IDEAS

PHOTOGRAPHY

ACTIVISM

Courtney White

Author, photographer, and cofounder of the Quivira Coalition

In 1960, when I was born, the world was still precedented. The publication of Rachel Carson’s prescient warning Silent Spring was two years away. Earth Day wouldn’t happen for another decade. The term ‘global warming’ would not debut for fifteen years. By 2020, the world had become unprecedented in big, worrisome ways. During my lifetime, humans went from a having a small impact on the planet to being the predominant force for change on a geological scale. Only sixty years! How did this happen? This site attempts to answer this anguished question. It is part history, ethnography, art project, adventure story, reflection, and call-to-action. The through-line is my lifelong interest in the relationship between land and people, which I explored in images, writing, and as a grassroots activist. This site is also a chronicle – of a life, a time, and an earnest effort to shape the future.

CREATIVE ANSWERS TO ANGUISHED QUESTIONS

 

Author Wallace Stegner once said every book should try to answer an anguished question. I took his advice to heart and over the years tried to answer an array of ‘left-brain’ questions with creative ‘right brain’ answers ranging over the fields of archaeology, conservation, ranching, the radical center, regenerative agriculture, and climate change – introduced in MY STORY.

Core questions emerged quickly: What is land for? How can we use it without using it up? How should we live? How do we heal damaged land and repair relationships? Over time, as the scale of our accelerating impact on the planet increased, new anguished questions arose: Can we restrain ourselves? How do we build resilience? What are practical solutions to climate change? Eventually, they merged into one general question: WHAT IS EARTH FOR?

I didn’t follow a prepared path in seeking answers, producing creative work in diverse formats: two fine art photography projects  ~ a history book  ~ a peer-reviewed archaeology paper ~ two nonfiction books on climate solutions ~ a play ~ a nonprofit organization ~ three collections of essays  ~ two blogs ~ three columns ~ a time-travel novel ~ a mystery novel ~ a professional journal ~ two lectures ~ coauthored books ~ and a ton of ideas.

MY WORK falls into two phases: A West That Works (1988 – 2005) focused on archaeology, collaborative conservation, progressive ranching, and land use. The Age of Consequences (2006 to present) tackles resilience, carbon, climate change, regeneration, and other issues as we head deeper into our unprecedented future.

THE GRASS CANOE is a memoir focused on adventurous moments in a life of asking questions and seeking answers. ACTION is a summary of recommendations and insights drawn from my experience on the front lines of social change.

The site is organic. I will add NEW material as my work and reflections continue to grow. The site is also a resource. Please feel free to share anything you find useful with others. My BIO provides background information.

NEW

November 2019 from Chelsea Green Press: Fibershed: a New Textile Economy, co-authored with Rebecca Burgess.

 

This is an important book. It is bold, practical, optimistic––a vision of how things must be.”—Kate Fletcher, professor, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, University of the Arts, London, UK

ALSO: The Sun: a Mystery was a Finalist for the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

BOOKS

THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES

A collection of personal essays about our uncertain times – the Age of Consequences – coupled with hopeful, practical solutions involving land, livestock, and people in the American West.

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Grass, Soil, Hope

A general interest book about ways to mitigate climate change by sequestering CO2 in plants and soils, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and produce economic and ecological resilience.

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Two Percent Solutions

Innovative low-cost, low-tech, nature-based practices that increase soil carbon, including organic no-till farming, grassfed food production, and ecological restoration.

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THE SUN

A murder mystery set on a working ranch in northern New Mexico. Something is amiss in the New West… It is the first volume of the Sun Ranch Saga.

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Consilience

A contemporary love story about time-travel, an uncertain future, and resistance. The novel is finished. I am looking for a publisher.

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Grassroots

A collection of columns and short essays about the rise of the radical center from the perspective of a front-line participant and thoughts about the broken promise of the New West.

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IMAGES

THE INDELIBLE WEST

Photographs 1988-1998

THIS MOMENT IN TIME

Photographs 2005-2015

THE DELIGHT-MAKERS

Photodocumentary with text

SOCIAL CHANGE

THE QUIVIRA COALITION

I cofounded the Quivira Coalition in 1997 with the goal of building a radical center among ranchers, conservationists, federal land managers, and scientists around practices that improve economic and ecological resilience in working landscapes.

 

ESSAYS

This is a collection of essays written during my years at the Quivira Coalition. Topics include: the radical center, collaborative conservation, grassbanks, ecological restoration, The New Ranch, carbon farming, land health, and local food.

 

REGENERATION

Since 2017, I have been assisting farmers, ranchers, and nonprofit directors in regenerative agriculture get their words into print as a book as a co-author with the support of Chelsea Green Publishing.