Join us for the next meeting of the Reading Mountains Book Club in partnership with Walking Mountains Science Center! Led in-person by Katie Geraci, a Foley Graduate Fellow with Walking Mountains, and Erika Bolstad, the author, the book club will discuss Windfall, the story of one intrepid environmental journalist's search for her long-lost great-grandmother on the American prairie, and an investigation into the irrevocable environmental damage Manifest Destiny wreaked across the American West. The author will meet privately with the book club from 5-5:45pm, then she will host a regular author event from 6-7pm. Everyone is welcome to both parts of the event, even if you haven't read the book yet; there will be plenty to discuss and plenty of snacks!
At first, the only thing Bolstad knew about her great-grandmother, Anna, was that she was a homesteader in the early 1900s before being committed to an asylum under mysterious circumstances. After the passing of Bolstad's mother, a windfall found its way to her—her family still owned the mineral rights to Anna's land. And oil companies were bidding for the black gold beneath the prairies. Bolstad was drawn to the mystery of her ancestor and as a journalist well versed in the effects of fossil fuel and climate change, she felt a dissonance between what she knew of her great-grandmother and the environmental damage inflicted by the oil industry. Setting out for the North Dakota plains, Bolstad discovers a land of boom-and-bust cycles and a woman trying to eke out a living in an unforgiving landscape. She brings to life the ever-present American question: What does it mean to be rich? A compelling and increasingly relevant thread connects thoughtful criticism of the long-lasting implications of mineral rights and the oil crisis coupled with a gripping mission to find a lost ancestor.
Erika Bolstad is a journalist and filmmaker in Portland, Ore., and the author of Windfall. In her career as a journalist, she has traveled from Alaska to Miami to tell stories about the effects of climate change. For her book, Windfall, she ventures to more personal terrain: the oil fields of North Dakota and the story behind a mysterious family bequest. Shortly before her mother died, she revealed that Erika would inherit potentially valuable mineral rights near the Bakken oil fields, inspiring Erika to set out for North Dakota to investigate the bequest from a great grandmother who'd vanished from the historical record. Along the way, Erika confronts the myths of the West and how they shaped not only the women of her family, but the wider American story.
Katie (she/her) is a writer, educator and environmentalist in process. She was a writing tutor in college and earned a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology with a minor in Spanish. Katie has worked as a lab technician, teacher, pottery studio assistant, raft guide and freelance journalist. She is particularly interested in writing about regenerative, sustainable agriculture, and her work has appeared in Edible Bozeman Magazine, Edible Communities Online and Montana Woman Magazine. Currently, Katie and her husband are building out a short school bus dubbed The Prancing Pony.