Seeing the South as a place of possibility

To receive the Reed Environmental Writing Award? That’s validation that my words matter to people trying to move things forward here.”

—J. Drew Lanham, author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, winner of the 2018 Reed Environmental Writing Award for literary non-fiction

For Drew Lanham, a professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University, writing a memoir about his love for nature was a chance to break out of the formal restrictions of academic science and present the South as “a place of possibility.” 

Last Saturday in Charlottesville, while accepting SELC’s 2018 Reed Environmental Writing Award, Lanham shared his vision of a new, inclusive conservation movement in the South, drawn together by a shared affection for food, music, and the land.

Place and land and nature: how we tie these things together is critical to our sense of self-purpose and our fit in the world,” he writes. “They are the trinity. This is true for people everywhere, but nowhere is it truer than in the South.”

Lanham was joined at the SELC event by Ken Fine and Erica Hellerstein, winners of the 2018 Reed Award for environmental journalism for “Hogwashed,” an in-depth look at the impact of industrial hog operations on the communities of eastern North Carolina and recurring questions of environmental justice.

In both cases, the Reed Award offers important recognition for writing that reckons with the history of the South and helps to “move things forward here.”

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