This spring, before my novel Borne came out, I was booked for a fair number of presentations at universities about climate change and storytelling, and I pledged a percentage of my speaking fees to environmental causes–for reason that should be obvious. That percentage comes to $5,000. Many thanks to institutions such as the University of Houston, DePaul, NIU, and Cornell, whose kind invites made this donation possible.
I wanted to donate that money to an environmental cause active in North Florida, but it was very difficult to narrow it down—so many worthy organizations. So at the end of the day, we decided to split it in half and donate to two places. The announcement was made at my Tallahassee event in late May, held at the offices of the Tallahassee Democrat. Thanks to Diane Roberts for her help with research and for contacting both organizations. We will continue as much as we are able to contribute to similar causes using speaking fee percentages and book royalties. (We have also funded a year of the Octavia Project through VanderMeer Creative, as STEM programs are important to environmental issues as well.)
The first recipient is the local Apalachicola chapter of Riverkeeper. Riverkeeper is a national environmental non-profit which works to preserve the ecosystems of US rivers. Dan Tonsmeire works on keeping the Apalachicola River clean and wild: the Apalachicola Estuary is one of the most productive in the world. A big part of what the Riverkeeper does is grapple with the Army Corps of Engineers, who are not allowing enough fresh water to flow down from Georgia into the system. In addition to catastrophic damage to ecosystems and animals and plants, improper management means a terrible impact on local economies: no oysters, no tupelo trees, etc.
The second is the Florida Wildlife Federation, led by President Manley Fuller and VP Preston Robertson, covers the whole state, fighting for clean water, conservation lands, habitat conservation and critters from panthers to turtles to manatees. FWF was a driving force behind Amendment 1, which mandates the buying of conservation lands. Though 74 percent of Floridians voted for A1 in 2014, the Legislature has refused to use the designated money for the stated purpose. FWF is now suing the Legislature to force them to comply with what the people of the state voted for.
I urge Floridians to donate to both of these worthy organizations, or to the local or national environmental organization of their choice. We also contribute on a monthly basis to the World Wildlife Fund, for example. Now more than ever it is essential.