The Nature of Here: Touchstones and Resources from Johnny’s TalkPosted: March 5, 2017
Our February Living Room Conversation featured Johnny Sain, author of the site A View from the Backroads and assistant director at the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.
His talk was entitled the Nature of Here, and explored what it means to call a place home.
From Johnny’s description:
A “sense of place” is best described as recognizing the identity and character of a location. It’s an understanding of what makes here “here.” Various aspects such as flora, fauna, topography, climate, and history can all contribute to the distinct aura of the place you call home. An awareness of place is the foundation of culture. But sadly, this awareness is dwindling.
He shared stories about how he went from being a young hunter posting photos of dead animals to appreciating the seasons as a spiritual practice grounded in a concept of land and home.
One of the most powerful parts of his talk was how he walked through all the steps it took for him to get to the world view he has today. He talked about childhood, killing his first animals with bb guns, being a hog farmer, going back to school, and his slow walk to becoming a writer. It was an interactive discussion, with everyone contributing their own stories and questions to the mix.
The key to resolving many of our environmental issues is understanding and appreciating our relationship to place. This can be accomplished by once again becoming aware. It really is as simple as opening our eyes and ears, of taking a deep breath and savoring the flavors. From this awareness will spring humility and gratitude. And establishing this deep, even emotional connection is how we will protect, preserve and even enhance what is left of our natural world.
Below is a list of books and resources Johnny shared as touchstones along his journey. We’d love to have these books on hand, so if you have spare copies lying around you’d like to donate, we’ll take them!
Ecology, nature writing, a sense of place, hunting/fishing as a natural human act, natural heritage, etc.
~A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
~A Rough Sort of Beauty From U of A Press
Heartsblood by David Petersen
~Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
~ The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game by Paul Shepherd
~With Respect for Nature by J. Claude Evans
~ Walden by HD Thoreau
~ Albion’s Seed by David Hacket Fischer
~ Cracker Culture by Grady McWhiney
~ Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph
~ Anything by Mary Oliver Anything by Gary Snyder
In recent year’s Johnny has become a well-known nature and wildlife writer. Here are a few of some of his best pieces.
Read more of Johnny’s writings here:
“A Personal Rewilding” Hatch magazine
“Hallelujah” – ABOUT…the River Valley Online
“The New Normal” –Hatch magazine
August in Arkansas. Lawns dried to a crispy, dusty brown. Bathwater lake temperatures, creeks cinched down to trickling riffles with pools full of hungry smallmouth bass. Day after day of 95-105 degree sunshine, which seems a damn near impossible combination with the ungodly and stifling humidity …”
Johnny Sain is an Atkins native who now lives in Dover. He’s a hunter, writer, editor, and environmentalist and has been referred to as a “philosophical hillbilly.” You can read of his writings via his site, A View from the Backroads.