Poet Wendy Erd, political commentator Shannyn Moore and community activist-artist Mavis Muller will be the honored guests at an Earth Day reception that begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. Here’s a little more about them.
On her business card, poet Wendy Erd describes herself as “writer, story facilitator.” A Homer resident since 1971, she also spends part of her time teaching and doing workshops in Southeast Asia. Erd helped start the Poems in Place project that puts poetry in Alaska State Parks.
Erd grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., and came to Homer with her husband, Peter Kaufmann. With Kaufmann she fished in Bristol Bay. An essay on fishing, “Pieces of the Wind,” is in “Hooked!”, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields. She has won the grand prize in the University of Alaska/Anchorage Daily News Creative Writing Contest for poetry and won the Kenai Peninsula Writers Contest for her poems and stories.
Her most recent work is a series of poems written about Beluga Slough as part of a Bunnell Street Arts Center Old Town Artists in Residence project in August 2013.
“I think every day is Earth Day,” said Shannyn Moore, who will be the keynote speaker for Saturday’s Earth Day celebration. Moore compares it to a wedding anniversary. A day to celebrate what really happens all year long.
Moore, who is known as a political commentator and progressive blogger, was born in Homer. Dr. Paul Eneboe delivered her. Her dad, Bob Moore, was principal at Nikolaevsk school. Her mom, Fran, was a teacher.
After graduating from Homer High School in 1988, and the fall halibut opener, Moore went to Seattle University. It only took about four months for her to want to come back home.
“Homer’s different than other places, ” she said, adding that in Homer, people give you second chances — and they expect you to give yourself a second chance as well.
Moore recalls the first eruption of Augustine Volcano in the 1970s as an awakening moment, when she realized how big and connected everything was. Her family went to the beach to watch the plume of ash and steam. Moore said the entire sky turned to fire. Lighting bolts were shooting into the volcano from the cone of ash.
“It was like this apocalyptic scene,” she said. “I was just absolutely captured by how much power I was seeing.”
Another local event impacted Moore as a girl. In the 1980s, nuclear submarines were going to be harbored in Homer, but locals petitioned against them to make Homer a nuclear free zone. In an interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Maddow told her “You’re more than just a girl from Homer.” Moore disagreed. “I grew up in a town that took on nuclear subs and won,” she said.
Moore currently writes a weekly column for the Anchorage Daily News and is a contributor to the Huffington Post. She has had her own television show, “Moore Up North,” and does a daily radio show on KOAN in Anchorage, also broadcast on 1480 AM in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio. She serves on the board of directors for the Cook Inletkeeper.
Moore said that she comes back to Homer every chance she can get — and that she’s looking forward to Saturday’s celebration.
“Homer knows how to throw a party,” she said. “And Mavis knows how to make things to burn.”
Mavis Muller is a well-known environmental artist who came to Homer in 1984.
“I was smitten by the view from Baycrest Hill,” she said. “The loose strands of my life came together and a light went on in my heart.”
Muller grew up in the Great Plains of North Dakota. After college she wanted to experience a self-reliant, back to the land lifestyle, so she spent eight years living in a log cabin she helped to build. A significant mentor in Muller’s life was author Edward Abbey, who introduced her as an “artist-naturalist.” Muller said that when she questioned him about the term, he said it was more than a term. It was an occupation. And that it was her occupation to use her art to give voice to the natural world.
“It was a watershed moment for me,” said Muller. “The notion of art as a tool to shape a nurtured and protected earth is deeply integrated in my work as a basket and story weaver.”
Muller describes herself as a “grassroots community art instigator” who enjoys facilitating outdoor, interactive and impermanent art that encourages civic participation. The annual “Burning Basket,” which Muller started in Homer in 2004, involves a giant basket woven from natural materials, then burned in a community event.
On Saturday Muller will lead an activity involving six banners that she created after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. The large banners will be carried to Bishop’s Beach and be unfurled, photographed and returned to the Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center.
Muller will then present a slideshow and talk entitled, “Small World — Community Art as a Healing Force.”