The Wonders of Beavers: Leila Philip, BEAVER LAND plus Transgender Appreciation Day: Mimi LeMay, WHAT WE WILL BECOME

Oh, those pesky beavers, Interfering with our property values! Right?

Wrong. We talk with Leila Philip about beavers, a keystone species that we need to protect as we face the challenges of climate chaos. Her book is Beaver Land: How One Weird Rodent Made America.

Then, we missed it last week: the Day of Transgender Visibility. But with all the vicious rightwing attacks on transgender people and the fascist laws being passed against them, we thought “better late than never.”

So, we bring you a piece from our archives that we first aired in 2019. It’s an excerpt from our interview with Mimi LeMay about her memoir What We Will Become. It’s about how her family learned to come to terms with the fact that their young child was transgender—and how they came to support him.

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April Is Earth Month
Today, we begin our programming for “¨Earth Month—because one day, Earth Day, is really not enough to celebrate this miraculous only world we’ve got. We’ll be featuring segments on the environment for the rest of April.

Beaver Land
We kick Earth Month off with Leila Philip’s wonderful book Beaver Land. An NPR Science Friday Book Club Selection and New York Times Editors’ Choice, Beaver Land is a fascinating exploration of one of the most important animals we hardly ever think of.

Philip tells us how beavers engineered the landscape of North America. When they were nearly extirpated, we lost their “ecosystem services” to our detriment. And now, as we face the devastating impacts of climate chaos, beavers can play a key role in making us more resilient.

But isn’t it the height of narcissism to always think about the worth of other animals from the point of view of what they can do for us? One of the key pleasures of reading Beaver Land is the wonderment and awe the reader feels in learning about this magnificent creature.

Beavers have shaped the land for good. We can learn a mighty lesson about being good stewards of our planet from them.

About The Author
Leila Philip is an American writer, poet and educator. She is the author of award-winning books of nonfiction which have received glowing national reviews. In addition to Beaverland, her books include: A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family, Hidden Dialogue: A Discussion Between Women in Japan and the United States, The Road Through Miyama) and one collection of poetry (Water Rising).

Watch the trailer for The Beaver Believers

Celebrating Transgender People
150 bills against transgender people are being considered in state legislatures across the country. This is an unprecedented number—but even one bill is too much.

Back in 2019, when we interviewed Mimi LeMay about her book What We Will Become, it seemed like transgender people were finally beginning to get the respect and love they deserve.

Her son Jacob knew he was a boy from the age of three, but his parents didn’t accept that fact until he was five. It hurts the heart to think what he must be going through now as he witnesses the mean-spirited bigotry and hatred driving so many Republicans as they try to take away his freedom to be himself.

LeMay’s memoir unfolds in two strands—one about her getting free of her upbringing in a conservative Orthodox Jewish family and the other about her son Jacob, and his journey from being LeMay’s daughter, Em to becoming accepted as a transgender boy. This excerpt is about Jacob’s journey.