Thursday April 20th through Saturday the 22nd, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference. Created through the generous support of former Texas Tech University Regent James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the most prominent writers on the natural world. The Conference will include scholarly papers and panels on many of the Sowell writers, a handful of which are featured below. The Conference is free, and open to the public.
Marc Reisner was an environmental writer and advocate. He is best known for Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1986), a National Book Critic’s Circle Award finalist. It describes the role of water rights and water use in the history and development of the Western United States. Reisner has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and served as a staff writer and communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He continued his activism and writing until his death in California in July 2000. His final book, A Dangerous Place (2004), was published posthumously.
Lisa Couturier is an essayist, poet, and animal advocate. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Journalism and a certificate in Women’s Studies, then earned a Master’s degree from the Gallatin School at New York University. Her book The Hopes of Snakes explores the wild in urban spaces and the connections between the human and the nonhuman. Couturier’s work has appeared in Orion, Isotope, the American Nature Writing series, and National Geographic’s Heart of a Nation, among other publications. Her essay “Dark Horse” won the 2012 Pushcart Prize, and was nominated for the Grantham Prize for Environmental Writing. Her collection of poems, Animals/Bodies, won the 2015 Chapbook Award from the New England Poetry Club.
Andrea Peacock is a Montana journalist covering Western politics and environmental news, and is the former editor of the Missoula Independent. She wrote Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation, and co-authored The Essential Grizzly with her husband Doug Peacock, another Sowell author. Her work has appeared in Mother Jones, High Country News, Denver Westword, Austin Chronicle, and Counterpunch.org. In 2010 she received a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation for her work on oil and gas development in communities of the Rocky Mountain West.
Paul Gruchow was raised on a small, subsistence farm near Montevideo, Minnesota. He is the author of six published books on subjects ranging from the culture of the tall grass prairie, to what we teach (and fail to teach) rural children–work widely acclaimed for its lyrical prose and eloquence. A respected and inspiring educator, Paul’s writer-in-residence involvements included numerous institutions, among them the University of Minnesota and the Lake Superior Studies Program. He won the Minnesota Book Award for three books, including Boundary Water: The Grace of the Wild and Grass Roots: The Universe of Home. He also edited The Worthington Globe–an award winning newspaper.
Starting at age 20, Paul Hawken dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. His books include: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (co-authored with Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins), The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Growing a Business, and The Next Economy.