Words

The Big Burn

Inside the blaze with Whatcom READS

Attend

What: Whatcom READS The Big Burn

Where: Throughout Whatcom County

More:

WHEN: Events relating to The Big Burntake place Jan. 26-March 8

Cost: Free; no registration is required

Info: http://www.whatcomreads.org

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

By telling the tale of an apocalyptic blaze that burned an area the size of Connecticut over the course of two days, award-winning author and journalist Timothy Egan brought the nation’s biggest-ever wildfire to life—while also managing to merge the importance of the conservation of national lands into the nail-biting narrative.

When The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America was released 10 years ago, it’s probable the Seattle-based writer anticipated his nonfiction book would remain relevant, as climate change and unpredictable weather patterns would continue to keep forest fires in the news. Judging by last summer’s deadly and dangerous wildfire season, he was correct.

Set in 1910, The Big Burn recounts the combustion calamity that ravaged three million acres and killed 87 people (mostly firefighters) on two hot and windy August days and nights in Idaho, Montana, Eastern Washington, and Southeast British Columbia.

The fire’s ferociousness, speed and destructive power was unprecedented, and—as Egan’s creation myth recounts—was directly responsible for President Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to cement and shape the United States Forest Service, which at the time was a newly established department on the verge of being cancelled. As the book explains, Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot, did nothing less than create the idea of public land as a national treasure to be owned by and preserved for every citizen.

As the Whatcom READS selection for 2019, events related to a variety of topics found throughout The Big Burn will begin this weekend, continue through February, and culminate with visits by Egan March 7 and 8 in Bellingham and Whatcom County.

If you’re not familiar with the countywide book club, Whatcom READS began in 2009 as an annual literary happening that not only encourages community conversations about literature and the joy of reading, but also gives participants a chance to get more deeply involved in the subject matter at free events taking place at venues throughout the county. Organized by all public and academic libraries in Bellingham and Whatcom County and a community partner, Village Books and Paper Dreams, funding comes from Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library Foundation. Support from a plethora of other area businesses and organizations is also necessary to pull off the particulars.

Getting to the last page of The Big Burn is just the beginning of what the book can teach you. For example, the kickoff event happening at 1pm Sat., Jan. 26 at the Blaine Library focuses on a 60-minute multimedia presentation dubbed “The Era of Megafires.” Combining the research of Dr. Paul Hessburg with the visual storytelling of award-winning film company North 40 Productions, it also features the work of renowned photographer John Marshall.

That same day at the Lynden Library, local author and historian Janet Oakley will talk about how the first hiking groups in the area and the Civilian Conservation Corps shaped the future of the Mount Baker Forest Lands at a “From Hiking Club to the CCC” presentation. And at 6:30pm Tues., Jan. 29, a “Wildfire and Resilience” presentation will see Bellingham-based author and poet Leslie Wharton share her harrowing personal tale of wildlife and recovery at the Bellingham Public Library.

The aforementioned events will be repeated at other locales in February, and book club discussions, anthology readings, heated escape room conundrums, a Bellingham Cocktail Week collaboration, art exhibits, smoke jumper and firefighter tales, a forestry and wildlife panel, and other hot topics are on the roster in the weeks before Egan makes the journey from the Emerald City to Whatcom County.

There’s not a prerequisite to finishing The Big Burn before taking part in any Whatcom READS events, but the context will be clearer if you do. Get reading, and join the conversation.

Sugar Ray
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Events
Today
A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Skagit Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Makerspace Classes

5:00pm|Bellingham Makerspace

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

7:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

The Addams Family

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Shakespeare in Love

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

West Side Story

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Wild Things

9:30am|Interurban Trail

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Peace Vigil

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

7:00pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

The Book of Help

7:00pm|Village Books

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Salish Sea Early Music Festival

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Heavy Metal

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.

Richard III

7:30pm|Phillip Tarro Theater

Cupid's Arrow

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Serial Killers, Episode Four

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Trove Web
Tomorrow
A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Skagit Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

The Addams Family

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

7:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Shakespeare in Love

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

West Side Story

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Cupid's Arrow

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Richard III

7:30pm|Phillip Tarro Theater

Fragrance Lake 50K

6:00am|Larrabee State Park

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

Smelt Run

9:00am|La Conner High School

Children's Literature Conference

9:00am|Performing Arts Center

Community Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek

Whatcom Falls 5K

10:00am|Whatcom Falls Park

Assistance League Anniversary Sale

10:00am|Assistance League

Kids Cooking Class

11:00am|Chuckanut Center

Recreation Northwest EXPO

11:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Hearty Party 5K

11:00am|Max Higbee Center'

Wildlife Photography with Andy Porter

11:00am|Padilla Bay Estuarine Research Reserve

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Tax Help Available

12:30pm|First Congregational Church

Wine Tasting with Duckhorn Vineyards

2:00pm|Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants

"Beatlemania/Beatlemedia

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Forestry and Wildlife Panel

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Waterway Tour

2:00pm| I & J Waterway

Wildfire and Resilience

3:00pm|Deming Library

The Fellowship of Fire

4:00pm|Village Books

Dancer Panel

5:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Bayshore Symphony

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

An Evening with Steve Mayo

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Trove Web Kinky Boots
Sunday
A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Skagit Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

7:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Bayshore Symphony

7:30pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Drag Brunch, Celebrity Impersonation

11:00am|Rumors Cabaret

History Tour

12:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Seabirds of the Salish Sea

1:00pm|REI

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Interfaith Music Festival

3:00pm|First Congregational Church

Art of Jazz

4:00pm|The Majestic

Heavy metal Hollywood

4:00pm

Clover Group Reading

4:00pm|Village Books

see our complete calendar »

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