Learning how to let go of despair

There are some days (Weeks? Months? Years?) when everything seems like a slog. It’s all too much, too hard, too much effort. Unless you’re super-human, I’m guessing you’ve been there, done that.

In my first article for the media site Medium, I decided to share some of the most important life lessons I’ve ever been privileged to receive.

The lessons were delivered beneath a set of redwood trees in Ukiah’s Todd Grove Park, a great place to hang out, go for a swim, or bring a picnic to free summer concerts. My first trip to the Park was of quite a different nature, though.

In the essay I give a shout-out to all the Native healers who have crossed paths with me and mine. May we all keep healing. May we walk in beauty.

A Heart. A Monster.

We humans can be odd, cruel, empathetic, dismissive, protective, and transcendent in our treatment of others … and of ourselves. I try to demonstrate all of this in a short piece published online in Silver Needle Press.

A Heart. A Monster.” tells micro-stories of intense experiences from my latest “ethnographic safari” across the United States, interwoven with stanzas from an ancient Nez Perce story of origin involving Coyote and a monster.

“A Heart. A Monster.” was named as Silver Needle Pressfirst weekly creative nonfiction contest winner last April. My seventh published essay for the year, it will also be published in the Fall 2018 print edition, and read in person at the 2019 Association for Writers & Publishers conference in Nashville.

When I almost became predator bait (feline, that is)


Years ago, while on an early-morning birdwalk in the Terai region of western Nepal, things went suddenly very, very wrong, and I found myself alone in tiger territory (my guides had disappeared for parts unknown).

The story of that birdwalk-turned-predator-stalking, “Of Fur Not Fowl: Or How Not to Catch a Tiger,” has just been published in the Fall edition of The Citron Review, an online journal of brief literature.

Written in the form of a scientific methods field manual, the piece humorously captures what took place in the space of less than an hour, describing in a stepwise fashion how I avoided becoming kitty brunch. Or kitty bait. Or kitty-anything.



The Professor and Her Champion – in Vogue!

Your favorite ethnoecologist and her tiny home is one of twelve retrofits featured in a brand-new book, The Modern House Bus, by Kimberley Mok (Countrymen Press, 2018).

The book provides a luxurious (“transporting”) introduction to bus conversions by a wide range of owners (young families, techies, freelancers, artisans), along with a how-to guide for DIYers. And, ooh la la, it’s captured the attention of Vogue magazine!


The author, Kimberley Mok, contacted me over a year ago after she saw my YouTube video (now at over half-a-million views, yikes!), and I’m thrilled with the way she and her editors crafted the book. The text is a comprehensive guide to what it takes to retrofit a bus into a home, things to consider when doing to, insider tips, and how to begin.

The eleven other stories in the book are truly inspirational, and include a couple who spent twenty months overhauling an old bus, a craftsman who redid the interior in elegantly sculpted wood paneling, and young parents who custom-built bunk beds and play stations for their growing family.


Ms. Mok’s hard cover edition is gorgeous enough to be on a coffee table. Everyone I’ve showed it to couldn’t put it down – the photos and stories are that compelling.

The book is currently on sale on Amazon for 30% off (or 50% off if you buy the Kindle version) – and when you buy one, if you’re within public transit distance,  I promise to meet up over a cup of coffee or tea and autograph it! (Huge grin)


Native authors collaborate to conserve biocultural diversity

Corine baskets at BookstoreHow do we keep traditional cradle basket making, beadworking, and storytelling alive? We can support and promote Native authors: in print, in film, and in person.

Three books, three authors, three years in the making, together with almost thirty San José State University students in my Nature and World Cultures class. Published with a grant from the College of Arts and Humanities, these books are now in their second printing by the newly formed Beauty and Love Publishing LLC.

In addition to this exciting news, we’ve had two book signing events in Ukiah, California: the first was held at the Mendocino Book Company; the second at the Grace Hudson Museum. Both events were filmed with equipment borrowed from the Willits Community Television station, following a very short, and intense training session by Andy Wright.

We were also featured on KMEC, the local radio station on Alicia Littletree Balas’ Edgewise radio show – you can listen to our interview by clicking on the link below:


The readings and testimony provided by the authors: Corine Pearce (Redwood Valley Pomo), Sherrie Smith-Ferri (Dry Creek Pomo, editor) and Stewart Wilburn (Wailaki/Tolowa/Pomo/Wintu), were powerful and moving.

You can see both events on YouTube:

The Mendocino Book Company reading

The Grace Hudson Museum reading

You can purchase any, or all, of the books here. (Prices including $3 shipping.)

And if you are interested in sponsoring more books on traditional culture, contact the Beauty & Love publisher here.




Where the Buffalo Roam?

“When our great-great-grandparents were toddlers, stamping one wobbly foot in front of the other, three continental time zones reverberated with millions upon millions of pounding hooves from Nevada to New York, Montana to Mexico. No life was untouched by the American bison (Bison bison): our hoofed ancestors were the original American engineers…

Until we exterminated 99.999997% of them.”

Pfeiffer Flyway Spr18 ScreenshotSo begins my latest essay in the Spring 2018 issue of Flyway – Journal of Writing and Environment the story of how we killed, and continue to kill off, our iconic, irreplaceable relative: the American Bison.

I feel passionate about the loss, not only because of the deep spiritual connections between bison and First Nations, but also because of the essential ecological roles that can only by filled by bison.

Only one non-profit has devoted twenty years to saving the bison: the Buffalo Field Campaign. If you don’t yet know about BFC, I encourage you to get to become familiar with their work, donate to their wish list, or host one of their Road Show events.

And I encourage you to spend the time reading the essay, that I spent several years researching and writing: I guarantee you will learn things you never knew before – including what a bison-bellow sounds like. If you are moved by my words, please share them, and educate others.

There is still a chance to turn things around: we can respect the Bison People – and all they give to this world – by protecting their right to roam. Freely. Throughout their ancestral homelands.



Humanity: the new edition

Humanity by Paloma Press 2018

Forthcoming this summer: HUMANITY – an anthology featuring practitioners/students in the fields of environmental science, public policy, decolonization and multicultural studies, poetry, anthropology, medicine, music, theology, and history on their observations and vision of the human condition.

My piece “Until We Have Loved,” an essay about trying to save a tiny brown bat that won a national contest, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and singled out as one of the best essays in Selected Memories. the 2017 anthology by Hippocampus, is now being included in this new collection by Paloma Press.

“We believe in the power of the literary arts, how it can create empathy, bridge divides, change the world. We are committed to publishing works that honor the writer and elevate the reader. To this end, we strive to publish the work of authors who support a particular charity (e.g., organizations that take direct action in the areas of animal welfare, medical research, environmental protection, arts advocacy, or community development).” – Paloma Press editors

This announcement comes on the heels of emails from three other literary journals announcing the inclusion of four of my hard-worked pieces in forthcoming editions (yes, the world of writing also experiences “feasts or famines”); AND the recent publication of three new books by my emergent press, Beauty and Love Publishing.

All this = a resounding affirmation that the Written Word is Very Much Alive. (Hallelujah, put the smartphone down and pick that book back up!!)