Photography: Kevin Syms and Chris Barlow
Jeanne Liston, executive director of The Hunger Coalition loves author Toni Morrison.
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has a passion for making the world a better place. Since moving to the Wood River Valley in 1999, she has worked for various non-profit organizations–including the Environmental Resource Center, The Nature Conservancy and, currently, The Blaine County Hunger Coalition. Before coming to Idaho, Liston traveled the world. “I picked grapes in Germany and olives in Italy, taught English in Egypt, French in Kenya, delivered supplies to an orphanage in Mexico, volunteered with street children and AIDS patients in the slums of Bangkok, and worked with endangered fish eagles in Madagascar.” She confesses, “After traveling on and off for 10 years, I never dreamed I could live in one place for more than a year.” But that is just what she has done. One day, she says, she would like to go back to Africa, but for now she enjoys her current work and living in Bellevue with her husband, Tom.
At present, Liston is reading books which have a relevance to her position as executive director at The Hunger Coalition. “[These works] are focused on the politics of hunger, non-profit boards and running organizations–not exactly an inspiration to the average reader.” However, Liston does add that one book she has recently finished, Michael Pollen’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is one she thinks everyone should read.
In John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which focuses on a family from the dust bowl, Liston finds a compelling tale of the tension between those who wield power and those who do not. “Steinbeck was able to take us back to that time through ordinary people who were striving to preserve their humanity in the face of social and economic desperation,” says Liston. “The Bean Trees hits on several important topics: independent, powerful women; the plight of illegal immigrants; the importance of family and community; and respect for the environment,” says Liston. This novel by Barbara Kingsolver relates the story of a young woman who leaves her small Kentucky hometown in the hopes of finding a better life. A big admirer of all Toni Morrison novels, Liston has a hard time singling out one, eventually choosing Song of Solomon. “She has such beautiful prose,” says Liston. “Oftentimes I find myself stopping in the middle of a paragraph to read a sentence over again because it is so achingly beautiful.” Cry of the Kalahari is the memoir of Mark and Delia Owens’ time in the Kalahari Desert studying wild animals. Liston has met the couple, who now live in northern Idaho, and is impressed by how “they are still as passionate today about preserving wild spaces and wildlife as they were when they lived in Africa.”
Favorite Place to Read:
When she reads, Liston likes to sit in one of her big, comfy chairs with her dog, Jango, at her side.