Wege Speaker Series Presents Dr. J. Drew Lanham: On Being a Rare Bird

March 28, 2018
Diane Huhn
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The Wege Foundation will host the 22nd Wege Speaker Series on Thursday, April 12 at 4 p.m. at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center.

This year’s speaker is Dr. J. Drew Lanham, ornithologist, conservationist and distinguished professor at Clemson University. Dr. Lanham is a widely published scientist, author, and poet with work appearing in numerous academic and literary journals. His latest book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, is currently available from Milkweed Editions. Dr. Lanham is also a member of the National Audubon Society and Audubon South Carolina boards, along with several other environmental organizations. His research at Clemson University focuses on songbird ecology.

In Dr. Lanham’s book, The Home Place, he relates his love of nature and the world around him as a child growing up in Edgefield County, South Carolina. As his passion for the environment takes flight, Lanham asks what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity”—to find joy and freedom in the same land his ancestors were tied to by forced labor, and then to be a black man in a profoundly white profession.

“Birds and people need the same air, same water, same soil,” said Dr. Lanham. “When we agree on that fact, then conservation becomes the inclusive and intensely caring, loving, selfless thing that it is meant to be.”

Lanham’s presentation will provide insights into assuring equitable access to nature and outdoors experiences.

“Dr. Lanham’s work directly relates to The West Foundation’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Mark Van Putten, President, and CEO of the Wege Foundation. “It is our hope that all individuals and families, no matter their background or economic status, can enjoy the benefits of nature and the environment.”

Can’t attend in person? Grand Rapids Mayor Bliss will make Dr. Lanham’s lecture available for live streaming on her Facebook account at www.facebook.com/blissforgr

Partners for the 22nd Wege Speaker Series event include:

  • City of Grand Rapids
  • Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Grand Rapids Urban League
  • Latina Network of West Michigan
  • LINC UP
  • Michigan Audubon
  • NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch
  • Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
  • West Michigan Latino Community Coalition

The Aquinas College Performing Arts Center is located at 1703 Robinson Road S.E. in Grand Rapids. The public is invited and the event is free. A book signing will follow. Limited seating, please register soon at aquinas.edu/wegespeaker

About the Wege Foundation

Founded in 1967 by Peter M. Wege, son of Peter Martin Wege, who started what is now Steelcase Inc., the Wege Foundation focuses on funding good works that enhance the lives of the people and preserve the health of the environment in West Michigan. The Wege Foundation’s Five Pillars, or areas of interest, are: education, environment, arts & culture, health care, and human services. For more information, go to wegefoundation.org