Personal Statement

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I was six years old when I drew this portrait of my future self. Grownup Me was going to wear dangly earrings and a big yellow and pink bow in my hair and write and illustrate books with sentences like “The bear walked through the trees.” 

 

Call me consistent, call me a bore, but I’ve never really deviated from this plan. Somewhere along the line I gave up the illustrator dream (and the hair bows), but I’m still writing stories and I’m still fixated on creatures, wild habitats, and how people and nature coexist.

 

My early years were spent in Ann Arbor, Michigan, sharing a brick ranch house with my parents, three siblings, and, at various times, a grandmother, several college-age cousins, and a troop of over-

indulged pets. I majored in English and Environmental Studies at Williams College, then earned a master’s in environmental studies from the Yale School of the Environment. 

 

For much of my career, I’ve supported the educational missions of environmental nonprofits as a staff writer or consultant. I’ve written lesson plans on garbage for the National Wildlife Federation, biodiversity curricula for World Wildlife Fund, junior ranger guides for the national parks, and family outdoor activities for the Children and Nature Network. 

 

I’ve also stayed obsessed with stories. In both short fiction and novels, I have settled in among humans and other species and let them speak their truths. Maybe that’s a funny claim to make about works of fiction. But even in imagined tales, what I like best is honoring lived rhythms and realistic quests.

 

My fascination with stories has also meant considering their role in shaping people’s relationship to nature near and far. While in graduate school, I listened to the testimonials of indigenous educators in the Southwest and worked alongside ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan, conducting research into how children living in the desert borderlands learn about the natural world. Inspired by these experiences, I then began gathering place-based stories as series editor of the Stories from Where We Live literary field guides in hopes of doing something Gary once described as being just as vital as restoring the land .... and that's re-storying the land. 

 

Having lived in many places—Michigan, North Carolina, the Berkshires, Washington, DC, Connecticut, and New Mexico—I now enjoy an-ever deepening attachment to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I live with my husband, two daughters, and fiendishly adorable cat, Alexander Hamilton.