Author photo of Kate Troll. Courtesy photo.

Author photo of Kate Troll. Courtesy photo.

Kate Troll’s memoir a call to action on climate change

In former Juneau Assembly member Kate Troll’s second book, “The Great Unconformity: Reflections on Hope in an Imperiled World,” she weaves “one part policy-philosophy, one part adventure, and one part memoir” as a call to action for millennials to address climate change.

“…I want to inspire and provide what I call ‘hope spots’ for the next generation because (my generation is) leaving things in bit of mess. The climate is locked and loaded. It’s only going to get worse, before it gets better, so (millenials) need to step up and really push the renewable energy button aggressively, keeping fossil fuels in the ground … How do you do that, and is there still reason to be hopeful that we can make these fundamental changes in time? I answer yes, but it is urgent.”

A columnist for Alaska Dispatch News and playwright, Troll frequently wrote essays both for herself and that were published in journals. (She is also a former columnist for the Juneau Empire.)

In 2006, as Troll and her husband Bill Hanson were walking along a peninsula on Lynn Canal on New Year’s Day, they saw two humpback whales breach in perfect synchronization. Troll took a mental snapshot of the image and held tightly to it as a hopeful symbol for changing political tides on issues like conservation and climate change. Some of that hope was realized when she watched the millenial generation mobilize in electing Barack Obama as president in 2008.

She wrote an essay about the experience, and as she was revising it, her friend Cameron Brynes posted a picture on Facebook he took of two different humpbacks breaching. It felt like sign to for her to write “The Great Unconformity.”

“Because I wrote columns a lot, the thought was could I put together a collection of essays and make it compelling? Then my writer friends here like Kim Heacox and Heather Lende … they convinced me to try to write it as a memoir. Then I had to really figure out if I have enough stories and could I make it as a memoir. That was the little key that set the whole book in motion. If I’m diligent enough and pay attention to all three narrative arcs, I can pull this off.”

She had half the essays already written before she decided she wanted to turn them into a book. In her first draft, Troll found her essays were heavy on policy. Through advice from her writer friends, she produced two other drafts to strike the right balance between story and information.

“I’m a firm believer that when you tell things as a story, it sticks a lot better,” she said.

It’s the most challenging writing she has ever done, she said. The writing project took her three years, and another year and half to get the book accepted by a publisher.

“It doesn’t slot easy. It’s current events, it’s memoir, it’s nature writing. A lot of publishers … they like things that are driven in one direction and they know how to market it.”

In the first part of the book, Troll introduces her idea for the book and sets the tone through her pieces like “Whales, Worry, and Wonder,” which is about the breaching humpbacks, and “In the Time of Glaciers,” which was previously published in the Oxford Journal. Then she jumps into her life story of working in natural resource management and the adventures she has had throughout her career, like in college when she snuck into the largest medieval castle overlooking the Rhine, or cracking a jokes with Yupik women while finding an oosik in a box, which is the penis bone of a walrus. Throughout it all, she reflects on her life and what she has learned as a conservationist, and what others can take away moving forward as she lays out the reality of climate change.

“There are agents of change that the Millennial generation can capture and intensify within (their) life, within (their) state, within (their) local government – and have a good time doing it. I think that’s another reason I chose these adventure stories: Life is meant to be embraced and enjoyed,” she said.

Troll advises people on how to effect positive change through a variety of forces, from the power of their wallets to engaging with people who are hesitant to accept the reality of climate change in productive ways.

Troll will be a speaker at the March for Science protest in Anchorage this April, and hopes for more opportunities to engage with young people in the future, such as classroom visits.

The book is set to release on Amazon on March 15 and Hearthside Books on April 7. She’s the bookstore’s featured author for First Friday from 5-7 p.m. and will do a book signing.

“I deal with a serious subject but there is a reason to be hopeful,” she said, “and I think I do a good job of articulating those points of hope.”


Contact Capital City Weekly staff writer Clara Miller at clara.miller@capweek.com.


Front cover of of Kate Troll’s latest book “The Great Unconformity: Reflections of Hope in an Imperiled World.”

Front cover of of Kate Troll’s latest book “The Great Unconformity: Reflections of Hope in an Imperiled World.”

More in Neighbors

Athletes practice new moves while wrestling during a 2023 Labor Day weekend clinic at the Juneau Youth Wrestling Club. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Juneau Youth Wrestling Club hosting two clinics this summer The Juneau Youth… Continue reading

Ingredients for cauliflower shrimp salad ready to prepare. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for pleasure: Cauliflower shrimp salad

I realize that this combination sounds a bit odd, but I’ve become… Continue reading

Fred LaPlante is the pastor at the Juneau Church of the Nazarene. (Photo courtesy of Fred LaPlante)
Living and Growing: Your story matters

Have you ever noticed on social media how most posts seem glamorous?… Continue reading

People gather for “Our Cultural Landscape,” Sealaska Heritage Institute’s culturally responsive education conference. (Sealaska Heritage Institute photo)
Neighbors briefs

SHI to offer pre-conferences on Native literature, artful teaching Sealaska Heritage Institute… Continue reading

Neighbors: Letters of thanks

Thanks to Juneau Community Foundation and CBJ for supporting elders On behalf… Continue reading

(Photo by Maxim Gibson)
Living and Growing: The silence of God and the language of creation

“There is one God who revealed Himself through Jesus Christ His Son,… Continue reading

Tari Stage-Harvey is the pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. (Photo courtesy of Tari Stage-Harvey)
Living and Growing: Mixtape for the nation

The world would be a little more beautiful if we still shared… Continue reading

Neighbors: Letters of thanks

Thanks for Challenge Grant to help arboretum project The Friends of the… Continue reading

Sockeye salmon in a red chile sauce, ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Sockeye salmon in a red chile sauce

Every summer I look forward to finding fresh sockeye salmon for sale… Continue reading

Participants in a junior naturalist program hosted by Jensen-Olson Arboretum walk along a beach. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Neighbors briefs

Registration for arboretum junior naturalist program opens July 8 Friends of the… Continue reading

Gene Tagaban, a Juneau resident, ends his story and joins with the Raven spirit for one final dance during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., between June 26 and July 1. (Photo by Maria James)
Neighbors: Tlingit storyteller Gene Tagaban participates in Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted its Smithsonian Folklife Festival, with… Continue reading

Page Bridges of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Juneau. (Photo courtesy of Page Bridges)
Living and Growing: Not a single bug

I just read a great shocking and informative article about our treatment… Continue reading