Alaska Wilderness League's Geography of Hope series is a collection of virtual events and experiences connecting you to writers, experts, filmmakers and other wild Alaska advocates in a celebration of the lands, waters, wildlife and cultures we all care so deeply about.
Our intent is to lift your spirits, to mentally transport you to the temperate forests and tundra and majestic points in between and, we hope, leave you inspired and feeling connected to others who share a passion about our nation's wildest places and re-energized in the fight to protect them.
We will continue to introduce more events to this series, including some exclusive sessions available to contributing members. As always, feel free to reach out to email@example.com with any questions.
Upcoming Geography of Hope Presentations
Tuesday, February 23 7:00 pm (ET): "Chasing Winter" with Debbie Moderow
Debbie Clarke Moderow, author of "Fast into the Night" will tell stories about her adventures with sled dogs in the context of a warming world. Debbie's journey informs and inspires her presentation about the threat of climate change that is particularly evident in wild Alaska, and what is at stake for us all.
Debbie Clarke Moderow and her husband Mark live in Anchorage and Denali Park, Alaska. Debbie received a BA from Princeton University in 1977, and an MFA in Creative Writing at Pacific Lutheran University in 2013. She ran the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2003 and 2005, completing the race on her second attempt. Part adventure, part love story, part inquiry into the mystery of the connection between humans and dogs, Debbie's memoir won the 2016 National Outdoor Book Award for Outdoor Literature and the 2017 WILLA Award in Creative Nonfiction.
Debbie's writing explores her deep and lifelong bonds with animals and wild places. She was named Artist in Residence for Gates of the Arctic National Park in 2019, and is currently participating in a NSF funded arts-science-humanities collaboration through University of Alaska called "In a Time of Change: Boreal Forest Stories." Her current work focuses on her relationship to landscape in the context of change.
Tuesday, March 2 7:00 pm (ET): A Shape in the Dark: Living and Dying with Brown Bears
In “A Shape in the Dark,” Bjorn Dihle blends personal experience with historical and contemporary accounts to fully explore the world of brown bears, from frightening attacks to the animal’s place in Native cultures to the ways habitat degradation and climate change are threatening the species. “A Shape in the Dark” is an elegant and lyrical work that thoughtfully weaves outdoor adventure, natural history and memoir together to present a fresh and vivid portrayal of these fascinating creatures.
BJORN DIHLE is a wilderness and wildlife film guide as well as a contributing editor for Alaska Magazine and Hunt Alaska Magazine, and has been published in Outdoor Life and Sierra Magazine, among others. He is the author of two previous books, “Haunted Inside Passage: Ghosts, Mysteries, and Legends of Southeast Alaska” and “Never Cry Halibut: And Other Alaska Hunting and Fishing Tales.” He lives on Douglas Island in Southeast Alaska with his family.
DREW HAMILTON is an award-winning photographer and bear viewing guide. As president of the board for Friends of McNeil River, Drew fights for conservation of brown bears so that future generations can enjoy this most charismatic of megafauna. For Drew, bears occupy an important role at the intersection of ecology and economics in the state of Alaska, and their conservation is vital to our own future.
Tuesday, March 16 7:00 pm (ET): Photographic Inspiration in The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with Chad Brown
Chad Brown has traveled numerous times to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, visiting local Indigenous communities and moving silently through a vast open landscape, a wilderness that fills the soul with overwhelming sensation. It is humbling, as one individual human being, to be in the presence of such monolithic expanse — the mind swells out to fill the entire landscape, becoming diffused to the point that one can seemingly become detached from the physical self. In this Geography of Hope episode, Chad shares the magic from his journeys to the Arctic, both on his own and with the nonprofit he founded, Soul River Inc. These trips carried a medicinal-like quality, one that helped to heal the soul and mind. The Arctic Refuge is where Chad realized why the Gwich'in people call its coastal plain Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit — The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.
Chad Brown is an accomplished portrait and adventure photographer, creative director and conservationist. He studied communication design and photography at American Intercontinental University before earning his Masters of Science in Communication Design at the Pratt Institute in NYC. He now resides in Portland, Oregon, where he runs Soul River Inc., the nonprofit organization he founded that brings together at-risk youth and Veterans as mentors and takes them into threatened wild spaces, providing mission-driven experiences where advocacy and outdoor education meet. This work has led him to Capitol Hill, advocating for our public lands and wild places, bringing youth leaders of tomorrow and giving them an opportunity to interface with congressional members. Brown is a Board member of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. He has been featured on BBC, CBS, as well as in national publications such as Outside Magazine and The Drake, and in various Pacific Northwest publications. Brown was the first recipient of the Break-ing Barriers Award Presented by Orvis, as well as the Bending Toward Justice Award from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.
