Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

September 28, 2005

Renowned Social Critic James Kunstler to Discuss Oil Crisis,
Urban Issues in Series of Spokane Events, Oct. 12 and 13

James Howard Kunstler, social critic of ill-conceived architecture and urban planning in America, has set his sights on a different blight of international proportions: America's dependence on oil: foreign oil, in particular. Kunstler, author of the book The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005), will visit Spokane Oct. 12 and 13 to discuss what can be done about the oil crisis as well as other urban and environmental ills.

Area colleges and universities including Whitworth, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington University and Spokane Falls Community College, as well as the American Planning Association and the Unitarian Universalist Church, are collaborating to bring Kunstler to Spokane as the featured guest in the following events that are free and open to the public:

Wednesday, Oct. 12:

  • A lecture at 11:30 a.m. in the music auditorium at SFCC

  • A lecture, "The Long Emergency," at 7 p.m. in Whitworth College's Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall

Thursday, Oct. 13:

  • Panel discussion from 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building at SFCC. Panelists include Kunstler; Gabor Zovanyi, EWU professor of urban and regional planning; Paul Lindholdt, EWU environmental advisor; Christy Lafayette, of Futurewise; and Glen Cosby, philosophy instructor and advisor for SCC's Student Association for Nature and the Environment. The panel discussion will be moderated by SFCC student Nicolas Hunt.

  • A lecture, based on Kunstler's book The Long Emergency at 7 p.m. in the Globe Room of Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University. Kunstler's lecture is part of Gonzaga's "The Other Side of War" lecture series.

For more information about these events, please contact Paul Haeder at (509) 533-3614 or paulha@spokanefalls.edu.

Kunstler wrote his first critique of American architecture and urban planning, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-made Landscape (1993), after the scene outside his window, on his street - the same scene as on most of the cities and streets in America - caught his attention. He describes this scene as "the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work."

The success of The Geography of Nowhere launched him into the spotlight as a commentator on America's hapless urban planning. In Geography he warns that "The future will require us to build better places, or the future will belong to other people in other societies."

Kunstler followed Geography with Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the Twenty-First Century (New York, NY 1996). Mike Weilbacher of The Philadelphia Inquirer described it as a "deliciously wicked over-the-top nonfiction romp across the tortured terrain of suburban America. This book is a wonderful whack-on-the-side-of-the-head to an increasingly complacent country bent on turning everywhere into Nowhere."

The third book in Kunstler's urban-planning trilogy is The City in Mind: Meditations on the Urban Condition (New York, NY, 2001). In it he examines eight cities - Paris, Atlanta, Mexico City, Berlin, Las Vegas, Rome, Boston and London - and discusses the ways in which their design and architecture have shaped their cultures and successes.

"Like the better cities he describes, Kunstler's literary territory is dazzlingly multifarious, frequently infuriating - and quite often exhilarating," wrote David Goldberg of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a review of Kunstler's works.

Kunstler's new nonfiction book, The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century, is a meditation on the impending energy crisis and an exploration of the sweeping economic, political and social changes that will result from the end of affordable fossil fuels.

The Long Emergency "graphically depicts the horrific punishments that lie ahead for Americans for more than a century of sinful consumption and sprawling communities, fueled by the profligate use of cheap oil and gas. Its central message - that the country will pay dearly unless it urgently develops new, sustainable community-scale food systems, energy sources, and living patterns - should be read, digested, and acted upon by every conscientious U.S. politician and citizen," says Michael Shuman, author of Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age.

In addition to his nonfiction books, Kunstler is the author of three novels and several children's books. He also writes for Orion magazine, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly, Slate.com, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine and Op-Ed page, where he often covers environmental and economic issues.

Kunstler has lectured extensively about urban design, the oil crisis, New Urbanism, and new economies for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Association of Science and Technology, and other professional organizations, as well as at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, MIT and the University of Virginia.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Tad Wisenor, director, annual giving, alumni, parent and church relations
(509) 777-4401or twisenor@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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