Connie Barlow

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PHOTOS

 

 
CONNIE BARLOW (born in 1952, Detroit MI) is a leading advocate for the "assisted migration" of native trees poleward in this time of rapid climate change. Beginning in 2004 in a paper cowritten with Pleistocene ecologist Paul S. Martin titled, "Bring Torreya taxifolia North — Now", Barlow's advocacy subsequently expanded to include even common native trees of North America. (See her assisted migration video playlists.)

Despite the popular appeal of Coast Redwood and Joshua Tree, Barlow's notoriety in forestry and conservation biology is not her advocacy for assisted migration of these species but rather her founding of Torreya Guardians and her ogoing guidance and documentation of citizen volunteers who are planting an endangered tree (a glacial relict) hundreds of miles north of its native range in Florida. The project is controversial not only for being citizen led. Because Florida Torreya is listed as endangered, the group utilized a loophole in the Endangered Species Act that enabled them to legally step out ahead of the scientists in charge of "preventing species extinction." Torreya Guardians access horticulturally produced seeds and cuttings (rather than wild stock) for their northward plantings. The group's efforts have been showcased in popular magazines, notably Orion and Audubon, and mentioned in science journals (including Nature and Science). National media (e.g., New York Times and The Economist) have also reported on this group's role in putting into practice assisted migration. See the webpage "History of Torreya Guardians", which includes excerpts from print media and science journals that refer to Torreya Guardians and its actions.

During the 1990s, Barlow earned her living as a freelance science writer (four books) and science editor (with Columbia University Press). Her final book, The Ghosts of Evolution (Basic Books, 2001), featured the work of Paul S. Martin and Daniel Janzen in setting forth in 1982 a new paradigm of "evolutionary anachronisms", along with Barlow's own adventures in utilizing her natural history skills to recognize probable anachronistic features of plants in America that had lost to extinction their co-evolved animal seed dispersers. (Florida Torreya's anachronistic seed possibilities were included in this book.) Her previous books, Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science (Copernicus Books), Evolution Extended: Biological Debates on the Meaning of Life (MIT Press), and From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences (MIT Press), all explore topics within the evolutionary and ecological sciences.

In the 1990s Barlow also contributed articles to Wild Earth magazine toward encouraging others in conservation to develop "deep-time eyes" by way of learning the history of evolutionary change and paleoecological interactions. In 2014, she launched her videoblog series promoting forestry-climate activism, "Climate, Trees, and Legacy".

Beginning in 2002 Barlow (and her husband, Michael Dowd) embarked on an itinerant lifestyle, promoting a sacred and naturalistic view of the "Epic of Evolution". Within Unitarian Universalism, Barlow became a well-known developer of curricula for children's religious education that highlight our shared evolutionary story. Barlow's work was twice featured as the cover story of the Unitarian Universalist national magazine, UU World, (2006 and 1997). Barlow and Dowd are both on the advisory board of the Religious Naturalist Association (created in 2014) and were awarded Religious Humanists of the Year in 2016. (One outcome of visiting and speaking to many UU congregations is Connie's online UU Best Practices webpage, which inventories the diversity of fruitful ways of handling each of the standard components within UU worship services that she has encountered during visits to hundreds of UU congregations.)

No longer writing science books and essays, Barlow has retired into full-time forestry-climate activism via networking and occasional video projects. In 2017 she volunteered as web archivist and occasional videographer for the five climate activists known as the Valve Turners, who undertook deeply moral direct action against tar sands pipelines in 2016. In 2019 she volunteered to serve as video-editor of Michael Dowd's Post-Doom Conversations series.

2020 Best Sources for reflections on Connie's legacy

      BOOK: Zach St. George in his The Journeys of Trees, presents Connie as one of the main characters in this popular science book, as each comes to grips with the need for native trees to geographically track the too-rapid speed of climate change. Published by W.W. Norton, July 2020.


AUDIO: Terry Patton in his "State of Emergence" podcast series spoke with Connie about climate grief, climate activism, and her two decades of "assisted migration" poleward of the climate endangered Florida Torreya (and, more recently, her advocacy in behalf of the climate vulnerable Coast Redwood). Episode title:

"The Death of Dreams — and Becoming a Good Ancestor"

Note: The AUDIO conversation above is lengthy. Listeners may wish to advance to any of three major topics, using these timecodes:
• 06:02 Climate "assisted migration" of Florida Torreya and Coast Redwoods
• 22:23 Climate grief (stages of) and activism
• 33:30 Life stage changes in priorities and ethics in elderhood: "becoming a good ancestor"


Four Books by Connie Barlow   •   1991 - 2001

           

List of Barlow's Publications (with Abstracts) on Researchgate

COMPLETE LISTS OF BARLOW'S WRITINGS (and other works) in

Evolutionary Biology

Ecological Advocacy

Evolutionary Humanism / Religious Naturalism

Evolutionary Children's Curricula

PHOTOS of Connie Barlow


VIDEO Playlists by Connie Barlow  (on her Ghosts of Evolution YOUTUBE channel)


Writings in Evolutionary Biology

  • The Ghosts of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms, 2001 (Basic Books)
    written by Barlow; foreword by Paul Martin.

  • Evolution Extended: Biological Debates on the Meaning of Life, 1994 (MIT Press)
    Anthology of classic and contemporary essays, assembled and edited by Barlow.

  • From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences, 1991 (MIT Press)
    Anthology of classic and contemporary essays, assembled and edited by Barlow.

  • "Deep-Time Lags: Lessons from Pleistocene Ecology" 2009

    PDF of chapter by Connie Barlow in Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis, edited by Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker, 2009, MIT Press.

  • "Botanical Ghosts of Evolution", 2004
    A contributed essay to the 2004 volume, Forest Canopies, edited by Bruce Rinker and Meg Lowman. Based on Connie's 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution. Full text.

