Book in Common

In Search of the Canary Tree: Events

Lauren E. Oakes, interviewed by Jennifer Jewell during her region radio NSPR program Cultivating Place
September 5, 2019

Virtual Book in Common Lecture: Lauren E. Oakes

Wednesday, Apr. 22, 2020, 3–4:30 p.m
Zoom Webinar
FREE to the public, students, faculty, and staff

With the current campus closure and physical distancing guidelines, we are pleased to offer this year's Book in Common lecture in a new format. This Earth Day, April 22, Chico Performances(opens in new window) presents a FREE author talk and Q&A session as an online Zoom webinar.

"A moving behind-the-scenes glimpse into the development of a young scientist as she searches for meaning and resilience in the face of great personal and global challenges."—Forbes

Gallery Exhibit: Unbroken Traditions
January – December, 2020.

CSU, Chico Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology description of the exhibit:

This exhibit observes our changing planet, from an anthropological perspective, through two major elements: fire and water. Ancient and contemporary societies around the world identify four basic elements— fire, water, air, and earth—as a way to understand phenomena in nature. On the surface fire and water appear as opposite forces, but science and traditional ecological knowledge provide frameworks to see the interconnected relationship between these elements.

Gallery Exhibit: Unbroken Traditions
September 18, 2019 – May 20, 2020

CSU, Chico Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology description of the exhibit: Visitors will be able to explore the world of basketry and learn about the techniques and materials used to create these practical and ceremonial works of art. The displays feature the many uses for baskets such as storage, winnowing, cooking, fishing, acorn processing, and carrying infants.

The exhibition title, Unbroken Tradition, seeks to remind the public of the long unbroken lineage of people who have emerged from repeated attempts to eradicate their culture with their deeply-rooted heritage and traditions intact.

Stone-agers in the Fast Lane: Flowing Down the River Denial Or Climate Change: Past, Present, and Future
Presented by Michael A. Abruzzo, PhD

Friday, February 21, 2020
CSU, Chico, Holt Hall 170, 4pm, free to the campus community and the public
Part of the Department of Biological Sciences Omicron Seminar Series

Humans (stone-agers) are now the most dominant species on the planet.  We have created a complex global culture/environment (the fast lane) that includes mass communication systems, information technology, advances in medical treatment and diagnosis, individual genome sequencing, artificial intelligence, and an integrated global economy.  At the same time, we face the challenge of changes we created that do not seem to be beneficial to our survival. The most significant challenge is global warming/climate change and the cascade of environmental disruptions associated with it—resource depletion, habitat loss, accelerated species extinction, rising sea level, droughts and heat waves, massive human migrations, etc.  This seminar will discuss the history, evidence, present and future impacts, and possible solutions for the problems associated with climate change. 

Visiting Author: Anna Tsing, Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Athropocene
Thursday, February 6, 2020
CSU, Chico Humanities Series Event, Recital Hall, 7:30pm, free

This Way to Sustainability Conference  Thursday and Friday, March 26 & 27, 2020This Way to Sustainability Conference is a nationally recognized, student-run conference focusing on challenges, ideas, solutions, and resiliency in planning our sustainable future. The conference hosts 1,400 participants each year with a variety of respected professionals speaking on the many aspects of sustainability. The goal of the conference is to educate students, staff and faculty, and community members; providing attendees an opportunity to network, discuss, and become more aware of pertinent environmental and social issues we all face. 

Butte Environmental Council's (BEC) Housing & Climate Change Forum
January 30th, 6-8pm, on the CSUC campus at Colusa 100B, free and open to the public.

A community forum in our serise on the nexus of climate change and local environmental issues focuses on water: an education, inspirational, and action-oriented discussion. Discussion reduced water supply, water quality and demand fluctuation, deep-rooted changes in behavior, and management.

Local experts Richard Harriman, John Scott, Lindsay Wood, and others have worked in the world of water with unwavering persistence and will lead our discussion.

Link to the Facebook Event. Grab a friend and join this event that offers a platform for solidarity and collective education in our community.

Butte Environmental Council’s (BEC) Housing & Climate Change Forum
February 25, 2020       Time and Place to Be Determined

Climate Literacy Symposium

*This event is free and open to the public!* 

Date:  Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Time: 3:00pm - 6:30pm
Location: Student Services Center (SSC) 150, Chico State campus
Co-sponsored by Book In Common and Meriam Library 

Please join us for a symposium at Chico State focused on Teaching Climate, Environmental Literacy, and Place-based Climate Education. We will hear from educators with practical experience engaging learners in these themes. The target audience for the symposium is both educators and students along with the public.  


