“First & Wildest: The Gila Wilderness at 100” to be launched in May 2022 by Torrey House Press

How does a person, a group, a state, a nation, a planet even, celebrate a place? How do we sing Happy Birthday in a language the land might understand? How do we collect all the stories, emotions, connections, and deep histories that reside within a landscape, and project them back into the world resounding with clarity and truth for which that place stands?

These were some of the questions that stalked me as the idea of putting together an anthology for the Gila Wilderness’s 100th birthday first circulated through Guardians’ office corridors. It seemed a massive and magnificent undertaking. And one fraught with unanswerable questions. Fortunately, hearts and minds already exist in this world who have wrestled with these kinds of questions for far longer than I. And more importantly, they have developed processes and relationships and understandings in service of celebrating the land and the people who love it.

And so, with the guidance, wisdom, and close tutelage of publisher Torrey House Press, and editor Elizabeth Hightower Allen, we are gearing up for the release of First & Wildest: The Gila Wilderness at 100, to be launched on May 17, 2022. The list of contributors is wider, wilder, and more diverse than we ever could have hoped for. (As a teaser, Senator Martin Heinrich, best-selling author Pam Houston, and Nuevomexicana wildlife biologist Leeanna Torres, just to name a few.) And the stories of and praise for the land are so complete and sincere as only the Gila could inspire.

But don’t just take my word for it. Foreword Reviews just published the first official book review. Give it a read and make sure to pre-order your own copy. And stay tuned for more announcements about book launch events in the coming months!

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About the Author

Leia Barnett | Greater Gila New Mexico Advocate, WildEarth Guardians

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