Is the water safe to drink?

That’s a question no one should have to ask. Particularly, as we Americans like to think, in our own country. But the Flint, Michigan water crises reminds us that, more than 30 years after passage of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, dirty drinking water is a reality for some Americans. As a (transplanted) West Virginian, I can’t help thinking about … Continue reading Is the water safe to drink?

A warm welcome

Last summer, a colleague from long-ago called me out of the blue.  Brooke Smith had been my intern 15 years ago when I was running the Washington, DC office of Marine Conservation Biology Institute (now Marine Conservation Institute).  She was an exceptional intern and it was obvious to me that she would go far in a career straddling the worlds of environmental science and policy. … Continue reading A warm welcome

West comes east

That tiny dot in the photo is me, hiking across the prairie of Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota on vacation in September, channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder (whose books I devoured as a kid) and seeking out as much charismatic megafauna as I could. (Tatanka everywhere!) There’s something captivating about the American West; a longing that poet Emily Walters called … Continue reading West comes east

It’s not about you. But…

A nonfiction writer always faces a fundamental question when beginning a piece of work, namely: Do I insert myself in the narrative? If the piece is about oneself, then the answer is obvious. But most of us are writing about other topics, and inserting oneself often simply gets in the way. Still, there are times when a writer’s role in the story is impossible to … Continue reading It’s not about you. But…