lesschestI am a writer, a teacher, a mother, and an advocate for wildlife and wild spaces.

Sustainable food campaigns form my work, from climate-friendly and just transition policy, school food programs, municipal and institutional procurement, sanctuary practices, food sovereignty efforts, to individual consumer campaigns.

I have written reports on grocery industry food waste and institutional menu shifts and made dozens of appearances in podcasts, interviews, presentations and radio shows, and submitted numerous testimony to county, state, federal and local policymakers in comment periods or requests for public presentations.

Advocacy writing has appeared in The Hill, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mongabay, The Guardian, USA Today, Food Tank, The Salt Lake Tribune, and Chicago Business among others, and I’ve been widely interviewed from VICE to The Guardian to Bloomberg News. Essays on nature have appeared in KCET and The Sacramento Bee.

Literary writing has appeared in the anthology Joy Interrupted: an Anthology on Motherhood & Loss as well as the anthology The Sister Fidelma Mysteries: Essays on the Historical Novels of Peter Tremayne. As a humor essayist, I have written on a variety of topics including dementia, mother-daughter relationships, childhood, and lifestyles.

My academic writing includes literary analysis of women writers, pedagogical approaches to teaching, and the link between state violence and domestic violence. My doctoral dissertation is Violence, Silence, and SacrificeViolence is a key theme in much of my work, including writing about violence to animals, violence against the environment, the value of mixed martial arts, and the complex dynamics of interpersonal violence.

For more than 15 years, I was a university professor and taught literature, writing, rhetoric, gender, film, and cultural studies at the college level. I hold a Ph.D. from the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the preeminent global institution for Irish Studies. I have been a guest lecturer at universities in the United Kingdom and the United States, presented papers at top international conferences at University of London, Queens University (Belfast), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), Erasmus University (the Netherlands), University of Salamanca (Spain), Charles University (Czech Republic), and my award-winning research on radical women in Irish history has been published in peer-reviewed journals and books.

I lead food campaigns for the Center for Biological Diversity, an international conservation organization, where I advocate for a just, sustainable food system for people, wildlife and the planet. I am on the publicity committee for the food justice and sustainable food initiative Home Grown Bay Area and am an advisory board member for Friends of the Noyo River.  Finally, I am creator of Food X and author at Medium.

16 thoughts on “About

  1. One of the most wonderful aspects of this world of blogging is the connections that are made. In your own case, the connection would not have happened if you had not recently decided to follow Learning from Dogs. Thank you. Two further things come to mind: 1. Would love a guest from you, see: https://learningfromdogs.com/interaction/; 2. Would you like to review my book? If yes, then email me a postal address and I will put a copy in the mail. More details on the book here: https://learningfromdogs.com/buy-the-book/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow!!! You are doing so much awesome work! I am so impressed. I totally support all of your endeavors. I’m actually an Irish citizen and the man I would be with if not for the ocean still is in Galway. What you wrote about women during the war is really fascinating. When I looked at the books section I didn’t see your name. Do you use the name Peter for writing novels? Your work with domestic violence really interests me. I’ve actually been trying to find statistics about domestic violence and also rape. But also making sure to have the information about men who are or were sexually abused. In the United States that’s becoming a bigger issue as more men are brave enough to come forth and none of the programs and centers have anything to help them. I also wondered if you studied domestic violence in the LGBTQ community ?

    The first prison Circle that contacted me learned about me because I was writing to a woman in Earth First! She was a member. I send cards to political prisoners and she was there for rescuing horses. I haven’t been happy with that organization due to their very weak stance about exposing sexual predators in the different activist communities. Unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of men misuse their power. And nothing was done – except we have lost so many women. It’s a really common problem for women to leave different activist communities because we are still not treated like equals and can be actively harassed. It’s not a safe space. One of my projects is not only to make sure that keeps being addressed but also the Ableism in different activist communities.

    I blogged a really great article somebody wrote about the not just misogynist but also misanthropic attitudes of animal rights activists as if you have to choose one or the other – for me I know I am an animal so how could I possibly choose? I am both. In one of the books published by the Bioneers some Native American activists recall when they met members of Greenpeace and were very shocked because of the self-hatred and hatred of humans . They taught me the word kincentric. Studying permaculture also showed me that there was not a war between humans and nature because we are nature and there have always been ways of working with the land that benefits us and the land because whatever is good for the land is best for the humans. Having severe multiple chemical sensitivity and being unable to go outside because of woodstoves or where there are humans because they’re dowsed in chemicals I tell people anything you put on your body hair or clean with , you are harming, others and the environment.

    And also the common denominator is the environment and human overpopulation. When people try to focus on single issues I remember what Andre Lourdes said about how none of us live single issue lives. There are so many ways to connect all of the different issues and instead of fighting about which one means the most to take the power in numbers by being aware of the actual common problems and goals. And look to who the real enemy is. I felt like you must’ve studied ecofeminism somewhat.

