A group of people pose in front of the river
A sprawling view of the gila river and wild plantlife
A close up of the gila river surrounded by large plants and rocks

Gila! Honors Program hosts noted nature writer

Gregory McNamee claims Arizona as his home, but he is a writer with an international reputation.

In February, the AWC Honors Program hosted McNamee’s presentation, courtesy of the popular Arizona Humanities Council program AZ Speaks, titled “The Gila, River of History.” In an hour’s time, he laid out the history of the watershed that, even more than the Colorado River, defines the bioregion at which Yuma occupies a central place – the Sonoran Desert.

Afterward, he took questions from audience members ranging from AWC students to local environmental leaders. Finally, he led a small group of enthusiasts on a pilgrimage to the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers.

“I hadn’t been there for over 20 years,” said McNamee, “and I was surprised to find it inhabited by a giant inflatable pink flamingo.”

The presentation was related to this year’s Honors Colloquium, titled “A Sense of the Sonoran Desert: Place as a Pathway to a Sustainable Future,” taught by Jacob Gibson, professor of Environmental Science, and Michael Miller, professor of English and Journalism.

“In doing research for our course, I came across a book McNamee had written a quarter century ago, and it was exactly what I needed to know at the time,” said Dr. Miller. “He is a key figure in a growing conservation movement that seeks to educate the human race about the natural balance of nature that surrounds us.”

According to McNamee’s web site, http://www.gregorymcnamee.com, he is a writer, journalist, editor, photographer and publisher. He is the author or title-page editor of 40 books and more than 500 periodical publications, including articles, essays, reviews, interviews, editorials, poems, and short stories.

McNamee is a consultant, contributor, and contributing editor to Encyclopaedia Britannica. He is also a contributing editor to and regular reviewer for several major literary reviews. He operates Sonoran Wordworks, an editorial and publishing service, and has been involved in the publication of more than 500 books. He is also the publisher of Polytropos Press.

McNamee is a research associate at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona and a lecturer in the Economics Department of the Eller College of Management there. He gives courses and talks on writing, publishing, journalism, media and technology as well as on cultural and environmental issues – of which his visit to AWC was a prime example.

“Gregory McNamee is an engaging writer,” said the great Native American writer and cultural commentator N. Scott Momaday. “He sees far into the landscape and becomes one with it in his spirit.”

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