George Monbiot’s latest book is Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet, published by Penguin Books.
Since the 1980s, he has traveled the world doing on-the-ground investigations of how global dominant systems destroy crucial wildlife habitats and displace peoples from their ancestral homelands, while contributing to catastrophic climate change. This has led to his being made persona non grata in seven countries, sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in Indonesia, shot at, beaten up by military police, shipwrecked, stung into a coma by hornets, and pronounced clinically dead in Lodwar General Hospital in North-western Kenya from cerebral malaria.
From the first of his 13 books published in 1989, POISONED ARROWS: An Investigative Journey Through the Forbidden Lands of West Papua; to Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding; to his radio programs, and long standing weekly columns in The Guardian, he has informed us in delightful prose through the powerful lens of his political philosophy for social and ecological justice and sanity.
Seattle photographer, Nate Gowdy, has documented over 340 political events and protests across 25 states. He flew from GA to Washington, D.C. the night before January 6, 2021 to cover the much publicized so-called “Stop the Steal” Rally on the Ellipse.
He was about a mile away and heading to that rally along the national mall, when a couple of hundred Proud Boys marched toward him and the US Capitol from the Rally at 10:45am – hours before Trump was scheduled to speak. Having photographed many political events and demonstrations, he recognized some of them, and made the decision to turn and follow them, soon becoming swept along the growing flood of extremists to the very steps of the Capitol.
His photographic compilation, Insurrection, not only documents the events of that day when our democracy hung by the thinnest of blue lines, but contributes to the art form of war photography in the highest traditions of Robert Capa, Margaret Bourke-White and Matthew Brady. We spoke with him via Skype on January 11, 2023.
Professor Clarence Lusane is the interim Chair of Howard University’s Department of Political Science and current Director of the International Affairs program. For more than 40 years he has written about, and been active in, national and international human rights, anti-racism politics, democracy building, and social justice issues such as education, criminal justice, and voting rights. Among his books are The Black History of the White House; Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice: Foreign Policy, Race, and the New American Century; and Pipe Dream Blues: Racism and the War on Drugs.
We spoke with him about his most recent book, Twenty Dollars and Change: Harriet Tubman and the Ongoing Struggle for Racial Justice and Democracy, published by City Lights Books.
Nate Gowdy’s book, INSURRECTION, of photos he took on January 6, 2021, as he was swept by a mob of Proud Boys and Three Percenters onto the steps of the US Capitol Building came to my attention. In the second part of today’s Forthright Radio, we share excerpts from an extended interview with Nate Gowdy about his work, and what he experienced that day.
The Bozeman Film Society begins their 2023 season of bringing outstanding films to Bozeman with the locally produced film, THE YEAR OF THE DOG, screening at the Ellen Theatre on Jan. 4th. We spoke with Rob Grabow, who wrote, produced, co-directed, co-edited, and starred in, this film.
A portion of the proceed benefits the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.
Rob landed his first movie role at 15 in the Oscar-nominated film starring Ethan Hawke, Snow Falling on Cedars. He’s been hooked since then. More recently, he has had speaking roles in the Syfy series Z Nation and the critically acclaimed film Mickey and the Bear, which premiered at Cannes and SXSW film festivals.
He wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the multi-award-winning short film Method, which premiered at the Chelsea Film Festival, where Academy Award-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) awarded Rob the Best Original Screenplay award. Rob was also nominated for Best Actor and Best Director at the Beaufort International Film Festival. He is an alum of the MFA Acting program at the Actor’s Studio Drama School in New York.
Some of Rob’s more esoteric life highlights include backpacking into Egypt two weeks before the war in Iraq, consulting Bhutan on its public advertising policy, and traveling to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to write an article for Rolling Stone magazine.
Also featured is Michael Spears, the famous Lakota actor who has lived in Bozeman for 17+ years. Michael Spears’s role as Otter in Dances with Wolves (1990) catapulted him into film, music, and public speaking. Some of Spears’s career highlights since Dances with Wolves include his role as Dog Star in Spielberg’s 2005 miniseries Into the West and his role as Tenkill in Angels in Stardust (2014), for which he received critical acclaim in The New York Times. In 2014 and 2015, Spears played Savanukah in Colonial Williamsburg’s open-air stage production of The Beloved Women of Chota, the first Indigenous-centric production of its kind for Colonial Williamsburg. Spears also works in the film industry as a technical adviser for Native American cultures, soundtrack recording artist, and voiceover actor. When not filming, he travels as a keynote speaker on topics such as indigenous health and wellness, mental health, and Lakota spirituality.
Of course, one of Rob’s co-stars is Caleb, a rescue dog who had bounced between foster homes for years because he was reportedly “too much dog”—is there such a thing? He eventually landed in the loving care of Cathy and Gregg Pittman of the Performing Animal Troupe. His crucial performance as Yup’ik, in The Year of the Dog marks Caleb’s feature-film debut. Rumors of Brando reincarnated floated around set.
