Geography of Hope 2015

Geography of Hope 2015 Logo

Presented by Point Reyes Books and Black Mountain Circle

Since 2008, Point Reyes Books has sponsored one of northern California’s most exceptional literary gatherings. The biennial Geography of Hope Conference brings together leading writers and activists in the coastal village of Point Reyes Station for a three-day feast of readings, discussions, and activities to inspire and deepen an understanding of the relationships between people and place.

Authors Robin Wall Kimmerer and Kathleen Dean Moore will co-chair the 2015 gathering. A fierce compassion for the well-being of the Earth illuminates the writing of both women and helps deepen an understanding of the relationship between people and place. They will be joined by a dozen or more of the country’s most admired writers who also use language—whether poetry, fiction, or literary non-fiction—to express a sense of urgency about environmental concerns.  

The conference takes its name from Wallace Stegner’s famous “Wilderness Letter” to Congress in support of the 1964 Wilderness Act. In it he described wild landscapes as part of our “geography of hope.” Building on that, the 2015 gathering will be a conversation about how to map out a new geography of hope.

“To create this new perspective,” says GOH co-chair Kathleen Dean Moore, “will take every point of view and every imaginative power. So we are listening particularly for voices that might offer useful perspectives. That means we want to listen closely to women. We want to listen to people of color and to the poor. We want to listen to future generations. And we want to listen closely to other voices that offer new directions, new compass points, new trails across new terrain.” 

The Geography of Hope Conference features panels and conversations held in a hay barn and in the West Marin elementary school gymnasium as well as art exhibits and installations at local galleries. Naturalist-led field trips to Point Reyes National Seashore let participants experience the land firsthand. Additional field trips go to privately owned farms and ranches in West Marin. Meals feature delicious food from Marin’s farms and ranches served family-style.

Geography of Hope Conference Refund Policy: Cancellations made prior to March 1, 2015, will be charged a $50.00 fee. No refunds will be given on cancellations made after March 1, 2015.

Registration Now Open!


M. Kat Anderson; Camille Dungy; Gretel Ehrlich; Carolyn Finney; Susan Griffin; Robert Hass; Brenda Hillman; Wendy Johnson; Robin Wall Kimmerer; Kathleen Dean Moore; Melissa K. Nelson; Ann Pancake; Claire Peaslee; Rhiannon; Kim Stanley Robinson; Lauret Savoy; Rebecca Solnit, Priscilla Ybarra. Updated information about participating writers and details of programming will be posted as they become available.

Call for Art Submissions Period Closed

Point Reyes Books and the Black Mountain Circle also announce a  Call for Submissions to West Marin artists for artwork for consideration in a juried group exhibition to be held at Toby's Feed Barn Gallery as part of the 2015  Geography of Hope Conference. Submission period is now closed. Artists chosen for the exhibit will be notified by January 20, 2015.

About the Geography of Hope

Since 2008, the coastal village of Point Reyes Station, California, has been home to one of northern California’s most exceptional literary festivals. Founded and presented by Point Reyes Books, Geography of Hope takes its name from Wallace Stegner’s famous description of wild landscapes as part of our “geography of hope.” The 2015 gathering will feature a dozen or more of the country’s most admired writers who use poetry, fiction, or literary non-fiction to express a sense of urgency about environmental concerns and a fierce compassion for the well-being of the Earth.

About Black Mountain Circle

Black Mountain Circle is a California nonprofit organization created by Point Reyes Books to explore the relationships between the arts, spirit, story, and place. The Circle serves as the fiscal sponsor of the bi-annual Geography of Hope Conference, the literary journal the West Marin Review, and an expanded set of programs hosted at the Point Reyes Presbyterian Church and elsewhere, including author events, retreats, films, book groups, and writing workshops for youths and adults.


Friday, March 13, 2015

(Morning) Attendees pick up Conference packets at Dance Palace
10 am–noon Location: Dance Palace Community Center, 503 B Street, Point Reyes Station
11 am–4 pm

Guided field trips: All trips meet at Dance Palace at staggered starting times, depending on location; each field trip is about 4 hours long. All field trips are led by women naturalists, ranchers, and farmers who will be accompanied by GOH authors.

 Field trips will take place rain or shine. Weather is changeable in West Marin. All field trip participants are advised to dress in layers and bring rain gear, water, and snacks. Binoculars optional. Parking at field trip sites is limited, and carpooling from the Dance Palace is required.

Field trips are limited to 15 participants each. Those with too few participants may be cancelled. If that happens to your selected field trip/s, you will be notified so you can make another choice.


