I’m pleased to welcome a new contributor to EcoLit Books: The Center for Humans and Nature.
This is an amazing organization and I thought a Q&A would be a great way for you to get to know them.
What is the Center for Humans and Nature?
We are an organization based in Chicago that explores and promotes ethical thinking and dialogue—particularly as it pertains to ideas of environmental responsibility, ecological stewardship, and bettering the relationship between humans and nature.
What are your goals?
We believe that solutions to today’s challenges begin with big ideas. In order to inspire the great actions needed for transforming humanity’s relationship with nature, we share ideas that help us reimagine how to live responsibly on planet Earth. Our overarching goal is to share these ideas with students, teachers, conservationists, policy makers, and the larger thinking and caring community. We bring together philosophers, ecologists, artists, political scientists, anthropologists, poets, and economists, among others, to think creatively about how people can make better decisions—in relationship with each other and the whole community of life.
Can you tell us about a recent project/success story?
Our Questions for a Resilient Future series poses big-picture questions that explore and challenge our thinking about who we are and how we ought to relate to other living beings. Our most recent question is: What are our moral and civic responsibilities to water? Artists Betsy Damon and Patricia Johanson sparked the conversation with essays on reimagining a more responsible water infrastructure and valuing the essential connections between water and life. Others, including Lakota activist Tioksin Ghosthorse and Grand Chief Tamale Bwoya of the Buganda Kingdom, have added their voices on the importance of fostering a water ethic.
Beyond our Questions series, we also house an active and engaging storytelling blog called “City Creatures.” Connected to our City Creatures anthology (University of Chicago Press, 2015), this story forum invites people to submit and share their reflections on urban wildlife and how cities can offer opportunities for transformation, intimacy, and connection with other species and one other.
What projects do you have in the works?
We recently launched a new project called “Curations.” Inspired by a current event or topical conversation—such as ideas on identity and place or discussions around political polarization—we curate a collection of essays, videos, and question responses to highlight relevant insights from our diverse group of contributors.
We have also developed a new “Center Artist of the Month” series, and we are currently partnering with environmental youth organizations and university programs to share ideas from the next generation of nature-minded scientists, artists, and activists.
Additionally, we publish insightful articles in our triannual Minding Nature journal, and we create videos, organize events, and produce books by our staff and our Center fellows.
What books inspire you and do you feel deserve a wider audience?
Our individual reading lists are fairly diverse, but collectively Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac is probably our organization’s desert island book. We also love Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, Paul Taylor’s Respect for Nature, Lauret Savoy’s Trace, David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous, Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory, and, of course, the many books by our friends and contributors.
To learn more visit The Center for Humans and Nature.
Author of the novels The Tourist Trail and Where Oceans Hide Their Dead. Co-founder of Ashland Creek Press and editor of Writing for Animals (also now a writing program).