By Bryony Angell, writer and Seattle Audubon Board Member
“I want the shop to be a welcoming space, where anyone could come in and find something that relates to them." ~ David Garcia, Nature Shop Manager
Seattle Audubon’s Nature Shop is quietly becoming a destination bookstore for books about environmental justice and nature titles by authors of color, thanks to the purposeful curation of store manager, David Garcia.
Garcia, inspired to birding by Kenn Kaufman’s classic adventure birding memoir, Kingbird Highway, brings his own youth, intention and adventurous outlook to selecting books for the Nature Shop. He also brings his representation as a person of color (POC) of Mexican heritage.
“I want the shop to be a welcoming space, where anyone could come in and find something that relates to them,” he says.
And he means from every perspective.
“I expanded the selection to be more reflective of our name, Nature Shop,” says Garcia. “You’ll see the same kind of diversity of our products and titles as you’d encounter in the outdoors, as well as the expected bird-specific items.”
Wanting to expand beyond Seattle Audubon membership and share the wider appeal of the store inventory, Garcia and Nature Shop assistant manager Melissa Melloy launched a monthly Nature Shop theme last year. This month’s theme is Black History Month, with regularly stocked titles by black authors such as Carol Finney’s social study Black Faces, White Spaces, David Lindo’s photo-filled manual How to be an Urban Birder and the children’s book about urban farming Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. Garcia and Melloy share the theme (and sometimes associated store events) via Twitter and Facebook.
“We rotate the display in front to feature the theme of the month,” says Garcia. He points out Lindo’s How to be an Urban Birder as an appealing book to anyone, but especially meaningful to a person of color.
“It’s applicable to any urban area, and even though Lindo is from England, his book opens up the possibility that someone might see it, and him as the author, and take up birding.”
While he doesn’t consider himself a “bookseller,” (the Nature Shop carries a wide variety of items from seed, optics, toys and feeders, with books being only a part of total sales), Garcia researches for diverse titles beyond the usual channels of Publisher’s Weekly. “I always browse the bookseller publications for environment, social and environmental titles, and pass those on for my volunteers to read, to see if they’d be good for the shop,” he says. But he also sources suggestions from his contacts with Latino Outdoors, POC outdoor Instagram accounts, and local independent bookshops like Estelita’s Library on Beacon Hill.
And he’s still looking. “There are people out there, especially on Instagram, who have a book in them,” he says. “Those diverse voices are out there in the nature community, but they need supporting. Publishers need to find them and support them. These titles sell.”
Black History Month at Seattle Audubon’s Nature Shop is continuing until mid-March. Come check out the expanded selection of books, and enjoy free shipping of any title featured in the Black History Month link if bought from The Nature Shop website!
For more of Bryony Angell's writing about birding culture, visit her website at www.bryonyangell.com.