Humanity’s relationship with the natural world is the theme at a landmark conference that brought noted writers, scholars, performers, artists, public officials, and activists to Colby April 7-9.

Artist Maggie Libby 'XX in front of her disappearing artwork, >>>>.

Artist Maggie Libby ’81, in front of her interactive art installation in the Diamond Atrium.

The conference, titled Community, Culture and Conservation, was part of a  yearlong series of events exploring the intersection of communities and nature. It led off with a lecture by noted writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, who exhorted listeners in a packed Lorimer Chapel to take action on global warming.

“[Climate change] is the most epic battle that human beings have ever waged.”
Keynote speaker
Bill McKibben

Climate change is “the most epic battle that human beings have ever waged,” McKibben said, adding that we have to stop it at all costs.

Panels and plenary sessions on Friday and Saturday featured speakers ranging from author and activist Terry Tempest Williams to public lands experts including Kevin Schneider, superintendent of Acadia National Park. This year marks Acadia’s 100th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.

Clea Harrelson '16 erases charcoal to reveal words in Maggie Libby's artwork in the Diamond Atrium.

Clea Harrelson ’16 erases charcoal to reveal words in Maggie Libby’s artwork in the Diamond Atrium.

Conference attendees and students were invited to take part in an interactive art installation created in the Diamond Building by Maggie Libby ’81, ’P14. A 15-foot charcoal drawing of the Maine woods hung over a charcoal “sink,” and Libby encouraged visitors to use large, kneadable art erasers on the drawing, revealing words underneath.

“It’s my intent that people can work on this and see, immediately, the result,” she said.

The conference was the signature event in this year’s Center for the Arts and Humanities theme, “Human/Nature.”

Schedule of conference events open to the public is here.