  1. 3p-4p. Keynote speaker
  2. 4p-5:15p. Panel discussion
  3. 5:15p-5:30p. Break, but light refreshments offered throughout
  4. 5:30p-6:30p. Small group breakout sessions

Climate, Energy, Literacy: What you Need to Know
Keynote Speaker: John Perkins
Faculty Emeritus, The Evergreen State College
Visiting Scholar, University of California, Berkeley 

Panel Participants:

  1. Serafina Eagleton, Chico State AS Sustainability
  2. Tom Grothe, Chico State Communication Studies
  3. Kristen M. Kaczynski, Chico State Geological and Environmental Sciences
  4. Sue Peterson, Chico State Communication Studies
  5. Eli Goodsell, Chico State Enterprises Ecological Reserves
  6. John Perkins, The Evergreen State College

Breakout Sessions:

  1. Climate Literacy and Dialogue - Talking, Listening and Learning from Others [Sue Peterson]
  2. Student Efforts for Sustainability [Serafina Eagleton]
  3. Personalizing Climate Change

For more information about the event or for accessibility requests, please contact Chrissy Hursh at

Thinking Like a Naturalist: Reclaiming the Art of Natural History
          John (Jack) Muir Laws
, author, naturalist, educator and artist
          Friday evening, February 21, 2020,
7:00 - 8:30pm (doors open at 6:30)
          Location: Gateway Science Museum (625 Esplanade, Chico, CA)
          Cost: Free, but we request that you RSVP(opens in new window).

Did you know that your powers of observation and curiosity are not static traits but skills that you can develop and enhance? How can you get more out of every nature ramble? Developments in neuropsychology have opened doors in our understanding of the brain and cognition and how you can train yourself to see more and to be more curious about what you discover. Naturalist and illustrator John Muir Laws will demonstrate simple and fun techniques you can incorporate into your own recreational nature study, classroom, or family outings. You will learn an adaptable three-step approach that will dramatically increase your memory and observational skills, focus and heighten your curiosity, help you think more creatively, and give you a framework for exploring mysteries in nature.

Sponsored by: The Inland Northern California Science Project; The CSU, Chico Book in Common, and The Gateway Science Museum.

John (Jack) Muir Laws, naturalist, educator and artist, is in love with the natural world and has lived his life sharing this passion with others. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is a Research Associate of the California Academy of Sciences. He teaches the tools to help people develop as naturalists and stewards including, ways to improve your observation, memory and curiosity, conservation biology, natural history, scientific illustration, and field sketching all while having fun and falling more deeply in love with the world. Laws has written and illustrated books about art and natural history including The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (2016), The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: A Hiker's Guide (2004), The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007), and The Laws Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area (2009).

A selection of his publications may be available for purchase at this event.

Copies of the Book in Common will be available for puchase at this event.

Nature Drawing and Journaling Workshop
          John (Jack) Muir Laws
, author, naturalist, educator and artist
          Saturday, February 22, 2020 10:00am - 3:00pm
          Cost: $50 per person
Register here by February 14th. Space is limited and expected to fill early.
Meet at 9:30 to carpool from the Highway 32 Park and Ride (Fir Street) due to limited space at the event location.


No experience necessary - this workshop is appropriate for all ability levels

We live in a world of beauty and wonder. Train your mind to see deeply and with intentional curiosity, and the world will open before you. Keeping a journal of your observations, questions, and reflections will enrich your experiences and develop gratitude, reverence, and the skills of a naturalist. The goal of nature journaling is not to create a portfolio of pretty pictures but to develop a tool to help you see, wonder, and remember your experiences. Apply your new skills at the beautiful 3,950 acre Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve with diverse canyon and ridge habitats, and home to many species of plants and animals.

Author of TheLaws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada and The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling         

Community Kickoff: City of Chico City Hall Steps October 21, 2019 4:30pm
Speakers include: City of Chico Mayor, Chico City Council, Chico State University President, Butte College President/Superintendent, Butte County Librarian, Butte College Student Readers, Chico State University Student Speaker, Book in Common Programming Co-Chair.

Campus Kickoff, Chico State University
October 30, 2019, 12:00-2:00pm, Near Miriam Library
Drawing to win a copy of the Book in Common
Human Element, Hosted by Chrissy Hursh
Thursday, November 7, 2019, 6:30-8:30pm, Meriam Library 442

The title is based on the premise that in addition to the “basic” elements (Water, Air, Earth, Fire), humans serve as a fifth element of influence in the natural world. Do you agree or disagree? Come chat with us if you have an opinion!

