It was a Barry Lopez book that kicked this off. Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with his daughter — Coyote builds North America (1977: Shee Andrews and McMeel, Inc.). I am sure that Coyote built me as well. The book opens with the line "This is not a scholarly book; Old Man Coyote is not a scholarly character." Lopez deftly presents dozens of stories from dozens of tribal nations and traditions across North America that explore Coyote, an incredibly sophisticated character and one from whom I draw limitless inspriation. I've built my career, as Coyote has, hunting in thickets, chasing my own tail and bouncing between aesthetics and academics, regarding both as normalized inroads to natural history and the better understanding of California Ecology — the passion of my work.
This site, Coyote and Thunder, is a personal collection of some of my deeper meanderings, insights that might be out of place on my other, business oriented website www.californiafieldatlas.com. Constantly updated and forever mutable, please follow me and the prarie wolf into the wild and let's discuss just how beautiful this world can be.
Direct contact: email@example.com, phone 925-951-7501
Mail: P.O. Box 430, Crockett, CA 94525
Press contact: Wildbound PR, firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher: HEYDAY, email@example.com
Obi Kaufmann grew up as the son of two, fastidious scientists: his father, an astrophysicist and his mother, a clinical psychologist. As a child, he would regularly break away from his training as a mathematician and go adventuring into the wild spaces of his beloved Mount Diablo in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a young man, Obi would log thousand of miles walking California’s backcountry and extolling its beauty everywhere he went. His career was set from an early age: a vocation of mixing academic disciplines to tell a story about the wonders of the more-than-human world and the interconnectedness of all things. In the award winning and best-selling field atlases of Obi Kaufmann, science and art blend to illuminate the multifaceted array of California’s natural world, forming a uniquely elemental narrative based on the shaping forces of earth, air, fire, and water, connecting systems like no other series of books has done before. For poet, painter and naturalist Obi Kaufmann, California is a magic network of living systems that connect in a grand quilt of both ecology and beauty, holding enough science, mythology and language for a hundred field atlases to come.
In his artful yet analytical books, Obi Kaufmann explores the transformation of California’s resource landscape from its ancient origins through its modern challenges to its future possibilities. In his lively presentations which feature paintings, hand-drawn maps, and other data, Obi presents the story of how we learn from the deep past to uncover the truth about all possible futures. Through the parsing of what he calls Ecological Philosophy, Obi employs literature and poetry, the history of the physical sciences, and indigenous-traditional ecological knowledge to present the rhetorical and epistemological theories of Consilience (the marriage of science and art), Aesthetics (the transmission of meaning through media), and Complexity (the functional description of emergent phenomena). Heightened with lyrical prose and backed by up-to-the-minute, well-sourced science, the result is a continuance, in effect, of the award-winning, best-selling story he explores in his California Field Atlas series. Through this paradigm, the natural world holds more intrinsic than it does utilitarian value, the rights enjoyed by society are ethically balanced by the responsibilities of mutualistic stewardship, and emergent philosophies of respect for nature’s living systems describe a future for the Golden State that is as resilient as it is biodiverse. By addressing the profound changes our unique landscape has undergone and continues to go through, Obi explores what it might mean for the future of humanity in this most beautiful and perilous of all places, our lovely California.
An avid conservationist, Obi Kaufmann regularly travels around the state, presenting his work and vision to such groups as the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildland center, Pacific Forest Trust, the Mojave Desert Land Trust, the Mechanics Institute of San Francisco, the Anza Borrego Foundation, the Mono Lake Committee, the University of California at Berkeley Botanical Garden, the University of California at Davis Plant Sciences Department, the University of California Santa Barbara Department of Water Sciences, the Peninsula Open Space Trust, the California Native Plant Society, the Wilderness Society and the Audubon Society. Obi is on the board of Directors of the California Wilderness Coalition and is winner of the 2019 Mark Dubois river protection award as presented by Friends of the River. Notable recent illustration projects include a 2022 residency with the National Wildlife Federation as the illustrator for the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing in the Santa Monic Mountains National Recreation Area and was the 2020 artist for the nationally-toured Wild and Scenic Film Festival. In 2021, Obi worked as the illustrator of for the book “Climate Stewardship, a certification program” by Dr. Adina Merenlender (UCPress, Berkeley, 2021), and wine labels for ALMA FRIA from West Sonoma County. Obi’s essays and paintings have been published in Dark Mountain literary Journal, Zyzzyva literary journal, Bay Nature Magazine, Western Art & Architecture, Sunset Magazine, Juxtapoz Magazine, and On the Range magazine. Obi regularly posts his work on instagram as @coyotethunder.
01. The California Field Atlas (2017, HEYDAY, Berkeley, CA) — number one regional best-seller, San Francisco Chronicle, non-fiction; winner of the gold medal for significant contribution to publishing by the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
02. The State of Water; Understanding California’s most precious resource (2019, HEYDAY, Berkeley, CA) — top-ten regional best-seller, San Francisco Chronicle, non-fiction
03. The Forests of California, a California Field Atlas; Vol 01 — California Lands Trilogy (2020, HEYDAY, Berkeley, CA) — top-ten regional best-seller, San Francisco Chronicle, non-fiction; nominated for non-fiction book of the year, California Book Awards
04. The Coasts of California, A California Field Atlas; Vol 02 — California Lands Trilogy — top-ten regional best-seller, San Francisco Chronicle, non-fiction (2022, HEYDAY)
05. The Deserts of California, A California Field Atlas; Vol 03 — California Lands Trilogy (2023, HEYDAY)
06. The State of Fire; Where, how and why California burns (2024, HEYDAY)
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