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Ohio Northern University welcomes renowned writer, naturalist and activist for weeklong workshops, seminars

Jan 20, 2015

Ohio Northern University welcomes Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Janisse Ray, an internationally renowned writer, naturalist and activist, for an intensive weeklong visit from Feb. 9-13. Ray will conduct classes, seminars, workshops and lectures and will meet with students and faculty members informally throughout the week to share her practical knowledge in the areas of nature, community, agriculture, wildness, sustainability and the politics of wholeness.

Ray’s visit is being sponsored by ONU’s Office of the President, Getty College of Arts & Sciences, Office of Academic Affairs, Department of Philosophy and Religion, and Department of English.

Ray will conduct a public reading of her works, titled “A Wild Heart Beats Inside Us,” on Feb. 10 in the Pettit College of Law’s Celebrezze Moot Court Room. She will hold two brown bag talks. During the first, on Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m., she will discuss “What Counts as Progress: Why Buy Local, Eat Local Matters,” in the Dean’s Heritage Room in the McIntosh Center. During the second, on Feb. 10 at 11:30 a.m., she will speak on moving “Towards a More Sustainable Campus” in the Dean’s Heritage Room in the McIntosh Center. Ray also will conduct a workshop titled “Mouth of the Great River: Step-by-Step Workshop for Writing Stories of Your Place” on Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wishing Well at McIntosh Center.

Ray has written five books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Montana and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Unity College in Maine. “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood,” a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast, was published by Milkweed Editions in 1999. Besides being a plea to protect and restore the glorious pine flatwoods of the South, the book looks hard at family, mental illness, poverty and fundamentalist religion. Ray’s second book, 

“Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home,” about rural community, was published by Milkweed Editions in early 2003. The third, “Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land,” the story of a 750,000-acre wildland corridor between south Georgia and north Florida, was published by Chelsea Green in 2005. “Drifting into Darien,” a personal and natural history of the Altamaha River, was released in fall 2011. Her latest is a nonfiction book on open-pollinated seeds, “The Seed Underground” (Chelsea Green), published in 2012. Her first book of poetry, “A House of Branches,” came out in 2010 from Wind Publication. Ray is also editor of “In One Place and Moody Forest” and co-editor of “UnspOILed and Between Two Rivers.”

Ray has won a Southern Booksellers Award for Poetry 2011, Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction 1999, an American Book Award 2000, the Southern Environmental Law Center 2000 Award for Outstanding Writing, and a Southern Book Critics Circle Award 2000. “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read. 

Ray attempts to live a simple, sustainable life on a farm in southern Georgia with her husband, Raven Waters. Ray is an organic gardener, seedsaver, tender of farm animals and slow-food cook.

The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program, which is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) in Washington, D.C., brings prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders and other professionals to campuses across the United States for weeklong residential programs of classes, seminars, workshops, lectures and informal discussions. For more than 35 years, Visiting Fellows have introduced students and faculty members at liberal arts colleges to a wide range of perspectives on life, society, community and achievement. The Visiting Fellows program is available to all four-year colleges and universities. For more information, visit CIC’s website at

CIC is an association of approximately 630 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and 90 higher education organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization that focuses on providing services to leaders of independent colleges and universities as well as conferences, seminars and other programs that help institutions to improve the quality of education, administrative and financial performance, and institutional visibility. CIC also provides support to state fundraising associations that organize programs and generate contributions for private colleges and universities. CIC is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

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