  • "What is Native to the Land?", 2003
    Cover story for the Fall 2003 issue of, Earth Matters, newsletter of the Northwest Earth Institute.

  • "Let There Be Sight! A Celebration of Convergence in Evolution", 2003
    Annotated list of a wealth of examples in which evolution has brought forth the same form or function in life on multiple occasions and in distinct lineages. Full text.

  • "Anachronistic Fruits and the Ghosts Who Haunt Them", 2001
       Based on Connie's 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution (Basic Books), this 8-page article (with color illustrations) in Arnoldia 61(2): 14-21, examines the evidence that some fruits native to North America are ecologically out of step with time — that is, they co-evolved to attract seed dispersers who went some 13,000 years ago (notably, mastodons and mammoths). PDF

  • "Ghost Stories From the Ice Age" Natural History, 2001
    Another short magazine article on Connie's 2001 book. PDF

    See also story in Smithsonian Magazine.


  • "Haunting the Wild Avocado" Wild Earth, 2000
    Extract from chapter 1 of Connie's 2001 book, published in the Winter 2000/2001 issue. PDF
    Click the VIDEO at right for a 5-minute, visually rich (and playful!) introduction to these concepts. A PBS short VIDEO in 2013 also references Connie's book.
  •     

       
  • "Gaia and Evolutionary Biology" (with Tyler Volk), 1992, BioScience Preview (behind a paywall). However, as of 2019, full text freely viewable online at SciHub.

  • "Open Systems Living in a Closed Biosphere: A New Paradox for the Gaia Debate" (with Tyler Volk), 1990, Biosystems 23(4):371-84. technical paper: Abstract. See editor's acceptance letter (by Lynn Margulis) image left. Full text freely viewable online at SciHub.


  • "Science Update: Rebirth of Philosophical Paleontology", Epic of Evolution Quarterly Fall 1998. PDF




  • Ecological Advocacy

  • PROJECT by Connie Barlow: Pawpaw Pollinator Watch, s. Michigan

        GOAL - To discover why some pawpaw patches produce little or no fruit in southern Michigan. This is a joint project of western citizen science (led by Washtenaw County naturalist), traditional natural history modes of observation and discovery (Connie Barlow), and indigenous approaches (led by indigenous practitioners of TEK).

    Three hypotheses have surfaced as possible causes of the non-fruiting. The one to be tested this spring during flowering season is a lack of effective pollinators, which Connie Barlow proposed in her 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms.

    Note: This project became possible when Barlow and Dowd ended 18 years of living on the road, settling into Connie's homestate of Michigan in 2020.

  • SERMON VIDEO 2018: "Grief and Gratitude in a Time of Climate Change"

        Connie Barlow's guest sermon (26 August 2018) for a Unitarian Universalist audience in Michigan conveys the anxiety and suffering of friends in Colorado, California, and Washington who are suffering yet another summer of forest fire danger, smoke, and flash flood warnings. Her message: Environmental damage (and consequent fear and anxiety) out West is clearly "21st Century." But climate change is mostly an abstract understanding in Michigan — where environmental concerns and calamities are still "20th Century".

    22 minutes - Video or Audio

  • SERMON VIDEO 2019: "Post-Doom Death of Expectations"

        In this guest sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island WA, Connie shares what she has learned while video-editing the first set of episodes of Dowd and Barlow's Post-Doom Conversations.

    She describes 5 patterns:

    (1) Diversity of outlooks; (2) Find a peer group; (3) Share stories; (4) Identity shift / myth; (5) Generational distinctions.

    27 minutes Video - recorded December 2019; posted February 2020

    VIDEO 2020 Covid Legacy Pledge - in 2 parts on youtube

       TO: Boomers and Beyond March/April 2020

    RE: A Covid Legacy Pledge for SeniorsTurning fear into calm and crisis into generosity
            by insisting on palliative care at home and/or saying no to ICU medical interventions

    VIDEO Part 1: Background - narration and commentary on "What and Why a Legacy Pledge by Seniors?"

    VIDEO Part 2: Sample Pledge - narration and commentary of Barlow's own sample pledge


        

    ABOVE: Barlow and Dowd's "Climate Resources" page
    of original videos and links.

      

    4-city "Climate Wake-Up" tour in Kentucky, May 2013
    sponsored by Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light
     

      


       

  • 2014 VIDEO: Connie Barlow presents: "Forest Trees in Climate Peril"

    A 45-minute talk that Connie delivered in Prescott, Arizona, is the single best place to begin learning how rapid climate change is endangering even common trees of American forests — and why our descendants will need to step in and help those trees disperse seeds farther north than birds and mammals can transport them.


  •     CLICK LEFT: Connie advocating for "assisted migration" at a conference in 2004. Two years later, she founded TorreyaGuardians.org

    "The Torreya taxifolia USF&WS Recovery Plan Process: An Opportunity to Shift to a Deep-Time Perspective of Native Habitat" 2010 in PDF.

    What We Are Learning" about Torreya's northward habitat needs.

    Educational page on assisted migration papers hosted by Connie


    As founder, webmaster, and chief spokesperson of Torreya Guardians, Connie is often interviewed by journalists on the topic of assisted migration of forest trees as an essential management tool in this century of rapid climate change. Samples include:

       
  • The Economist, 2015. "The Torreya Guardians were at first seen as 'eco-terrorists spreading an invasive species', remembers Connie Barlow, the group's chief propagandist. She rejects that charge, pointing out that she is only moving the tree within America. She also thinks that drastic action of this kind will soon be widespread: 'We are the radical edge of what is going to become a mainstream action.' Online access: "A Modern Ark: To save endangered species move them to more congenial places".

