From Red Ochre to Black Gold
By Darrin McGrath
Sociologist Darrin McGrath's first book, an edited collection of 10 loosely connected essays, is a book of questions.
Why did the Beothuks become extinct? What is the cultural importance of sealing in Newfoundland? Why were provincial parks privatized? How can we allow people traditional access to the outdoors? How and why did the cod crisis happen? Are the benefits of resource developments like the Terra Nova offshore oil project being maximized?
Starting in the time of the Beothuks and ending in the cod-deprived, petroleum-fixated modern day, Mr. McGrath's collection looks for answers in the unique connection between Newfoundland's history and its sometimes unrelenting environment.
"What the book is really getting at is the relationship between the environment and people," he said. "It's about the interaction between people and the outdoors, whether it's for recreation or work, or whether it's part of the culture."
Joining Mr. McGrath in his quest for answers is a diverse panel of essayists, including several of his colleagues from Memorial: Ralph Pastore, Shannon Ryan, James Overton, Tom Nemec, Peter Sinclair, Wade Locke and Jodi Durdle. The roster is rounded out by two names familiar from local media circles: Maura Hanrahan and Marjorie Doyle. Mr. McGrath's uncle, former lieutenant governor James A. McGrath, wrote the forward.
The book's title is a reference to the first and last papers in the collection, and to the particular resources utilized in our past (red ochre) and our present (black gold). And while Mr. McGrath is "not naive enough to think it offers solutions", he hopes the book will at least get people thinking and talking.
"I would hope the book can raise some questions and contribute to the public debate about why this province, with all its rich resources, why do we have the highest unemployment rate and the lowest minimum wage. Why are we so poor despite our resource wealth?"
Mr. McGrath was born in St. John's and earned his BA and MA from Memorial. He has taught sociology since 1992 at Memorial and Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.
From Red Ochre to Black Gold was published by Flanker Press.
[Image of Book Cover]