The Rocky Mountain Land Library is excited to announce a new ongoing book club, where the places we meet will also have their own stories to tell. We’ve gathered some of our favorite books on nature and the West for the club to read and discuss. Our book club discussions will be held at some of the lesser-known City Parks across Denver. Throughout the book club series, we will be discovering hidden surprises along the way; parks that have stories to add to the books we’ll be reading.
There will also be an underlining theme to all of the Denver Parks Book Club discussions: our basic human need for parks and open space. With each session we’ll take a moment to explore the history of the park and neighborhoods where we meet.
Here are the Books, and the Parks Where We Will Meet!
Grant Frontier Park: Butcher’s Crossing, a classic novel of the West, written by John Williams (who coincidentally taught at nearby University of Denver for over thirty years). Grant Frontier Park is the site of the first gold-panning of Denver’s South Platte River, an evocative place to talk about a book that is all about history’s blind rush for paradise on earth.
Globeville Landing Park: The Man Who Thought He Owned Water: On the Brink with American Farms, Cities, and Food by Tershia D’Elgin, the winner of the Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. Globeville Landing Park, with its innovative native grass filtering-marsh, is a perfect place to explore our relationship to the irreplaceable resource of water.
Babi Yar Park: A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek. Ari Kelman’s thoughtful book explores the Sand Creek Massacre and how it’s been remembered (or misremembered) to this day. This meeting will also be a good occasion to explore the power of memorial landscapes, whether it’s at Sand Creek, or at Babi Yar Park itself, which commemorates the Nazi massacre of over 200,000 Ukrainian Jews. We’re thrilled to have Randi Samuelson-Brown, author of The Beaten Territory, leading our discussion.
Inspiration Point Park:Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness, an eye-opening book on nature-in-the-city by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. If we haven’t had a crow visit our group by the end of our discussion, we can take a short walk to the vista point that will let us see the entire Front Range, with all its passing crows, hawks, and migrating birds.
The Denver Parks Book Club discussions are free, but space is limited. Be sure to register at the links above. You can sign up for all the books, or just one! All the discussions will be outdoors, and we’ll be sending more information to everyone registered. The Book Club’s Sunday meetings will get underway at 11am and conclude at 1pm, with plenty of time for everyone to explore and appreciate our host city park.
Chris Englert’s book Discovering Denver Parks was published in 2020. It quickly became one of the Land Library’s favorite pandemic books, inspiring the Denver Parks Book Club series. We highly recommend Chris’s book for anyone who wants to explore Denver’s 165 city and mountain parks.
This summer we will begin shelving an exciting new library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the Cook’s House Library on Food & Land. To help celebrate that milestone, we’ll be launching a new book club on that same theme. We’re excited to announce our first two book picks for this summer!
High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America brings Jessica Harris’ lifetime of knowledge and her masterful storytelling to a narrative history of the foods and foodways that began in Africa, and eventually flowered across the American continent.
Jessica Harris is the author of eleven cookbooks documenting the food traditions of the African diaspora, including The Africa Cookbook and The Welcome Table.
Join us at the Cook’s House as we discuss High on the Hog!
Eating the Landscape: American Indian Stories of Food, Identity, and Resilience is our second Cook’s House Book Club pick. Enrique Salmon’s illuminating book traverses a range of cultures on a journey through the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Salmon weaves his historical and cultural knowledge as a renowned indigenous ethnobotanist, with stories of American Indian farmers, to illustrate how indigenous foodways are rooted in a deep understanding of the land.
Enrique Salmon is the head of the American Indian Studies program at Cal State University. He is also the author of Iwigara: The Kinship of Plants and People. His own Raramuri family have gathered, grown and used plants for many medicinal and cultural purposes.
We are excited to announce our 7th Annual Summer Book Club pick — Lauren Redniss’ Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West. Given Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s deep history, and it’s current renovation, Oak Flat feels like a perfect book to discuss this summer.
Oak Flat is a serene high-elevation mesa that sits above the southeastern Arizona desert, fifteen miles to the west of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. For the San Carlos tribe, Oak Flat is a holy place, an ancient burial ground and religious site where Apache girls celebrate the coming-of-age ritual known as the Sunrise Ceremony. In 1995, a massive untapped copper reserve was discovered nearby. A decade later, a law was passed transferring the area to a private company, whose planned copper mine will wipe Oak Flat off the map—sending its natural springs, petroglyph-covered rocks, and old-growth trees tumbling into a void.
Oak Flat tells the story of a race-against-time struggle for a swath of American land, which pits one of the poorest communities in the United States against the federal government and two of the world’s largest mining conglomerates. The book follows the fortunes of two families with profound connections to the contested site: the Nosies, an Apache family whose teenage daughter is an activist and leader in the Oak Flat fight, and the Gorhams, a mining family whose patriarch was a sheriff in the lawless early days of Arizona statehood.
The still-unresolved Oak Flat conflict is ripped from today’s headlines, but its story resonates with foundational American themes: the saga of westward expansion, the resistance and resilience of Native peoples, and the efforts of profiteers to control the land and unearth treasure beneath it while the lives of individuals hang in the balance.
Oak Flat is “proof of art’s purpose: to expand minds, to promote beauty, and to make change.” —Lily, Meyer, National Public Radio
Lauren Redniss is the author of several works of visual non-fiction and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” Her book Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future won the 2016 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award. She has been a Guggenheim fellow, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers, and Artist-in-Residence at the American Museum of Natural History. She teaches at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.