  • New York Times, 2014. "In 2008, Connie Barlow, a biologist and conservationist, helped move an endangered conifer tree in Florida north by planting seedlings in cooler regions. Now she is working in the West. "I just assisted in the migration of the alligator juniper in New Mexico by planting seeds in Colorado," she said. "We have to. Climate change is happening so fast and trees are the least capable of moving." "Building an Ark for the Anthropocene".

  •   
  • Barlow at Michigan Technological University

    The "assisted migration" ongoing project of Torreya Guardians is regularly cited in academic literature on climate adaptation controversies in biodversity and ecosystems protection. Here, Connie Barlow presents the first (highly illustrated) talk to professionals. Speaking to faculty and students at Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Barlow presents the history of the "assisted migration" controversy — highlighting the reasons why foresters have already taken actions where conservation biologists fear to tread. (filmed Sept 11, 2015)

    VIDEO: Foresters Outpace Conservation Biologists in Climate Adaptation


  • Videos by Connie Barlow on the Torreya Guardians Website

    Educational VIDEO series to document the citizen science projects of the all-volunteer Torreya Guardians in human-assisted migration of America's most endangered conifer tree, Florida Torreya, northward in this time of rapid climate change. Connie Barlow founded the organization.

       01: Helping Plants Move North in Anthropocene Climate: Torreya Guardians 2013 Report

    Climate is warming too fast for large-seeded plant species to migrate north via the animal partners (e.g., squirrels) that have dependably dispersed seeds for millions of years. In 2008, a group of citizen-naturalists (Torreya Guardians) legally planted 31 seedlings of the endangered Florida conifer Torreya taxifolia within private forests in the mountains of North Carolina. Connie Barlow reports their learnings during the first five years.

    75 minutes - published November 7, 2013

    29 total videos filmed and posted by Connie as of September 2018 . . . (click for list of all videos)

       14: Free-Planting Torreya Seeds into Wild Forest: 2015 report of best practices

    First video of best practices discovered by Torreya Guardians in attempting to plant seeds directly into the soil of wild forest in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Preliminary results confirm that both methods (planting beneath heavy, flat rocks and planting beneath a thatch of branches) were 100% effective in deterring squirrels. However, the results are mixed for voles. This video chronicles Connie's visit to the site 17 months after planting. Here she locates and upends the flat rocks to look for signs of germination, intact but non-germinating seeds, and tunneling by voles resulting in seed loss.

    47 minutes - filmed April 24, 2015


    Videos by Connie Barlow on "Climate, Trees, and Legacy

    Annotated list of all episodes in this video series, or via titles at right:

        CLICK LEFT: 42-minute VIDEOBLOG launching Connie's educational video series, "Climate, Trees, and Legacy" in 2014. Here she introduces a learning and action series for citizen activism in helping trees adapt to climate change — species by species, decade by decade. This "assisted migration" in a time of unprecedented climate shift will be increasingly necessary in the decades ahead. Foresters can create the maps to show us where species will need to move to. But we citizen naturalists will play a complementary role in ensuring that the full diversity of genotypes keeps pace with a warming and drying continent. Human action will mimic what birds, rodents, and other native seed dispersers have been able to accomplish on their own in previous periods of Earth history, when warming occurred at much a slower pace.

  • Pt. 2: LESSONS OF TORREY PINE
  • Pt. 3: LESSONS OF JOSHUA TREE
  • Pt. 4: LESSONS OF ARIZONA CYPRESS
  • Pt. 5: ROCKY MOUNTAIN TREES IN CLIMATE PERIL
  • Pt. 6: BECOMING PASSENGER PIGEON
  • Pt. 7: ALLIGATOR JUNIPER ASSISTED RANGE EXPANSION
  • Pt. 8: Foresters & Conservation Biologists, Climate Adaptation
  • Pt. 9 REDWOODS

  •     

    Summer 2016 Connie experimented with "coyote-style" and "elk-style" assisted migration of Alligator Juniper seeds into northern New Mexico. Multi-part video series accessible through her "Climate, Trees, and Legacy" page.

    ABOVE LEFT: August 2018 Connie delivers a "Story for All Ages" about stages of life of Monarch Butterflies at People's Church (UU) of Ludington, MI.


    Autumn 2016 Connie began advocating for documentation (data + video + oral history) of the
    amazing number of thriving specimens of California Sequoia and Coast Redwood already planted
    in the Pacific Northwest
    . Above she stands with a Sequoia that had been planted in a golf-course
    landscaping in Portland, Oregon — and now in someone's front yard (as the golf course succumbed to
    urban construction a half-century ago).

    Below left, in a Redwood forest in California. Below right with a Coast Redwood planted 70 years ago near Seattle, Washington.

       

       Pt. 9F - Coast Redwoods Thrive and Multiply at Seabeck, WA 2019

    Crucial documentation of 1980s planting of Coast Redwoods
    into a Douglas-fir regrowth forest west of Seattle.

    Site visit by Connie Barlow October 2019 shows thrival of the in-forest
    plantings, plus multiple age groups of evident offspring.

    61 minutes - published November 2019

       Pt. 9i - Coast Redwoods Assisted Migration: Collecting, Testing, and Dispersing Seeds Northward

    Field experiences and online learning have culminated in sufficient information for citizens to launch their own efforts for easily gathering cones, testing seed viability, and dispersing seeds (as the wind would do, if given thousands of years to track climate change) into fog-rich areas of the Pacific Northwest coast. The likely best microsite: patches of tall Sword Fern beneath deciduous canopy of Big-Leaf maple.
    1 hour - published March 2020    WATCH



  • Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science, 1997 (Copernicus Books)
    Reflections by Barlow on ecological spirituality garnered from mainstream sciences.
    (This book is the primary subject of a paper by Jon Turney in Science as Culture journal in 2001.)

