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James Howard Kunstler to Speak at UW-Eau Claire Forum April 17

RELEASED: April 7, 2008

James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler

EAU CLAIRE — Author James Howard Kunstler, a social critic who argues that declining oil production and climate change will force people to live in sustainable local communities, will speak Thursday, April 17, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Forum will present his address, "The Long Emergency: The Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century," at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

Kunstler had written seven novels and many articles and essays when the scene outside his window, on his street — on most of the cities and streets in America — caught his attention. He observed "the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work."

Stunned by the pervasiveness of this assault on all fronts, he wrote his first critique of American architecture and urban planning, "The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape" (1993). "Home From Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century" (1996) continued the discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. "The City in Mind: Meditations on the Urban Condition" (2001) concluded Kunstler's urban-planning trilogy.

He then turned his attention to the oil crisis with "The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century" (2005). The best-selling book expanded on Kunstler's past work on sprawl and automobile culture by exploring the sweeping economic, political and social changes that will result from the end of access to cheap fossil fuels.

February 2008 saw the release of Kunstler's tenth novel, "World Made by Hand," about a group of people adapting to the world foreshadowed in "The Long Emergency." Set in an upstate New York town in the not-distant future, "World Made by Hand" shows what life may be like after the coming catastrophes — the end of oil, climate change, global pandemics and resource wars — converge.

Kunstler's years of writing novels and articles for a variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times and Atlantic Monthly, helped him develop a provocative, entertaining voice, a critical eye and the good sense to write from passion. He has lectured extensively about urban design, energy issues and new economies for The TED Conference, Google, American Institute of Architects, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the International Council of Shopping Centers, The National Association of Science and Technology and other professional organizations as well as at numerous colleges and universities.

Kunstler aptly describes his lectures as "standup comedy with some dark moments." His audience knows he is dependably acerbic, witty, well-read and alert, drawing from a tremendous store of hard facts and idealism that ends on a positive note of well-earned and reasoned hope.

"Disturbing others' sense of normality is something Kunstler does well," wrote The Christian Science Monitor. "Everyone who knows his work acknowledges his power to wake up a crowd."

A pre-Forum hors d'oeuvres reception with the speaker, hosted by Wisconsin Public Radio, will take place in The Dulany of Davies Center from 6 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance or at the door.

The Forum program will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing. Kunstler's presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session and an informal reception.

Tickets for The Forum are $7 for the public, $5 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $3 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the Service Center in the east lobby of Davies Center.

Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for The Forum.

Funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, The Forum is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

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JS/NW

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