25th Headwaters Conference: The Working Wild, September 19-20 2014

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Keynote by Gary Snyder

                                               “Nature is not a place to visit.  It is home.”

                                          ~Gary Snyder

Wildness rests upon self-will—the willfulness of land, of people, of species, and of places.  Environmental historians like Roderick Frasier Nash and environmental activists like Dave Foreman have long reminded us that the Old English word wildeor-ness was based upon “Wil: willful, self-willed; Doer: beast, animal; Ness: place.”  So, what does it mean for a place to be “self-willed”?  What kind of human and ecological work cultivates such willfulness, such autonomy and agency, such wildness?  What is the human place in producing wildness?  Is “the working wild” the path to Headwaters Elder Devon Pena’s challenge that we have and can become a “keystone species”?

This year’s Headwaters Conference, our 25th program, will explore the intersection of wilderness, working landscapes, and environmental justice perspectives on self-willed lands, self-willed species, and self-willed communities in the Headwaters.  In this year, on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we will go beyond the “wilderness debate” to discover how Headwaters communities are innovating upon the concept of wildness and closing the political, philosophical, and geographical gap between work and the wild.

Our keynote speaker this year will be Pulitzer Prize winning author Gary Snyder.  Expert panels will include:

  • Center for Humans and Nature
    The Urban Wild: The Center for Humans and Nature (contributing partner for this year’s conference) will assemble leading thinkers from as far as Chicago and San Francisco on the concept of “The Urban  Wild"
  • The Private Wild: Dr. Corrine Knapp will moderate a conversation dedicated to merging wildlife and food production
  • The Common Wild: Dr. Devon Pena will lead a 20th anniversary retrospective on the La Sierra movement in San Luis, CO, welcoming both acequia farmers and wilderness activists who acted upon diverse but mutually-reinforcing connections with the forests surrounding Culebra Peak

We will also feature tours, and interactive events designed to generate dialog on the intersection

Dr. Devon Pena
of working landscapes, wilderness, and environmental justice.  As always, the Headwaters Conference will look with hope to partnerships rather than divisions.  Our usual array of influential writers, community leaders, scientists, scholars, poets, builders, ranchers, cooks, farmers, musicians, teachers, activists, students, and citizens will lead this conversation.

We hope you can join us!

John Hausdoerffer, Director