DATE: Thursday, June 11, 2009
TIME: 6:30 PM-8:00 PM
MODERATOR: Andrew Revkin
PARTICIPANTS: Alex Matthiessen, David Gonzalez, Elizabeth Hutchinson, Eric Sanderson, John Waldman

Celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival by exploring the eponymous river’s history from its pristine days, through its decline during the industrial revolution, to its heartening rebirth as an environmental success story. The program will include a special presentation by Eric Sanderson of his remarkable Mannahatta Project, a 3D computer recreation of 1609 New Amsterdam, and dramatic readings by acclaimed storyteller and poet David Gonzalez. Join New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin in a lively conversation with Riverkeeper President Alex Matthiessen and noted experts on American art history and the Hudson’s rich aquatic life.

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Environmental Reporter

Andrew Revkin is the senior fellow for environmental understanding at Pace University’s Academy for Applied Environmental Studies and writes the Dot Earth blog for The New York Times. A prize-winning journalist, online communicator, and author, he has spent nearly three decades covering subjects ranging from the assault on the Amazon to the troubled relationship of climate science and politics.

From 1995 through 2009, he covered the environment for The Times as a staff reporter. His work on climate change has won most of the major awards for science journalism and a John Chancellor Award from Columbia University for sustained journalistic excellence. Revkin has been a pioneer in multimedia communication, blogging, and shooting still and video imagery in far-flung places. He has also carried his journalism to a new generation in The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World, the first account of Arctic climate change written for the whole family. His other books include The Burning Season and Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast.

Revkin lives in the Hudson River Valley with his wife and two sons. In spare moments, he is a performing songwriter and plays in a folk-roots band, Uncle Wade.


President of Riverkeeper

Alex Matthiessen is the President of Riverkeeper, the organization that has been leading the decades-long effort to reclaim the Hudson River. By forging partnerships with leading academic and research institutions, he has strengthened and expanded Riverkeeper’s environmental enforcement efforts and advanced scientific understanding of the Hudson River.

While at Interior, he received a Presidential Award from the White House for his Green Energy Parks initiative. Previous to that, Matthiessen spent a year in Indonesia as an economic policy analyst for the Harvard Institute for International Development and a summer working at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Earlier in his career, he was the grassroots program director for the Rainforest Action Network in San Francisco. More recently, Alex served on Governor-elect Spitzer’s policy advisory committee advising the then governor-elect on energy and environmental policy matters. He also served as chair of the Energy Committee of the Westchester County Climate Change Task Force as well as chair of the Water Resources Committee of the MTA Blue Ribbon Commission on Sustainability. Matthiessen earned a Masters of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1995 and a BA, with degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies, from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1988.

Playwright, Poet, Actor

Playwright, storyteller, musician, poet, and actor, David Gonzalez was nominated for a 2006 Drama Desk Award for his original production The Frog Bride at Broadway’s New Victory Theater. His poem, Oh Hudson, was commissioned by the Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center to commemorate the Quadricentennial of Hudson’s exploration. Gonzalez wrote Rise for Freedom!, an opera libretto commissioned and produced by the Cincinnati Opera in 2007, and Mariel, an Afro-Cuban musical which won the Macy’s New Play Prize for Young Audiences. Gonzalez’ poetry has been featured at Lincoln Center’s Out-of-Doors Festival, Bill Moyers’ documentary Fooling with Words on PBS, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He has created numerous theatrical productions including the critically acclaimed ¡Sofrito! with Larry Harlow and the Latin Legends Band. His many works; Double Crossed: The Saga of the St. Louis, commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution, As If The Past Were Listening, The Secret of the Ceiba Tree, MytholoJazz, Finding North, and City of Dreams, have been performed at many of the best performing arts centers, theaters, and festivals in the US and abroad. He was a featured performer at the 2007 National Storytelling Festival.

Gonzalez received his doctorate in Music Therapy from New York University’s School of Education. Currently he is Artist-In-Residence at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland where he is working on Wounded Splendor, a multi-media theater piece about our responsibility to the natural world.

Art Historian

Elizabeth Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Art History at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the author of The Indian Craze: Primitivism, Modernism, and Transculturation in American Art, 1890-1915. For the past several years, she has participated in “River Summer,” an interdisciplinary field course on the Hudson River organized by the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley colleges and universities.

Landscape Ecologist

By examining historical maps and archeological records in combination with geographic computer modeling and scientific sleuthing, Eric Sanderson has reimagined the old growth forests, wetlands and meadows that Henry Hudson saw when he first arrived on the shores of Manhattan in 1609. A landscape ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Sanderson works at the boundary of ecology and geography, but informed by a background in literature and an interest in history.

In his day job at WCS (formerly the New York Zoological Society) he focuses on planning conservation of wildlife, including lions, tigers, bears, jaguars, tapirs, peccaries, American crocodiles, North American bison and Mongolian gazelle to date. He also studies wild places in Argentina, Tanzania, Mongolia, and the Yellowstone and Adirondack parks in the United States. He has also created what he calls Human Footprint and Last of the Wild, the first ever visual representation of modern humanity’s impact on its only planet at less than one square mile resolution. His conservation efforts have been featured in National Geographic Magazine, the New York Times, Der Spiegel and Ranger Rick. He has edited two scientific books and written numerous scientific papers, in addition to his just-published book, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City.

Sanderson received his Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California, Davis. He also holds a Bachelors of Arts and Science in English literature and Biochemistry from Davis. He joined the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2000 and is currently Associate Director in the Living Landscapes Program.


John Waldman is professor of biology at Queens College, City University of New York. Prior to this appointment in 2004, he was employed for 20 years by the Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research. His research interests focus on the ecology and evolution of fishes, particularly diadromous forms, urban aquatic environments, and historical ecology. He also is author of several popular books, including Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor. He received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the Joint Program in Evolutionary Biology between the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York.