For the past week of our Year-End Campaign we have focused on the Kids books and programs the Land Library has at South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, and at our urban home in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood.
We hope you enjoy this short video on the new Young Readers Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch — a fun and inspiring clubhouse for young naturalists!
NEW IN GLOBEVILLE: Three generous donors have collaborated on introducing more Spanish language books at our Land Library branch in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood. Here’s just a few new books we’ve been able to add thanks to this thoughtful donation!
This past September, the ranch’s International Harvester livestock truck woke up from more than 30 years of “lying in state.” The truck became the focus of Wyatt Rubey’s Eagle Scout project, as she asked, how can we convert an old ranch truck into a sheltered space for Land Library campers?
The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s mission is to help connect people to nature and the land. The residential library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park will give everyone access not only to the books, but also to the surrounding lands — a learning landscape for generations to come. The Eagle Scout project that Wyatt Rubey created will help us accomplish our mission by creating a unique ranch space for camping and gathering. Wyatt built a budget, sought donations and in-kind support, gathered a team of helpers, and organized the work parties to get the project done.
So in the end, how did the Rocky Mountain Land Library benefit? The ways are countless, but thanks to Wyatt’s hard work, this historic Colorado ranch has a new community gathering space. An old ranch truck has been converted into a lodging space full of sleeping-cots for ranch visitors and star-gazers. Surrounding the transformed truck are the picnic tables that Wyatt’s team repaired and restained. Truly, a new place at the ranch for people of all ages and from all locales to come together and enjoy the South Park landscape!
We have hundreds of people visiting the ranch each year — some to hike, some to fish, others to explore the ranch’s natural and cultural heritage. Artists, writers, photographers, and students of all ages flock to the quiet and beauty of Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Wyatt’s brilliant “ranch truck campsite” provides the Rocky Mountain Land Library with a much needed gathering & lodging place for those visitors.
Wyatt and her Denver BSA Troop 199 team had a rotting truck bed to deal with, a tarp to add to the metal roof beams, and a new set of stairs to add to the rear of the truck. Her team did it all, as these slides will show:
We often say that whenever we see people sharing the excitement and tranquility of being at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, whether they are taking a class, pitching in at a volunteer workday, or are part of a wonderful gathering such as the one we had this past weekend….
The Land Library hosted Colorado School of Mines’ first annual Environmental Leadership Lab. Over 50 students and CSM faculty took part in two days of workshops and field classes. They explored the ranch and river, and experienced South Park’s dramatic skies. photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
The ranch is a wonderful place to wander, providing a subtle feeling of freedom and expanded possibilities. Such a great place for young students to delve deeper into their love for the natural world. photo by Emily Berry
And delve deep they did! There were clusters of students spread across the ranch for the entire weekend. photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
Often you would see just two students intent on exploring their interests and passions together. photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
The ranch’s landscape and big skies served as inspiration and prompts for learning more. photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
An early morning climb of the ranch’s Reinecker Ridge gave the CSM students a brilliantly clear view of South Park and the mountain ranges beyond. photo by Mohammed Alnabbat
For students spending all day outside, there was a special joy in gathering at the newly restored Lambing Barn for warm and nourishing meals made from scratch! photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
Then there was the evening ritual of cattle drawing near to the ranch’s buildings, checking out the curious influx of CSM’s herd of energetic and curious students. photo by Emily Berry
Hiking the inland sea: off to explore the geology and ancient landscapes of a ranch with a lot of secrets to share. photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
Sometimes you just have to run! photo by Jade Glaister
We can’t wait for the Colorado School of Mines students’ tents to be pitched once more at Buffalo Peaks Ranch! photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
We have a feeling that the conversations started this past weekend will continue on…. photo by Shannon Davies Mancus
Buffalo Peaks Ranch came alive last Sunday for our first Friends and Family Ranch Day, presented in partnership with the multi-talented Park County Creative Alliance. Our normally quiet, historic ranch buzzed with art, music, and storytelling too! Youngsters also dived into the ranch’s Young Readers Library, and then went off exploring on their own, using the My Day at Buffalo Peaks Ranch as their guide!
THANKS to allthe artists, musicians, and historic reenactors forall they shared. What a great day at the ranch!
Thanks to our sponsors, the South Park National Heritage Area and The Summit Foundation – Soul of the Summit, for their generous support, and to the Park County Creative Alliance for being our brilliant program partners!
If you love history, art, photography, music, nature, books and more, please join us for a Friends & Family Ranch Day, presented by the Park Country Creative Alliance and the Rocky Mountain Land Library.
Come to historic Buffalo Peaks Ranch and experience History Inspiring Art. Artists, musicians, photographers and historic interpreters will be demonstrating their creative arts, while sharing tips and insights with everyone. Bring your own cameras, musical instruments, or art materials or grab some of the basic supplies we will have on hand and be inspired by the people and the place to produce your own art.
The kids will love the Young Readers Library, and learn more about nature and the history of the ranch with their very own Pocket Guide to Buffalo Peaks Ranch, plus a special bandana to help guide them on a scavanger hunt. Those who want to just relax and enjoy the beauty of the area can stop by the Main House and learn about the history of this historic ranch and South Park. Or simply take a stroll along the Middle Fork of the South Platte River!
The event is free, with a recommended $10 donation for individuals, or $30 donation for families. Registration begins at 9:30am on Sunday, August 15th, and the Friends & Family Ranch Day gets underway at 10:00am.