Tuesday, April 6 7:00 pm (ET): Alaska’s land, its people, and global evolution: An artist’s perspective
What does Alaska have to share with the world? The earth is a matrix of connections. Lands speak to one another through ice melt, erosion, migrations and changing climate. Humans traverse the globe and connect to cultures rooted in the lands they emerged from. The connections between human and land influence the future of our existence. Through the artist’s perspective, Lindsay Carron describes the special qualities she has witnessed in Alaska’s land and people that contribute to this global evolution.
Lindsay is an artist and educator residing in both Los Angeles and Alaska. In Los Angeles, she works with young children in nature-based learning as a mentor with EverWild. She partners with her local community on murals and creative assets for reducing our environmental footprint. In Alaska, Lindsay has worked for the past five years as an artist in residence with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska’s 16 national wildlife refuges. She has also illustrated children’s books with Sealaska Heritage Institute, and taught classes and exhibited her art in Juneau. Her travels have taken her to incredible lands where she has met inspiring people and learned about rich cultural traditions, and these experiences provide the foundation of her cross-cultural and collaborative work with various organizations.
Tuesday, June 8 7:00 pm (ET): Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska with John Luther Adams
In the summer of 1975, composer John Luther Adams, then a twenty-two-year-old graduate of California Institute of the Arts, boarded a flight to Alaska. So began a journey into the mountains, forests and tundra of the far north — and across distinctive mental and aural terrain — that would last for the next forty years. In this Geography of Hope episode, you will hear about John’s special connection with Alaska, what it’s like to live alone in the frozen woods, composing music by day and spending one’s evenings with a raucous crew of poets, philosophers and fishermen. Inspired by his latest book, “Silences so Deep,” we’re sure you’ll enjoy this special treat.
Past Geography of Hope Presentations
Wednesday, September 30 7:00 pm (ET): Sneak peek into The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness with Florian Schulz
Alaska Wilderness League presents award-winning photographer and cinematographer, Florian Schulz. Florian and Tom Campion, founder of the Campion Foundation and tireless advocate for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, will take attendees to the refuge through Florian’s award-winning photos, plus you’ll get a sneak peek into their latest collaboration, a new big screen film set for release in 2021 called “The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness.” Together, we will explore a land that has evolved intact and untamed since the beginning of time, a world few have truly seen.
Photo credit: Florian Schulz/FlorianSchulz.org
FLORIAN SCHULZ is a professional wildlife and landscape photographer from Germany whose striking images have garnered international recognition. His photographs have won several awards including in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and the Banff International Mountain Photography Competition. His 2005 book published by Braided River, “Freedom to Roam: Yellowstone to Yukon,” received an Independent Publisher Award and was named on its list of "Top Ten Outstanding Books of the Year," and in 2008 he was the recipient of the North American Nature Photography Association’s Vision Award. He is a National Geographic photographer and the cinematographer and co-director for a new big screen film with executive producer Tom Campion and the Campion Advocacy Fund entitled "The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness," to be released in 2021. Learn more about the film at www.ProtectTheArctic.org.
August 5 at 7:00 pm (ET): Voices on the Forefront: Youth climate activists and the fight to protect the Arctic Refuge.
Join our panel discussion featuring Gwich’in leader Jody Potts, Gwich’in Youth Steering Council member Quannah Potts, and youth activist and writer Maia Wikler. Panelists will share their experiences as advocates at the intersection of the climate crisis, human rights and the Arctic Refuge. Participants will hear firsthand how the climate crisis is impacting Alaska’s people, lands and waters, and the ongoing efforts to raise awareness and action.
Tuesday, August 25, 7:00 PM (ET): Raven's Witness: Lessons From a Life in Alaska’s Wilderness
Before his death in 2019, cultural anthropologist, author, and radio producer Richard K. Nelson’s life’s work focused primarily on the Indigenous cultures of Alaska and more generally on the relationships between people and nature. He spoke both Inupiaq and Koyukon and lived for extended periods in Athabaskan and Alaskan Eskimo villages, experiences which inspired his earliest books. His close-friend and lifelong Alaskan, Hank Lentfer captures Richard's adventures and his life of learning across Alaska in his new book "Raven’s Witness." Join Hank as he shares his stories and times in Alaska’s public lands with the friend fondly referred to as "Nels."
Wednesday, September 23 7:00 pm (ET), TBD: A Life Among Polar Bears: Science, Research and the Climate Crisis
Join us for an evening with Dr. Steven Amstrup, chief scientist for Polar Bears International. He will discuss the decades he has spent studying, researching and working to protect polar bears as they face increasing pressure from climate change. Alaska’s Arctic Ocean and North Slope are critical habitat for polar bears, and Dr. Amstrup will talk about what his science has revealed and the lessons he’s learned in his efforts to protect the bears and our planet, including how polar bears are not yet doomed. In fact, in the December 2010 paper issue of Nature, he and his co-authors showed that preserving polar bears is all about controlling human-caused temperature rise.
