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WVU Department of English to host noted author, environmental leader March 1

The Department of English and Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University will host two talks by celebrated author and environmental leader Mike Tidwell in conjunction with the Helen Coast Hayes Peace Lecture on Tuesday, March 1.

Tidwell will give a talk, “Travel Writing, the Environment, and Climate Change: It’s One Big Story” from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in room 130 of Colson Hall, followed by his main lecture, “From Coal to Wind Power: Avoiding climate chaos in West Virginia and the rest of the world,” at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room of the WVU Mountainlair.

He will be joined by several state and local environmental leaders, including prominent members of the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Friends of Deckers Creek, the West Virginia Land Trust, and Downstream Strategies.

“Mike Tidwell is an inspiring, visionary leader and a tremendous and even prophetic writer,” said Mark Brazaitis, WVU English professor. “If you care about a sustainable West Virginia, and a sustainable world, it will be well worth your time to hear him.”

Tidwell is the founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and beyond. He is also an author and filmmaker who predicted in vivid detail the Katrina hurricane disaster in his 2003 book “Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast.”

His most recent book, focusing on Katrina and global warming, is titled “The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Race to Save America’s Coastal Cities.” His 2004 documentary film, “We Are All Smith Islanders.” vividly depicts the dangers of global warming in Maryland, Virginia, D.C., and nearby states.

Tidwell has been featured in numerous national media outlets including NBC’s Meet the Press, NPR, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, Politico, and The Washington Post. In 2003, Tidwell received the Audubon Naturalist Society’s prestigious Conservation Award. Two years later he received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

“The environment is one of the major issues of our time,” Brazaitis said. “We should all be gathering facts, paying attention, and figuring out solutions to sustaining our quality of life.”

The Helen Coast Hayes Lecture Series was established in 1998 by an endowment that provides permanent support for annual lectures on peace studies. The series explores a variety of topics in the humanities that affect peace, including the literature, history, sociology, psychology and philosophy of peace.

Tidwell’s Helen Coast Hayes Peace Lecture will be preceded on Monday, February 29, by a “Concert for a Sustainable City,” featuring WVU English graduate student and poet Beth Staley, a dynamic local musician, beginning at 8:30 p.m. at the Blue Moose Café in downtown Morgantown.

The free concert will raise awareness of the environmental impact on Morgantown and Monongalia County of the city’s and county’s recent population boom and attendant development.

Both talks are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

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