“Let these facts be submitted to a candid world” were the words penned by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and at Hobart and William Smith these words were brought to today's environmental concerns by Terry Tempest Williams as she re-envisioned the Declaration of Sentiments as a Declaration of Sentience. Imagine, she said, giving rights to “beings without voice” — to the juniper, the willow flycatcher, the cottonwood, the red-spotted frog and others. She reflected further on our local history as a “landscape of spiritual activism” in which geographic relief has been brought through women's rights, abolition and new American Religion. Weaving her reflections together with readings from her books “Red,” “Refuge” and “Leap,” Williams connected the dots between the Seneca Army Depot to living downwind from the Nevada nuclear test sites as part of our shared nuclear history. “Public health” has been for too long “secondary to national security” she said.
The overflowing Geneva Room of students, faculty, staff and the wider Geneva community listened intently as Williams read her stories that bypassed rhetoric and transported her audience from Geneva to the Erotic Museum in Copenhagen as a way to prompt thought about eroticism as a radical passion inspiring transformation of our world to the everyday family living room in which environmental protection bumped up against economic viability, from women's peace encampments to the matter of peace today and the need for us to be forever vigilant. Her talk concluded with a standing ovation as she finished reading her poignant story of the “Clan of One-Breasted Women,” a narrative of generations of women in her family she has lost to cancer. This evening of words, vision, and calls for activism was part of the Fisher Center lecture series, co-sponsored by Writers Reading.