Steve Norwick was born in 1943. He lived in the Richileau Hotel on Vanness Street in downtown San Francisco with his mother and father and his Great Uncle Leo and his Great Aunt Syril Lerner until he was five. When his sister was born, his family moved to San Lorenzo, on the at the edge of the east shore of San Francisco Bay. He likes to say he was raised with mud between his toes. From the time he was 6 until he was 10 he spent the summers on a ranch in the Sierra 17 miles east of Chico, Calif. After that he spent most of his summers camping and backpacking in the Sierra until he was 18. He studied at Pomona College, Dartmouth College, and the University of Montana where he received a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in geology.
He married his college sweetheart, and taught at Central Michigan University for two years, but he wanted to practice geology, not just talk about it, so he quit and took a job with the Chilean Geologic Survey with an assignment to find Chrome mines. However, he was only in Santiago for one month when the military revolution occurred and he and his family fled on the first scheduled civilian aircraft which left. He practiced environmental geology in a major engineering firm in Boston for a year, and then came to the Department of Environmental Studied and Planning which was then one year old. He and his wife live next to the campus where they raised their two daughters. His wife is a language teacher of small children in public schools in the Santa Rosa area. His eldest daughter is a nurse practioner on the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona, and the younger has been an environmental economist and now works for major international corporations, mostly electronics firms, software publishers, and dot.coms.
He spent two terms (eight years) on the California North Coast Water Quality Control Board. He has taught for two decades at Sonoma State University where he teaches environmental physical science, soil science, computer modeling, water technology, and even environmental literature. He is the author of a textbook of computer modeling. He has been a volunteer geological docent for the Nature Conservancy, The Coast Walk, and The Sonoma County Land Trust, and he has helped train docents for the Audubon society. He has been interested in the application of physical sciences to the problems of the preservation of rare plants. The botanical journal, Fremontia , published his review article about the geology of vernal pools. In 1995 he published a new technique for detecting obscure but potentially dangerous faults using the goodness of packing of the atoms in quartz crystals.
His hobbies are bicycling, hiking, kayaking, organic vegetable gardening, and playing music with his old friends (and never in public). He plays the banjo (pretty well), and all of the following pretty poorly: mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, viola, washboard, and tiple (a ten stringed guitar-like instrument from Columbia and Puerto Rico) but he continues to improve.
In the flurry of interest in the environment following Earth Day in 1970 a group of students asked him to teach a course on Environmental Literature, because they could not find anyone in the English Department who was interested. He has taught the course ever since. So, by accident, he became one of the founders of the ecocriticism subdiscipline in modern language studies. He is the author of a chapter in a book of essays representing different perspectives on Edward Abbey called Coyote in the Maze. His contribution concerns the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche on Abbey's ideas and imagery. Steve Norwick is also the author of a book called The Verbal Image of Nature. It concerns the images which have been used to represent the whole of nature in philosophy and literature in the last 3000 years. It included chapters on the Nymphs, Pan, the Wildman, the Greenman, the Tree of Life, Satan, nature as the land of pilgrimage, and of course Mother Nature. He is now at work on a similar book called Science and Metaphor which explores the history of the words used to represent the whole of nature in the field sciences such as "the globe", "the book of nature", "the waters of life", "the macrocosm", "the great chain of being", and "the celestial music".
Steve Norwick wrote this biographical sketch and he thinks it is very peculiar to write about himself in the third person, but if Julius Caesar and Captain John Smith can do it, he can too.
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