Notes from the Landscape of Grief
I grew up along the coast of central California but was slowly drawn to Utah since childhood river trips and slickrock scrambles first introduced me to the desert landscape. I currently work for Torrey House Press and am a student in the Environmental Humanities masters program here at the U, where I also completed my BA in Communication Studies. My master’s thesis work is a creative nonfiction project that blends personal and ecological grief in an exploration of multispecies entanglements. Other interests include eating good food with even better people, floating in bodies of water, looking at beautiful rocks in the desert, and geeking out over birds.
In a collection of braided creative nonfiction essays, this project weaves human stories within the context of multispecies connections, blending personal and ecological grief as I explore the lives of Greater Sage Grouse and Common Loons while reflecting on the sudden loss of my aunt and grandmother. Ultimately, I argue that grief draws us into new kinds of connections—understandings, relationships, and responsibilities—as we navigate loss and entanglement with more-than-human beings. My goal is that these essays reflect on how the forces shaping the lives of humans and the more-than-human are profoundly intertwined and create additional space for generative imagining of a future that will ensure the health, dignity, and flourishing of both. We are mutually implicated in the possibilities that emerge from loss.
My project connects two species of birds, sage grouse and loons, that might not otherwise be connected, using grief as the starting point from which new relationships and reflections are made possible. When 1 in 8 bird species is threatened with global extinction, what does it mean to bear witness to this ongoing loss? By blending the personal with the environmental, I hope to reflect on how the forces affecting humans and nonhumans are deeply connected, so that we might begin imagining a better future for both.