Liz Cunningham

Liz Cunningham

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I write about ocean conservation and the traits we need to be effective stewards of our seas and life on this planet – among others, courage, an engaged, active hope, and the ability to work together to find solutions. My forthcoming book, Ocean Country (North Atlantic Books, Fall 2015), with a foreword by Carl Safina, examines the state of the oceans in four key regions of the world. I grew up outside of New York City and received a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Drawn by the openness of the vast Pacific landscape and California’s innovative spirit, I moved west in search of what felt like some “intangible, infinite thing.” I learned to scuba dive, raced sailboats. I loved what the ocean seemed to demand of us: elemental truths such as camaraderie and grace in overwhelming situations. I worked as an editor and writer for over fifteen years and authored my first book, Talking Politics: Choosing the President in the Television Age (Praeger), a series of oral-history interviews with top television journalists such as Tom Brokaw, Larry King and Robin MacNeil. In the year following the book’s release I began to do radio commentary, doing over 300 radio interviews. But I also was in an accident in which I nearly lost my life. The combination of those two experiences – a book launch and an acute reminder of how precious each moment is – caused me to reassess my work. Over time I realized my greatest passion was to help others connect with nature and inspire them to participate in forging a sustainable future. With much of my work I seek to create “the magic of the encounter” – to take the audience deeply into an experience, whether it be in an oral-history interview or an illustration depicting what it might be like to quietly look into the eyes of a trunkfish in an underwater cavern. For me that sense of connection is the “intangible and infinite thing” I so sought when I came west and I think it’s key to our future. Our future depends upon seeing connections – biological, cultural, economic, political – and crafting our collective and individual lives with them in mind. My writing has been published in newspapers, magazines and journals such as Earth Island Journal, The East Bay Express, The Outward Bound International Journal, Times of the Islands, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Marin Poetry Center Anthology. I also draw and paint. My drawings have been exhibited at a variety of venues including the Berkeley Art Center, the COA Ethel Blum Gallery, Fort Mason Center and the Oakland Museum. I am active in the education field as the founder of, the Web archive for the founder of Outward Bound. I serve on the board of Outward Bound Peacebuilding.
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