Now, more than ever, we seek community. We need opportunities to bring us together, to bring us into nature, to explore with curiosity the many ways we are connected to place, and to connect with those places and beings. That was part of the initial ethos of this anthology. We wanted to celebrate the diversity, the wonder, the uniqueness that exists within this unique and wonderful place called Cascadia. We wanted to share poems that we nurtured in our hearts, poems that taught us about the beings we live among. We wanted to share our love with others who also loved this place, and we wanted to do that with the gift of art.
This work led us more deeply into community — with place and with the beings (including humans) of Cascadia. Bringing together the poets whose poems we admired, whose poems we solicited to honor a being, opened community. Community again arose when deciding how to group beings in life regions, how to explain the way they interact and co-exist, how to honor them in ways that is echoed in human communities. And that sense of togetherness arose again with the artists whose work offers yet another way of seeing, art that brought all the beings of each community together on one pictorial landscape at the beginning of each life region. And these communities that we facilitated brought us together; three poet naturalists whose love for place, for poetry, for art, for science and traditional ways of knowing resulted in Cascadia Field Guide.
It was always our hope that Cascadia Field Guide would echo the land it was born of, a land rich, diverse, and deeply storied. The bioregion of Cascadia, as well as the anthology, is stronger because of its natural history and the 16,000 plus years of its human history. It is steeped in tradition and knowledge and alive with beauty, danger, humor, and love. It is a book that took thousands of years to be conceived and hundreds of voices to come into being.
We took five years and innumerable conversations to create Cascadia Field Guide. Five years. Is that short or long? The time flexed. At first, there were loose conversations between the editors as we got to know one another, as we thought about how this book could really invite and honor connections of all sorts. Which beings? How many? What poets? And the artists? How can we honor scientific, personal, cultural, sensory, and imaginative ways of knowing? How can we invite readers who might not be initially inclined to poetry, natural history guides, or eco-knowledge? We are grateful for the stumbling blocks that slowed us, leading us to a greater vision as we worked to overcome them.
This award, for us, is incredibly meaningful because it is a recognition by the readers of this region who know it best and the booksellers who know its literary landscape, who have been featuring Cascadia Field Guide on their shelves and displays, recommending it to people for themselves or as a gift, and hosting readings and events. Our bookstores are life regions that are a vital part of the ecology of Cascadia.
Creating Cascadia Field Guide allowed each of us to bring fully together the lifework that we have been engaged in, work that in many ways has not, until now, had a space to fully flourish. We each are fed as much by poetry as by time observing and learning from the more-than-human world; we are fed by sharing our curiosity and knowledge as well as by lifting up the voices of other writers; we have given time to literature as well as to art and the ways they, as well as science and story, can open ways of knowing. The unique opportunity to express the fullness of these voices in Cascadia Field Guide was one of the most rewarding experiences we can imagine. We’re grateful to have spent this time deepening our own connections—the fact that such work might also do the same for others is such a beautiful gift.
We want to acknowledge all the ideas, influences, and teachings we followed as we worked on this book. A project like this does not develop in isolation. We are grateful to more people than we can begin to name: first, the First People, who show us so many ways to live in community with the beings of Cascadia and know them; David McCloskey for his advocacy for the identity of Cascadia and for the beautiful map that guided us; the Cascadia Department of Bioregion and so many other organizations that seek to help people connect more deeply to this place; all of the amazing people who fact-checked us, offered lesson plans, served as resources and advisors; the editors of The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide and A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia, who laid the way and offered sage advice; Robin Wall Kimmerer, whose Braiding Sweetgrass helped shape our vision; the poets and artists who lent their spirit to these pages with such generosity and heart; the caring and supportive team at Mountaineers Books for helping us refine our vision.
In the end, we thank the land and beings for teaching us to live here, how to notice and be curious, how to connect and care. We are shaped by Cascadia, and we’re honored to be able to express our gratitude in this book. Cascadia Field Guide became more incredible than any of us imagined it would. Perhaps that is another way the book has come to echo the land and its beings—for what other place could create so much excitement, curiosity, art, awe, and love than the place known as Cascadia, a place known as home.