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What Gives Life to the Wild Ginger Library?

December 13th, 2017 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

This piece originated in the Library Guidelines of the Wild Ginger Library from March 27, 2006. The history and original vision of the library has been provided (and slightly modified) for your enjoyment.

The North Cascades Institute’s Wild Ginger Library is located at the Environmental Learning Center. The mission of the library is to help people of all ages learn more about the literary and oral stories of the North Cascades. The library brings people together around the power of the written and spoken word and supports the mission of the North Cascades Institute to inspire and empower environmental stewardship for all through transformative experiences in nature.

In essence, the history of the Wild Ginger Library began more than 10,000 years ago as Ice Age glaciers receded and the North Cascades’ first people ventured into local mountains and river valleys. After all, it’s the stories of this place – from Native legends and explorer journals to Beat poetry in fire lookouts – that give Wild Ginger its life.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Bluestein

More recently, the library took shape with design of the Learning Center in the late 1990s. Architects from The Henry Klein Partnership led staff members from the Institute, North Cascades National Park and Seattle City Light in detailing the needs of each building on campus. When the Learning Center opened in July 2005, the Wild Ginger Library – named, like other buildings on campus, for a local native plant – remained empty of books and materials.

Initial books were made possible by a generous donation from Mac and Linda MacGregor, owners of MacGregor Publishing. Dr. Fred Darvill, a Northwest writer, outdoorsman and lover of books, pledged significant support, and gifts from other individual donors soon followed. In addition, early in-kind donors of natural history books included University of Washington Press, Lone Pine Publishing, Sasquatch Books and the Mountaineer Books.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Bluestein

Oversight of the library is provided by Institute Staff and Graduate Students at the Learning Center. Today, Kira Taylor-Hoar serves as the Library and Office Graduate Assistant for her Work Study position. It is an opportunity for her to understand and improve a library that is used for graduate studies, as well as for environmental education; learn about research methods and cataloging systems; work with staff to develop book collections.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Bluestein

To understand more about the library and her job as the assistant, I’ve included an interview with Kira that reveals both the whimsical nature of her mind and the beauty of Wild Ginger.

Who uses the library?

Visitors, staff and graduate students all come by Wild Ginger for a place to study, for meetings, and to check out books or simply to relax. The big windows and high ceilings make the tiny room feel a lot bigger, and let in plenty of natural light. Chairs are placed under the awning outside, so on nice days you can read under the majestic tops of the surrounding mountains while lounging in an Adirondack chair.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Bluestein

What are three things you like about the librarian work study position?

Coming into the library on a cold December morning, I’m surprised to see light filtering in through the high windows. The sun doesn’t make it into too many buildings at the NCI campus in the winter, but as I write this I have a sunbeam shining right onto my desk. The building was built beautifully, with fabulous views. Peering out a window to my right I see the mountains rising into the clouds, a sprinkling of snow dotting these subalpine forests.

One thing that I wanted from my work study was to be able to spend time outside, and I never expected to be a librarian. But once I started working here I realized that I felt just as connected to the natural world in the library as I would outside. Plus, I get to make plenty of trips to the printer in the main office building, which means I get to breath fresh air frequently. The in-floor radiant heating doesn’t hurt for cold feets, either.

On days like this I have the library to myself, a quiet sanctuary of solitude. I am doing inventory, which takes a while pulling books off the shelves, entering them into the system, and then going back and doing it all over again, until I get through nearly 3,000 titles. You would think this boring, no? Ahh, but you see I have a trick up my sleeve. I have been listening to books on tape to make the time pass more easily. Lately I’ve been following some Hobbits across Middle Earth, delivering one particular ring to the fires of Mount Doom…while taking inventory. Other common tasks are cleaning, entering new books into the system, taking old books out, and checking in and re-shelving books people borrow.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Bluestein

