Hiking along the Pine Mountain Ridgeline | Photo by Greg Abernathy

Four times a year throughout the commonwealth, folks from the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) host a free public discussion and event on why wild places matter. To make it more fun and loose, they partner with West Sixth Brewing and 21c Museum Hotels and also gather artists, poets and musicians to keep things engaging and interesting.

Louisville will play host to the next Wildlands Social Club on Thursday, July 6, at 21c from 6-9 p.m. The free event will feature poetry by Richard Taylor, former Poet Laureate of Kentucky, and music by Daniel Martin Moore.

Marc Evans will talk about bears in “Wild, Large & Connected.” | Photo by Marc Evans

And the speakers include J.K. McKnight, Forecastle Festival and Foundation founder; Marc Evans, KNLT board chair and retired state ecologist; Jenny Zeller, artist, educator and 2017 Bernheim Regional Artist in Residence; Geoff Marietta, Pine Mountain Settlement School director; and Scott Newsome, Quest Outdoors general manager.

Insider caught up with organizer Greg Abernathy, who also serves as the assistant director of KNLT, to find out a few more details about the Wildlands Social Club.

Insider Louisville: Tell us about the drive behind this event and how it came about.

Greg Abernathy

Greg Abernathy: It’s a new effort by KNLT to create social opportunities centered around the broad concept of the importance of wild places. Each of these quarterly events will include talks on conservation science, art, health and economy while also weaving in artists, poets and musicians. The idea came about as an alternative to some of the more traditional methods of engagement. We wanted to create an event where we could connect with our existing base and also meet new people.

IL: Where will the other events be held this year? 

GA: The first event was at West Sixth Brewing in Lexington in April. And we’ll be hosting the third event at 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington in late summer. Each event has a new lineup of speakers, poets and musicians.

IL: What is the overall goal of the Wildlands Social Club? 

GA: The goal is to highlight the diverse ways wild places are important and thus illustrate the significance of the conservation work KNLT and our partners are doing. We hope these events are opportunities for people to meet and connect with others who have similar interests.

IL: Do you think people are out of touch with the wild?

GA: I think as a whole, society is fairly disconnected from the importance of wild places. The resilience and health of local, regional and global communities depend on functioning natural systems. These places sustain us both mentally and physically. We all need to find time for forest bathing to ensure a well-balanced life.

IL: What do you hope people take away from these sessions? 

GA: We hope people are reminded that wild places are vitally important and interwoven into all aspects of life. My hope is that those who attend are inspired to take a greater interest in our natural heritage and an active role in protecting it. Additionally, I hope people walk away having made new connections and are made aware of a new poet, musician, speaker or organization.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."