Poetics of Wilderness Proceedings

Wilderness Lecture Series 2001

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When Wayne Freimund, the Director of the University of Montana's Wilderness Institute in the School of Forestry, asked me to plan and be the overall guide for the Institute's twenty-second annual Wilderness Lecture Series (offering to publish this Proceedings under my edit), I knew there were some people that I wanted to bring in simply because their written work or life work was so compelling and so deeply true to how I thought about nature and about the possibilities of transforming our relationship to it. And I knew that I wanted the Native people from right here, the Bitterroot Salish, to have more than a token presence in the series. We need to hear the words, the place-names, the names of the trees and shrubs and birds and insects and waters and mountains and winds from right here where we live, the stories and songs that are the voice of this place in the life of the indigenous people. I knew I wanted someone to open the series who could place the whole of the last twelve thousand years of history into the larger context of the last two hundred thousand years of our pre-history, and beyond, and I wanted speakers who would work directly from their experience, who would be subjective, intuitive, anecdotal, story-tellers as well as thinkers and activists. I wanted people who embodied in themselves and their work what the Chinese call xin: heart/mind. And I wanted people who had been in the work of social and ecological change for some time, for at least a couple of decades. All of this is what I meant by calling it the "Poetics" of Wilderness. It had to do with people who were willing to be open and to take risks and who had some dreams and vision that they had worked to realize in the world.

Roger Dunsmore