(Evening) Location: Toby’s Feed Barn, 11250 Highway One, Point Reyes Station
5 pm Opening reception: local wines, cheese, music, visit GOH art exhibit in Toby’s Feed Barn Gallery
6 pm  Casual Mexican supper featuring foods from Marin’s farms
7 pm

Invocation: Robin Wall Kimmerer, co-chair, GOH

Welcome: Kate Levinson and Steve Costa, co-owners Point Reyes Books

Keynote: Mapping a New Geography of Hope, Kathleen Dean Moore, co-chair GOH


Moderating: Kathleen Dean Moore
Conversing: Gretel Ehrlich; Bob Hass; Lauret Savoy

Saturday, March 14

(Morning) Location: West Marin School, 11550 Highway One, Point Reyes Station
8:30 Doors open for coffee/mingling
9–9:20 Welcome & Opening Talk: Robin Wall Kimmerer
9:30–4:30 Panels feature our wonderful presenters in conversation with each other and the audience discussing the conference theme from many perspectives.
9:30 Panel Options 1 / 2
Panel Option #1 What is the Work of a Writer in a Wounded World?
Moderating: Ann Pancake
Conversing: Gretel Erlich; Brenda Hillman; Kim Robinson
Panel Option #2 What Are Women’s Gifts & Responsibilities in the Work against Carbon Catastrophe?
Moderating: Robin Wall Kimmerer
Conversing: Susan Griffin; Lauret Savoy; Rebecca Solnit
10:45 Break
11:00 Panel Options 3 / 4
Panel Option #3 What Does it Mean to Love a Place? What Does that Love Require of Us?
Moderating: Kathleen Dean Moore
Conversing: Robert Hass; Priscilla Ybarra; Ann Pancake
Panel Option #4 What Are the Metaphors We Need for a New World?
Moderating: Melissa Nelson
Conversing: Kat Anderson; Carolyn Finney; Robin Wall Kimmerer
(Afternoon) Location: West Marin School, 11550 Highway One, Point Reyes Station
12:15–2pm Lunch break; pick up bag lunches outside gymnasium; gather with your selected lunch group and proceed to designated lunch site. Two conference presenters will be paired at each group, leading a conversation in which all are invited to participate.


12:30 Lunch Conversation: What do we love too much to lose? What will we do to protect it?
Location: various sites around Point Reyes Station; walking required to off-campus locations; maps provided.
1:45 Return to gymnasium
2 pm Song with Rhiannon
2:15 Panel Options 5 / 6
Panel Option #5 The Great Turning / Women as Cranks
Moderating: Brenda Hillman
Conversing: Carolyn Finney; Susan Griffin; Wendy Johnson
Panel Option #6 The Dance of Love & Fear: Stories of Resistance & Resilience
Moderating: Lauret Savoy
Conversing: Gretel Ehrlich; Carolyn Finney; Priscilla Ybarra
3:10 Stretch break and re-convening of entire group in gymnasium
Panel #7
(entire group)
When Rivers Change Direction: Eddies, Upwellings, and Avulsions
Moderating: Bob Hass
Conversing: Kathleen Dean Moore; Melissa Nelson, Rebecca Solnit
4:30 Song with Rhiannon
(Evening) Location: Toby’s Feed Barn, 11250 Highway One, Point Reyes Station
6 pm Delicious, locally sourced supper in the barn

7:15–8:30 pm


Program of readings and stories and song

Sunday, March 15

(Morning) Location: Toby’s Feed Barn, 11250 Highway One, Point Reyes Station
9 am Doors open for coffee/mingling
Panel #8
(entire group)
In Conversation: West Marin Women and the Land
Moderating: Wendy Johnson
Conversing: Claire Peaslee, local women farmers, ranchers, and land stewards
11 Closing Circle and Call to Action: The Declaration of the New Geography of Hope
noon 2015 GOH Conference ends


Geography of Hope field trips offer an opportunity to experience Point Reyes National Seashore and the coastal Marin working landscape and to deepen your understanding of the relationship of people and the land. All field trips are led by women naturalists, ranchers, and farmers who will be accompanied by GOH authors.

Field trips will take place rain or shine. Weather is changeable in West Marin. All field trip participants are advised to dress in layers and bring rain gear, water, and snacks. Binoculars optional. Parking at field trip sites is limited, and carpooling is required.

Field trips are limited to 15 participants each. Those with too few participants may be cancelled.

The Working Landscape

1. Corn, Beans, Squash & the Environment

Indian Valley College Organic Farm & Garden (College of Marin Campus, Novato)
With Wendy Johnson & Melissa Nelson

Tour this innovative 6-acre farm and teaching program, and participate in an interactive program on the relationship between organic farming and Traditional Ecological  Knowledge. The focus is our shared work of growing the sacred crop trio of corn, beans and squash and on the role of native foodways in revitalizing indigenous health while preserving environmental integrity and biological diversity.

