Amy and Dave Freeman's Critical Reads

November 7th, 2017

Amy and Dave Freeman are the authors of A Year in the Wilderness, a rousing cry of witness activism and a beautifully illustrated account of their year living in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to raise awareness about the threats of sulfide-ore copper mining. They have traveled over thirty thousand miles by canoe, kayak, and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places, from the Amazon to the Arctic. National Geographic named them Adventurers of the Year in 2014, and their images, videos, and articles have been published by a wide range of media sources from the CBC, NBC, and FOX to the Chicago Tribune, National Geographic, Outside, Backpacker, Canoe and Kayak, and Minnesota Public Radio. They also run the Wilderness Classroom, an educational nonprofit organization that introduces children to wild places and unique cultures. Amy and Dave will discuss A Year in the Wilderness on Tuesday, November 7 at 6:00 pm.


The Singing Wilderness, by Sigurd Olson – Really all of Sigurd Olson’s books strike a cord with us, but this was our introduction to his writing about the northwoods and it is his most popular book. Essays organized seasonally contain his beautifully described, in-depth observations as well as profound insights about the human need for wild spaces.

Being Caribou, by Karsten Heuer – A couple migrated with the endangered Porcupine Caribou Herd across the Yukon and Alaska for five months, from their wintering grounds to their calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in order to learn about the caribou and protect their sacred calving ground from development. Their journey is a prime example of witness activism.

Paddling to Winter, by Julie Buckles – This is another engaging story about an adventurous couple that built a wood and canvas canoe, exchanged marriage vows, and paddled away from their front yard, traveling 2,700 miles to the Arctic Ocean and wintering in a tiny cabin.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer – The author draws on her life as an indigenous scientist and mother in order to show how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons. This book inspired in us a desire to observe details in the natural world us as well as a deep sense of gratitude for all that nature provides. Her core message is the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness and acknowledgement of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

Paradise Below Zero: The Classic Guide to Winter Camping, by Calvin Rutstrum – The title says it all. This book provides essential information on winter wilderness adventure in the north. He provides practical advice on proper winter clothing, traveling methods, even dealing with emergencies like breaking through the ice.

Boom Bust Boom: A Story About Copper, the Metal That Runs the World, by Bill Carter – In our quest to learn all we could about the copper mines being proposed upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness we read this book and attended a presentation by the author. The book tells the tale of copper from its history in human evolution to its omnipresence in contemporary life. Carter explored several mining areas, past, present, and projected in the United States and around the world, and detailed the environmental and health implications involved in extraction of copper ore.


About A Year in the Wilderness: Since its establishment as a federally protected wilderness in 1964, the Boundary Waters has been recognized as one of our nation’s natural treasures. And yet the struggle to preserve the vitality of this exceptionally beautiful and fragile place goes on. When Amy and Dave Freeman learned of toxic mining proposed within the area’s watershed, they decided to take action―by spending a year in the wilderness, and sharing their experience through video, photos, and blogs with an audience of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens. This book tells the deeper story of their adventure in northern Minnesota: of loons whistling under a moonrise, of ice booming as it forms and cracks, of a moose and her calf swimming across a misty lake. With the magic―and urgent message―that has rallied an international audience to the campaign to save the Boundary Waters, A Year in the Wilderness is a rousing cry of witness activism and a stunning tribute to this special region.