When I’m not listening to books about little people, I’m reading some of the wonderful knowledge and tales this library has to offer. The periodicals, fiction, nonfiction, kids section, poetry…so much to read and so little time! I recently turned in Water: A Natural History, Yurts: Living in the Round, and Spell of the Sensuous. A natural history of water is a fascinating tale of hydrology in North America, told in narrative form to make it an easy read. Yurts are beautiful natural buildings and this book has some good tips on how to build and decorate your own. And Spell of the Sensuous is an excellent foray into the world of philosophy, science, and how we as human beings relate with the natural world through our senses.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Bluestein

I recently checked out a book of fiction, anticipating having time over winter break. It’s called The Cookbook Collector and it’s about two sisters who are total opposites but are bonded by blood and cooking. I haven’t gotten into it yet, but once I’ve finished all my readings for graduate classes, I’ll be sure to crack it open by the fire one of these blustery winter evenings.

(Top Photo) graduate student Kira Taylor-Hoar re-shelving a book borrowed; photo by Marissa Bluestein

Weekly Photo Roundup: December 8 2017

December 8th, 2017 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

Every weekend I will post photos collected from various NCI graduate students and staff. Please enjoy this glimpse into our everyday lives here in the North Cascades.

To start things off, here’s some life advice from the mushroom above:

Be down-to-earth
Know when to show up
Sprout new ideas
Keep a low profile
Stay well-rounded
Understand your connection to others

It felt relevant to me this week, as we transition into winter and see our three-week break in the near future. Graduate students and staff are the only people moving about the North Cascades Institute Environmental Learning Center right now, so things have been quiet. A lot of us are turning inward, as well as venturing outward. We are putting in the time for community-building work to cultivate deeper connections to the Earth, and each other. To me, and I am sure many others, winter signifies a time of reflection, although beauty still exists in the frosty corners of daily life.

To quote John Burroughs:

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.

Amos Almy, intrigued by a mossy rock off the Diobsud Creek Trail; photo by Montana Napier

Frosty kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi); Photo by Zoe Wadkins

» Continue reading Weekly Photo Roundup: December 8 2017

When the Skagit Floods and Diablo Turns Green

December 1st, 2017 | Posted by in Institute News

In the photo above, WSDOT contractor crews replace washed out riprap to protect and repair State Route 20 along the Skagit River east of Rockport.

WSDOT Word of the Day:

 rip·rap
/ˈriprap/
North American
noun
noun: rip-rap
1. loose stone used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure.

Have you noticed the washout near Cascadian Farm?

Or the unusual color of Diablo Lake?

Last week the Skagit River rose to a high of 34.69 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey gauge in Concrete. The highest levels of flooding since 2006, according to the National Weather Service. Flood level is 28 feet.

What was originally forecasted to be minor flooding became major flooding throughout Skagit County, causing significant property damage and road closures.

» Continue reading When the Skagit Floods and Diablo Turns Green

Plight of the Pollinators

November 30th, 2017 | Posted by in Naturalist Notes

By Kay Gallagher, graduate student in the Institute’s 16th cohort

Imagine yourself walking down to the local summer farmer’s market down by the town square. It’s the first warm day and you cannot wait to make a large juicy bowl of fruit salad for lunch. Summer time in the valley is your favorite, all winter you have eagerly anticipated the first fruits of the season. With your list in hand that you scribbled down this morning, juicy red tomatoes, green zucchini, bright yellow summer squash, perfectly round peaches, you set Chinese Teapots.


Produce from the local Twisp Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Kay Gallagher

After a short walk, you arrive at the farmers’ market, ready to fill your basket to the brim. You walk around and notice the usual vendors. The local bakery selling loaves of freshly made artisan bread, the various craftsmen selling their woolen blankets and knit scarves, the goat farmers selling their savory cheeses and assorted dairy products. Then you notice there are no fruit stands. No vegetable stands. There isn’t so much as a rogue berry in sight. Where are the fruits of summer you have been dreaming about since that first warm day of spring? It’s almost as if they have vanished overnight. They’re not there.


