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Terra Firma: Trinity University Press blog

National Recycling Day is Today!

by Rachel Cooley on

National Recycling Day is November 15 this year, and we at TU Press want you to do your part for the earth by reducing, reusing, and recycling, in that order. There are so many easy and convenient ways to reuse or recycle if you simply make the choice to do your part.

Check out America Recycles Day for events and to take a pledge to recycle more. Go to I Want To Be Recycled to learn about the recycling process, and Earth 911 for ideas about more things to reuse or recycle. 

Recycling Day aims to increase awareness and education about recycling, but environmental conservation cannot just happen one day a year. 

Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril argues for the moral importance of united and deliberate action to protect the environment, not only because it is right but because it is necessary for our survival. In the essay “Who We Really Are,” Thomas Friedman argues that environmental action also defines who were are as humans: 

“Environmental law expert John Dernbach once remarked to me that in the final analysis, ‘the decisions Americans make about sustainable development are not technical decisions about peripheral matters, and they are not simply decisions about the environment. They are decisions about who we are, what we value, what kind of world we want to live in, and how we want to be remembered.’ We are the first generation of Americans in the Energy-Climate era. This is not about whales anymore. It’s about us. And what we do about the challenges of energy and climate, conservation and preservation, will tell our kids who we really are.”

Happy Halloween Southern-Style

by Rachel Cooley on

The southern literary tradition includes spooky tales, often set in deserted plantation houses or among eerie trees covered in Spanish moss. From haunted mansions to vampires in New Orleans, celebrate Halloween by reading southern tales like Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice or gothic shorts from William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.

Check out some of the creepy stories in our Literary Cities series, including “The Haunted Library” by Margaret Wayt DeBolt and “The Gold Bug” by Edgar Allen Poe, that master of suspense.  

In “The Haunted Library,” DeBolt tells the history of a house near a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, haunted by the ghosts of past inhabitants. She writes: “A full moon shone in the windows, illuminating the room. As he glanced about his strange surroundings, he was startled to see a man—the man of the portrait, in uniform—now seated near him in a large leather armchair. The frame of the painting above him was empty. Then he realized in terror that the other elaborate frames were vacant as well, for the persons who had occupied them were now moving about the room.” 

Got the willies yet? 

Continue reading the hair-raising story in Literary Savannah, and have a well-read Halloween!

A Vivid Girl from the Mountains

by Rachel Cooley on

Dorothy Stafford, teacher and widow of poet William Stafford, died last Thursday at the age of ninety-seven. We'd like to express our condolences to Dorothy’s friends and family, including son and TU Press author Kim Stafford. 

Dorothy was an inspirational teacher in Lake Oswego, Oregon, the mother of four children, and supportive partner of William Stafford for fifty years. Born on a farm in Nebraska and raised in California, Dorothy accompanied her minister father to a camp for conscientious objectors in 1943 and there met William, a Kansas farm boy, who told his draft board that he learned not to kill in Sunday school and believed it still. The two went on a walk and married a year later. 

In his poem "Passing Remark", Stafford described his wife lovingly as "a vivid girl from the mountains." His forthcoming book, The Osage Orange Tree, a short story of young love during the Great Depression, is dedicated to Dorothy. 

Read more about Dorothy’s inspirational life on

The Summer of the Bear

by Rachel Cooley on

In a recent blog post, TU Press author Char Miller comments on the relationship between humans and wildlife in what he calls “the summer of the bear.” Many have seen videos of bear shenanigans, including breaking into dumpsters and even bars in Colorado. Miller questions why we have been so fascinated with wildlife and looks at how one ancient philosopher, Claudius Aelianus, expressed his fascination in his playful and quirky book, On the Nature of Animals. Miller uses the TU Press edition, saying that it is "beautifully translated, carefully selected, helpfully annotated, and wryly introduced by Gregory McNamee."

Miller argues that although Aelian’s scientific logic is seemingly unorganized and certainly different than our own, we should not think of our science as superior. He says that recent legislation in Utah and California has made similarly “curious” judgments about bears and other wildlife. Whatever the science and logic, it is clear that humans are interested in their relationship with the natural world, though our judgments may sometimes be peculiar or puzzling. 

Read Miller’s full post at his blog, The Golden Green.


What Book Scares You?

by Rachel Cooley on

At TU Press, we understand the power of books to inform and motivate readers about many issues, including environmental protection. We celebrate the diversity of perspectives that books, whether fiction or nonfiction, can provide.

This Banned Book Week, we urge you to consider the books that have challenged your views or made you see the world differently. 

In researching books that have been frequently challenged, I was surprised to find many of my favorite classics, including Gone with the WindTo Kill a Mockingbird, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, on the list. I read most of these books in high school, and they all had a way of taking me to a place in history and showing me the common norms and values of that time. Books like The Kite Runner andPersepolis have shown me ways of life from all over the world. The Giver andSlaughterhouse Five made me consider radically different fictional societies and, in turn, think about my own life and world in a new way. In addition, I would argue that titles like Ender’s Game and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are essential coming-of-age stories for most preteens and teens. 

Parents and administrators often try to shield children from materials that may not be age appropriate, but banning a book from a library or school district is never the answer. Teachers and parents can talk to children about books that are appropriate for them and how books can offer many points of view. Differing perspectives are essential for students to form their own opinions and develop a well-rounded worldview. 

This year, stay informed about challenges to some of your favorite books and challenge censorship of any kind in your community. Celebrate banned books week with TU Press by continuing to read both fiction and nonfiction to broaden your perspective. 

Visit the American Library Association and view lists of frequently challenged books to find some of your favorite books that have been challenged or banned.