Dr. Steven Amstrup earned a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Washington (1972), a M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Idaho (1975), and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1995). For 30 years prior to joining Polar Bears International, he led polar bear ecology research in Alaska. In 2007, he led a USGS research team in production of nine reports that became the basis for the 2008 decision by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to list polar bears as a threatened species.
This event was members-only, but you can watch Dr. Amstrup testify before Congress here.
Thursday, May 7 at 4:00 pm (ET): Highlights from the award-winning short film “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.”
Note: This event has passed, but you can watch the film.
Enjoy video clips, photos and discussion with filmmaker Kristin Gates. The film follows Kristin and Jeremy as they search to find the Porcupine caribou migration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and in so doing, learn from leaders of the Gwich'in Nation about the value of their culture, the importance of the Porcupine caribou herd and its calving grounds on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain, and the continued protection of their sacred land from oil development.
Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00 pm (ET): Caroline Van Hemert presents "The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds."
Note: This event has passed but you can read Caroline's recent NY Times article here.
Caroline Van Hemert is a biologist, writer and adventurer whose journeys have taken her from the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean to the swamps of the Okavango Delta. She is the author of “The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds,” which received the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Competition Award for Adventure Travel. Her writing has also been featured in The New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Birding, L.A. Times, Outside Magazine and more. Caroline will present a reading from her book, as well as stories and photos from her time spent trekking in Alaska.
Thursday, May 21 at 7:00 pm (ET): Michael Boardman, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Artist-in-Residence.
Enjoy an in-depth presentation featuring images and videos from Michael Boardman, a member of the Maine Master Naturalist program and the 2019 Arctic Refuge Artist-in-Residence. In spring of 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selected Michael as its 2019 artist-in-residence for the Arctic Refuge, and he was flown to the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge in June to spend two weeks along the Canning River helping ornithologists study bird migrations to the Arctic tundra. Michael will share his unique experience in an extreme environment, with plenty of artwork and stories about how the migrating birds of the Arctic Refuge connect us all to that endangered landscape.
MEMBER EXCLUSIVE: Saturday, May 23 at 6:00 pm (ET): Debbie Miller explores Prince William Sound
Debbie Miller takes us to glacier-carved fjords and lush forests in Prince William Sound, sharing images and stories from her book, "A Wild Promise: Prince William Sound" (Braided River, 2019) while guiding us through its history. Debbie will also preview a soon-to-be announced 2021 Alaska Wilderness League trip through Prince William Sound (also featuring Debbie as a special guest), offering a unique opportunity to see this amazing wilderness landscape.
MEMBER EXCLUSIVE: Saturday, May 30 at 8:30 pm (ET): Mark Titus and guests present “The Wild”.
Filmmaker Mark Titus has created an exclusive access opportunity for Alaska Wilderness League members to access his amazing feature length film “The Wild” before its public release later this year. “The Wild” is an urgent call to action to protect the beauty of Bristol Bay, Alaska, and its unparalleled salmon runs — it is an examination of what it means to save what we love. For millennia, wild salmon have survived ice ages, continental shifts and most recently (and destructively), human beings. Mark's film explores their continued existence in the face of a massive mining project and provides a glint of hope under the surface of malaise we now find ourselves in.
Tuesday, June 2 at 7:00 pm (ET): David Thoreson presents Arctic Adventures by Land and Sea
David Thoreson has spent more than a decade sailing and exploring the waters of the Arctic aboard his boat the Ocean Watch and is the only American sailor in history to transit the infamous Northwest Passage in both directions. He has spent eight days traversing the Arctic Refuge coastal plain on foot and has sailed along its coastline multiple times. Though David comes from Iowa and first ventured out to sea alongside a Minnesota farmer, he has now sailed more than 65,000 nautical miles including an 8,000-mile circumnavigation by sail of North and South America. Join us and learn more about his time spent in the Arctic Refuge and sailing Arctic waters, and the changes he has witnessed over the years in this region.
Wednesday, June 17 at 7:00 pm (ET): Amy Gulick takes us on a trip to the Tongass National Forest.
Join acclaimed photographer and author Amy Gulick on a journey to one of the rarest ecosystems on Earth – the Tongass rain forest of Alaska. Humpback whales, orcas, and sea lions cruise the forested shorelines. Wild salmon swim upstream into the forest, feeding some of the world's highest densities of grizzlies, black bears, and bald eagles. Native cultures and local communities benefit from the gifts of the forest and sea.
Amy Gulick's book, Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska's Tongass Rain Forest, is the recipient of an Independent Publisher Book Award and two Nautilus Book Awards.