We humans are a force of nature. At the same time human activities alter the basic elements of life – earth, air, water, and fire – those elements change human life in turn.

In this riveting and visually rich drama blending art and science, we follow renowned environmental photographer James Balog as he explores wildfires, hurricanes, sea level rise, a struggling coal mining community, and our changing air supply. With rare compassion and heart, the Human Element highlights Americans on the front lines of climate change, inspiring us to re-evaluate our relationship with the natural world. -Synopsis provided by the producers

The museum will add an extra open day on Sunday, January 27th from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. to accommodate the Snow Goose Festival, which runs January 23-27. Birds and Birders, alike, flock to Chico, which is ideally situated near the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory hub for many bird species during the winter.

Visiting Author: Julie Sze, Environmental Justice as Freedom October 3, 2019
         CSU, Chico Humanities Series Event, Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m., free

Public Discussion (Tertulia): Mark Stemen, The Narrative of Climate Change October 16, 2019
         CSU, Chico Humanities Series Event, Ayres Hall 201, 5:30 p.m., free

Possibilities for Change in Butte County October 17, 2019
League of Women Voters and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Speaker Series
Gateway Science Museum, Chico, 7 p.m., free

  • Green Financing - How Do We Pay for It? John Mitchell, Jai J. Mitchell Analytics and author of Draft Implementation Plan for Chico
  • Zero Net Energy, Solar and GRID Alternatives for Butte County Steve Geiger, Technical Academy Manager & Solar Installation Officer, GRID Alternatives Nevada
  • Recycling Food Waste to Food Lee Altier, Professor of Agriculture, CSU, Chico

The World Evades Us: Surveying Composite Meanings of Place
Tammy LePham, Shanna Sordahl and Melanie Treuhaft
October 18–November 10, 2019
Artist's Reception: Friday October 18, 6-8 p.m. 

The World Evades Us: Surveying Composite Meanings of Place, 1078 Gallery(opens in new window)October 18, 2019, 6 – 8 p.m. Artist Reception. Gallery exhibition October 18 – November 10
1710 Park Avenue, Chico   |   Gallery hours: Thursday–Sunday, 12-4 p.m.
Artists: Tammy LePham, Shanna Sordahl, and Melanie Treuhaft

The Great Debate
October 25, 2019, 10:00am - 5:00pm
Speeches and Presentations (Chico City Hall), every hour on the hour
Cookies and Conversations (Chico City Plaza), sessions run every half hour
6:15pm-7:45pm Main Event (Chico State PAC 134)

“The purpose of the Chico Great Debate is to bring together members of the campus and community to engage in a dialogue around issues that have the potential to divide us. This semester's topic is Climate Change: Policy, Crisis, Justice.
The entire day of presentations and debates stresses active listening, respectful exchange, and collaborative civic learning through civil discourse.”

Film: Nanook of the North November 4, 2019
CSU, Chico Humanities Film Series Event, Ayres Hall 106, 6:30 p.m., free

Town Hall Meeting November 7, 2019, 6-8:45 p.m.
CSU, Chico, Bell Memorial Union (BMU)

Where are We Now – Chico Sustainability Actions and a Countywide View   November 14, 2019       
League of Women Voters and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Speaker Series
Gateway Science Museum, Chico, 7:00pm, free

  • What’s Happening in Chico, Progress & Plans, Ann Schwab, Chico City Councilmember
  • Climate Change Education in Butte County Schools, Julie Heath, Schools for Climate Action
  • “Progress in Paradise” Susan Dobra, Camp Fire Long Term Recovery Group member

Sense of Place Symposium December 5, 2019

Regenerative Agriculture: Tools to Remove & Sequester Carbon Dioxide December 5, 2019
League of Women Voters and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Speaker Series
Gateway Science Museum, Chico, 7:00pm, free
A panel presentation on multiple, scalable tools:

  • Non-tillage, Cynthia Daley, Director Center for Regenerative Agriculture & Resilient Systems
  • Hedgerows, Roy Ekland, Co-owner, C & R Ranch, Paskenta
  • Plant Diversity and Grazing, Charlotte Ekland, Co-owner, C & R Ranch, Paskenta
  • Fiber Crops, Sandy Fisher, Flax farmer

Gallery Exhibit: Remarkable Lives: The Intertwined Worlds of Birds and Humans     until December 2019

CSU, Chico Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology description of the exhibit: Bird songs and behaviors have resonated with peoples of every time and place. Their natural beauty inspire great art, dance, ritual and fashion on every continent. Local photographers capture these living dinosaurs still among us and a robotic recreation of the late Jurassic Archaeopteryx gives new meaning to the phrase early bird.