Difficulty: easy Restroom: yes Mileage from Dance Palace: 22 miles

2. The Whole Humming World of Backyard Restoration Gardening

Larner Seeds (Bolinas)
With Judith Larner Lowry

Join proprietor and author Judith Lowry at the Larner Seeds Demonstration Garden, Nursery, and Shop, where Lowry has worked for 35 years to restore and enhance habitat. Ongoing projects such as “The Bare Dirt Meadow” and “The Bolinas Hedge,” as well as a wild food component offer solutions to garden conundrums, while providing a lively textbook in garden design and in the ecology of California. Native foods will be sampled.

Difficulty: easy Restroom: yes Mileage from Dance Palace: 12 miles

3. A Tale of Two Farms: History, Innovation & Sustainability

Toluma Farms/Tomales Farmstead Cheese and Thornton Ranch (Tomales)
With Tamara Hicks & Marissa Thornton

Toluma Farms/Tomales Farmstead Cheese is a 160-acre organic farm and farmstead creamery surrounded by coastal farmlands. Learn about its evolution from defunct cow dairy to modern goat and sheep dairy, taste award-winning cheeses, and play with newborn kids and lambs. On the 1000-acre Thornton Ranch, fifth-generation rancher Marissa Thornton continues the agricultural legacy of her Irish immigrant ancestors who established a dairy in 1852. She has revitalized it with 120 East Friesian sheep and 20 Jersey cows and sells the milk to Bleating Heart Cheese Company. Learn the history of the ranch and Marissa’s plans for a rich future in sustainable agriculture.

Difficulty: easy Restroom: yes Mileage from Dance Palace: 19 miles

4. Maximizing Edibility, Enriching Lives, Protecting Salmon and the Soil

Gospel Flat Farm & Paradise Valley Produce (Bolinas)
With Sarah Hake, Bronwen Halsey Murch & Sandy Dierks

Gospel Flat Farm, a beautiful and diverse farm on the Bolinas Lagoon, grows vegetables for sale at a self-tending honor stand that’s also a cultural hub for art shows and musical performances. Paradise Valley Produce was one of the first certified organic farms in California and the first farm to be certified Salmon Safe. Even Wendell Berry and Prince Charles have visited to learn how Sandy and Dennis Dierks improve the soil with compost and microbes.

Difficulty: easy to moderate Restroom: no Mileage from Dance Palace: 12 miles

5. Growing Organically on a Historic Dairy

Historic “L” Ranch (Point Reyes National Seashore)
With Jolynn Mendoza McClelland & Betty Nunes

The L Ranch is one of the oldest intact dairy ranches in Point Reyes National Seashore, and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it’s operated by Jolynn McClelland, a fourth-generation Point Reyes rancher who transitioned it to organic. Learn how she runs the dairy, handles the animals, and what her hopes are for the future. She’ll be joined by cousin Betty Nunes who operates the historic A and E ranches in the Park.

Difficulty: easy Restroom: no Mileage from Dance Palace: 9 miles

6. Climate Change & Carbon Farming: Marin Carbon Project

Nicasio Native Grass Ranch (Nicasio)
Calla Rose Ostrander & John Wick

Visit Nicasio Native Grass Ranch where Marin Carbon Project works to enhance carbon sequestration in rangeland, farmland, and forest soils. Its vision is for agricultural landowners and land managers to serve as stewards of soil health and undertake carbon farming to improve productivity and viability, enhance ecosystem functions, and stop and reverse climate change. Calla Rose Ostrander is developing the Phoenix Project concept for San Francisco to create a demonstration of potential for the urban/agriculture relationship.

Difficulty: moderate Restroom: no Mileage from Dance Palace: 10 miles to ranch road

The Natural Landscape

7. Biological Diversity on the Point Reyes Headlands

Various locations (Point Reyes National Seashore)
With Sarah Allen

Join marine ecologist Sarah Allen to observe the exceptional marine biological diversity of the California Ocean Current that occurs off Point Reyes Headlands. Migrating California Gray Whales, Elephant Seals, Harbor Seals, California Sea Lions, and thousands of seabirds can be seen. Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres will be starting to nest on the rocky cliffs, and hundreds of newly weaned Elephant Seal pups will be visible in nearby coves.

