Reporters in Residence
Writer, naturalist and activist Janisse Ray is author of three books of literary nonfiction and a new collection of nature poetry. She is on the faculty of Chatham University’s low-residency MFA program and is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana, and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Unity College in Maine.
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast, was published by Milkweed Editions in 1999. Besides being a plea to protect and restore the glorious pine flatwoods of the South, the book looks hard at family, mental illness, poverty, and fundamentalist religion. Essayist Wendell Berry called the book “well done and deeply moving.” Anne Raver of The New York Times said of Janisse Ray, “The forests of the South find their Rachel Carson.”
Ray’s second book, Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home, about rural community, was published by Milkweed Editions in early 2003. The third, Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, the story of a 750,000-acre wildland corridor between south Georgia and north Florida, was published by Chelsea Green in 2005. Her first book of poetry, A House of Branches, is just out (2010). Ray is also editor of In One Place and Moody Forest, and co-editor of UnspOILed and Between Two Rivers. She is anthologized widely.
Ray has won a Southeastern Booksellers Award 1999, an American Book Award 2000, the Southern Environmental Law Center 2000 Award for Outstanding Writing, and a Southern Book Critics Circle Award 2000. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read.
She has been visiting professor at Coastal Carolina University, scholar-in-residence at Florida Gulf Coast University, and writer-in-residence at Keene State College and Green Mountain College. She was the John & Renee Grisham writer-in-residence 2003-04 at the University of Mississippi.
Ray attempts to live a simple, sustainable life on a farm in southern Georgia with her husband, Raven Waters. Ray is an organic gardener, tender of farm animals, slow-food cook, and seed-saver. She lectures widely on nature, community, agriculture, wildness, sustainability and the politics of wholeness. Forthcoming works include a nonfiction books on open-pollinated seeds, The Seed Underground (Chelsea Green) and another about the Altamaha River, Drifting Into Darien (University of Georgia Press).
David Abram, Ph.D., is a cultural ecologist and philosopher who lectures and teaches widely around the world. He is author of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, for which he received the Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, and of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (forthcoming from Pantheon in 2010). His essays on the cultural causes and consequences of environmental disarray have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, as well as in many anthologies in a host of disciplines. He has been the recipient of numerous honors, including fellowships from the Rockefeller and Watson Foundations. He is creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE), and lives with his wife and two young children in northern New Mexico.
Jennifer Sahn is editor of Orion, a bimonthly magazine about nature, culture, and place. Articles she has edited have won the John Burroughs Essay Award, the Pushcart Prize, and have been reprinted in Best American Science and Nature Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction. She has been on Orion's editorial staff for the past seventeen years and has been on the faculty of the Wildbranch Writing Workshop at Sterling College for the past five years. Her writing has been published in a variety of print venues and she has served as editor for several book projects. Jennifer sits on the advisory board of the University Press of Kentucky’s Culture of the Land series and is a board member of BerkShares Inc., a local currency project based in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband, son, and geriatric dog.
Keith Schneider spent 10 years as a national correspondent with the New York Times, where he continues as a special writer. From 1985 to 1995 he reported from Washington and around the country on new developments in agriculture, the environment, natural resources, energy, and transportation. For most of that period he was based in the Times' Washington bureau, where he received a George Polk Award for national reporting. Earlier he won a Polk Award for reporting on the consequences of an environmental laboratory scandal involving farm chemicals. He reported from the international climate negotiations in Barcelona and Copenhagen for Grist Magazine and Yale Environment 360 and now is senior editor and producer of Circle of Blue, a non-profit news organization that covers the global fresh water crisis. He also directs media and communications at the US Climate Action Network, a Washington-based coalition focused on achieving a new global climate agreement.
Ted Conover’s Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Conover is also the author of Whiteout, Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders With America’s Illegal Migrants, and Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America's Hoboes. He contributes to the New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, and many other publications. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he is distinguished writer in residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University. His next book, about roads—their power to affect the places they traverse and the people on them—will be published in 2009 by Knopf.
Rebecca Solnit is an activist, historian, and writer who lives in San Francisco. Her work deals in particular with landscape, cityscapes, cultural geographies, the environment, place, time, speed, memory, photography, metaphor, counternarratives, and the uses of story. She is currently working on her 13th book. The 12 in print include 2007's Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark; Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; and River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A contributing editor to Harper's and columnist for Orion, she frequently writes for the political site Tomdispatch.com. She has worked on antinuclear, antiwar, environmental, indigenous land rights and human rights campaigns and movements over the years.
Alan Weisman is a former Bread Loaf fellow and author of the currently best-selling The World Without Us. He is an award-winning journalist whose reports have appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, Discover, and on NPR, among others. A former contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, he is a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions and teaches international journalism at the University of Arizona. His essay “Earth Without People” (Discover, February 2005), on which The World Without Us expands, was selected for Best American Science Writing 2000–2007.
William Finnegan is a widely traveled journalist and a widely published writer. He first came to notice in the 1980s when—on a surfing trip around the world—he fetched up in South Africa and spent a year as a teacher at a colored school. His account of that work, Crossing the Line, was an instant classic. He has gone on to write other books about Africa, many reports from trouble spots around the world for The New Yorker, and his widely acclaimed and harrowing book about the lives of contemporary American youth from the wrong side of the tracks, Cold New World. He also surfs, and has become an acclaimed literary chronicler of the sport.
Ross Gelbspan, a reporter and editor for 31 years and a Pulitzer Prize winner, joined fellows and staff of the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism for the program’s first residency week. Author of the books The Heat Is On and Boiling Point and articles in Harper’s and the Washington Post, Gelbspan has been in the forefront of reporting on the escalating effects of global warming. During his career, he has worked at the Philadelphia Bulletin, the Washington Post, the Village Voice and, for 13 years, at the Boston Globe.