Thank you, Barry Lopez

Photography by David Littschwager

“Barry, forty years ago you taught me that all stories are about relationship: who I am to all creatures where I am . . . who I am to who you are . . . who we are to who we will become. So goes, now and always, my story with you.” — Kim Stafford


WE ARE HEARTBROKEN to learn that Orion friend, contributing editor, mentor, and guide Barry Lopez died on December 25.

Between 1984 and 2018, Barry wrote twenty-five stories for Orion, as well as the foreword to Earthly Love: Stories of Intimacy and Devotion, our anthology of love stories published earlier this year. In 2007 he edited our anthology The Future of Nature, a “best of” from the magazine’s first quarter century. He advised us on many projects over the years, ranging from editorial principles to fundraising endeavors. That Orion has remained free of advertising can be largely credited to him and his faith in the kind of storytelling that requires privacy and trust between writers and readers. Dozens of Orion staff members have shared meals, walks, and long phone calls with Barry.

But Barry’s influence runs deeper than all of that. His thinking on landscape and depiction have broadly influenced environmentalism and environmental literature in indelible ways for nearly fifty years. In his guidance of Orion, Barry was steadfast in his belief that love for humanity—despite our mind-numbing capacity for destruction—is inextricable from love for nature. His charge to this magazine was to cultivate our community’s capacity for that love with stories: stories that would enchant, challenge, captivate, mesmerize, trouble, inspire, and renew; stories that would revivify the moral universe. Barry believed that the work of the writer or storyteller is to remind people of what they believe and how they want to conduct themselves in the world. “Storytelling,” he said, “is the best protection we have against forgetting.”

We send our deepest condolences to Barry’s family and to the global community of writers, readers, and lovers of nature who mourn his passing. See a selection of his work with Orion below.

  The foreword to Earthly Love, republished online by LitHub earlier this year.
  Gross Domestic Product, 2016
  The Leadership Imperative, 2007
  The Naturalist, 2001
  A keynote at the Fire & Grit conference, 1999
  An interview with Bill Moyers on PBS that we love, 2010
  Poet Deborah Miranda’s response to the Earthly Love foreword, 2020

This is a collection of Orion Staff contributions.