How I wasn’t pathetic today & Richard Nelson

Well today I managed to get my pathetic ass out the house. I was invited to a NPR guest speaker event with “K” (a lady I train dogs for). I made myself go (I did want to – just had to find the energy), sounded kind of cool even though I’d never heard of the guy. His name is Richard Nelson and he is the brains and talent behind “Encounters” the pubic radio program. Turns out, he covers everything from animals to cultural traditions throughout Alaska. As a student of Tracker School and reader of – well everything – I immediately realized that this would be a good evening and probably something I could really take in. Turns out I was right, was awesome and now I have to buy his books.

Here is a tad bit taken from his website

Richard Nelson is a cultural anthropologist and creative nonfiction writer whose work focuses on human relationships to the natural world. He was born in Madison , Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin, and received a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written and narrated Encounters Programs since the series began in 2004.

Mr. Nelson is an excellent speaker and the night very enjoyable. I’m quite grateful for K to drag me out. Since she is a big fan of everything science and Alaskan she had the whole meet and greet before the event deal. This event had sold out for the 3rd year in a row and only some people got to come to the before party.         College students, outdoorsy people and wise elders were getting to meet their icon. I didn’t even know what Richard Nelson looked like..  So there I was, shaking Mr. Nelson’s hand knowing what 4 sentences I managed to read of him before we were called up. I had learned just enough that he was someone worth knowing and that he had studied in various remote places – but what exactly the subject of his work was, I still didn’t know at the point where I was now shaking his hand and introducing myself. I had heard others asking to have their books signed, telling him how amazing his work was, how much his radio program meant to them. One guy even proceeded to say that Mr. Nelson’s work saved his life.

And now I’m shaking his hand, I with all these other people who know everything about this guy, and I know nothing. Now I’m supposed to talk to him?! I mean I don’t want to insult him.. I let K do the talking. She kindly took over with intelligent questions and introduced me as ‘with’ her. Mr. Nelson wanted to know if we were family, and K said “well funny story but actually Joannie trains my dogs” And bam there was a safe topic after all. Mr. Nelson expanded on his experiences with dogs including the dog teams of the villages he live in. And we had common ground. Now I could add something to the conversation without looking like an idiot. As we chatted about village life and dogs that were not family pets to be carted off to the groomers I realized people looking at us oddly. Ops K and I were taking other people’s photo-op time (yes K made me take a picture) not to mention we were having  a ‘real’ conversation and not just niceties with the man himself. The kid who walked into the room with no idea of who the ‘man’ was.. Had a conversation that made me look halfway intelligent and didn’t shame the family name so to speak. Afterwards I got a cookie and waited with K talking of how unnatural most ‘pets’ environments are, till it was time for the presentation to begin.

Richard Nelson talked of how large of impact Alaska’s wildlife have on our state’s economy so it is our best interest to ensure that their population stays steady – therefore protecting their environment and spawning/hatching/calving grounds. He also touched on how different traditions of the natives originally viewed their wild world and we have lost a certain touch with the natural world. Mr. Nelson didn’t go into to details for this speech but he has a few books out that do. And this is one of the things I’ve been loosely studying myself in the last 6-7 years. I could rant on about my thoughts (and I might – just not right now) on the subject of humanity loss of connection with the natural world and our awareness of LIFE.  So I throughly enjoyed that part in the event.

Was quite enjoyable and now I will have to listen to public radio more. ~J


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