Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bruce Forman's "Journey"

The silent vastness envelopes you    
   within a stark white world--
    an icy stream cascades from
    sun-polished peaks.
-Bruce Forman
Remember OR7, the lone wolf that journeyed into California in 2012? Naturalist Bruce Forman brings OR7's story to the stage. I worked with Bruce on revising the poem that will be performed with music and dance. The project merges art and science--two sides of the same coin of life.
Come see! 
1. What inspired you to write "Journey"?

The long solo journey for a young wolf to inspirational. The idea of wolves re-establishing in California after being extirpated is exciting; it may still take years, but it's now possible. Who knows, maybe OR7 will come back with a female wolf.  

2. What steps did you take to prepare the poem for performance?

I went through an analysis of scenes that worked fine as a poem but needed more time to breath on stage for dance movements, for emotions to gel, for artistic quality to be realized. Having a poetry critique and feedback from dancers really helped. 

3. How does art figure into environmental education? 

Art is very important in environmental interpretation or education as it appeals to a person very differently than information. Art can inspire, evoke emotions, express a point in a way that way words have difficulty. Art, whether music, dance, masks, costumes, lights and/or the poetic verse, adds key layers of the experience that can change a person's attitudes, emotions and ultimately behavior. Information is important as a foundation, hence my interest in having a wolf lecturer to open the program with the science and politics of wolves. And the storytelling element which follows adds to the richness of perspectives about wolves.
4. What facts would you like people to know about wolves?

Wolves have a right to live just an any other animal, for their own intrinsic value. Wolves as a keystone species are vital for healthy food chains and the balance of habitats.  Wolves are team players with various roles that help a pack survive. We can learn much from wolves, from parenting to hunting to reducing stress and increasing compatibility within a pack. Wolves are excellent communicators. Wolves represent hope, for the recovery of nature in our world. We need to have more of [what Aldo Leopold calls] their glow of "green fire" in our society, by first  finding our own green fire.

5. Have you encountered a wolf in the wild? 

I experienced seeing a distant wolf on my honeymoon in Alaska at Denali National Park. It had this haunting, stoic look, gazing out on the vast open mountainside. But in terms of intimacy [with the wild], it'd have to be swimming with a wild dolphin in outer cays of Belize on scuba trip. After a full day of diving, docked at a tiny island, I joined a dolphin near sunset, and we swam and played. It was very perceptive, affectionate and powerful.  

6. Tell us about your other projects as a naturalist and writer.

I'm working on a new book of poems on cranes and introspective elements, from love to loss, friendships to aloneness, dreams to realities of living, and a few oddballs. It will be accompanied by awesome crane photographs and illustrations. The writing is largely done, photographs taken and moving into next steps of production, hopefully in time for fall.  Possibly as an accordion book with book ends so the changeable beauty of it can be displayed.

As a naturalist, I'm involved with starting a new wildlife festival in the region, developing a new trail at an awesome yet trail-less natural site in the region filled with wildflowers, waterfalls and unusual, less seen wildlife. And I'm expanding an environmental education project (in its 29th year) to advance environmental science and conservation literacy of youth. I'm also wanting to return to Alaska with my family and close friends, to raft the Alsek-Tatshenshini Rivers over two weeks, and howl with the wolves. 

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