Difficulty: moderate Restroom: yes Mileage from Dance Palace: 20 miles

8. Listening To Gaia

Limantour Beach (Point Reyes National Seashore)
With Claire Peaslee

A visit to Limantour Beach can nourish human beings with an ever-new geography of hope—with ways to hold and view questions such as those at the heart of our conference. Encounter the beauty and life at this edge of Point Reyes Peninsula—tides, wave trains, and weather rolling onshore; kelp, sand crabs, and shorebirds; the unanticipated. Gather insight there, and also inspiration.

Difficulty: moderate Restroom: yes Mileage from Dance Palace: 10 miles

9. It Takes an Otter to Raise a Salmon to Raise a Redwood…

Lagunitas Creek (Lagunitas)
With Megan Isadore

From the headwaters to the ocean, salmon, river otters, and redwoods each play a part in the flow of energy and nutrients through the Lagunitas watershed. Join naturalist Megan Isadore, Executive Director of the River Otter Ecology Project and long-time salmon-stalker, on a walk along Lagunitas Creek and a discussion of the complicated, elusive, and breathtakingly beautiful webs of relationships so vital to our watersheds and our lives.

Difficulty: easy Restroom: no Mileage from Dance Palace: 9 miles

10. Nurturing the Wild Plantswoman or Plantsman Within

Point Reyes National Seashore (TBA)
With M. Kat Anderson

Respectful gathering, stewardship, processing, and use of plants invite great intimacy with place. Take an ethnobotanical walk with M. Kat Anderson as she points out wild plants of wide geographic distribution. Examine universal tending techniques such as seed dispersal, tillage, knocking, pruning, and burning. Try out gathering tools. Look outward to our relationship with wild plants, but also look inward with activities that help get us in touch with our indigenous roots.

Difficulty: TBA Restroom: TBA Mileage from Dance Palace: TBA

11. A Wetlands Restored

Giacomini Wetlands (Point Reyes National Seashore)
Leslie Adler-Ivanbrook & Lorraine Parsons

From tidal wetland, to cattle pasture, and back again—the Giacomini Wetlands is in its 6th year since restoration. Learn about the site history, wildlife and ecosystem benefits, and how Point Reyes National Seashore uses the Giacomini Wetland as an outdoor learning laboratory.  

Difficulty: easy to moderate (approximately 90-minute hike down into the wetland over unever ground; some rubber boots available to lend, but please bring your own, if possible) Restroom: no Mileage from Dance Palace: 5 minute walk

In Town

12. A Walk on the Art Side

Meet at Toby’s Feed Barn Gallery (Point Reyes Station)
With Tracy Taylor Grubbs

Move beyond text and return to the world of images by visiting local art venues. Take time to examine the work and discuss the questions raised by West Marin artists in response to the Conference theme. Curator Tracy Taylor Grubbs, herself an established artist, leads the tour, beginning with our juried exhibit at Toby’s Feed Barn Gallery, followed by visits and discussions at several other participating galleries.

Difficulty: easy Restroom: yes

13. Mapping a New Geography of Hope through the Camera Lens

The Dance Palace

A selection of environmental films by women filmmakers will be screened at the Dance Palace. Titles and presenters TBA.

Difficulty: easy Restroom: yes Mileage from Dance Palace: At the Dance Palace

Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson has a passion for nature and ethnobotany. She has worked with Native Americans for 30 years, learning how indigenous people judiciously gather and steward plants in the wild. Her interests are, in collaboration with tribes, to re-discover cross-cultural connections through wild plant gathering, tending, and ritual, and to contribute towards the recovery of our ancient gathering heritage. She is the author of Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources.

Camille Dungy

Camille T. Dungy is the author of Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, and co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology. Her honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, and a fellowship from the NEA. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.

Gretel Ehrlich

Gretel Ehrlich wrote, edited, and directed films until 1978, then ranched in Wyoming until 1991 when she was struck by lightning. She gives talks and writes about the global emergency of climate change, and is working on a dance-theatre piece on that subject for director Martha Clarke. She has written 14 books, including Facing the Wave, A Journey in the Wake of a Tsunami which was long-listed for the National Book Awards and chosen as one of the best 10 books in 2013 by Kirkus Review.

Carolyn Finney

Carolyn Finney is a writer, performer, and cultural geographer. The author of Black Faces, White Spaces teaches Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley where she explores how issues of difference impact participation in environmental decision-making processes. Carolyn pursued an acting career for 11 years. Motivated by a backpacking trip around the world and living in Nepal, she returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D.

Susan Griffin

Susan Griffin’s ground-breaking work, Woman and Nature, inspired the eco-feminist movement, one of the first to connect environmentalism with social justice. A Chorus of Stones, the Private Life of War, was a NY Times Notable Book, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Award. Her play, Voices, won an Emmy. Utne Reader named her one of 100 visionaries for the new millennium. She teaches philosophy and creative writing at the University of California, CIIS, Stanford, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and privately.

