Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tim Egan, Elliott Bay's crisis, Audubon talks and more

A couple of things.

First, I attended Tim Egan's Elliott Bay Book Co. reading for his new book, The Big Burn, which I finished last week and it's terrific, another saga of man-against-nature (wildfire) and the consequences of government action and inaction. It's a compelling short course on the creation of the conservation movement, tracking the careers of Teddy Roosevelt and the eccentric and passionate first head of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, all against the backdrop of one of the worst forest fires in American history. It all has resonance today, of course, as the forces of resource exploitation are still at work, and the courage of the people who created our National Parks and Forests is something we should never take for granted because the task of keeping them is never done. Tim, by the way, wrote the introduction to Pugetopolis. He's now off on a national book tour.

And speaking of Elliott Bay, I've written a piece for Crosscut about the implications of their possible move from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, which is being motivated by financial difficulties. I think the move could be a real plus, perhaps rejuvenating their business model, though it would also be tough on the Square. But most of all, I do not want to see Elliott Bay go down. It's a tremendous institution and nationally respected and a fine damn bookstore.

Second, I had a great time in Tacoma this morning, rising in the wee hours to catch the Sounder train at 6:10. I was the keynote speaker for the Tahoma Audubon Society's annual early-bird fundraiser breakfast. There were some 300 people there and they were amazingly awake. I reminded them that that great Tacoma writer Murray Morgan once described waking up on a damp, Tacoma morning as feeling like you were inside an oyster! Anyway, the Tahoma Audubon Society is doing great things in Tacoma and Pierce County, the speech went great and I sold out of books (they ordered 50 and we took orders for 10 more). All proceeds to the Society. Anyway, my thanks to the Tacoma greens who got out of their shells and gave Mossback such as warm and friendly reception. 

Speaking of Audubon, I will be reading at the Seward Park Audubon Center on Thursday, Nov. 5th at 7pm

Lastly, this Saturday (Oct. 24) I'll be on an SPJ Panel at the Communications School at the University of Oregon in Eugene, sharing time with Josh Feit of Publicola and others discussing making the transition from print to online journalism. 

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