Face to face encounters with the wild are an everyday occurrence in Wasatch and Summit counties. How we think about those encounters is at the heart of the new book Reimagining a Place for the Wild edited by Leslie Miller.
Walking the trash cans out to the curb last week, I was dive-bombed by a hawk. This creature left no doubt that she was on the attack and that I was her target. Terrified, I jumped under a tree while she hovered above. This was a stunningly beautiful, immense bird, and I had to acknowledge that in that moment, she was in control.
Most of us who are lucky enough to live in northeastern Utah have found ourselves face to face with wildlife. From the moose cooling off in our lawn sprinklers to the ground squirrels invading our vegetable gardens, it would be hard to find a friend or neighbor here who can’t tell us of a personal encounter with the wild. In 2014, a group of artists, academics and activists gathered to explore how those stories and experiences can affect our understanding of the wild and motivate conservation efforts in the west. That meeting would become the Reimagine Western Landscapes symposium.
In the freshly published book Reimaging a Place for the Wild, local author and activist Leslie Miller shares with readers the stories presented at the symposium. The storytellers include the director of University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities Graduate Program, the executive director of Utah Open Lands, the past president and CEO of the National Museum of Wildlife Art among many others. It is their stories that ask us to interpret the human and wild interaction with new eyes.
In one of the collected essays, scholar and forest service worker Erin Halcomb says,
“I believe that now, as always, there is a great hunger within people to understand the wit of their universe. And that through service and story we can cultivate conservationists from all generations.”
Ultimately, that is precisely the goal of these essays – to use the humanities to energize and activate conservation of our Western wild spaces.
To hear from the scholars, artists and activists who are sharing their stories, pick up the essay collection at your library today, or come hear them live at the annual Friends of the Library author luncheon, October 16, 2019 at Silver Lake Lodge in Deer Valley. Tickets are available the Park City library today.