Robert Hass

Robert Hass is a poet, essayist, and translator. His books include Time and Materials (National Book Award in poetry and the Pulitzer Prize), and The Apple Trees at Olema. Essay collections include What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World. Twice a winner of National Book Critics Circle Award, he served as US Poet Laureate from 1995–1997. An active environmentalist, he serves  on the board of directors of International Rivers and River of Words. He is married to the poet Brenda Hillman. With her he divides his time between the Point Reyes peninsula and Berkeley where he is professor of English at the University of California.

Brenda Hillman

Brenda Hillman has authored nine poetry collections: White Dress; Fortress; Death Tractates; Bright Existence; Loose Sugar; Cascadia; Pieces of Air in the Epic; Practical Water (LA Times Book Award for Poetry); and Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (2014 Griffin Poetry Prize and Northern California Book Award for Poetry). Other awards include: Academy of American Poets Fellowship (2012); William Carlos Williams Prize for poetry (2005); and National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships.

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson has practiced Zen meditation for 35 years and has led meditation retreats nationwide since 1992 as an ordained lay dharma teacher in the traditions of Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and the San Francisco Zen Center. She was a founder of the organic Farm and Garden Program at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin County, which inspired her book Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. She has taught gardening and environmental education since the early 1980s.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her first book, Gathering Moss, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing. She lives in Fabius, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

Kathleen Dean Moore

Kathleen Dean Moore is a philosopher, nature writer, public speaker, and defender of all that is wet and wild. Her work brings together the art of the essay, the wisdom of the natural world, and the moral clarity of philosophy to explore our place on the planet and our responsibilities for its thriving. Her newest book, Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, gathers testimony from a hundred of the world’s moral leaders, who call us to honor our obligations to future generations.

Melissa K. Nelson

Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D. is a cultural ecologist, writer, media-maker, public speaker, and indigenous scholar-activist. She is an associate professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and president of the Cultural Conservancy, a Native-led indigenous rights organization, which she has directed since 1993. Her widely recognized anthology is Original Instructions—Indigenous Teachings For A Sustainable Future (2008). Melissa is Anishinaabe/Métis/Norwegian, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

Ann Pancake

“Ann Pancake grew up in Romney and Summersville, West Virginia. Her new short story collection, Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley, is forthcoming in February 2015. Her first novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been (Counterpoint 2007), features a southern West Virginia family devastated by mountaintop removal mining. Based on interviews and real events, the novel was one of Kirkus Review's Top Ten Fiction Books of 2007, won the 2007 Weatherford Award, and was a finalist for the 2008 Orion Book Award.”

Claire Peaslee

Point Reyes is the field for Claire Peaslee's life inquiries. After guiding her to settle out like a barnacle larva, and stick, it led her to immerse in the living world—learning, writing, teaching. Guided by this home-place, Claire serves on the staff of Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory), celebrates Earth holidays, practices physical theater improvisation of presence.... Her trust and gratitude abound.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley is a science fiction writer living in Davis, California, with his wife and two boys. His books have been translated into 24 languages, and he was sent to the Antarctic by the National Science Foundation as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.

Lauret Savoy

A professor of environmental studies and geology at Mount Holyoke College, and a woman of mixed heritage, Lauret Savoy explores the braiding of natural and cultural histories. She writes about the stories we tell of the origins of the American land, and the stories we tell of ourselves in this land. Her books include Trace (forthcoming in 2015, Counterpoint Press); The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity and the Natural World; Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology; and Living with the Changing California Coast.

Rebecca Solnit

Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of 17 books about environment, landscape, community, art, politics, hope, and feminism, including Men Explain Things to Me; The Faraway Nearby; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (winner of a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). She is a contributing editor to Harper's and frequent contributor to

Priscilla Solis Ybarra

Priscilla Solis Ybarra, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of North Texas, is currently writing The Goodlife: Mexican American Writing and the Environment, 1848-2010. Professor Ybarra's most recent article was published in the essay collection Environmental Criticism for the Twenty-First Century. Her recent speaking engagements include a plenary address at the University of Bucharest, Romania on the topic "Ecocriticism: Nature Writing Foundations, Social Justice Transformations, Decolonial Futures."

Registration Now Open!

Full weekend $300
Saturday only $150

Geography of Hope Conference Refund Policy: Cancellations made prior to March 1, 2015, will be charged a $50.00 fee. No refunds will be given on cancellations made after March 1, 2015.