We recently caught up with White, who lives on Orcas Island, north of Seattle. While working with the Resource Institute, a nonprofit educational organization based in Washington, White, an author, sailor and conservationist, sponsored weeklong seminars in the Pacific Northwest aboard the schooner Crusader. His first book, Talking on the Water: Conversations on Creativity and Nature, was a result and includes discussions with the likes of writers Peter Matthiessen, Ursula K. Le Guin and Gary Snyder. During one of the seminars, the Crusader ran aground on a spring tide in Alaska. The experience spurred White into a multiyear investigation of the world's waters and to his new book, coming in early 2017: Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean.
What's on your nightstand?
Three books are on my nightstand. Social Animal by David Brooks: I'm halfway through, and I love it. It's about the role of the unconscious, and how it filters out millions of pieces of information and connects relationships and so forth. It's guiding us through life. He creates two fictitious people and follows them through their life. The unconscious does so much more work than it appears. Then, I also have Coming of Age at the End of Nature (edited by Julie Dunlap and Susan A. Cohen). It's cool because it's about the millennials and how they think, and how they are grappling with living on the planet. It includes farmers, cooks and writers. One writer is on Kodiak Island. The last book I have out is Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville. I read it in college, but I went back to it because I needed something to feel grounded during the election.
Can you speak on how your most recent book, Tides, came about?
I almost lost the Crusader because of one and so I thought it was time to learn more about tides, although I lived with tides as a sailor and surfer all my life. I knew the moon had something to do with it, but I didn't know what. I thought I'd take time to learn. I started in on it, and the subject opened up. It turned out to be more complex, fascinating and poetic.
When it comes to environmental issues, what would you encourage people to read?
I'm not sure, but I do feel we need to work and focus and redouble our efforts in our communities. Dolores LaChapelle (an author-environmentalist) gave me hope when she talked about the direct experience with the natural world. When you have that direct experience with nature, experiences that are moving and full, it affirms who you are. As she said, when you know who you are, you can't be pushed around.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.