Thomas Rain Crowe
New Native Press
P.O. Box 661
Thomas Rain Crowe was born in 1949 and is an internationally-published writer and the author of twelve books of original and translated works. He was a founding editor of Katuah Journal: A Bioregional Journal of the Southern Appalachians, which Gary Snyder called the best bioregional publication in the United States. His memoir Zoro's Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods, written in the style of Thoreau?s Walden and based on four years of self-sufficient living in a wilderness environment in the woods of western North Carolina from 1979 to 1982, was published by the University of Georgia Press in the spring of 2005, and is the winner of the Ragan Old North State Award for the best book of nonfiction in the state of North Carolina for 2005, as well as the Southern Environmental Law Center's Philip Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing about the Southern Environment, and a finalist in the Independent Publishers Book Awards for Regional Non-Fiction. He currently resides along the Tuckasegee River in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.
His articles, reviews and interviews have appeared in many prominant publications across this country and abroad. He has been a features writer for such regional publications as Green Line, Wild Mountain Times and the Mountain Xpress. He currently writes features, editorials and columns on culture, community and the environment for the Smoky Mountain News. As an activist, since 1979 he has been involved with such issues and organizations as The Canary Coalition (Clean Air), AMUSE (Artists and Musicians United for a Safe Environment), Project to Protect Native American Sacred Sites in the Southern Appalachians, and has been on the board of the Southern Biodiversity Project and the Environmental Leadership Council for WNC. His literary archives have been purchased by and are collected at the Duke University Special Collections Library in Durham, North Carolina.
For additional essays, poems, and articles, please see Nantahala Review (featured author, 2004/2005 issue; available at www.newnativepress.com (click on "More about Thomas Rain Crowe" section)); Heartstone (Environmental Leadership Center, Warren Wilson College,2004-2006 issues); Smoky Mountain News (features, editorials, and columns 2000-2006); The New Southerner (Louisville, KY); The Blue Ridge Parkway: Agent of Transition (Appalacian Consortium Press, 1986); Katuah Journal (1983-1986); New Native (New Native Press, 1991); Wild Mountain Times (Southern Biodiversity Project, features and articles); Appalachian Voice (Boone, NC); Resurgence: an International Forum for Ecological and Spiritual Thinking (Biddeford, England).
Critical Description of Work:
When I returned from the west coast to the mountains of western North Carolina in 1979, I expected to find the relatively clean air, clean water, and undeveloped landscape that existed here in my youth. Instead, I found myself in the midst of the beginnings of an all-out war on the ecology and the environment of the region, which today has escalated and manifested itself in any number of ways and around any number of environmentally sensitive issues ranging from EPA Superfund sites to severe air-quality problems and mega-developments.
After reading and hearing about issues such as development, zoning and land-use legislation, toxic waste, logging, water quality, and air pollution almost constantly in the news, and after many years of fighting the good fight with body and soul as a frontline member of a number of cultural and environmental organizations and movements, attending endless meetings, and seeing not nearly enough positive change in this Katuah bioregion, I took a spring trip to Ossabaw Island off the coast of Georgia in 1999 at the invitation of Janisse Ray and John Lane--to link up with the a group of southern nature writers that had been meeting annually for a few years to try and address the ecological and environmental issues in the Southeast, as well as to invigorate one another with their writing, while setting an important literary precedent as eco-ambassadors for our respective watersheds and our region.
Since then, I have waged my war with words and with regularity and with as much skillful conviction as possible. I have found that my solitary, if not poetic, voice has made a difference. If nothing else, my editorials, articles, and features have initiated important discussions in my community, as well as asking serious questions about the often dubious practices of businesses and state and local legislation concerning matters of the environment. I think, too, that by my speaking out about local issues, it has empowered others to do the same, creating groundswells that, on occasion, have led to positive tangible results.
More and more of my time, energy, and focus as a writer (in all genres) seems to go toward the environment. The goal: is to try and elucidate the various issues threatening the natural world and bring about public debate, hoping that this will result in an expanded and engaged awareness leading to a more progressive mode of thinking where questions of balance and sustainability are concerned.
At present I am part of a neighborhood action group United Neighbors of Tuckasegee (UNOT) who are trying to stop a gravel quarry operation from coming into the Tuckasegee community on a piece of property adjacent to where I am living. Go to the website www.unot.org for news articles and information on this action. The gravel quarry is being proposed to service the building of roads for several large, gated community developments nearby. So we're not only fighting the rock quarry and all its environmental and toxicity issues, but the more general issue of development, carrying capacity, residual economics, and need for land-use planning in our county.
Meanwhile the fight to upgrade air quality in the Smoky Mountains continues. We have some of the worst air pollution indexes in the country, and we're trying to fight for progressive legislation and change all that through our grassroots organization: the Canary Coalition (as in "canary in a coal mine").