Geography of Hope

Since 2008, Point Reyes Station has been home to Black Mountain Circle’s Geography of Hope conference, one of northern California’s most exceptional gatherings. The gathering takes its name from writer Wallace Stegner’s description of wild landscapes. Stegner says: “We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

The Geography of Hope gathers leading writers and activists together for a feast of readings, discussions, and activities to inspire and deepen an understanding of the relationships between people and place. These gatherings feature conversations with noted writers, environmental leaders, and activists. Find out more here about this year's Geography of Hope, as well as topics and speakers from past years.

2019 Geography of Hope: The Sacred in the Land

The Geography of Hope is expanding from a one weekend conference to a year-long series of gatherings, pilgrimages, films conversations and art exhibits that explore the theme of "Sacred in the Land."

Some offerings include:

  • Pilgrimage Redefined gathering on March 16-17 in Point Reyes Station explores the meaning of pilgrimage within the environmental, political and cultural contexts of our times. Scholarships available for young people (ages 18-30). 
  • Four seasonal pilgrimages in Point Reyes National Seashore, walking the same route together in spring, summer, fall and winter.
  • Four-part series of film screenings of Standing on Sacred Ground with filmmaker Toby McLeod and special guests.
  • Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land with authors Rebecca Robinson and Stephen Strom.
  • Our Common Home Summit is a spiritual ecology conference for educators and students on April 13th in Oakland, featuring teams of educators/students from Northern California high schools, colleges and faith communities. 
  • Weekend retreats with storytellers Sharon Blackie and Martin Shaw—whose work sits at the interface of psychology, mythology, and ecology. 
  • Photography exhibit at Toby's Gallery in September explores West Marin as a sacred place both visually and through writing.

Geography of Hope Archives

2018: Finding Resilience in Nature in Perilous Times—This gathering gathering was created to cultivate resilience, especially in the outdoors, for people and for the earth during these fraught days of political upheaval, social turmoil, and environmental challenges. Equally important, attendees considered what our responsibility is to ensuring that nature / the land / the landscape / natural resources continue to be available. Also included “Atlas of Decivilization,” an art exhibit featuring 21 contemporary Bay Area artists. Find out more here.

2017: Ancestors and The Land: Our Past, Present, and Future—This gathering was offered to stimulate a conversation honoring ancestral connections to this and other landscapes—whether Native American, European, African, Asian, Hispanic, or elsewhere—leading to dialogues between generations and cultures to help us reconnect to place and restore balance to Mother Earth. Conference included field trips to nearby farms, ranchlands, and Point Reyes National Seashore as well as three panel discussions during which authors, activists, and other participants exchanged stories about ancestry, culture, community, land, food, and immigration. We tried to articulate how future stories—those that will be told by our descendants—depend in large part upon our actions today. Find out more here.

2016: Call of the Forest—Inspired by environmental visionary Diana Beresford-Kroeger and her mission to educate people about the ecological and spiritual importance of trees, this gathering followed our West Coast premier screening of her new film, Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees. Diana set the tone for a series of moderated panel conversations with authors whose work examines these same themes. We considered the global forest from both perspectives—from climate change’s imminent imperative of reforestation and restoration of healthy watersheds to profound personal stories of spiritual interconnection with the natural world. Find out more here.

2015: Mapping a New Geography of Hope: Women and the Land—Co-chaired by authors Robin Wall Kimmerer and Kathleen Dean Moore, this gathering explored the fierce compassion for the well-being of the Earth and helped deepen our understanding of the relationship between people and place. Robin and Kathleen were joined by a dozen more of the country’s most admired writers who also use language—whether poetry, fiction, or literary non-fiction—to express a sense of urgency about environmental concerns. Find out more here.

2013: Igniting the Green Fire: Finding Hope in Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic—This was the first West Coast gathering of the world's foremost Aldo Leopold experts and the only opportunity to meet and hear from the creators and stars of Green Fire, the first film about Leopold's life and legacy. Find out more here.

2011: Reflections on Water—this event included readings and literary conversations with leading writers, artists, and naturalists, public art installations, a film festival, and field trips to farms, wetlands, and wilderness areas in and around Point Reyes National Seashore. Find out more here.

2009: Writing on Farming and the Rural Life—we featured authors who are farmers, ranchers, growers, and people who—to paraphrase Barbara Kingsolver—have devoted their lives to the health of their habitat and food chain. Find out more here.

2008: Wallace Stegner—we explored the relationship between people, land, and community through the voices of authors, environmentalists, farmers, and artists at panel discussions, readings, field trips, spirited informal conversations, and art exhibitions. Find out more here.