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The Dartmouth
February 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Environmentalist Bass presents from his book on the Arctic


Bass, who has authored over 20 acclaimed books, identifies better than anyone with writing and its relevance to activism, Virginia said.

"Through his writing, [Bass] has become involved in the preservation movement for wilderness in the western states," Virginia said. "He's become very deeply engaged with the problems of the ways in which we fragment landscapes."

Bass successfully combines his knowledge of writing and environmentalism with a passion for storytelling, according to Virginia.

"He is a expert storyteller who moves from writing to activism and back with an uncommon energy and great skill," Virginia said in an email to The Dartmouth.

Bass began his lecture by acknowledging his unusual career as an environmentalist interested in geology and hunting, which he said are "strike one and strike two" for most environmentalists, he said. This unique perspective helped Bass when he stood up against George W. Bush's administration desires to increase drilling in order to preserve the environment, Bass said.

During the lecture, Bass read an excerpt from his 2004 book, which discusses the time Bass spent in a small village in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The excerpt focused on Bass' time and discussions with one member of the village in particular, a hunter named Jimi who was responsible for providing much of the food for the small Arctic village. Jimi was an example of a person whose livelihood that of a committed hunter had been shaped entirely by his Arctic village's community and culture, Bass said. The excerpt demonstrated how the Arctic wildlife has remained "unbroken through time," Bass said.

Bass' work was particularly effective because "Caribou Rising" captures "what it is like to move in that landscape with people who rely on it for subsistence," Virginia said.

The lecture, titled "Rick Bass, Nature Writer and Activist," was sponsored by the Institute of Arctic Studies at the Dickey Center for International Understanding and was part of a lecture series called "Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Dialogues on Polar Science and Society." The presentation's subject matter corresponded with the Arctic theme of this series of lectures, Virginia said in an email to The Dartmouth.