarctic air.

There are four hundred miles of trails in Anchorage, radiating out through the city like blood vessels and reaching beyond it to surrounding communities far away from the urban core. Every day of the year, lawyers and consultants and clerks ski, bike, and run back and forth between their homes and offices. (I wish I could tell you that they mushed dogs on the commute, but this would not be true—only a few of Anchorage’s trails are open to sled dogs.) The trails are broad and well maintained, many of them paved, many of them lit for the dark of the northern winter. And many miles are separate from the road, running through tunnels when obliged to cross a highway, so that a ski commuter may only meet traffic at the very beginning and very end of the route.

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filed under: Concrete Progress



Dog-ear: Happy City, Sightlines, The Science Delusion

April 02, 2014, by Orion staff



Since 2007, Orion has given an annual award to a book that deepens our connection to the natural world, presents new ideas about the relationship between people and nature, and achieves excellence in writing. What follows are short reports from Orion staff on some of their favorite Orion Book Award contenders. In April, five books published in 2013 will be chosen as finalists for the 2014 Orion Book Award; one will win.

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filed under: Dog-ear



On the Land, in the Wind: A Conversation with James Galvin

March 31, 2014, by Chris Dombrowski

Last year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of poet James Galvin’s Elements, one of the most durable and essential poetry collections of its era. Born in Chicago and raised in northern Colorado, Galvin is the author of several celebrated collections of poetry, including, most recently As Is; a novel, Fencing the Sky; and a book of prose, The Meadow, which has been called “one of the best books ever written about the American West.”

The conversation that follows was conducted over the course of several weeks; due to spotty internet at his cabin near Tie Siding, Wyoming, Galvin drove into town so he could respond to questions from the Spic and Span Wireless Laundromat. The poems included below appeared originally in Elements, and can be found now in Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975-1997, published by Copper Canyon Press. —Chris Dombrowski

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filed under: Chris Dombrowski on Poetry



Dog-ear: Telling Our Way to the Sea, Pests in the City, MaddAddam

March 24, 2014, by Orion staff

Since 2007, Orion has given an annual award to a book that deepens our connection to the natural world, presents new ideas about the relationship between people and nature, and achieves excellence in writing. What follows are short reports from Orion staff on some of their favorite Orion Book Award contenders. In April, five books published in 2013 will be chosen as finalists for the 2014 Orion Book Award; one will win.

read more →

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filed under: Dog-ear



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