Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Few SEJ Highlights

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm still recovering from the jam-packed schedule at this year's Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Below are a few photo highlights.

On Wednesday evening, Tia Nelson -- daughter of Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson -- regaled diners at the opening plenary with tales of political deals done over drinks -- and more drinks.

Thursday, most of us took off on tours; I joined the "Wetlands, Wildlife, and Wind" trip which included a pontoon boat ride into Horicon Marsh, an internationally important wetland in central Wisconsin.

Of course it started raining as soon as we embarked on the boat ride. The canvas roofing over the boats kept most of us dry.

Our tour visited the 86-turbine wind farm that started operating near Horicon Marsh last year. It's hard to capture the scale of these towers, but the blade tips reach 400 feet into the air.

Back at the conference center, we encountered the usual sea of handouts. My eyes go about this blurry after reading the piles of material I end up bringing home from SEJ.

Friday morning, Andrew Revkin (right) of the New York Times hosted a breakfast session on climate change with Jane Lubchenco of NOAA and Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute.

Al Gore headlined Friday morning's plenary about climate change. That's conference co-chair Peter Annin of IJNR hidden behind the potted plants on the right.

Paul Ehrlich got chuckles with his usual outspoken style at a well-attended panel presentation on population.

On Saturday, conference co-chair Peter Annin interviewed UN water advisor Maude Barlow as part of a fabulous panel on water issues. Annin's excellent book, The Great Lakes Water Wars, won a 2007 Great Lakes Book Award.

Saturday afternoon gave some of us a chance for a bicycle tour of Madison -- which aims to become the best bicycling city in the U.S.

Saturday night, we bussed out to the LEED-certified Aldo Leopold Center for a great party, where I ran into some old friends and had a notable discussion with Mike and Pat Dombeck about the annual Trenary Outhouse Races (something you know about if you've ever lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as the Dombecks did formerly and as I do now).

Sunday morning at the UW-Madison Arboretum, Wendell Berry headlined a wonderful panel focused on Aldo Leopold's legacy.

Nina Bradley (Aldo Leopold's daughter) and Wendell Berry shared a lighter moment during Q&A after the panel presentations. Curt Meine organized the panel, which also included former Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck and Aldo Leopold's son Carl.

Curtis Prairie displayed its autumn palette to those of us taking a final hike around the Arboretum grounds.

We departed the Arboretum after the hike to head home. I don't know how others feel, but SEJ conferences usually leave me in a state of combined exhaustion and excitement, full of so many fresh writing ideas I'm not sure where to start once I'm back at my desk. I'll probably do this again next year when the SEJ conference goes to Missoula, Montana. Looking forward to it!


John said...

Great photos, Katie. Your description helps remind me of just how much I missed during the conference, although I was running all over the place. What an embarrassment of riches SEJ confabs are! I hope to get to Missoula as well.

Sharon said...

Hi Katie,

Thanks for directing me here. I second John's assessment re the embarrassment of riches. Gotta go back now and listen to the audio on the SEJ site of all the sessions I missed cause I couldn't clone myself.

Dianne Saenz said...

Thanks for posting all your terrific photos/cutlines. What a wonderful collection of SEJ conference highlights! After seeing your photos, I'm sorry I missed the trip to the Arboretum. It looks gorgeous!

kta said...

Likewise! When science allows, SEJ should include cloning instructions with registration materials.