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Nature, Joy and the 21st Century City

Nature, Joy and the 21st Century City

On the occasion of the US release of Michael McCarthy's "The Moth Snowstorm" on 3 October 2016, NYU Washington, DC, the Ecologic Institute and the New York Review of Books hosted a reading and discussion on joy, nature and the 21st-century city with Michael McCarthy, three-time Environment Journalist of the Year in the UK and author of The Moth Snowstorm, with special guests Jann Rosen-Queralt, artist and art instructor at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA); and Dr. Sabine O'Hara, Dean of CAUSES (College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences) at University of the District of Columbia. Brendan O’Donnell moderated the evening.

Celebrated British environment journalist Michael McCarthy’s newest work is an elegiac post-mortem of nature in our urban way of life. But The Moth Snowstorm does more than mourn the vanishing flora and fauna from the collective social consciousness; this personal tale also raises the specter that with the loss of nature, we risk losing our connection to joy.

"A great, rhapsodic, urgent book full of joy, grief, rage, and love. The Moth Snowstorm is at once a deeply affecting memoir and a heartbreaking account of ecological impoverishment. It fights against indifference, shines with the deep magic and beauty of the nonhuman lives around us, and shows how their loss lessens us all. A must-read." — Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk

As world populations flock to cities in unprecedented numbers, our recognition and remembrance of nature decline. How can an urbanizing world reconnect with its natural roots and retain the sense of joy and wonder at the heart of the human experience?

Michael McCarthy is known for his award-winning writings on the environment and the natural world, including his book-length works The Moth Snowstorm and Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo. He was Environment Correspondent of The Times (London) and later Environment Editor at The Independent. He has been the recipient of the Specialist Writer of the Year Award in the British Press Awards, the Medal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for "outstanding services to conservation," and the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London. He lives in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Sabine O'Hara is Dean and Director of Landgrant Programs for the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). As Dean of CAUSES, she is responsible for academic, research and community outreach programs in the tradition of landgrant universities, and is leading the University’s efforts to building a cutting edge model for Urban Agriculture and urban Sustainability that improves the quality of life and economic opportunity for urban populations.

Dr. O'Hara is a respected author, researcher and higher education executive, and is well known for her expertise in sustainable economic development, global education and executive leadership. She has experience in virtually every aspect of university administration including curriculum development, strategic planning, program accreditation, international partnerships and research collaborations. Dr. O'Hara is a strong advocate of higher education who believes that education cannot merely provide answers to our questions, but must also question our answers. She is the founder of Global Ecology LLC, the 10th President of Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, and held faculty and administrative positions at: Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota; Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York; and Executive Director of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, a preeminent international exchange organization that administers the Fulbright Scholar Program.

A native of Germany, Dr. O'Hara earned a doctorate in environmental economics and a master's degree in agricultural economics from the University of Göttingen. She serves on the board of directors of several national and international organizations including as president of the International Society for Ecological Economics, International Advisory Board member of King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and editorial board member of several academic journals.

Jann Rosen-Queralt creates artwork integrating the diverse fabric of urban areas, revealing the character of each locale by maintaining environmental sensitivity, and the poetry of voice. She is interested in exchanging ideas, becoming a catalyst for encouraging discovery and expanding our capacity to remember and learn. Her transdisciplinary approach engages diverse perspectives in understanding and communicating experience. A 2012 exhibition entitled Water Sonettos, connected educators, researchers, artists and communities from Mali through an exploration of the human relationship with water. Rosen-Queralt is currently working with the Monument Quilt project, which seeks to create an accessible public healing space for survivors of sexual abuse.

A sample of her past commissions includes a rain garden that treats storm water runof at Powhatan Springs Park, Arlington, Virginia; a sound garden at the Billingsley Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina and a fountain plaza in Columbia Heights, Washington, DC. She has participated on several planning teams including the Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility that provides services for Snohomish and King Counties in Washington State, and the Gwynns Falls Greenway Trail and Eco-Industrial Park in Baltimore, Maryland.

Rosen-Queralt has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally in Canada, Mexico, Lithuania, and nationally throughout the east coast, mid-west and Georgia and Texas. She previously served on the board of the Baltimore Public Art Commission, continuing her commitment to integrating art within the public realm of everyday life.

New York University (NYU), United States
Ecologic Institute US (EIUS), United States
The New York Review of Books (NYR), United States
October 2016
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