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Pondering Skies - Episode 4 - Places of Possibility

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Dr. Carolyn Finney is a storyteller, author, and cultural geographer. Her work looks to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.

Her work is grounded in both artistic and intellectual ways of knowing - she pursued an acting career for eleven years, spent five years backpacking through Africa and Asia and living in Nepal, and eventually returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete her bachelors, masters degrees, and eventually a Ph.D.

She has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Canon National Parks Science Scholar, and she received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Studies. Carolyn has worked with the media in various capacities including the Tavis Smiley Show, MSNBC, and Vice News Tonight; she’s written op-eds for Outside Magazine & Newsweek; was a guest editor & contributor for a special section on Race & the National Parks in Orion Magazine; participated in a roundtable conversation with REI and The Atlantic; and has appeared in interviews with NPR, Sierra Club, Boston Globe, National Geographic, and The Guardian; and she served on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board for eight years. Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors was released in 2014.

In this episode, I talk to Dr. Finney about what sustainability means to her, how sustainability and environment became part of her work, and her unique approach in working both inside and outside of academia. She discusses how her scholarly work complements her creative artistic practice, and vice versa. We also get a glimpse into current and upcoming projects.

About This Podcast

This show asks the broad question: What does ‘sustainability’ really mean? Finding out is partly what this show is about. Doing the deep dive with each guest, I try to come at the concept from various perspectives.

In this podcast series, I'll take a broad view of the term, as we hear from educators, activists, community organizers, artists, scientists, designers, journalists, and more on what it means to them, and how they - and we - play a part in it.

Dr. Carolyn Finney snaps a selfie for the padcast.

Artifacts collected by Dr. Finney that are used as resources and inspiration for her upcoming creative nonfiction book. Shown are a cut-out of a black girl by the artist Joe Sam, a painted trunk from India, some goat bells from Kenya, and a small painting by "outsider" artist Alyne Harris.

Be sure to check out these links related to this episode:

Dr. Finney's website: https://www.carolynfinney.com

Article in The Guardian: https://bit.ly/2XuSXEB

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZVEOLIW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Essay in Harvard Design Magazine: http://www.harvarddesignmagazine.org/issues/45/the-space-between-the-words

TEDx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i58ayzQf4wc

Article in BESIDE Magazine, No. 8: "Self-Evident" (forthcoming!)

Article in Leaf Litter, No. 8, an annual journal from the arts organization Signal Fire: "The N Word: Nature Revisited" (forthcoming!)

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