    VIEW SAMPLES OF EACH CHAPTER of GREEN SPACE GREEN TIME ONLINE:

    "The Way of Science"
    "Science and the Coming of a New Story"
    "Biology and the Celebration of Diversity"
    "Ecology and the Birth of Bioregionalism"
    "Geophysiology and the Revival of Gaia"
    "Meaning - Making"
  • "Ecology Is the New Theology" 2013 (in SpiritEarth magazine)
    (with Michael Dowd) why the teachings of Thomas Berry are now even more urgent. (1 page in PDF)

  • "Deep-Time Lags: Lessons from Pleistocene Ecology" 2009

    PDF of chapter by Connie Barlow in Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis, edited by Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker, 2009, MIT Press.

  • "Arkansas River Pleistocene Dreamtime" 2009
    Connie's photoessay of a paleoecological "sacred site of the epic of evolution".

  • "Spotted Salamander Pond: Gaian Symbiosis in Miniature" 2012
    Connie's photoessay of her 7-week interaction with a "sacred site of the epic of evolution".

  • "Rewilding Torreya taxifolia: Reflections by Connie Barlow" 2008

    August 2008 commentary on the historic "assisted migration" of 31 seedlings of this endangered plant to private lands in the mountains of North Carolina, by Torreya Guardians. Click for PDF.

  • "Paleoecology and the Assisted Migration Debate: Why a Deep-Time Perspective Is Vital"

    Illustrated webpage of citizen science, created as advocacy to influence 2010 updating of the official Endangered Species Act Recovery Plan for Torreya taxifolia

  • "Rewilding Megafauna" an Interview with Connie Barlow (on www.actionbioscience.org) 2007
    Click for link to interview.
      

    Feature article on CONNIE BARLOW's evolutionary activism in
    June 2008 ORION Magazine    

    "TORREYA STATE PARK perches on the steep, sandy banks of the Apalachicola, where the river twists slowly through the Florida Panhandle toward the Gulf of Mexico. This is one of the most isolated spots in Florida, rich only in plant life and prisons, stupefyingly hot in summer and eerily quiet nearly all year round. Most park visitors are on their way somewhere else, and when Connie Barlow stopped here on a winter day in 1999, she was no exception . . . "

    SEE ALSO Connie's eco-advocacy work in Audubon Magazine, May/June 2010, in an article titled "Guardian Angels."

      

  • "Bring Torreya taxifolia North — Now" 2005
    Essay co-authored with Paul S. Martin and published in the Winter 2005 issue of Wild Earth, in PDF.
    Also, Connie's 2010 eulogy to Paul S. Martin

  • "Forests in Peril: Book Review", 2004
    Review of book by Hazel Delcourt, published in Winter 2004 issue of Wild Earth magazine. Full text.

  • "Goodbye Eternal Frontier", 2002 (10 pages)
    Published in the Summer 2002 issue of Wild Earth magazine, this article is grounded on the 2001 book by Tim Flannery, The Eternal Frontier. It presents the 65 million year deep time story of the North American Continent, questioning what it means to be native to this continent: spiritual implications and practical recommendations for conservation biology. PDF.

       VIDEO LEFT: "Mammoths, Overkill, and a Deep-Time Perspective on Pleistocene Extinctions"

    Connie Barlow summarizes the world-wide paleontological evidence in support of the Overkill Theory of "extinction of the massive", proposed by Paul S. Martin, in this "Coming Home to North America" program delivered as a keynote presentation in 2004 in Lexington Kentucky (EarthSpirit Rising Conference).

    RIGHT: Click for annotated charts used in Connie's North America overkill presentation.

     


  • "Trees Who Remember", 2001 (5 pages)
    Published in Trees for Life Engagement Calendar, 2001. Retyped for online publishing in 2010, with lots of photos added (including photos of Connie's mentor Paul Martin and memorabilia from the "Mammoth Memorial Service" that the two conjured up together and held at the Mammoth Site in Hot Spring SD, 1999. PDF.

  • "Aldo and Me", September 2000.
        CLICK LEFT: 5-minute VIDEO (left) of Connie reading Leopold's "On a Monument to a Pigeon" at the Passenger Pigeon Monument in Wisconsin.

    36 minute AUDIO of Connie reciting four items in honor of evolutionary ecologist Aldo Leopold (who envisioned the first designated wilderness in the world: the Gila. In September 2000, Connie sat on a log in the West Fork of the Gila and recited into a tape recorder 4 parts: (1) in-the-moment observations of the immediate surrounds, (2) "We Live in a Mythic Time": unpublished advocacy piece in behalf of the newly rewilded Mexican Gray Wolf (submitted to the Silver City Daily Press), (3) Connie's favorite excerpts from Aldo's A Sand County Almanac, and (4) Connie reciting the essay she wrote for the Trees for Life annual engagement calendar (published 2001, see above).


  • "Rewilding for Evolution" - Wild Earth, Spring 1999
    An essay in support of Paul Martin's proposal to "Bring Back the Elephants" to North America, published in the same (Spring) issue. This essay also appears in an anthology of essays, Wild Earth, published by Milkweed Press in 2002. PDF. (Available as part of the archived journal issue, Vol 9 no. 1, here and here.) Watch Connie lead the congregation in the song, "Bring Back the Elephants," at the memorial service for Paul: video: song

  • "Re-Storying Biodiversity by Way of Science" Wild Earth, 1997
    More extracts from Connie's 1997 book, published in the Spring issue. PDF

  • "Because It Is My Religion" Wild Earth, 1996
    Extracts from Connie's 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time, published in the Fall issue. PDF

  • TRIBUTES TO MENTORS
    Tribute to Paul S. Martin
    Tribute to Celia Hunter
    Tribute to William R. Catton



        

    Click for the youtube playlist of Nature-Celebrating Videos by Connie Barlow.


