Photo: Chad Hurst/WireImage.com
Terry Tempest Williams writes with intelligence, eloquence, and compassion about issues as disparate as nuclear testing, species extinction, genocide in Rwanda, and the need to preserve the American wilderness. A fifth-generation Utah Mormon and natural historian, she is also a survivor of the government's 1950s and '60s atomic testing in the desert Southwest. A tireless advocate of social justice, she has twice testified before Congress about women's health and the link between environmental toxins and cancer. Her friend and fellow writer Rick Bass puts her passion in perspective...
When I think of Terry I think of the great calm she can access in times of deep crisis. I think of the time she found herself housed in an Idaho jail and passed the night writing and reading with her spellbound meth-addict cellmates. Terry spent that night in jail because she had more important things to do than renew her driver's license or auto plates or insurance or any of it, so that when she got stopped it was straight to the clinker, the one place she least wanted to be—but also, on that particular night, the one place she most needed to be. All night long her reading of those women's words, and her own, calmed them, somehow reminded them of a calm each had once known but lost.
Possessing a healthy but hidden temper, a disdain for abuses of authority, and an aggravating streak of perfectionism, Terry writes from equal parts outrage and love. She is human enough to be part of the world (though she is not exactly of it). And she is the one, more than any other, whom I would pick to save it.