S197. Back to Basics: Untangling Environmental Stories

E141-142, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Writing the "environment" often means telling stories of people trying to fill basic needs—food, water, clothing, and shelter—in healthy and sustainable ways, but doing so also means tackling complicated issues of politics, race, gender, and work. This panel addresses how nonfiction writers can craft compelling stories that embrace this complexity. Panelists will discuss approaches to research, strategies for structure, ways to integrate sources, the role of the “I,” and the possibility of hope.



Ana Maria Spagna is the author of seven books including Reclaimers, about people reclaiming sacred land and water, Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus, winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, and three essay collections. She teaches in the Antioch University MFA program and lives in the North Cascades.

Sharman Apt Russell is the author of a dozen books translated into a dozen languages. Her Diary of a Citizen Scientist won the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. Forthcoming is Within Our Grasp: Feeding the World's Children for a Better and Greener Future.

Stephany Wilkes is the author of Raw Material: Working Wool in the West. She is a knitter, a sheep shearer certified by the University of California, the President of the Northern California Fibershed Cooperative, and a wool classer certified by the American Sheep Industry Association.

Marlenia Myers is a writer and grants director for a social services organization. She has a dual degree MFA and Urban Sustainability (MA) from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is currently working on her first book, We Can’t Breathe: The Environmental Fate of Vulnerable People.

Summer Brennan is the author of three books: The Oyster War, High Heel, and The Parisian Sphinx (forthcoming). She was awarded the Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award, and was shortlisted for the Orion Book Award. Her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the country.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center