Jon Proudstar is a veteran actor of forty-two productions. He is currently a reoccurring character on FX/Disney’s Reservation Dogs. Jon had six big releases in 2021, which include Reservation Dogs, The Heart Stays, Wastelander, Deep Woods, and Mammoth. A product of the Sundance Institute’s 1997 Native American Writers Lab, Proudstar was chosen for the 2005 Directors Lab, where he worked alongside Ed Harris, Stanley Tucci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robert Redford. Some of Proudstar’s more notable films are Bodies, Rest & Motion (1993 Cannes Film Festival), Skinwalkers, Barking Water, and Four Sheets to the Wind. Jon trained at Los Angeles Theatre and with legendary acting coach Joan Darling.
Darwin Lumbattis is a Butte-based Army Veteran who served 16 years including active-duty combat in Iraq from 1990-1992 before retiring as a Calvary Scout. He is an avid dog-safety advocate and founder of the Rocky Mountain Working Dogs. Darwin served as a key advisor on all matters concerning weight pulling — he also proved his acting chops during an audition and landed a key speaking role in the film.
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Professor, Howard French, was awarded 2022’s Museum of African American History (MAAH) Stone Book Award as well as The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, for his latest book, BORN IN BLACKNESS: AFRICA, AFRICANS, and the MAKING of the MODERN WORLD, 1471 to the SECOND WORLD WAR, published by Liveright.
Before returning to academia, he was a New York Times foreign correspondent in West and Central Africa, as well as the Times’ bureau chief in the Caribbean and Central America, before becoming their Tokyo bureau chief and then their bureau chief in Shanghai, China. In addition to the New York Times, he has contributed to the New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Guardian Longreads and Foreign Policy.
His earlier books include A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa; China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa; and Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power.
We spoke with Howard French on December 20, 2022 via Skype, overcoming numerous technical difficulties.
We ended the 12/23/22 broadcast version of this program with the Ukrainian folk song, Shchedryk, from a recording by Helena Androsova singing all of the voices first with English then Ukrainian Lyrics. It is known in the U. S. as Carol of the Bells. You can hear/view her performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqeJ38DThVc
Dr. Michael Shermer is a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. He is the co-founder of The Skeptics Society and founding publisher of Skeptic magazine. He has been a college professor since 1979, teaching courses such as Skepticism 101. He was a monthly columnist for Scientific American for 18 years.
Among his books are WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS; WHY DARWIN MATTERS; THE SCIENCE OF GOOD AND EVIL, and GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE: REFLECTIONS OF A SCIENTIFIC HUMANIST. His latest book, CONSPIRACY: WHY THE RATIONAL BELIEVE THE IRRATIONAL, is published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.
We spoke with him via Skype on December 5, 2022. The next day, a New York jury found The Trump Organization guilty of 17 felonies, including conspiracy. The day after that, 3,000 officers conducted searches at 130 sites in 11 of Germany’s 16 states against the group, Reich Citizens, whose members it said adhered to a conglomerate of conspiracy theories, including the QAnon cult and the so-called Reich Citizens movement.
Articles and videos pertinent to this interview can be found here:
Born in Bozeman soon after his parents moved here to take a position at the then Montana State College, Michael Reynolds, has stayed true to the family tradition. His father, Creech Reynolds was the co-founder of the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra and the InterMountain Opera. His mother, Patricia Reynolds, founded the orchestra program at Bozeman High School. Mike co-founded the internationally renowned and Grammy Award winning Muir Quartet at the age of 23!
He has taught cello at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts since 1983, as well as having served on the faculties of The New England Conservatory, Rutgers University, the University of Utah, and UC Santa Cruz. He received an honorary doctorate from Rhode Island College in 1995.
Christopher Marquis is Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management at the Judge Business School of The University of Cambridge.
He and his co-author, Kunyaun Qiao, have written the book, MAO AND MARKETS: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise, published by Yale University Press. It explores the seeming contradiction of capitalism under Chinese Communist Party rule. Part history, part economics, it uses the tools of academic data analysis to assess how China’s economic success is being shaped by the ideology and philosophy of Chairman Mao Zedong.
Professor Marquis’s interest in China began while he was in high school, when he did an independent research project on the role of Confucianism in contemporary China. He first traveled there in 1996, and he has marveled at the speed with which the mudflats across the Huangpu River from Shanghai’s waterfront became the city of Pudong, the financial capital of China, where three of the tallest buildings in the world now stand encircled by 20 miles of high rises. He spoke with entrepreneurs from many regions of China and brings their very human stories to his narrative.
His earlier book, BETTER BUSINESS: HOW THE B CORP MOVEMENT IS REMAKING CAPITALISM, focused on the ways companies can effectively shift from a shareholder to stake holder orientation.
