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Derrick Jensen Speaking Benefit

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
The Veterans Memorial Building
846 Front Street, downtown Santa Cruz, CA.


Wednesday, March 29th
The Veterans Memorial Building
846 Front Street, downtown Santa Cruz, CA.
Doors open at 7:00 p.m.
Speaking begins at 7:30, ends around 9:30
$5-$20 & up (sliding scale - no one turned away)
All proceeds go directly to environmental prisoner support.
For questions regarding this event, email:
Derrick’s Website:


"All across the country, I ask activists and others, 'Do you believe our Culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?' Out of hundreds of people I've asked, not a single one has answered even remotely in the affirmative." -Derrick Jensen

As an activist, writer, journalist, and philosopher, Derrick Jensen explores the complexities of violence, the nature of responsibility, and the power and necessity of _expression.

Jensen is a new American voice, writing in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, and Audrey Lorde. In his book, A Language Older Than Words, he examines how humans retreat into silence, denial, deception, and self-reproach in the face of deep injustice. In a series of essays, he relates his life experiences as a small farmer and bee-keeper, a creative writing instructor in a Federal prison, and as an activist opposing the logging industry and the decimation of wild salmon.

But underpinning his distinctive writing lies the fact that he was severely abused as a child by his father and that he has experienced the physically debilitating effects of Crohn's Disease. Jensen's radical honesty about personal and state violence, the decimation of human and natural resources, and the psychological and spiritual processes leading to change, are deeply relevant to understanding and acting in our changing world.

His speaking engagements in recent years have packed university auditoriums, bookstores, churches - you name the place. A typical Jensen event is multidimensional and feels a bit like traveling beneath the earth among tree roots, as they twist their way into soil, rock, river beds and accompany fish, insects, discarded tires, cellophane wrappers, animal minds, history, and human instinct on a strange and interlocking journey.

Speaking in an almost improvisational style, Jensen explores the nature of injustice, of what civilizations do to the natural world. Showing how, in the face of the resulting horror of grave injustice, civilized human beings create intricate systems of denial, silence, abnegation, deception and self-hatred that perpetuate our own social dysfunction.

He also reaches back to our collective childhoods, to the reality of magic in life, to discuss how nature has spoken to us and how we must remember all the conversations we’ve had with her and renew them. It’s his antidote to cynicism and apocalypse. That there is a language much older than the language we use daily, without being aware, to dispel the horrors of modern living and dying.

It is indeed a heart rending, mind expanding, and ultimately healing exercise to explore Jensen’s root system, with him not so much as a guide, but an experienced fellow traveler.

Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control
Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution
Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests
The Culture of Make Believe
A Language Older than Words
Listening to the Land

2004: The Other Side of Darkness
2003: Standup Tragedy

Formal Education:
B.Sc. in Mineral Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines -- May 1983
M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University -- June 1991

2003: The Culture of Make Believe was a finalist for the Lukas Prize Project Award for Exceptional Works of Nonfiction, sponsored by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard
which cited it as a “passionate and provocative meditation on the nexus of racism, genocide, environmental destruction and corporate malfeasance, where civilization meets its discontents.”
2002: An interview Ramey Wood did of Jensen on KSUA in Anchorage Alaska won the Alaska Broadcaster’s Association Goldie Award for Best Public Affairs Program
2000: Hackensack, NJ, Record declared Language its best book of the year.
2000: Language was nominated for Quality Paperback Book Club's New Vision Award.
1995: Critics' Choice for one of America's ten best nature books of 1995, for Listening to the Land: Conversations About Nature, Culture, and Eros.
1998: Second Prize in the category of small budget non-profit advertisements, as determined by the Inland Northwest Ad Federation, for the first ad in the "National Forests: Your land, your choice" series.

December 2001 - Present: Member of Advisory Board of Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness
June 1997 - Present: Member of Advisory Board of the Native Forest Network
March 1997 - Present: Member of the Drafting Committee for the articulation of a new food production ethic, sponsored by the Center for Respect of Life and Environment
1996 - Present: co-founder and member of the Railroads and Clearcuts Campaign.
1990 - 2001: Associate Editor of the magazine Transitions

Praise for A Language Older Than Words:

Jensen's book accomplishes the rare feat of both breaking and mending the reader's heart.
-Publishers Weekly

The primordial language of the universe is the language expressed in the night sky, in the dawn and the sunset, in the flight of the eagle. It resonates in the song of the meadowlark, in the fragile bloom of the orchid. . . the mountains, the valleys and the rivers . . . and this book.
--Father Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of the Earth

Jensen has achieved the impossible: a book that is simultaneously horrifying and uplifting, terrifying and beautiful. I could not put it down.
-Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet

A Language Older Than Words is what Franz Kafka said a book should be--an axe for the frozen sea within us. The reader should be advised that this is both high praise and sincere warning: Dangerous reading here. Proceed at your own risk.
--Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael and Beyond Civilization

A Language Older than Words is must reading for anyone in the least concerned about the nature of our common future.
-Ward Churchill, author and activist

The Culture Of Make Believe:

Derrick Jensen takes no prisoners in The Culture of Make Believe, his brilliant and eagerly awaited follow-up to his powerful and lyrical A Language Older Than Words. What begins as an exploration of the lines of thought and experience that run between the massive lynchings in early twentieth-century America to today’s death squads in South America soon explodes into an examination of the very heart of our civilization. The Culture of Make Believe is a book that is as impeccably researched as it is moving, with conclusions as far-reaching as they are shocking.

Chelsea Green Publishing, for a selection of published works:

Added to the calendar on Fri, Mar 10, 2006 5:29PM
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