On Common Ground: Combining Arts, Humanities, and Sciences

September 15, 2021

The experiential “On Common Ground” will take place this September 17-19 at Joy Hollow in Iowa’s north Loess Hills. This natural exploration combines science with the arts and humanities.

“On Common Ground” was established to promote the stewardship of Iowa’s Loess Hills by fostering greater awareness of and appreciation for this exceptional natural landscape through print and digital media.

This convergence experience brings together artists, writers and naturalists to share space and stories and exemplifies how place-based experience invigorates collaboration. 

The schedule includes: an introduction to the Loess Hills, Broken Kettle bison trip, prairie burn, Sioux City prairie architecture walking tour, and much more for the 32 participants attending. Connie Mutel and Dan O’Brien are the facilitators of this outing.

Connie Mutel is an ecologist by training and has written and edited several books that reflect her passion for describing, preserving, and restoring the natural world. Her books include “Fragile Giants: A Natural History of the Loess Hills” and “The Emerald Horizon: An Ecological History of Iowa.” Before retiring, Mutel was a senior Science Writer at the University of Iowa’s broad-based IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering institute, where she worked with the Iowa Flood Center and other such projects.

Dan O’Brien is a wildlife biologist, rancher and celebrated falconer who was a prime mover the restoration of peregrine falcons in the Rocky Mountains in the 1970’s and 80’s. His novels include “The Spirit of the Hills,” “In the Center of the Nation,” “Brendan Prairie,” “The Contract Surgeon,” “The Indian Agent,” “Stolen Horses,” and “Eminent Domain,” a collection of short stories which won the 1987 Iowa Short Fiction Award.

“On Common Ground” is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources – REAP CEP, and the M.A. Martin Everist Foundation. Scientific and creative works inspired by this experience will be published in a forthcoming book.

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