We spoke with Christopher Marquis on November 21, 2022.
After learning of President Xi’s early life experiences – his being “sent down” from Beijing to manual labor in a remote, rural area for 7 years after the purging and arrest of his father, Xi Zhongxun, during the Cultural Revolution, made me think of his contemporary, Ai Weiwei, and his early life experiences. Born in 1957 in Beijing, he was exiled in 1958 when his father, poet Ai Qing, was accused of “rightism”. How differently the two men influence the world today. One, a ruthless authoritarian consolidating close to absolute control over the lives of 1.4 billion people, and the other undaunted, despite brutal state repression, in his artistic expression of beauty, creativity and human rights.
On October 27, 2022, attorneys for two environmental organizations, WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote, a project of Earth Island Institute, filed a lawsuit against The State of Montana, by and through the MT Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the MT Fish & Wildlife Commission. The suit was filed in MT First Judicial District Court in Lewis & Clark County.
The case named, WildEarth Guardians v. FWP, Cause No. DDV-25-2022 DK, alleges that the state’s wolf hunting and trapping policies violate the Montana Constitution, Montana Administrative Procedure Act, Public Trust Doctrine, and several federal laws meant to protect wildlife on federally-managed lands.
On November 10, 2022, a motion was filed asking The Court to prohibit the start of the state’s wolf-trapping season, as well as immediately halt the on-going wolf-hunting season, while the merits of the lawsuit are being considered. The conservation groups filed the time-sensitive motion with the wolf trapping and snaring season set to begin on November 28, 2022. The hunting season began in September. This motion asks the court to issue a temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary injunction, to stop all recreational killing of wolves in the state pending resolution of the lawsuit.
On November 15, 2022, District Court Judge Christopher D. Abbott, granted a partial Temporary Restraining Order, with a hearing set for November 28, 2022. It’s set to expire November 29, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. The partial TRO requires MFWP to return to 2020 regulations with respect to wolf hunting and trapping quotas and “bag limits”, prohibits the use of snares, and limits quotas in former WMUs 110 (bordering Glacier NP), 313, and 316 (bordering Yellowstone NP).
In the 2021-2022 season, 273 wolves were killed by hunters and trappers—including 19 Yellowstone wolves—with nearly 70 percent of the wolves killed, after the trapping season began. As of November 15, 2022, hunters had already killed 56 wolves, while regulations permit hunters and trappers to kill an additional 395 wolves before the season ends in March 2023. The motion alleges that the conservation groups’ interests will be harmed beyond repair, if the court allows the hunting and trapping season to proceed while they fully litigate their case.
The motion—and the underlying lawsuit—claim that there are significant flaws in the population model used to estimate the total number of wolves in the state, and that since the quota of 456 wolves for this season relies upon a flawed population model, reaching the quota could have devastating consequences on the state’s wolf population. The motion states, “Montana does not have an accurate picture of how many wolves are living in Montana, and cannot sustainably and legally manage the species through another wolf hunt this winter.”
A listener asked us to investigate, and we share interviews with four people knowledgeable about the issues, Lizzy Pennock, an attorney with WildEarth Guardians;
Greg Lemon, Administrator of MFWP’s Communication and Education Division;
Pat Byorth, MT Fish & Wildlife Commissioner for Region 3, below
Michael Waasegijig Price, of The GREAT LAKES INDIAN FISH & WILDLIFE COMMISSION, which joined six tribes, who sued the state of Wisconsin in September of 2021 to prevent further wolf slaughter there.
Documents, articles and links pertinent to this episode of Ecotones:
This Forthright Radio is devoted to digesting the results of the 2022 mid-term elections. Days after the election, there are still many crucial races that are too close to call, and it is too early to know which parties will control either chamber of congress. However the predicted Red Wave – or what some were projecting as a Red Tsunami – has not occurred. So, we were delighted to welcome back two distinguished guests, David Daley and Paul Pierson.
Dave Daley was our guest in June of 2020, when his book, UNRIGGED: HOW AMERICANS ARE BATTLING BACK TO SAVE DEMOCRACY, came out. His earlier book, RATF**KED: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE SECRET PLAN TO STEAL AMERICA’S DEMOCRACY, did much to educate us about the nationally organized, anti-democracy efforts to seize political control from the majority of voters via gerrymandering, and what citizens across the country are doing to wrestle majoritarian democracy back. His articles appear in many outlets, including The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, among others.
Paul Pierson was our guest in July of 2020, when his book, co-written with Jacob Hacker, director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and a Political Science Professor at Yale University, LET THEM EAT TWEETS: HOW THE RIGHT RULES IN AN AGE OF EXTREME INEQUALITY, came out. Paul is is the John Gross Professor of Political Science at U. C. Berkeley. They have many earlier books, including, WINNER-TAKE-ALL-POLITICS: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class; and Off Center: The Republican Revolution and The Erosion of American Democracy.