NetworkNature Reads: Earth Day Edition

Kassia in the Aosta Valley
17 April 2024

What is NetworkNature Reads?

#NetworkNatureReads is inspired by #ReadingRainbow and the #NewYorkTimes #ByTheBook series, both of which spread a love of reading by highlighting standout books and the people who love them. Our goal is to do the same, but with a #naturebasedsolutions flavor. Every month, we will feature one book selected by a NetworkNature member.  We believe that literature widens perspectives and can foster connection between human and environmental communities. Read Wild Geese by Mary Oliver if you aren’t sure what we mean.

This month’s interviewee is Kassia Rudd, an Oregonian (did she mention she is from Oregon?) who leads NetworkNature’s communication work. When she isn’t sharing facts about Oregon (did you know they have a pumpkin regatta?) you will find her solving a crossword on her way to a hiking trail, or (surprise!) curled up with a book. 

Want to feature a book on NetworkNature Reads? Contact to find out how!

Book: On Trails - An Exploration, by Robert Moor

Tell us about yourself! What role do nature and reading play in your life?

I am a science communicator, former trail builder, and dedicated botanist. I read to relax, but also to feel connected to the world and people around me. I love books that expose me to new perspectives and reflect the challenges and joys of living. For me, hiking is about connection too. A place doesn’t feel like home until I can name the plants and rocks around me. 

Which book did you pick and why?

This #NetworkNatureReads Campaign is my thought baby, and I am inspired by the great LeVar Burton, whose series Reading Rainbow was a cornerstone of my childhood. I saw him speak at the Fayetteville, Arkansas town library, and it remains a highlight of my life.

For the inaugural NetworkNature Reads, I picked the book On Trails: An Exploration. It is a beautifully written account of trails across time and space, and from a wide range of perspectives. I picked it because I think it is a great example of how literature can help us see ourselves and the world around us with more nuance. 

Can you share a specific moment from the book that resonates with you personally? How does it connect to your work with nature-based solutions projects?

While I think I learned something new on every page, what stands out the most to me is Moor’s chronicling of the history of the US road system. Due to what was likely a failure of the US educational system, I was unaware of the role of North American tribes in laying the foundation of portions of the modern US road system. I now appreciate that sections of highway follow buffalo trails that were strategically utilised by North American tribes, for example by Cherokee people in what is now North Carolina. Moor calls the extensive trail network, much of which has been paved over, “arguably the grandest buried cultural artifact in the world.” 

Moor acknowledges and celebrates Indigenous contributions to trail systems, and it is essential that we do the same in our nature-based solutions work. 

In what ways do you see the themes or lessons from the book aligning with the goals of conservation and the challenges we face in combating biodiversity loss today? 

Much like hiking trails, conservation projects are designed by people. People decide what to measure, which species to protect, where to invest resources, and how to tell the story of impact. We forget too often how our perspectives, experiences, values, and priorities influence the choices we make. I think On Trails reminds us that inclusion and justice aren’t limited to project impact, but start with the questions we ask, the people we lift up, and the stories we tell. 

If you were recommending this book to a colleague or a friend within the conservation community, what key takeaway or message would you highlight?

There are as many ways to view or solve a problem as there are minds considering the problem. I take that back - there are more! On Trails reminds us to examine our work from all sides, and it does so while celebrating the long history and wide range of people involved in creating and stewarding trail systems. On a more personal note, there are so many great trails nearby. Let’s go hiking sometime!

Related Projects

NetworkNature, UGPplus, NBRACER, CONEXUS, GoGreenRoutes, CLEVERCities