Ayana Elizabeth Johnson participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2022. During this residency she worked on The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2022. Ayana is a marine biologist, policy expert, and conservation strategist. She is the founder of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm specializing in ocean conservation and social justice, and Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for climate change policy in coastal cities.
From the book
In a melting, flaming, unhealthy world, how do we hold on to our biophilia, make sense of the mess, and navigate toward solutions? This is a big question. Each essay in this collection is a piece of the answer. […] At the most basic level, this book is filled with what I, personally, find poignant and fascinating. It is populated through the lenses of my predilections and biases. I am biased toward surprises and solutions. I am biased toward diversity in an expansive sense of that term – therein lies the stability of ecosystems and the magic of humanity.
A few words with Ayana
“This collection arcs from observations to actions, from slime and giraffes, to climate solutions and nature restoration. I organized the anthology into five sections: Nature is Magnificent, Nature is Roiled, Humans are Part of Nature, Ways of Knowing, and Futures We Could Have.
“The book is filled with glorious pieces by writers who are diverse across race, geography, age, areas of expertise, and writing styles. To counter the bias toward choosing pieces by more established journalists who publish in big name outlets, I read hundreds of pieces and dug far beyond what was nominated in order to select the 33 pieces that are included.
“I wrote an introduction that details my attempt to create an inclusive selection process and parses my own biases (e.g., toward ecology and planet Earth). There is so much magnificent and fascinating and compelling writing — it was extremely hard to choose!
My advice for anyone heading to the Bellagio Center to write would be: Be disciplined about it, even if that’s not your usual style. The time will fly by!
A collection of the best science and nature articles written in 2021, selected by guest editor and marine biologist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.
To find out more about Ayana’s work, you can visit her website. Or, you can simply follow her on Twitter or Instagram.