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Exhibit Explores “Paradise Lost’

MARCH 20, 2009 | An exhibit and related events at the River Falls Public Library blends both art and science to explore the effects of climate change on the region. “Paradise Lost? Climate Change in the North Woods,” will be held March 21 – April 26 at the library’s exhibition space.

Designed by the UW-Madison Center for Biology Education, this exhibit explores the consequences of climate change on Wisconsin’s unique ecosystems. An opening reception is March 28 from 1 to 2 p.m.

In 2006 a group of artists, educators and scientists received a grant to explore the nature of climate change and to consider how artistic approaches might interest the public in examining its effects.

The group, including a climatologist, soil scientist, limnologist, bog ecologist, forest ecologist, geographer, an Ojibwe elder, and a community organizer shared three days of discussion with 20 painters, sculptors, poets and musicians. The end result was the traveling exhibit. The exhibit includes paintings, drawings, quilting, sculptures, weaving, batik, mixed media, poetry, essays and music. Scientific information is intermingled with the art, creating a thought-provoking exhibit that encourages action to impact global warming.

Associated events include:
•March 26, 6:30 p.m., screening of former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” followed by a discussion of climate change led by Kelly Cain, UWRF professor of environmental sciences and director of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development.

•March 28, 1 p.m., Opening reception; 2 p.m, Raptors at Risk presentation by the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. Learn about Wisconsin/Minnesota raptors, their habits and habitat, including how climate change is affecting them now and in the future. Visiting raptors will include a live eagle.

•March 31, 7 p.m., Introduction to “The Natural Step” by Terry Gips, a widely published ecologist, agricultural economist, consultant, speaker and author with more than 30 years’ experience in global environmental leadership. Gips will talk about the The Natural Step model that is used as an internationally accepted sustainability framework that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just and humane.

•April 4, 2 p.m., Presentation, “Climate Change Comes to the Boundary Waters,” by University of Minnesota forest expert Lee Frelich, who has studied trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area for the past 18 years. Trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area are changing so rapidly, that many scientists say that within 50 years the wilderness could look very different.

•April 6, 7 to 8:30 p.m. UWRF Community Classroom, “Women and Global Climate Change: What’s the Connection?” presented by Greta Gaard, an assistant professor in the UWRF English department and author of “Ecological Politics: Ecofeminism and the Greens” and “The Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place.” Gaard will explore the social, environmental and economic consequences of first-world behaviors on those communities least responsible.

•April 14, 7 p.m., Poetry Reading featuring UWRF English Professor Jenny Brantley, who will read original poems about Lake Superior. Participating local writers, whose poems on climate change are to be a part of the exhibit, will also read, including Maureen Ash, Wanda Brown, Phyllis Goldin, Jeffrey Kulow, Jim Lenfestey, Thomas R. Smith, Susan Wagner, and Sue West.

•April 19, 2 p.m., Global Warming: Fact, Fiction or Future?” presented by Don Wylie, a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center at UW-Madison.

•April 21, 7 p.m., Third Tuesday Book Discussion: “Ordinary Wolves” by Seth Kantner, led by Katie Chaffee of the River Falls Public Library.

•April 23, 7 p.m. Presentation, “Renewable Energy: The Responsible Choice for the Future,” led by Craig Tarr of Hudson-based Energy Concepts. Tarr discusses renewable energy options for home and business installation and state and federal incentive programs available.

The exhibit is co-sponsored by the “What We Need Is Here” project, the UWRF St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development, and the St. Croix Valley Interstate Sierra Club with support from the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation, River Falls Municipal Utilities, POWERful Choices Project and the River Falls Library Foundation, area Rotary Clubs, Energy Concepts, River Falls Community Arts base and individuals.

All events are free and open to the public. The River Falls Public Library is located at 140 Union Street. For more information call 715-425-0905 or visit


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