“A hopeful, urgent, and universal message about our collective ability to face the climate changes we can no longer ignore.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

I am a journalist who writes about humans and our ongoing struggles to find an appropriate place on this round, blue planet. My book, At Home on an Unruly Planet tells the stories of four American communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis—and reflects on what it means to make a home in this era of upheaval and transition.

Much of my reporting focuses on climate, energy, and environmental justice, but I’ve also covered a wide range of other topics, including social movements, protest songs, food, agriculture, neuroscience, and health. My writing has appeared in The NewYorker.com, The Nation, Sierra Magazine, Audubon Magazine, Slate, PBS NOVA Next, Seattle Met Magazine, Undark, Hakai, High Country News, and numerous other outlets. Along the way, I’ve had support from grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Artist Trust, USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Jack Straw Cultural Center, the Mesa Refuge, Hedgebrook, and Edith Cowan University in Australia.

I come from a family of teachers and educators, and I also love offering workshops and classes. I often teach nonfiction writing at Seattle’s venerable Hugo House and have given workshops at various other writers’ centers and retreats.

I am also the former senior editor of YES! Magazine and hold a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I’ve previously caught crickets for an entomologist, taught composition to business majors in rural Uganda and biology to pre-med students, helped coordinate urban policy programs in Washington, D.C., and worked in a reservation community along a river in rural South Dakota.

I live in Seattle with my husband—who is a community mental health counselor and a kind, adventurous human—and a sweet feline. In my spare time, I tend a raspberry patch in the backyard and make frequent excursions by boot and bicycle into the extraordinary forest, mountain, and coastal landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. I am also a songwriter and musician, a bean-eater, a kayak-paddler, and an auntie.

At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth

Henry Holt and Co. |

From rural Alaska to coastal Florida, a vivid account of Americans working to protect the places they call home in an era of climate crisis

How do we find a sense of home and rootedness in a time of unprecedented upheaval? What happens when the seasons and rhythms in which we have built our lives go off-kilter?

Once a distant forecast, climate change is now reaching into the familiar, threatening our basic safety and forcing us to reexamine who we are and how we live. In At Home on an Unruly Planet, science journalist Madeline Ostrander reflects on this crisis not as an abstract scientific or political problem but as a palpable force that is now affecting all of us at home. She offers vivid accounts of people fighting to protect places they love from increasingly dangerous circumstances. A firefighter works to rebuild her town after catastrophic western wildfires. A Florida preservationist strives to protect one of North America’s most historic cities from rising seas. An urban farmer struggles to transform a California city plagued by fossil fuel disasters. An Alaskan community heads for higher ground as its land erodes.

Ostrander pairs deeply reported stories of hard-won optimism with lyrical essays on the strengths we need in an era of crisis. The book is required reading for anyone who wants to make a home in the twenty-first century.


Weaving Science into Story

Many of the most important stories of our time are grounded in or heavily influenced by science. But the story of science is rarely well-told. At its best, like any good narrative, science is a search for insight. But its pursuit can also magnify the worst human tendencies—hubris, injustice, and exploitation. In this class, we’ll discuss how to weave science into personal stories and explore what is at once beautiful, vital, and occasionally monstrous about the search for answers.


Building Characters from Real Life

Characters breathe life into a story, turning an abstract idea into a vivid representation of human experience. In nonfiction, writers build characters from the raw and messy material of real life. In this class, we’ll talk about techniques for rendering yourself and others as characters through scenes, dialog, and telling details. We’ll explore strategies from nonfiction, memoir, and journalism for researching and digging deeply into the thoughts, habits, manners, quirks, and substance of your characters.


Finding Refuge and Resilience in Climate Crisis

In a time of climate crisis, the very definition of what it means to live an ethical life is in flux. Explore the search for purpose, ethics, and resilience in an unruly world, at this book talk / discussion / mini writers’ workshop featuring journalist and author Madeline Ostrander.


MetcalfInstitute | Book Talk with Madeline Ostrander and Christine Woodside

Seattle Channel | “At Home on an Unruly Planet” explores rootedness in a time of upheaval

Powell’s Books | Madeline Ostrander presents At Home on an Unruly Planet, in conversation with Michelle Nijhuis

Politics and Prose | P&P Live! Madeline Ostrander — At Home on an Unruly Planet – with Laura Helmuth

Madeline’s Articles, Essays, and Other Writing

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Received grants, fellowships, and residencies from:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Artist Trust
USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism
Fund for Investigative Journalism
Jack Straw Cultural Center
Mesa Refuge
Edith Cowan University in Australia

2019 GAP Award

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

Similar Authors

Author of Environmental Nonfiction
Climate Activist and Educator
Nonfiction Writer
Plant Ecologist, Educator & Writer
Nonfiction Writer

Interested in hosting this author?
Send us a message and an A|U Agent will return to you ASAP!