    Religious Naturalism / Evolutionary Humanism

  • Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science, 1997 (Copernicus Books)
    a now-classic text in religious naturalism, featuring the evolutionary and ecological sciences
  • VIDEO: Barlow and Dowd Religious Humanists of the Year (2016)
    Barlow and her husband, Michael Dowd, were awarded "Religious Humanists of the Year" at an event associated with the Unitarian Universalist 2016 General Assembly. (Barlow's section begins at timecode 6:33 and ends at 17:36).

  • "Covid Legacy Pledge for Boomers and Beyond" - by Connie Barlow (March 2020)

  • VIDEO: "Post-Doom Death of Expectations" - 2019 Guest Sermon at UU Congregation of Whidbey Island, WA

        Connie Barlow offers what she has learned while video-editing the first set of episodes of Dowd and Barlow's Post-Doom Conversations.

    Barlow describes 5 patterns:

    (1) Diversity of outlooks; (2) Find a peer group; (3) Share stories; (4) Identity shift / myth; (5) Generational distinctions.

    27 minutes • (recorded December 2019; posted February 2020)

    ___________________

          

  • VIDEO: "Your Brain's Creation Story"
  • In August 2009, Connie Barlow (with Michael Dowd) were theme speakers at a Unitarian Universalist summer camp in Puget Sound, Washington. Connie took the lead in the illustrated presentation on the practical lessons and uses of evolutionary brain science for improving our lives — and for provisioning children and teens with an evolutionary perspective that can help them make better choices and develop healthy habits, despite having inherited "mismatched instincts" that pose challenges in modern-day life.

    Click LEFT for 54-minute VIDEO on YouTube.


          

  • "Death, Budgets, and Generational Justice"
        in TEXT, AUDIO, or VIDEO

    In August 2011, Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd gave twinned theme talks at two events in the American West: "Evolutionize Your Life" (by Michael) and "Evolutionize Your Death and Legacy" (by Connie). Inspired by the audience response and poignant storytelling that ensued, Connie wrote a call-to-action in essay form, urging her boomer generation to transform the debilitating and financially untenable death-denial that pervades American culture — largely because of literalist Christianity that interprets death as "the enemy."

    Click LEFT for 31-minute VIDEO.


  •       

  • "Death Through Deep-Time Eyes"
        in AUDIO, or VIDEO

    April 2005, Connie Barlow presented the SONG and CHARTS version of her multi-year presentations on death. In later years in her death presentations she eliminated the song and switched from charts to powerpoint.

    This earliest version has an immediacy and audience involvement that is diminished in the later, more "professional" versions of the same program.

    37 minutes


  • "Imprinting Is Not Indoctrination (Connie Barlow's boldest statement yet!)
        Critiquing Dale McGowan's invited lecture at the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists nationwide (in June), Connie calls for a reassessment of the way kids in religious liberally families and institutions are taught "religion". Our postmodern celebration of diversity and advocacy of free choice actually means we deny our children a basic human requirement: "a coherent cosmology (creation story / worldview) through which to enjoy and securely navigate the years of childhood wonder, learning, and innocence." (posted July 2010)

  • "We Are Stardust: The Epic of Evolution in Children's Religious Education" 2009

    Contributed chapter in the 2009 book, ed. Frederic John Muir, The Whole World Kin: Darwin and the Spirit of Liberal Religion (Skinner House Books). 6 questions for group discussion of this essay


        
     Two PODCAST series 

    co-hosted by
    CONNIE BARLOW
    and
    MICHAEL DOWD

    New Dimensions radio interview


  • "Ecology Is the New Theology" 2013 (in SpiritEarth magazine)
    (with Michael Dowd) why the teachings of Thomas Berry are now even more urgent. (1 page in PDF)

  • "Ritualizing Big History" 2013 (in Metanexus)
    Originally published as an entry in the 2004 Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature (edited by Bron Taylor), Barlow's article was cited in the Wikipedia entry on Aldo Leopold: "Science writer Connie Barlow says Leopold wrote eloquently from a perspective that today would be called Religious Naturalism.[21]" This same citation sentence also appears in the religious subsection of the Loren Eiseley Wikipedia entry.

  • "From Mystery to Wonder: Science vs. God of the Gaps" 2009

    Guest Blog by Connie Barlow on the ThankGodforEvolution.com website.

  • "Evolution Now: A Manifesto for Our UU Congregations" 2008

    Sermon delivered by Connie Barlow on 8/31/08 at Cedar Lane Untarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Maryland. Click here for PDF or mp3 AUDIO.

  • "A Place at the Podium" 2008

    Guest blog by Connie Barlow on Michael Dowd's, Thank God for Evolution website, responding to the 2008 North Carolina U.S. Senate race, in which one candidate posted a negative campaign ad that implied her rival was an atheist.


    CONNIE BARLOW sermon
    "Celebrating Evolution"

    VIDEO of June 2008 sermon at

      Unitarian Universalist Church
    of Canandaigua NY  

    ♦ Click for audios of more SERMONS

      

    LISTEN to the hour-long
    June 7, 2009 audio interview
     



  • "Immortality Projects in the Internet Era: The Rise of Volunteerism, the Demise of Consumerism, and the Democratization of Cultural Progress" (blogpost, December 2011)


  • "The Death of the Fringe Suburb: Why we boomers are to blame and what the youngers can do about it" (blogpost, November 2011)


  • "Leaving a Legacy: Proposal for a New Health Insurance Program" 2008

    GOAL: to create a new governmental or nonprofit, voluntary group Health Insurance policy that (1) honors death as a natural / sacred part of the life process, and (2) distributes the financial savings thus accrued between group members (80%) and charities chosen by the dying or their guardians (20%). Click for PDF.

