EVENT | Desert Cabal: Expanding the Desert Narrative

A Conversation with Amy Irvine, Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, and Kirsten Johanna Allen

How can the stories we tell protect the places we love? Join Friends of Cedar Mesa and Torrey House Press for a conversation on the unique ways desert communities can organize around and diversify narratives to protect our red rock landscapes. This event kicks off the annual Celebrate Cedar Mesa & Bears Ears weekend, a three-day celebration of the natural and cultural history of southeast Utah.

Friday, March 1 at 7 PM
Bluff Community Center
3rd East and Mulberry
Bluff, UT 84512

Drawing from Amy Irvine’s latest book, Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness, panelists Irvine and Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk and moderator Kirsten Johanna Allen will discuss the “lone male” narrative—white and privileged as it is—that still has its boots planted firmly at the center of today’s wilderness movement. Along with the audience members, they will explore the need to redefine and expand that movement by welcoming new voices and seeking community over solitude.

“No matter your feelings about Edward Abbey or your relationship with Desert Solitaire, Irvine’s Desert Cabal adds necessary depth to the dialogue. Many of us have been waiting years for that.”

Amy Irvine is a sixth-generation Utahn and long-time public lands activist. Her memoir, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, received the Orion Book Award, the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award and the Colorado Book Award—while the Los Angeles Times wrote that it “might very well be Desert Solitaire‘s literary heir.” Irvine lives and writes off the grid in southwest Colorado, just spitting distance from her Utah homeland.

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk is a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and a contributor to the anthologies Red Rock Stories and Edge of Morning. A former tribal councilwoman and co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, she serves as district director on the Montezuma-Cortez Board of Education in Towaoc, Colorado.

Kirsten Johanna Allen is publisher and editorial director of Torrey House Press. Though Kirsten is a native New Yorker, she’s also a sixth-generation Utahn and feels most at home hiking in Utah’s red rock country. She has two grown children and lives with a pair of cats and her spouse, Mark Bailey, in Salt Lake City and Torrey, Utah.

The event will begin at 7 PM with an annual award ceremony by Friends of Cedar Mesa and a short presentation by Mika Parajon of Osprey Packs called 85for85: The Process behind a Passion Project for Good. The presentation will showcase Mika’s journey to encourage protection for Bears Ears & Grand Staircase as an artist and activist.

This event is free and open to the public. Seating space is limited.

This program has received funding from the Utah Humanities. The Utah Humanities empowers Utahns to improve their communities through active engagement in the humanities.