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The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds

University of Chicago Press

The Way of Coyote is a work of creative nonfiction that highlights various urban animals and they ways in which they can expand our care for and understandings of place. One way to describe the book: Lao-Tzu (legendary author of the Tao Te Ching), Aldo Leopold (legendary ecologist), and the quintessential urban trickster, Coyote, meet for drinks, then go hiking and reeling through Chicago's streets, forest preserves, and shorelines in search of an urban land ethic.

Read the sample chapter, "Channel Coyotes"

Read the sample chapter, “Desire Lines”

Van Horn reminds us that urban is not the same as absence of nature. He writes with great beauty and dignity about how we might better align ourselves with the natural world and establish urban habitats where a diversity of wildlife can flourish.
— Wall Street Journal

Wildness: Relations of People and Place

Edited by Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer

The relative wild—degrees of wild relatedness across landscapes and depth of wild kinship in place—set the tone for each contributor’s exploratory journey into what wildness is, what it could be, and how it might be recovered in our lives. The essays in this volume navigate a path that scans from the ground up, telling stories about real people in real places, across the landscape continuum, from formally designated wilderness areas to densely populated urban neighborhoods. In all these landscape types, there is wildness to be found and wildness to which we are linked by mutual responsibility, and stories that provide models for living-with and becoming-more.

Read a sample chapter | Listen to an interview on the Edge Effects podcast

[Wildness is] a great book that examines the ideas of wildness in wilderness, in rural areas, and in urban areas. It looks at wildness from the Euro-American perspective but also from other cultures and nationalities. It really explores and explodes the ideas of what wildness is, how it functions, why we need it, and how we can cultivate it in our lives. A dynamic group of voices sharing their views and love for wildness.
— Sean Prentiss (Amazon.com review)
“[Wildness] deserves a place on the shelf with the finest environmental literature of the day.”
— Pam Cipkowski [Goodreads.com]

City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness

Edited by Gavin Van Horn and Dave Aftandilian

We usually think of cities as the domain of humans—yet we are just one of thousands of species who calls the urban landscape home. City Creatures is rooted in Chicago’s landscape, but nature lovers from cities around the globe will discover a wealth of urban animal encounters that will open their senses to new worlds that have been there all along. The powerful combination of insightful narratives, numinous poetry, and full-color art throughout the book invites readers to see the city—and the creatures who share it with us—in an entirely new light.

Read a sample chapter, "Tickling the Bellies of the Buffalo"Watch an interview on WTTW (PBS)

This book sets a fantastic banquet for anyone interested in Chicago’s natural and cultural diversity —from people who are new to the city to long-term residents who think they’ve seen it all.
— Theobroma (Amazon.com review)


“The Cool Red Eye of Chicago”

Zoomorphic 4 (January 2016)

"Ever since I moved to Chicago, I’ve been pondering the question of whether there is a single animal that best captures the essence of this city. Can an animal incarnate a place?..."

Photo: Jimmy Thomas, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Photo: Jimmy Thomas, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

“Knowing Maggie”

Red Savina Review (2015), Nominated for a "Best of the Net" Award

"I don’t know you, magpie. I know your corvid cousins. I discovered a valuable lesson some time ago: follow the crows, that’s where the action is. (When for reasons of their own, they aren’t following you.) I am guessing the same is true of you, Maggie. Can I call you that? No, you’re right—too familiar, not yet..."


“The Senseless Barrier between Science and Art”

Aldo Leopold Foundation Blog (September 2015)

"Humans are storytellers. They are also storydwellers..." 

D&R Canal towpath outside Princeton, Nick Babladelis, some rights reserved CC BY NC

D&R Canal towpath outside Princeton, Nick Babladelis, some rights reserved CC BY NC

“Walking Stories”

EcoTheo Review (March 2014)

"In the beginning … was the story. Before the word was the Word, before there were buildings, before there were high priests, before there were commandments, before there was writing itself, there was story. The rocks in the landscape, the creatures that dwelt nearby, the lights puncturing the vaulted dome of sky, the paths amidst them—these were the mnemonics of story, offering a living cartography of relationship..."