  • "Zoey 101, Brain Science 101" 2007

    Guest blog by Connie Barlow on Michael Dowd's, Thank God for Evolution website, that focused on the pregnancy scandal of teen TV star Jamie Lynn Spears, as a current event platform for appreciating the practical benefits (self-understanding, compassion) for promoting an understanding of the ongoing discoveries of evolutionary brain science and evolutionary psychology.

  • "Even The Heavens Are Not Immortal" 2005
    Interview by Craig Hamilton of Connie Barlow in the Fall 2005 issue of What Is Enlightenment? magazine. PDF

       LEFT: 10-minute YouTube VIDEO of the conclusion to Connie Barlow's
    "Death Through Deep-Time Eyes" presentation in Ashland OR, 2009.


    "Death As Natural and Generative in the Cosmos", 2004

    Text (and chart) used in public presentations to show how, in the last 500 years, discoveries by geographers, geologists, paleontologists, evolutionary biologists, cell biologists, astronomers and astrophysicists have demonstrated that death is not just something that happens to individual plants and animals but also is a natural and creative process affecting mountains, seaways, continents, species, and even stars and galaxies). Full text

  • "Garden of Eden on Your Dinner Plate?", 2004
    Essay published in the Spring 2004 issue of EarthLight, in PDF.

  • "Stardust: Toward a New Periodic Table of Elements", revised 2004
    Written for this website, and to support the "We Are Made of Stardust" ritual also on this website, this document provides an easy introduction to the broad outlines and fascinating details of how the various chemical elements were created in different kinds of stars. Full text or PDF.

       7-part VIDEO series:
    Loyal Rue, Connie Barlow, and Michael Dowd in conversation

    "Nature Is Enough" (the future of Religious Naturalism) recorded August 2014

    Click for the webpage that is the annotated list/links of all 7 videos (filmed and edited by Connie Barlow).

       Photo-Essays of Connie's pilgrimages to SACRED SITES OF THE EPIC OF EVOLUTION

  • Great Unconformity of the Grand Canyon

  • Back to the Ediacaran in a Pool of Ophrydium Blobs

  • Arkansas River Pleistocene Dreamtime

  • Lake Missoula / Scablands / Columbia Flood Basalt

  • Cretaceous Interior Seaway, KS

  • America's First Dinosaur Discovery (Haddonfield, NJ)

  • Dinosaur Ridge, CO

  • "Wall of Diversity", American Museum of Natural History, New York City

  • Little Colorado River, AZ

  • Passenger Pigeon Monument, Wayalusing State Park, WI

  • Sand Path at Down House, Darwin's Home in England

  • Ice Age Refuge: Apalachicola State Park, northern Florida

  • Archaean Encounter at Yellowstone

  • NASA's Apollo Flight Center, Houston TX

  • Type Specimen of an Ancestral Whale


  • "Is This Not Divine?", 2004
    A fragment of a sermon on religious naturalism, delivered extemporaneously by Connie at Sunday services at Unitarian Universalist churches. Full text.

  • "Epic of Evolution Ritual", 2004
    Entry written for the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Bron Taylor, published 2005. Full text.


       LEFT: 3-minute YouTube Music Video Sing-Along
    (with displayed lyrics) of Connie Barlow
    singing her stardust song, "In the Beginning"


    RIGHT: "Deep Time Eyes" interview
    of Connie by Craig Hamilton

      

  • "An Immense Journey: Religious Naturalism and the Great Story", 2003
    Written for the "Metareligious Essays" page of this website, this personal essay shows how the Great Story can enrich the experience of religious naturalism. Exemplars of this tradition include Julian Huxley, Aldo Leopold, Loren Eiseley, and Annie Dillard; in PDF or on-screen. Note: The Wikipedia entry on Aldo Leopold credits Connie Barlow for identifying Leopold as a religious naturalist: "Science writer Connie Barlow says Leopold wrote eloquently from a perspective that today would be called Religious Naturalism.[21]" This same citation sentence also appears in the religious subsection of the Loren Eiseley Wikipedia entry.

  • "An Immense Journey: A Religious Naturalist Learns to Celebrate the Great Story", 2002 (unpublished)
    This was an early, less formal draft of the essay above. Because it includes memories of my participation in the "Mammoth Memorial Service" in South Dakota (and because it is more free-flowing and less directed toward serving as an example of religions naturalism), I have preserved it as a separate, unpublished document in PDF.

  • "The Judgment of the Birds", 2000 (unpublished)
    This memoir, which uses the same title as one of Loren Eiseley's revered essays, was written soon after (and which describes) my solo visioning experience in the Gila Wilderness in July 2000; included within it is a flashback to a previous solo wilderness experience in the Gila backcountry much farther upstream on Little Creek, and that occurred July 1997. PDF. Shortly after writing the essay (September 2000), I recorded an audio version ("Loren and Me") that begins with the ambient night sounds, followed by a reading of excerpts from Eiseley's "Judgment of the Birds" essay, then my own memoir, followed again by night sounds. The recording took place outdoors, at night, on a rock ledge along a shallow side canyon of the West Fork, right after the trail begins. Click to listen to 36 minute AUDIO

  • "The Epic of Evolution" Earth Matters (Northwest Earth Institute), 1999
    2-page adaptation of Connie's 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time, published in the Spring issue. JPG Image

  • "The Way of Science and the Epic of Evolution" UU World, 1998
    Extracts from Connie's 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science, published as the cover story for the Unitarian Universalists magazine (Nov/Dec). PDF

  • "The Way of Science" The Humanist, 1998
    More extracts from Connie's 1997 book, published in the member magazine of The Humanist Society (Mar/Apr). PDF

  • "Evolution and the AAAS" Science and Spirit, 1998
    A report of the 1997 "Epic of Evolution Conference" held in Chicago and sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. PDF

  • "Classic Quotations on the Epic of Evolution" Epic of Evolution, 1998
    Fifty inspiring quotations, ranging from Charles Darwin and Maria Montessori to Carl Sagan and Loren Eiseley, to Brian Swimme and Ursula Goodenough. PDF

  • "The Epic of Evolution" Teilhard Perspective, 1997
    A lengthier version of the above report. PDF

  • "Because It Is My Religion" Wild Earth, 1996
    Extracts from Connie's 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time, published in the Fall issue. PDF

  • "A Jostling on the Shelves" Teilhard Perspective, 1996
    A sample of a book review column Connie contributed for several years. PDF

  • "Clouds and the Crystal Bell" unpublished, 1998
    Reflections on a natural death and hospice. PDF. NOTE: The "Clouds" stress-reduction audio mentioned in this text is available through NewHealthVisions.com.


