The Real Thing book tour reveals a different conversation

 

I recently had the pleasure of accompanying author Briony Penn on a book tour around B.C. to promote her recently published book, The Real Thing: A Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan.

the_real_thing_evite_jaspermuseumMy role on the Cowan project was to lead the communications, primarily the development of the website, do media outreach, liaise with the publisher, Rocky Mountain Books and, work with event organizers to promote events and sell books. 

Unlike other book tours and promotional junkets, this one was different in every respect. Instead of moving from one windowless hotel room to another, we met people in libraries, university classrooms,  town halls, and museums. Presentations were short on scripted powerpoint slides and long on personal anecdotes about McTaggart Cowan, the indomitable enthusiast who made a far reaching impact on generations of conservationists.

Penn appeals to grassroots audiences of conservationists, naturalists, university students and instructors and ordinary citizens doing work on the ground to preserve the ecosystems in their back yards. Real people who invited us home for dinner and offered us a bed for the night. People who were keen to show us their precious corner of the province and tell us about the work they were doing. We heard about efforts to save the wetlands in Wilmer, a campaign against development at Jumbo, grasslands preservation work in Kamloops, and work to improve mine reclamation practices in the Kootenays. It was a different kind of conversation. It was with one passionate person at a time, doing work that mattered to them. A conversation that included how McTaggart Cowan and his work was inspiring. A conversation that, despite the struggle, left you feeling hopeful.  

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