One Town, One Book, One Tree: A Message of Hope

If you attended the recent presentations that prompted Three Rivers residents to discuss climate change, then you experienced how researchers on the front line of climate change are thinking, feeling, and acting. A collective of Three Rivers locals for the past month were all on the same page reading In Search of The Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World.

In this Part 1 of a video that was recorded at Three Rivers School on Thursday, October 24, during the finale presentation by author Lauren Oakes, the panic button reaction to climate change is considered but not preferred. What is clear from the author’s remarks is there are a number of ways people are reacting to climate change.

The reaction we can least afford is the one most widely held: complacency.

How did climate change become a hot-button item for Three Rivers?

One of the unique benefits of living in a gateway community to a national park is that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has the biggest research budget of any national park. One effect is in Three Rivers, locals interact daily with scientists (both active and retired) on the cutting edge of climate change.

One of these scientists is Christy Brigham, Chief of Natural Resources and Science Management at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. According to Brigham, here’s how the One Book, One Town program came to be.

In the winter of 2019, Dr. Nate Stephenson, USGS research scientist and long-time Three Rivers resident, read In Search of the Canary Tree. He liked the book and found its message of hope during these difficult times for our forests as one that everyone could benefit from hearing  So he bought his colleague Brigham a copy of the book to read.

Brigham was impressed and inspired: “I loved it — the fieldwork descriptions were lyrical and reminded me of my own experiences working in the forests of Canada and the Pacific Northwest.  The deep thinking and interviews regarding what these changes mean and how we can work through them emotionally and ecologically really resonated with me.

“I had been thinking a lot about how to engage our community more around climate change and the changes we are seeing in our forests — millions of dead trees, giant sequoias torching in high severity fire, giant sequoias dying standing, killed by beetles. I had also recently seen a TED Talk by Katharine Hayhoe where she says the most important thing we can do about climate change is to talk about it with other people,” Christy continued.

So after reading the book, Christy sent the book’s author Lauren Oakes an email asking if she would come to Three Rivers and talk about the book.

“We had a great email exchange talking about forests and climate change impacts, and she said she would be happy to come to Three Rivers and give a talk,” Brigham said.  “At that point, I went to the Three Rivers branch library and gave Amber Vantassel [librarian] a long-winded description of what I wanted to do.

“My original proposal was basically what we did, one program on our forests from park biologists, one program on tribal views of the forest and tribal stewardship presented by Jeanette Acosta and Raymond Guttierez; and two book group discussions arranged by Friends of the Library and led by Christina Lynch and Lynne Firpo,” Christy explained.

She continued, “The final book talk would be by author Lauren Oakes. Amber took the idea to the library staff and the Friends of the Library. I met with the library and the Friends and they enthusiastically signed on to the idea.”

Brigham acknowledged it would not have happened without the support of the Friends of the Library (the signs, buying the books, decorating the stage, making the display for the library, doing all the publicity) and the library staff (giving out the books, arranging the library, hosting each talk, and so much more).

“It really did take a village to pull off the program, and I am so thankful to the Friends of the Library and our wonderful library for hosting such an amazing program,” Brigham added.

Next time: More takeaways regarding climate change and actions everyone can take.

One thought on “One Town, One Book, One Tree: A Message of Hope

  • November 8, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Ditto my thanks to all the Community members who stepped up to make this a highly successful endeavor. And we all enjoyed the book, the author and the swell of concern that came out of the reading. Folks are already planning several follow-up projects. Join the crowd!


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