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directors' statement:

2022 was an exciting year for the Confluence Lab. In Moscow, Leah Hampton thrived in her role as Fellow In Residence, continuing her work on the narrative backbone of the Pacific Northwest Climate Justice Atlas project and bringing a team of Lab members to Oregon for a community workshop (details below). We were thrilled to welcome Sasha White into the Lab as our two-year Mellon Predoctoral Fellow! Sasha will pursue a PhD in Environmental Science while serving as project coordinator for the Atlas. Together with Megan Davis and other Lab interns, and CDIL’s Evan Williamson, Sasha helped create the “Where There Is Smoke” project, a crowd-sourced digital map that documents experiences of wildfire smoke in the Pacific Northwest and further afield. A companion postcard project invites people to share their experiences of wildfire smoke by mail.


Lab Co-founder and Co-director Teresa Cavazos Cohn started her new job as Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources & the Environment at the University of New Hampshire, expanding the Lab into a trans-regional network and leading a new NSF grant proposal to build on our previous pilot project. Lab members Kristin Haltinner and Dilshani Sarathchandra also submitted a proposal to NSF, which is under review. The Lab celebrated the graduation of our first PhD student, Kayla Bordelon, as we successfully wrapped up a two-year NSF Stories of Fire project. Kayla was awarded Outstanding PhD Student in the Environmental Science Program! In 2023, our core team will continue building the Atlas of Fire projects and developing novel approaches to science communication that center narrative and emotion in all aspects of the scientific process. Lab member Stacy Isenbarger created a beautiful new website for the Lab. 

member news

Lab Co-founder and Co-director Erin James published a new book, Narrative in the Anthropocene (Ohio State University Press). You can hear her speak about this work on two podcasts: New Books in Literary Studies and Narrative for Social Justice.

Lab Co-founder and Co-director Jenn Ladino, along with Leda Kobziar, Jack Kredell, and Teresa Cohn, co-authored an article, “How Nostalgia Drives and Derails Living with Wildland Fire in the American West,” for a special issue of the journal Fire dedicated to Rethinking Wildland Fire Governance. It is a free, open-access publication found HERE.


A firefighter reaches to connect with a giant sequoia wrapped in protective fire shelter “blankets” in Sequoia National Park during the CA wildfires of September 2021.

Image Credit: Gary Kazanjian, Getty Images.

Stacy Isenbarger’s artwork was featured in various exhibitions throughout the US and Broadsided Press’s Anthology Fifteen Years of Poetic and Artistic Collaboration, 2005-2020 published in April.


Isenbarger also had three solo exhibitions including Detachment Sweet Detachment (Betty Foy Sanders Visual Arts Gallery, Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus, Savannah, GA), Edged Means: Threshold (College of Western Idaho, Nampa, ID) and Erosion of Air (Gardiner Gallery of Art, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK).

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Isenbarger installing Porch Song in Savannah, GA.

Kristin Haltinner and Dilshani Sarathchandra’s forthcoming book Inside the Lives of Climate Change Skeptics (University of Washington Press) features survey and interview data with climate skeptics in the pacific northwest to offer insight into the ways that identity, trust, and ideology shape the complexity of skepticism. Recently they talked about their book in an episode of The Vandal Theory Podcast


Kayla Bordelon completed her PhD and started a new job as Assistant Professor of Practice and Regional Fire Specialist, Western Region, in Oregon State University’s Natural Resources Extension Program.  

Sasha White exhibited artworks and a collaborative performance piece in the inaugural event for the Fuel Ladder art research group, hosted by the University of Oregon’s Center For Art Research in Eugene, Oregon. The exhibition served as the culminating event for the Pacific Northwest Just Futures Institute’s “Futures of Work” Symposium, in which Erin James presented on the Stories of Fire Atlas Project.


In November the Confluence Lab partnered with Coalicion Fortaleza and Our Family Farms to lead a fire resiliency and map-making workshop in Oregon’s Rogue Valley. The 2020 Almeda Fire impacted the Rogue Valley/Jackson County area profoundly, and local nonprofit organizers invited a Confluence team to the area for an afternoon of inter-organizational reflection, information sharing, and map making. The resulting maps of organizations and county resources will be completed and digitized by a Confluence graphic designer at the University of Idaho and given back to local Rogue Valley organizations to help with their future fire resiliency planning and messaging.


Teresa Cohn, Erin James, and Jenn Ladino co-led a workshop at Colorado College in February to pilot their Narrative Science framework.


Images from Confluence Community Workshop: 

Mapping Fire Recovery in Oregon's Rogue Valley

Kayla Bordelon, in her role with the NASA-sponsored Earth to Sky Idaho Regional Hub for Climate Communication, co-coordinated a multi-day professional development workshop for Idaho educators in February: “Recharge: Connecting Educators and Scientists to Explore Water Issues in Idaho.” Jenn Ladino joined her for a session on “Engaging Emotions in Climate Change Education.”


In May, Erin James traveled to Boise to participate in that city’s first ever Youth Climate Summit. The event, planned and coordinated by local high school students, asked “How can students use storytelling, arts, and civic engagement to promote climate action?” Erin ran a workshop with over sixty students and high school teachers on how stories can help communicate climate change.

The Lab hosted Dr. Peter Kalmus, NASA climate scientist, activist, and author of Being The Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, for a Zoom lecture and conversation on Earth Day, April 22: “Facts Aren’t Enough: Communicating Earth Breakdown.” We are grateful for the co-sponsorship of ENVS, ENGL, JAMM, the Sustainability Center, and the Citizens Climate Lobby.


Boise Youth Climate Summit. Photo credit: Jenny Wolf

Dr. Peter Kalmus

Jenn Ladino and Kayla Bordelon completed the final two community workshops in their IHC-sponsored series, “Our Changing Climate: Finding Common Ground Through Climate Fiction,” in Lewiston and Grangeville in May.


Erin was thrilled to receive an invitation to participate in the American Fisheries Society conference in Spokane in August. Organizers of the “Advances in Endogenous Records with Connections to Indigenous Knowledge, Lands, and Waterways” panel sought out the Lab’s expertise in the uses of storytelling in science communication and practice. 

We featured the research of ENVS PhD students at two working lunches in the fall. In September, Sasha White introduced her creative project, First Aid Kit for the Fire-Prone, which investigates slippages of art, medicine and ecology in Oregon’s fire-prone landscapes; Phin Lampman shared his work in Leda Kobziar’s lab piloting drones equipped with various air samplers, meteorological sensors, and cameras for remote sensing over wildland fires. He even brought in a drone to show us! In November, Jack Kredell and Grace Pevin shared research projects on fire and water at the Taylor Wilderness Research Station, focusing on how environmental change and disturbance plays a critical role in determining scientific as well as personal attachments to landscape.

upcoming 2023 events:

In conjunction with the Prichard Art Gallery of the University of Idaho, we will host a three-part, juried online art exhibition series called Stories of Fire. This series is organized by Stacy Isenbarger, Sasha White, Megan Davis & North Bennett. Part one, Ground Truths, is scheduled to open online in early April 2023.

past reports:

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