Summit Land Conservancy cracks the cover on a new virtual book club
Meetings scheduled last Wednesday of the month
Summit Land Conservancy is opening a new chapter in its mission to preserve open spaces.
The environmental nonprofit, which locally protects and monitors 42 permanent conservation easements on 6,992 acres of land, will begin a virtual Eco Book Club on the last Wednesday of each month, said Katherine Bui, Summit Land Conservancy outreach programs coordinator.
The club’s first meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Feb. 24, via Zoom, and this month’s book is “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors” by James Edward Mills, according to Bui, who was compelled to read the book last year after attending Rally, the Land Trust Alliances’s conservation conference.
“The conference was held online, and James Mills was the plenary speaker,” she said. “He talked about this book, and Expedition Denali, which the book is about.”
Expedition Denali is a 2013 undertaking involving the first team of African Americans to summit Denali, the highest peak in North America.
“The book showcases the expedition, while profiling historical figures who were instrumental in other feats in the outdoors as reaching the North Pole and such,” Bui said. “I found the book to be inspirational, because (Mills) showcases mountaineers, climbers and expedition leaders who are people of color who are doing these things and doing them well.”
Mills’ ability to paint a personal picture of each person impressed Bui, and she felt it was the perfect book to highlight during February, which is Black History Month.
“He showed what they were struggling with and how these things tied into equity and inclusion,” she said. “What really got me was how well he conveyed these hard topics in a way that seems to speak to what is at the heart of these issues.”
Bui, who has a master’s degree in environmental humanities, invited local artist Lamont Joseph White to join this month’s discussion.
White is known for his “Skiing in Color” exhibit, which is composed of paintings that depict people of color skiing and snowboarding.
“I came across an article about Lamont’s exhibit, and the work that he’s doing ties in well with what the book is trying to achieve, which is trying to change the misconceptions of winter sports and minorities” Bui said.
The artist, who is Black, described his exhibit in a statement.
“My ‘Skiing in Colors’ series began out of my love for skiing and the mountains, combined with the awareness of the rarity of black and brown faces in those spaces,” White said. “The paintings are simultaneously a celebration and a conversation of inclusion and diversity… Since encountering a greater majority of individuals, in Utah, that aren’t as accustomed to diversity as I am, I’m hoping to heighten those recognitions and appreciations for those who are different than their norm. I hope that these perspectives are fruitful to the Summit Land Conservancy book club.”
Bui also invited Diego Zegarra, Park City Community Foundation’s community impact director and host of the Social Equity Book Club, to discuss some of the foundation’s initiatives that focus on inclusion.
“We would eventually like to meet in person when it’s safe to do so, but for now we will meet on Zoom,” she said.
Readers can register by visiting wesaveland.org/happenings, and they will be put on an email list where Bui can send updates and Zoom links.
“We would like people to register sooner than later, so they can read the book on time,” she said.
The book is available at Dolly’s Bookstore at a discount for book club members, and Bui has also worked with the Summit County and Park City libraries to have the book available digitally and physically for check out.
Summit Land Conservancy has tossed around the idea for the Eco Book Club for a while, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the winter when things fell into place, Bui said.
“Because of the pandemic, one of my winter youth education programs was put on hold, and we thought of this as an opportunity to launch the club,” she said.
All the books from here on out will touch on environmental themes that also focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and conservation, according to Bui. (See list for books)
“I really want to stress that this is a program for everyone,” she said. “Whether you have a firm grasp of ecological principles or just want to learn more about why wild places are worth protecting, this book club is for you.”
When: Last Wednesday of the month, starting Feb. 24
“The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet” by Kirstin Ohlson
“A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There” by Aldo Leopold
“The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Feel Happier, Healthier and More Creative” by Florence Williams
“Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
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