    Anyway what you were doing is really amazing work. Unfortunately it’s too hard for me to see the photographs of dead and suffering animals so I don’t know how often I will be able to visit your blog. I know that when in college for nonviolent social change and also for community organizing we learned that images of horrifying suffering make people turn away from organizations . The American anti-vivisection Association really has mastered focusing on their successes which is why people donate money – you can look through their information and there’s nothing to give you nightmares and people feel like they are financing a group that is having success . Because that’s what they focus on. I know you are not writing to raise money although I do know that’s about half the work at any nonprofit right now. Studies by eco-psychologists actually found that giving people information about climate change was so disturbing to people that they immediately started consuming more – they went to their addiction to calm down. I think with the media saturation it’s a lot harder now . It’s not like 25 years ago when we just get together once a month with friends and write letters based on the Amnesty International newsletter. It’s just a nonstop pummeling of traumatizing images and devastating news. I think that might have something to do with the high suicide rate for young activists. I easily could have been one of them. If I was living in the “information age.”

    What did you think of PETA online pornography? That was a slap in the face to me. It made it very clear that they are not committed to real change in the world .

    Anyway I am really impressed with how much you have accomplished and what you are currently doing. I’m amazed that you haven’t burnt out especially since you’re mostly dealing with very horrible information and news and day after day of that can be really painful I have experienced or make some people become numb. Have you done any writing about how to keep your sanity and not burn out, because I am trying to collect those sorts of stories because there are so many young people without very much experience in charge of so many organizations with a very high turnover rate – we don’t seem to be keeping people around long enough to be elders and offering not only their wisdom as activists but also on how to sustain yourself emotionally . Financially is a whole different issue 🙂 I would really love to read anything written about how you maintain such a high level of productivity writing about such painful topics. It took getting several serious illnesses for me to feel that self-care was important and not selfish.

    One of the hardest things about writing a book for people in prison is that they have no possibility of making ecologically sound choices. Since I consider a nature religion must be rooted in actual understanding of ecology and how we fit into nature , we don’t just visit it or have lipservice in a ritual , it is difficult when people have the most terrible food and no access to even fresh air, living in sick buildings, forced to do work with chemicals with no real ventilation or protective masks , and if they can have access to candles they are paraffin and some of them might buy ” magical stones” supporting the mining industry but they can’t even pick up a pebble outside. I don’t want people to feel guilty for the fact that they have no control over their lives but I also want to bring those ideas into the book for when they are released. How can you relate to the elements in prison? There is a furnace somewhere providing heat and hot water, metal pipes possibly carrying water , stone and steel building walls and fences – it takes quite a lot of creativity. Plus the mythology of Ireland is basically clearcutting the island. It’s not at all a good environmental mythology. That sort of Iron Age attitude is still at work considering nature as an adversary so that always has to be addressed.

    Anyway thank you so much for following my blog. I’m too sick to follow people’s blogs but I do sometimes visit sporadically. You will probably have posts I will want to share.

    In solidarity, Heather


    1. Thanks Heather! Actually the research on graphic images is that these images, used primarily, can overwhelm and deter an audience from following, whereas cuddly images of animals are inviting. However, what is found to be most effective, when it comes to making points about animal welfare, is interspersing at about a 70-30 or 80-20 ratio positive images with graphic images, which is the strategy I effect here. I use more graphic images very sparingly, and only when I feel the nature of the ask and topic really requires this footage. I promise I will post primarily 90% images we can enjoy, as I am quite the lover of photography.

      You are right, facing severe animal cruelty, and cruelty to humans, day in and day out can be exhausting. Self care is also crucial – Mark Hawthorne, a friend of mine, wrote a good book about that you might find useful, as a way for activists to nurture themselves and others. It is called Striking at the Roots.

      Let me know if you’d like to discuss any of this further, from domestic violence to prison writing to permaculture to kincentrism.

      Thank you for your in-depth response and shared interests. Be well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so sorry I didn’t see your reply! Being sick does that. I’m very interested in all those things and your friend’s book. I’ve been feeling really burnt out and being so isolated (like a zoo animal I think) and asking people how they manage emotionally with so much oppression and so little support.
        It was the image on the first post I saw that freaked me out. Then later I was like, well, these are awesome!


  3. Very inspiring(You’re an academic person, activist, writer, photographer among other things), what a great role model to follow. I’m deeply moved, humbled & thankful that an amazing person like you had followed me. Wishing you all luck with all your endeavours. Bless you.😊


  4. When I think about a book about wolves I think of “Never Cry Wolf” by Farley Mowat. That’s a favorite, so I’ll be interested in your perspective.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s