Shaver’s Creek Book Club Holds First Meeting Thursday Night

Story posted April 10, 2021 in CommRadio, News by Trevor Grady

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State community was invited to join a virtual book club on Thursday night, hosted by Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.

This was the first-ever Shaver’s Creek book club event, and it was free to register. Its purpose was to examine how the natural environment has been understood and represented by both white and Black Americans.

The club was organized in partnership with Webster’s Bookstore Cafe and was conducted through a Zoom session.

The book that the participants discussed was Carolyn Finney’s “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.”

Finney is an assistant professor of geography at the University of Kentucky. She is also a storyteller, an author and a cultural geographer.

Thursday night was the first of four Zoom sessions that will take place discussing the book. For the fourth and final meeting, Finney will come join participants for a more intimate conversation. This will allow for more questions to be posed about the book and all of its topics, and Finney will be able to answer them herself.

The main topics of the book dive into the under-representation of African Americans in nature and outdoor recreation. Finney looks at issues like these using environmental history, geography and studies on race and culture. Finney served on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board for eight years, so she was able to share her experience throughout the book.

Will Wade, the co-director of the Shaver’s Creek Team Development Center, was the leader of this week’s Zoom meeting. At one point in the meeting, Wade asked the participants to participate in an experiment.

“I’m going to read a sentence of the story and then give a little pause, and I might fill in that pause with something, and then I’m going to read another sentence of the same story,” Wade said. “What I want you to be doing is to split your brain right now; pay attention to the story as a participant, but also pay attention to the story as if you are an eagle and you can watch what’s happening for yourself.”

Wade went on to conduct many of these thought-provoking moments and encouraged the listeners to understand the way their minds were working.

“Notice how your mind might be filling in details like the color of the bus or her age,” Wade said.

Wade made sure to try and get every viewer’s opinion by asking people to periodically unmute themselves and share how what was just presented made them feel. The participants were also put into breakout rooms multiple times to talk about their thoughts in a smaller, more personal environment.

The next meeting will be next Thursday night at 7 p.m. and will be conducted in a similar fashion.


Trevor Grady is a junior majoring in management information systems. To contact him, email