Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World
Date and Time:
Jun 12 2023 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Note: Event start time is Central Time (CT).


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Christian Cooper

Science and comics writer and editor, and the host and consulting producer of "Extraordinary Birder" on National Geographic

Natalie Y. Moore

Award-winning journalist and author

Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World

Activism | Adolescence | Behavior | Belonging | Community | Connection | Conservation | Culture | Diversity | Empathy | Equity | History | Identity | Inclusivity | Joy | Memoir | Race | Well Being | WIldlife

BONUS AFTER-HOURS EVENT: Attendees who purchase a copy of Better Living Through Birding from FAN’s partner bookseller The Book Stall are invited to attend an AFTER-HOURS event hosted by Cooper and Moore that will start immediately after the webinar. Details on the webinar registration page.

Christian Cooper is a self-described “Blerd” (Black nerd), an avid comics fan and expert birder who devotes every spring to gazing upon the migratory birds that stop to rest in Central Park, just a subway ride away from where he lives in New York City. While in the park one morning in May 2020, Cooper was engaged in the birdwatching ritual that had been a part of his life since he was ten years old when what might have been a routine encounter with a dog walker exploded age-old racial tensions. Cooper’s viral video of the incident would send shock waves through the nation.

In Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World, Cooper tells the story of his extraordinary life leading up to the now-infamous incident in Central Park and shows how a life spent looking up at the birds prepared him, in the most uncanny of ways, to be a gay Black man in America today. From sharpened senses that work just as well at a protest as in a park to what a bird like the Common Grackle can teach us about self-acceptance, Better Living Through Birding exults in the pleasures of a life lived in pursuit of the natural world and invites you to discover them yourself.

Equal parts memoir, travelogue, and primer on the art of birding, this is Cooper’s story of learning to claim and defend space for himself and others like him, from his days at Marvel Comics introducing the first gay storylines to vivid and life-changing birding expeditions through Africa, Australia, the Americas, and the Himalayas. Better Living Through Birding recounts Cooper’s journey through the wonderful world of birds and what they can teach us about life, if only we would look and listen.

Cooper will be in conversation with Natalie Y. Moore, an award-winning journalist covering segregation and inequality for WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR affiliate. Moore is the author of The Billboard, a play about abortion, and the acclaimed book The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation (2016). Ms. Moore’s reporting tackles race, housing, economic development, food injustice, and violence and her work has been broadcast on the BBC and Marketplace, and on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

This event suitable for youth 12+. It will be recorded and available on FAN’s website and YouTube channel.