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You never know what will stir your imagination in unexpected ways, and perhaps influence your thinking and organizing in ways you cannot quite describe in daylight language. This ever-evolving collection of links reflects Backwater Bay’s wide-ranging curiosity. From time to time, check back for new listenings and categories.

More Grist for Imaginations


This fascinating and inviting inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness spanning art, science, literature, design, history, philosophy, and more, is curated by Maria Popova.

“V’ahavta,” a poem by Aurora Levins Morales

The poet says: “I wildcraft the details of the world, of history, of people’s lives, and concentrate them through art in order to shift consciousness, to change how we think about ourselves, each other and the world. “

Dark Mountain Project

The Dark Mountain Project is a network of writers, artists, and thinkers, says, “We see that the world is entering an age of ecological collapse, material contraction and social and political unravelling, and we want our cultural responses to reflect this reality rather than denying it.”

Dark Mountain describes its work as “A point of departure, rather than a party line. An invitation to a larger conversation that continues to take us down unexpected paths.”

Visionary, Sci-Fi, and Speculative Fiction

Lightspeed Feature Interviews

by Christian Coleman, Lightspeed Magazine, Ongoing series.

Here you’ll find some wonderful interviews with a rich variety  of sci-fi/speculative fiction authors – along with ideas for some great reading.


Backwater Bay’s women’s visionary/speculative fiction book club, has been celebrating Octavia Butler and the legacies of her work. Butler was a prophet whose work and vision transcended the boundaries of any genre.

“All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change.”  – Octavia Butler

Lately, we’ve re-read these two novels  by Butler which anticipated the current American dystopia whose chaos and collapse are the result of climate change, widening poverty hardship, racism, corporate greed, and the rise of the religious right. She charts the journey of Lauren Olamina, whose ability to deeply feel the pain of others as if it were her own, accompanies her from late teens into full womanhood. This odyssey holds the power to reveal, to shatter, and to illuminate the unexpected way…home.

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Talents

This 2016 project (marking the 10th anniversary of Butler’s death) took Octavia Butler’s fiction as inspiration for contemporary art and conversations about the future of Los Angeles.

Radio Imagination

Radio Imagination Podcast

And we’ve been savoring stories from this remarkable collection:

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements,ed. Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown (AK Press, 2015)

Twenty stories by organizers and activists explore the terrain of connection among visionary/speculative fiction and liberation movements. The editors remind us that envisioning a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism is essential to taking the next steps to create that world.

Finally, we went to see this deeply beautiful, moving opera:

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon

Sky and Cosmos

There are wonders and marvels up there.

NASA Images

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US)

Here, you’ll find a treasure trove of images and videos from and related to various staffed and unstaffed space missions. Some of them are in the public domain; others are copyrighted. You’ll find information about all that on the site. Happy galaxy gazing!

NASA Sounds

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US)

On Soundcloud, a beyond-extensive collection of sounds, programs, interviews related to, about, or from various space missions, along with a sound-use policy. Some sounds are in the public domain; others aren’t. Some of these sounds are, well, out of this world!

Naperville Astronomical Association: Outstanding websites

High school students founded this amateur astronomy club in the 1970s.  It is now an independent association that has collected links to a dazzling array of astronomy-related resources.

“Carl Sagan on Mystery, Why Common Sense Blinds Us to the Universe, and How to Live with the Unknown”

Excerpts from astronomer Carl Sagan’s 1980 interview with Jonathan Cott for Rolling Stone, with text and commentary by Brainpickings’ Maria Popova.

Flora and Fauna

Flora Delaterre: The Plant Detective

From 1996 through 2013, The Plant Detective, a project of Montana Public Radio, created by Beth Judy and the University of Montana School of Pharmacy, broadcast a series of brief 1.5 minute programs investigating medicinal plants and their properties. Archived here, the programs feature legendary plant detective Flora Delaterre who spearheads investigations and broadcasts from locations as farflung as Sri Lanka and Siberia, the Appalachian Mountains and the rainforests of the Northwest, research labs and your own backyard.

The Hidden Life of Trees

Peter Wohlleben, an evironmentally friendly forester and conservationist in Germany, writes about his deep love for woodlands and forests, utilizing scientific research and his own observations to provide insight into processes of life, communication, relationship building, death, and regeneration in trees.

Mother Tree

Do trees communicate, interact, cooperate, and help one another survive? Yes. In this brief (4:40 minutes) film, Canadian forest ecologist Dr. Suzanne Simard provides an intro into methods of tree communication and the importance interdependence and diversity in fostering forest resilience. She notes the particular significance of Mother Trees, dominant trees in the forest in nurturing young seedlings and, as they are injured and dying, continue to communicate to the young.

The Soul of an Octopus

Sy Montgomery, a naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and nonfiction writer takes readers on a wondrous and delightfully accessible journey into the physical and emotional world of the octopus. By turns a crafty problem-solver, a creative trickster, and playful, this remarkable and admirable creature deserves our respect and protection.


Butterfly Conservation in the United Kingdom has been thinking about butterflies (and moths)  a great deal and is sharing its knowledge with us, just in case we haven’t checked in on butterflies in a while. Or ever. Not only is the butterfly’s unique transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis just astonishing, even mind-boggling, but it is essential to a healthy earth. And, like so many critters, it is under threat from climate change, environmental toxins, and loss of habitat and food sources – especially due to urban development and deforestation.

Why should we care? For many reasons detailed on this site, not least of which is that the presence of butterflies in significant numbers is one important indicator of a healthy environment and robust ecosystems. And they are essential pollinators! Come here to learn more, including how to garden in ways that will attract and support butterflies.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac provides some good butterfly garden advice for US gardeners.

Serving as a perfect metaphor for transformation, the caterpillars who will become butterflies go through an astonishing phase of change called chrysalis where the old form literally breaks down and specialized groups of cells called “imaginal discs” begin to create the entirely new form and structure.



Video Credits: Jude Adamson, published on February 4, 2012.

And here is a special, young student-friendly page with links for young butterfly gardeners from the Student Conservation Association.


Robin McKie, science and technology editor for the Observer (UK) reports on what an increasing number of entomologists call “an insect Armageddon.” The declines are the result of pollution, loss of habitat, overuse of pesticides, and global warming. But do these extinctions really matter?

Yes. Profoundly.

Disclaimer: Backwater Bay is not responsible for the content, reliability, or privacy practices of any websites linked to or from this site and cannot accept liability for any damage or loss arising from visiting or reliance on such websites. We cannot guarantee that these links will work all of the time. Backwater Bay receives no payment or endorsement for listing these sites. If you find a questionable link on or want to suggest a website, please write to us using the form below.



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