The colorful mosaic landscape of Patterson Mountain. Photo courtesy of Kay Gallagher

You leave the farmer’s market quite perplexed, and decide to hike your favorite summer trail instead. On your drive to the trailhead you can picture the lush mountain sides and vast fields full of a colorful array of wildflowers from last summer, you can visualize the river coursing its way through the landscape in the valley below, with animal life whirring and scattered about. You arrive at the trailhead, and hop out of the car, eager for your adventure in the colorful mosaic. As you begin to hike, you notice that things aren’t as colorful as they used to be. There aren’t nearly as many wildflowers, the earth seems dry and crumbly with serious signs of erosion along the river bank below. The landscape is made up of various shades of brown. The air is noticeably quieter, without the hums and whizzing of winged insects flying about. The chatter of birds is absent, and the silence seems a little eerie. It’s a little too quiet. Something is missing, and then you realize …” Where have all the pollinators gone?”

» Continue reading Plight of the Pollinators

Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Work Party and Salmon Viewing with NSEA

November 27th, 2017 | Posted by in Youth Adventures

The Youth Leadership Ambassadors program is an extension of our Youth Leadership Adventures summer program. The goal of the program is to further develop leadership and outdoor skills, facilitate service and stewardship in our local communities and ecosystems, and provide college preparedness support to high school students from Skagit and Whatcom County. While serving as Ambassadors, students will participate in work parties, attend field trip and receive 15 hours of college access curriculum. Ambassadors will contribute blog posts covering their adventures throughout the year here on Chattermarks.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks is Ellie Price, the Youth Ambassadors and College Access Coordinator. In this post she shares the experience of two high school Youth Ambassadors being joined by Western Washington University graduate students to work on a local stewardship project. 

Ellie Price, Inna Mayer, Taylor Ulrich, and Tavish Beals are ready for a day of service and fun!

» Continue reading Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Work Party and Salmon Viewing with NSEA

Photo by Pablo McLoud

Pablo McLoud: Artist in Residence

November 22nd, 2017 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

Pablo McLoud participated in the North Cascades Institute’s Creative Residence Program this October, joining the tradition of poets, naturalists, dancers and researchers who have participated in the past.

Pablo is self-described as “an amateur photographer using Canon cameras.” He prides himself on taking photographs from a perspective and vantage point that many find original. For some of his photos, his unique “slant” on ordinary subjects elicits responses like “Wow! I’ve never seen a picture like that before.” Without the use of digital manipulation in a majority of his work, Pablo’s images deliver the purity of the event in a special moment in time.

Pablo’s mantra is “If you don’t explore, you’ll never discover.”

And he definitely took the time to explore during his Residency experience! Below are some of his beautiful photos from around North Cascades National Park and surrounding wilderness areas.

Photo by Pablo McLoud

Leave Me Be; photo by Pablo McLoud

» Continue reading Pablo McLoud: Artist in Residence

Weekly Photo Roundup: November 19 2017

November 19th, 2017 | Posted by in Photography

Every weekend I will post photos collected from various NCI graduate students and staff. Please enjoy this glimpse into our everyday lives here in the North Cascades.

It’s that time of the year where the precip rolls in and you either embrace it, or settle down inside for learning and traditions. Graduate students in the M.Ed Residency are currently doing a little bit of both as the days get shorter, and the sky a bit grayer.

Pictured: Zoe Wadkins, Tanner Johnson, and Marissa Bluestein

Taking advantage of the season’s first heavy snowfall, graduate students in the 17th Cohort made their way to Mt. Baker during the weekend for a celebratory snowshoe. Woohoo to Snowvember!

Tanner Johnson and Marissa Bluestein having a good time

They toasted trail hot cocoa to another successful year of snowpack. Some even went skiing on Mt. Baker – one of the reasons why they were drawn to the North Cascades in the first place. Below are photos from their adventure.

Nate Trachte, C17, Becky Moore, C16, and Naturalist Natasha Way go touring up Mt. Baker enjoying the fresh powder a week before the resort opens; photo by Charlee Corra

» Continue reading Weekly Photo Roundup: November 19 2017