    Videos by Connie on Religious Naturalism (pro bono)

  • Praise Darwin! (an evolution revival with Charlie Varon)
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson: Kinship w/ Cosmos (8 mins)
  • Peter Mayer: The Play (music video)
  • Stardust and Death (4 parts)
  • Loyal Rue pt 4A: "Nature Is Enough" (w Barlow and Dowd)
  • Nancy Ellen Abrams: "Cosmic Society" (2009, pt 1)



    ON-LINE AUDIOS in Unitarian Universalist or secular settings

  • 2013: "How Religion Is Failing Our Youth"
       Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC

  • 2013: "Stages of Life: Dreams v. Legacy" (MLK Sunday)
       Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, CO (topics incl death and climate change)

  • 2012: "Evolution: The Next Generation"
       Cadboro Bay United Church, Victoria BC (Canada)

  • 2011: "Modern Women with Stone-Age Instincts"
       Interview by Claire Zammit for Women on the Edge of Evolution

  • 2009: "Your Brain's Creation Story"
       UU Congregation of Whidbey Isl, WA

  • 2008: "Evolution: Truth, Beauty, and Utility"
       UU Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC

  • 2008: "We Are Stardust" (intergenerational service)
       Unitarian Universalist Church of Riverside, CA

  • 2008: "Evolution Now: A Manifesto for our UU Congregations"
       Cedar Lane UU Church Bethesda, MD (PDF).

  • 2006: "Celebrating Evolution"
       Second Unitarian Church of Omaha, NE

  • 2006: "An Evolutionary Celebration of Death"
       Unitarian Society of Hartford, CT

  • 2005: "What Is Our Cosmic Task?"
       Yakima Unitarian Universalist Church, WA

  • 2003: "Is This Not Divine?"
       Unitarian Church of Asheville, NC

  • Audio Links to SERMONS BY OTHERS that Connie highly recommends


  • Evolutionary Children's Curricula

      

    "Failing Our Youth: A Call to Religious Liberals"

  • Online Essay (Barlow and Dowd 2012)

  • Audio (22 min)

  • VIDEO (58 min; left; Barlow 2013)

    Excerpt: "Here lies an extraordinary opportunity for theologically progressive institutions to do what the fundamentalist churches cannot. Liberal churches can offer the youngers an evolutionary worldview that delights children in their wonder years, offers immensely practical insights and guidance for those going through puberty (by teaching them about "mismatched instincts" and "supernormal stimuli"), and empowers teens to ponder the meaning of life — and their life — as they edge toward adulthood."

  • Evolutionary Religious Education (10 pp)

  •    "My Universe Story" (children's curriculum) (WORK IN PROGRESS)

    8-9 month curriculum for provisioning 3rd and 4th graders in liberal religious, Montessori, or private-school sessions with a coherent, meaningful, and fun worldview. 28 major events in the 13.7 billion year story of the Universe are celebrated, in order, one or two per week. For each, the child selects a representative bead, culminating in the final project of stringing them together into a loop or necklace. Crucial are that the final 2 events/beads pertain to the child's own birth — and hope for their future. Click here for PDF.

       "Remember Who You Are: Living a Mythic Life" (children's curriculum) 2009

    12-part curriculum for assisting middle school youth in the life passage from childhood ("Explorers in the Garden") to early adolescence ("Thespians at the Oasis"), which uses the understandings drawn from the 2008 book by Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul, and using scene-by-scene the Disney movie The Lion King as a beloved bridge and focus for the middle school mindset. Overview and full curriculum available for free viewing and downloand.

       "Tree Talks About Death" (children's story) 2009

    This story is a non-picture book, designed to be read interactively to a child (ages 6 through 11, along with any post-teen, playful adult). The goal is to meaningfully and memorably convey a mythic tale through which the deep understandings, thanks to the scientific worldview, of the creative role that death plays at all scales of the cosmos can be grasped by both head and heart. Download in PDF. Click here to listen to free online AUDIO of Connie reading aloud this story.

       "The River of Life" (children's curriculum) - a.k.a "Ancestor's Tale" 2009

    From 2006 - 2009, this program created by Connie (but grounded in the evolutionary data offered by Richard Dawkins in his 2004 book, Ancestor's Tale) was the primary kids program she delivered personally at more than 40 church and private school settings. In November 2009, she made the entire curriculum available online for free download. See VIDEO below of Connie presenting this program to kids in 2011.

       "12-Part Stardust Curriculum for Children" 2007

    80-page PDF of lesson plans for teaching elementary-age children our relationship to stars and the Universe.

       EVOLUTIONARY PARABLES by Connie Barlow:
  • "Startull: The Story of an Average Yellow Star", 2006
  • "Pluto's Identity Crisis", 2003
  • "Earth's Challenging Childhood", published in EarthLight, 2002   AUDIO
  •     Click on image left to watch Part 1 of a (two-part) 90-minute VIDEO of Connie presenting "Ancestor's Tale for Kids" to a mixed-age group of children in 2011 at a Unitarian Universalist church in Georgia, USA.

