Words, Words, Words


Open book on top of grass.

We discuss great environmental writing that captures our attention. First off, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, the author of The Spawning Grounds, tells us how she writes about the land as a character. Next, ecology graduate students discuss the different styles of two environmental writers during the conservation movement. Finally, Mika Minio-Paluello discusses co-writing the travelogue The Oil Road and reflects on the journey following the BP pipeline from Central Asia to the Mediterranean.

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The Magic of Environmental Writing
Do you ever wonder why some authors can make their words ring out and sizzle right off the page, but some can’t write a catchy sentence to save their life? Terra Informer Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has been curious for a while about the difference between two writers from the early days of the American conservation movement: Aldo Leopold and John Muir. Why is there so much poetry, so much fire in Leopold’s books? Chris was snowshoeing in Kananaskis a little while ago with ecology grad students Paul Cigan and Sonya Odsen. You can imagine his glee when he overheard them talking about just this question.

The Oil Road
Every single day, one million barrels of oil travels from landlocked Central Asia to the Mediterranean. From there it flows through the trade routes, making British Petroleum—also known as BP—billions of dollars along the way. James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello traveled this oil road. They visited rural villages and shining new cities, all tied together by the incredible social forces generated by BP’s pipeline.

The Oil Road is also the name of their book and it is a reflective travelogue on the state of the global oil industry. Mika Minio-Paluello spent a week in Edmonton in 2013. Hear stories of repressive governments, secret police, Canadian attack helicopters, and more.

Gail Anderson-Dargatz  

Gail Anderson-Dargatz is a twice Giller shortlisted author and she released her lastest novel, The Spawning Grounds in 2016. The Spawning Grounds is set in Thompson-Shuswap region of B.C. and it begins with a river’s flow reduced to a trickle leaving salmon unable to reach their spawning grounds. Conflict arises between the white settlers and Indigenous community and three young adults are left trying to navigate the conflict. Gail Anderson-Dargatz shares her writing process and how she writes about the land as a character in this interview.

Image source: Kaboompics, pixabay

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