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Co-presented with Orion Magazine & Writers Rebel NYC, the June Climate Reads discusses Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall-Kimmerer. The June moderator will be Leah Stokes, who will be joined by Kathleen Dean Moore and Dr. Jessica Hernandez.

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

Moderator, Leah Stokes: I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). I work on energy, climate and environmental politics. Within American Politics, my work focuses on representation and public opinion; voting behavior; and public policy, particularly at the state level. Within environmental politics, I research climate change, renewable energy, water and chemicals policy. My book, Short Circuiting Policy, examines the role that utilities have played in promoting climate denial and rolling back clean energy laws. It was named the Best Energy Book of 2020 by the AES and listed as a top 5 climate book from 2020 by the NYT.  I also contributed to the anthology, All We Can Save, which is a collection of essays written by influential women in the climate space. I co-host the podcast “A Matter of Degrees.”  

My academic research has been published in top journals including the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Nature Energy, Energy Policy, and Environmental Science & Technology. I have also published articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, CNN and elsewhere. I am frequently quoted in national media. I completed my PhD in Public Policy in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning’s Environmental Policy & Planning group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I also received a masters from MIT's Political Science Department. Before that, I completed an MPA in Environmental Science & Policy at the School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. I also have a BSc in Psychology and East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto. Prior to academia, I worked at the Parliament of Canada and Resources for the Future. 

Dr. Jessica Hernandez is a transnational Indigenous scholar, scientist, and community advocate based in the Pacific Northwest. She has an interdisciplinary academic background ranging from marine sciences to forestry. Her work is grounded on her Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing. She advocates for food, climate, and environmental justice through her scientific and community work and strongly believes that Indigenous sciences can heal our Indigenous lands.  Her book, Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science, is forthcoming this Spring '22.

Kathleen Dean Moore is a philosopher and writer from the Pacific Northwest. For many years Distinguished Professor of environmental ethics at Oregon State University, she left the university to write and speak about the moral urgency of the climate and extinction crises. Her recent books are Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril; Great Tide Rising: Toward Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change; Earth's Wild Music; and Bearing Witness: The Human Rights Case Against Fracking and Climate Change.

With her colleagues at the Spring Creek Project, she has made a number of films, including "The Extinction Variations" (a words and music collaboration with classical pianist Rachelle McCabe), "Music to Save Earth's Songs" (twenty tiny concerts celebrating frogsong, wolfhowl, and others), and "Bedrock Rights: A New Foundation for Global Action Against Fracking and Climate Change." She writes from Corvallis, Oregon and from a small cabin where two creeks and a bear trail meet a tidal cove in Southeast Alaska.


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