Imagine driving into the desert, a place of wide open spaces where you can see for miles, and not being able to breathe. This was Mary Sojourner's first experience with desert, somewhere between Parker, AZ and 29 Palms.
Mary had moved west in 1985 from Rochester NY ‘to write and fight for the earth'. It was Edward Abbey’s ‘Monkey Wrench Gang’, which spoke to her loud and clear.
In 2007 Mary felt Flagstaff changing – gentrification as we know it today was happening. Mary was living in a small cabin with a wood stove, no running water, sharing a shower house and outhouse with other cabin dwellers. The landlord cashed in and rents were to be raised significantly.
At the same time, a chance encounter with a representative of Mojave Desert Land Trust brought Mary to Joshua Tree to conduct a writing workshop and do a joint reading with previous podcast guest, Susan Lang. Mary's accommodations turned out to be a small cabin, on Yucca Mesa and the experience of the Mojave desert while staying there found Mary leaving Arizona three weeks later to live in the Morongo Basin.
Mary stayed in the Mojave for about a year, finding magic on walks through washes and the trash blowing over from the local landfill, eventually taking her leave due to her body's unwillingness to manage the summer heat.
Mary has written three novels, 'Sisters of the Dream', '29' and 'Going Through Ghosts' and 35 years of her life has been fighting to stop uranium mines near the Grand Canyon, getting a pumice mine off the sacred San Francisco peaks, stopping developers from putting a gated golf-course community around wetlands in Arizona, and the ongoing struggle to get a local ski resort to stop making snow on the sacred mountains with reclaimed water. Her activism stems completely from the deep connection she feels with the earth.
We talk about the idea of ‘owning a piece of the earth’ and where this drive ‘to have’ in our current day and age has come from, why it seems more prevalent than ever and how it’s affecting our relationship with each other, the earth and it's resources.