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LIVE from the NYPL: Rebecca Solnit and Peter Coyote in Conversation

September 24, 2009

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Why is it that in the aftermath of a disaster whether natural or manmade so many people suddenly become altruistic, resilient, resourceful, and brave, stirred and motivated by a newfound sense of community and purpose? Rebecca Solnit shows how disaster throws people into a temporary utopia of changed states of mind, and how the social connectedness that subsequently arises can help lead us to a new vision of what society could become one that is more collaborative, cooperative, and local. Solnit's narrative travels through five major North American disasters, from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and the 1917 explosion that tore up Halifax,Nova Scotia, to the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The book also visits the London Blitz, Argentina's 2001 economic disaster, Nicaragua's politically profound 1972 earthquake, Hollywood's take on disaster and heroism, anarchists, disaster sociologists, and other forms of social engagement that produce society and create exhilaration, from carnivals and fiestas to parades and political revolutions.

About Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is the author of ten books, including Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West, Wunderlust, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, and River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, which won five awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and the Mark Lynton History Prize. In 2003, Solnit received a prestigious Lannon Literary Award. She lives in San Francisco.

 

 

About Peter Coyote

The actor Peter Coyote, has worked with some of the most distinguished filmmakers such as Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar, Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderberg, Diane Kurys and Sidney Pollack. He is the author of the extraordinary memoir about the 1960's counter-culture, Sleeping Where I Fall. A chapter from this memoir, "Carla's Story," won the 1993/94 Pushcart Prize for Excellence in non-fiction. From 1975 to 1983 he was a member and then Chairman of the California State Arts Council. During his Chairmanship, State expenditures on the arts rose from 1 to 16 million dollars annually. He is an ordained Buddhist who has been practicing for 34 years. Coyote is engaged in political and social causes and has been since his early teens. He recently returned from Syria and Lebanon, writing about the American invasion of Syria in October of 2008, Havana and Morocco. He is currently writing three television pilots for producers in Los Angeles.

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Peter Coyote and Rebeca Solnit interview

There are portions of the video where the sound is garbled unfortunately. Does anyone else have this experience?