I grew up in Seattle and have lived in Los Angeles, Bellingham, Baltimore, Paris, Edmonton, and Victoria. I attended the University of Southern California and the University of Washington as an undergraduate. I graduated from the UW in 2003 with a degree in the Comparative History of Ideas (CHID). I then attended The Johns Hopkins University and graduated in 2008 with a PhD in history. I taught history for nearly ten years at the University of Alberta and now teach environmental studies at the University of Victoria. I also teach courses at Uvic in the human dimensions of climate change program, and teach periodically in Benedictine University's PhD program in Values-Driven Leadership.
Family is the most important thing to me. I have a wife, Hannah, and two daughters, Stella and Mia. They keep me grounded--and busy. My parents come from New York City and my ancestors from Ireland, Germany, and Sicily. But my truest loyalties are with the Republic of Cascadia, of which I consider myself a life-long citizen.
I conceptualize my life around a series of places: my house, my garden, the archives, the classroom, the soccer pitch, the park. I like spending time in those places because they bring out different aspects of my personality. I hate spending eight straight hours in front of a computer screen, but I like how it feels when I write something that is appreciated by the public.
I speak French and have spent a lot of time in France. I have close friends there and have long felt an attachment to that country and its culture. That said, France is not the only place in Europe (or in the world) that interests me. I am also interested in South America, and especially Bolivia and Peru, where I've travelled and worked.
When I'm not working or spending time with my family, I enjoy obsessing about soccer. I also enjoy music. I play bass, guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and keyboards, and have played in several bands in my life. I like novels, too, but don't seem to have enough time to read them. I love George Orwell and have read nearly everything he's written. For me, there's only one poet: Allen Ginsberg. I also really enjoy gardening and cooking. I produce a portion of my own food via intensive urban agriculture and keep a good-sized flock of hens.
I believe in history and I don't think it's obscure. I'm making a conscious effort to write more works that are accessible to the average reader. I want people to realize that the past is, paradoxically, something that is acted out and negotiated in the present. The past lives on past its prime. I see modern culture as an "inheritance" from past generations. It's a kind of gift that we fight over. The more we know about the past, the more we understand ourselves, and the easier it is to liberate ourselves from those aspects of our culture that we most despise. We made homophobia, imperialism, prejudice, classism, mysogyny, and an unsustainable industrial society, and we can unmake those things, too. I think having an historical awareness gives us power, and I like empowering students and readers with knowledge.
I am passionate about issues relating to sustainability. In the past I have worked on political campaigns for candidates who supported green causes. I have worked in the biodiesel community for many years, and currently sit as a board director for a biodiesel co-op. I practice permaculture gardening. I have worked on various projects as an environmental consultant and am fascinated by those in the private sector who have a genuine commitment to triple bottom-line values. I served on an academic committee that created a certificate of sustainability, and I helped craft and administer an interdisciplinary BA program in Environmental Studies at my previous university. My interest in sustainability is both academic and personal. I try, but don't always succeed, to live a sustainable lifestyle.
For two years I was the owner and CEO of an organic food company in Victoria, BC that has been around since 1996. I got involved in the business after many years of studying green business, sustainability economics, and the organic food movement, and I wanted to have a more practical engagement with topics that were once only academic to me. It was an amazing experience. I learned an enormous amount and enjoyed working so closely with small-scale farmers. At the end of 2015, I merged the company with a local competitor, and it now lives on without me.