    After the video starts playing, we recommend you click on the YouTube button in the lower-right part of the picture screen. That will take you to the video's full YouTube page. From there, you can read the long text caption that summarizes the highlights. On the YouTube page, click on the gray "Show more" directly below the truncated text.

    Notice that the text summary includes a full TABLE OF CONTENTS with linked timestops (in blue), which you can click to advance instantly to that portion of the video.

    The Part 2 VIDEO of Ancestor's Tale for Kids opens at confluence #11. Two minutes into that program a child asks why some people don't believe in evolution. Watch Connie's imaginative response!


      

    LEFT: Connie with Montessori children in Houston, 2005, leading the "We Are Stardust" glitter ritual/song.

    RIGHT: VIDEO: Connie speaks of Great Story Beads at Unitarian church service in 2014 (4 mins).


      


      

    ABOVE LEFT: 5-minute VIDEO of Connie Barlow speaking to adults on how the science of "stardust" (especially when presented evocatively to children) can help modern peoples recover a deeply felt relationship to "ancestors" in the night sky. See also "From Stardust to Us", The Spiral, 2001: a PDF Report (co-written with children's book author Jennifer Morgan) of guiding children at "The Walk Through Time" exhibit.

    ABOVE RIGHT: 7-minute VIDEO: "Story for All Ages" at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, NJ (October 2013). Connie improvised a story to accompany a guest sermon by Michael Dowd ("The Future Is Calling Us To Greatness"), and used these props: her necklace of Great Story Beads, Michael's long strand of Great Story Beads, the "Earth from Space" stained glass window in the sanctuary, a pair of Hubble Space photos she has on poster board, and the children themselves.

  • AUDIO of a 6-minute Story for All Ages that Connie delivered at the Sunday morning service of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Indianapolis in September 2014. Here she uses leaves of a tuliptree and nuts of a walnut tree she collected that morning on the church grounds to (a) help the kids appreciate identify and enjoy these trees and (b) gently introduce them to the idea that their generation will need to help such trees move north in tandem with a changing climate.


  • "We Are Stardust: The Epic of Evolution in Children's Religious Education"
    Long version of a chapter contributed by Connie Barlow to a 2009 book edited by Unitarian Universalist minister Fred Muir. The book is The Whole World Kin: Darwin and the Spirit of Liberal Religion, published by Skinner House Books. Connie's chapter is a summary of her work and philosophy in bringing the Epic of Evolution into religious education for children.
    Advance the video at right to 1:00 minute into the program for a sample reading from Connie's chapter.

  • "Evolution Now: A Manifesto for Our UU Congregations", sermon by Connie Barlow delivered August 2008 - a plea for Unitarian Universalists (and other liberal religious folk) to ensure that we give our children a coherent, inspiring creation story to guide their lives and love for all of creation. Click to listen online or read in PDF.
  •    


  • "Imprinting Is Not Indoctrination (Connie Barlow's boldest statement yet!)
        Critiquing Dale McGowan's invited lecture at the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists nationwide (in June), Connie calls for a reassessment of the way kids in religious liberally families and institutions are taught "religion". Our postmodern celebration of diversity and advocacy of free choice actually means we deny our children a basic human requirement: "a coherent cosmology (creation story / worldview) through which to enjoy and securely navigate the years of childhood wonder, learning, and innocence." (posted July 2010)


    Photos of Connie Barlow


    Connie Barlow co-hosting (with Michael Dowd) an episode of
    "Post-Doom Conversations", 2020.


    Barlow conferring with forestry geneticist Jerry Rehfeldt in Idaho, 2016.

     
    LEFT: Video-documenting 10 years of Florida Torreya growth at the Lake Junaluska site, near Waynesville, North Carolina (2018)
    RIGHT: Barlow planting a torreya seedling in western North Carolina that had germinated from seed (2018).


    Barlow sorting Alligator Juniper berries for assisted migration in northern New Mexico, 2016

     
    LEFT: Barlow in 2016 standing in front of a redwood planted at Seabeck Conference Center (Kitsap Peninsula, northwest of Seattle WA) that is now just a few years older than she is.
    RIGHT: Three years later (autumn 2019) Barlow inventories the younger plantings of redwoods — and their offspring — that are flourishing in the native regrowth Douglas-fir forest onsite (toward which Barlow is pointing in the 2016 photo).


    Barlow with a Coast Redwood in a wealthy section of Capitol Hill Seattle, fall of 2019. She was dismayed to discover that, while the redwood benefitted from a watered lawn, there were no cones on or under the tree — likely owing to lack of pollen drift as there were no other redwoods nearby.


    Barlow loving-up a Giant Sequoia in an old neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, in 2016. Notice how distinct the leaves are of this inland California (west slope of Sierras) close cousin of the Coast Redwood that Connie works directly with.

     
    LEFT: Connie Barlow casting seeds of Coast Redwood into native sword ferns, with Bigleaf maple nearby, on Whidbey Island (northwest of Seattle, WA) February 2020.
    RIGHT: For the seed-casting ceremony, Connie made facepaint from the dark red tannin crystals that spill out with the seeds when redwood cones are shook.

     
    LEFT: Connie in front of a young redwood trunk near Eureka CA, surrounded by Swordferns, which are native all the way up the coast into British Columbia. Swordfern is a member of her favorite fern genus, Polystichum. Because redwoods and ferns associate with the same kind of mycorrhizal fungi, they are partnered below ground; in California, they are almost always together.
    RIGHT: Polystichum fern genus is also represented in the eastern USA, where species Christmas Fern is often the only evergreen fern in sight during the winter months. Here it shrouds a young Florida Torreya December 2018, which was freeplanted from seed by Connie into the southern Appalachians. Because snow rarely covers the ground, the evergreen fern fronds help Torreya escape notice by hungry deer.



    CONTACT CONNIE by email


    WWW www.TheGreatStory.org

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