Photo: Skip Schiel
Louise Dunlap is a beloved teacher and facilitator, writer, and Buddhist activist. Her new memoir, Inherited Silence, traces the history of her family’s still-beautiful land at the edge of California’s famous Napa Valley, uncovering connections between the racist mind that made settlement possible and climate catastrophe as it unfolds today. It is a wake up call for white Americans and a touchstone for racial and environmental reckoning and healing in these perilous times.
Louise has spent her 80 years on earth fascinated by the healing power of nature and truth-telling. This fascination has led her to far corners of the globe—MIT’s renowned halls, where she taught urban planners how to think and write about equity and space, community centers in South Africa’s townships, where she worked with women and labor activists to undo the harm of apartheid, and many recent actions in the Bay Area to expose the ravages of historical genocide on Indigenous people and modern day gentrification. At the top of her list now are organizing with other white people to change the mind of racism and finding joy in earth to help us face hard truths.
An ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing, Louise is a sought-after teacher and speaker, and widely published writer. Author Courtney Martin says, “Louise is the elder we’ve been waiting for—a model of how to live a life of self-examination, humble collaboration, and joyful transformation. It’s like she’s been presciently building all the muscles we most need in these urgent times for eight decades. I love to sit at her feet and learn.” The learning is always mutual.