Orion Articles

Woman in the Woods

May 27th, 2021

“I wanted to be a woman in the woods. I ended up in jail.” Dr. Steingraber’s new piece is in the inaugural essay supported by Orion Magazine’s Fund for Women Writers. Read the piece

The Talk-Around

January 15th, 2014

“THE BOY IN THE BARBERSHOP mirror wanted a haircut for summer sleep-away camp. He was nervous and talked a lot. The clippers buzzed. The blond hair fell.” Read the ORION article

Coffee in Jail

September 15th, 2013

“THERE IS NO COFFEE in the Chemung County Jail.

There used to be coffee. Also parenting classes, drug counseling, and the opportunity to purchase, from the jailhouse commissary, packages of new underwear—as a private alternative to the holey, bloodstained, ratty-ass drawers that are standard issue.” Read the ORION article

The Discontent of Our Winter

May 15th, 2013

“MY CHILDREN have snow anxiety. For the record, this started in the winter of 2011–12 when no snow fell—at all—and sleds, saucers, skis, and snowball makers sat dejectedly on the porch, unused, next to the irrelevant and despondent snow shovel. Week after week, month after month, Faith and Elijah scanned the skies and studied the forecast. When June-like temperatures hit in March, the sight of the toboggan filled them with so much despair that they wordlessly dragged it back to the barn and put it in storage.” Read the ORION article and listen to special audio

The Silence of Science

January 15th, 2013

“The last time I thought about the possible crimes of a Methodist minister, I was a teenager. The minister in question was the one who sent shivers of Holy Spirit zinging through the pews of our church every Sunday. The accusation: adultery. More or less simultaneously, charges were leveled at my school principal over an incident involving an undercover drug agent, and the president of the United States was revealed to be surrounded by burglars and plumbers. Thus were the heads of my church, school, and country laid low.” Read the ORION article

The Fracking of Rachel Carson

September 15th, 2012

“Rachel Carson, the ecologist who kicked the hornet’s nest, wrote a book that needed no subtitle. Published fifty years ago this September, Silent Spring rocketed to the top of the bestseller list, prompted a meeting with the president’s science advisers, occasioned congressional hearings, and circled her neck with medals of honor. It also let loose swarms of invective from the pesticide industry. Throughout it all, Carson remained calm. Friends and foes alike praised her graceful comportment and gentle voice. Also, her stylish suits and trim figure. Nevertheless, her various publicity photos (with microscope; in the woods; outside her summer cottage in Maine; at home in Maryland) look as if the same thought bubble hovers above them all: I hate this.” Read the ORION article

Sand County, the Sequel

May 15th, 2012

“ALDO LEOPOLD was a righteous man—in a midwestern sort of way. When it came to nature, he disapproved of “tinkerings,” as when domestic species are substituted for wild ones, and he advised against “readjustments” of the land’s circulatory system. In fact, he insisted calmly, the land should be appraised not as a commodity but as a living community that commands our respect because it is the source of both human culture and human freedom.” Read the ORION article

Household Tips from Warrior Mom!

September 15th, 2011

“A DECADE AGO, I published a book about the links between chemical exposures and cancer. The research for it required four years, two postdoctoral fellowships, and fluency with Freedom of Information Act requests. I attended workshops on cluster analysis and taught myself molecular epidemiology. I made field trips to cancer laboratories, studied tumor patterns among wildlife populations, and rode a cable down a three-hundred-foot shaft to look at groundwater. When the writing was all done, I helped prepare the publicity materials, which, among other things, claimed that my book was the first to bring together data on toxic releases with data from U.S. cancer registries. No one had attempted that before. It was a big book.” Read the ORION article

When Cowboys Cry

May 15th, 2011

“LAST NOVEMBER, at the annual meeting of the Northern Plains Resource Council, which took place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Billings, Montana, I watched a cowboy cry.” Read the ORION article

Mind Games

March 15th, 2011

“WHEN MY HUSBAND AND I SET OUT to find a nursery school for our daughter, Faith, nearly ten years ago we took the decision seriously. I looked at large parent-run cooperatives and visited small home-based operations. Jeff studied the pink towers and chiming bells at the Montessori school on the hill and considered the wonder balls and wooden fairies at the Waldorf school in the valley. In the end, we chose a nursery school that operated out of a community center close to home. There was a frog pond out front and a play structure out back. The trees were full of chickadees and nuthatches. We had weighed many considerations in the decision-making process, and we all, Faith included, were happy about it.” Read the ORION article