Skip to main content

Mountain Heroes: Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams: My Mountain Story

Terry Tempest Williams has been called "a citizen writer," a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. Willliams, like her writing, cannot be categorized. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, has been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses, and has worked as "a barefoot artist" in Rwanda. Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Terry Tempest Williams is the author of the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field; Desert Quartet; Leap; Red: Patience and Passion in the Desert; and The Open Space of Democracy; Finding Beauty in a Broken World; and most recently in 2012, When Women Were Birds. She is a columnist for the magazine The Progressive. She is currently the Annie Clark Tanner Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. Her next book, , will be out in Spring 2012.

She has received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association and the Wallace Stegner Award given by The Center for the American West. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. In 2009, Terry Tempest Williams was featured in Ken Burns' PBS series on the national parks. She is also the recipient of the 2010 David R. Brower Conservation Award for activism. The Community of Christ International Peace Award was presented in 2011 to Terry Tempest Williams in recognition of significant peacemaking vision, advocacy, and action.

The following is Terry's Mountain Heroes petition message against mountaintop removal mining:

"My name is Terry Tempest Williams. When I witnessed mountain top removal for the first time in the hollows of West Virginia, it put everything I believed about democracy into question. Mountain top removal is a violence that howls and an injustice that screams. There is no justice here, only a nation's cruelty inflicted on its people while corporations profit and politicians shake their hands over the deals that keep them in office."