Celebrate Earth Day with Award-Winning Writers April 22

“Of Thirst, Beauty and Vision: Writing to Save Our Waters” will honor four of Gainesville’s Florida Book Award winners and Ron Cunningham, recipient of the premier Vision Award of Florida’s Eden, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 22 in E Auditorium at Santa Fe College’s Northwest Campus. Admission is free.

The event will feature four Gainesville-based Florida Book Award winners reading from and discussing their work, including Cynthia Barnett’s new book about rain and Jack E. Davis’s new book about the Gulf of Mexico. Lola Haskins and Margaret Ross Tolbert will also be honored. Along with Cunningham, the writers will join in a discussion and answer questions from the audience. Refreshments will be served and books will be available for purchase after the event.

“We want to raise awareness about the strong current of environmental and nature writing that runs through north Florida,” said Annie Pais, executive director of Florida’s Eden. “We want to encourage young and emerging writers to explore and continue this vibrant literary tradition. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day!”

Barnett, formerly a senior writer with the business magazine Florida Trend, won gold in nonfiction at the Florida Book Awards in 2007 for her book “Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.”  Davis, professor of history at the University of Florida  won gold in nonfiction in 2009 for “An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century.” Haskins, a poet, won silver in poetry in 2010 for “Still, the Mountain” and bronze in poetry in 2012 for “The Grace to Leave” and painter Margaret Ross Tolbert, won gold in nonfiction and silver in visual arts in 2010 for “AQUIFERious.” Tolbert provided an image of her painting, “Springs Light,” for use in publicity for “Of Thirst, Beauty and Vision.”

The event will also mark the presentation of the first Vision Award of Florida’s Eden to Cunningham, former editorial page editor of The Gainesville Sun, in recognition for his many years of editorials about Florida’s water issues. Cunningham, who recently retired from the newspaper, is now executive director of BikeFlorida and continues to write occasional opinion columns for The Gainesville Sun.

“We’re overdue for this celebration,” Pais continued, “because although our Florida Book Award winners have appeared all over the state in panel discussions and presentations about water issues, this is the first time they will be honored as a group here in their hometown.”

“Of Thirst, Beauty and Vision” is the final event in Primavera, a month-long celebration of the height of Gainesville’s spring cultural season. Primavera was created by Florida’s Eden in part to spotlight Gainesville as the destination hub for North Florida’s springs region.

Sponsors of the event include Florida Humanities Council; Santa Fe College Fine Arts; Alta Systems, Inc.; VisitGainesville; Doug Smith and Beth Davis; Pais LLC: Real Estate, Renovations & Landscapes; Primavera and GainesvilleConnect.com.

The Florida Book Awards is an annual program that recognizes, honors and celebrates the best Florida literature and books about Florida published in the previous year. The awards are coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries with numerous co-sponsors. For more information about the Florida Book Awards, see http://floridabookawards.lib.fsu.edu, email floridabookawards@gmail.com or call Gloria Colvin at 850-645-1680.

For more information about “Of Thirst, Beauty and Vision” or Florida’s Eden/The Blue Path, contact Annie Pais at 352-377-0777 or awpais@aol.com, or Lu Merritt, Blue Path coordinator, at 386-454-0415 or wordwitch@windstream.net. For interviews, contact Annie Pais.