Nature of Gratitude Arts Program, Wed. Evening

Gratitude is an inherent quality in our lives that we can always access. That is the basis for The Nature of Gratitude, an ongoing series of community gatherings exploring diverse aspects of gratitude through live music, spoken word, photography and art. The ensemble program was co-founded by authors Tom Titus and Eric Alan in 2015, and has become an annual regional tradition performed in cities across the Pacific Northwest.  

The next iteration of The Nature of Gratitude will take place in the Main Meeting Room of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library (645 NW Monroe Ave) on Wednesday, November 15, at 5:30 p.m., sponsored by the Library and Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project.  

For this gathering, the gratitude theme is “Passages.” Live music from vocalist Halie Loren and guitarist Don Latarski will be woven with and around spoken word contributions from authors Tom Titus and Melissa Hart, performance poet Jorah LaFleur, poet and novelist Charles Goodrich, and words and images from author and photographer Eric Alan. (Complete participant bios are appended below.) They will be joined briefly by a representative from Stone Soup, a community organization that provides meals to those in need.  

This program is free and open to the public. This is the third Corvallis version of The Nature of Gratitude sponsored by OSU’s Spring Creek Project, and its first return to the city since 2019. 

The Artists this Year 

Halie Loren is driven by a passion for authentic storytelling through music. Her award-winning original songs and 10 albums to date have topped international jazz charts, and her multi-lingual performances have delighted audiences and garnered dedicated fans for over a decade. She brings a fresh perspective to time-honored musical paths, channeling an innate understanding of connectedness across musical boundaries. 

Don Latarski began studying guitar in 1963 and has released 15 albums, mostly of his own compositions. He was also head of guitar studies at the University of Oregon for 33 years. His explorations on guitar led him to author 21 different instruction books. In retirement he spends his time composing, recording, exploring nature with his camera, walking, and riding motorcycles. 

Charles Goodrich has worked for more than a decade with the Spring Creek Project at Oregon State University, after a long and fruitful career as a professional gardener.  Charles is the author of four volumes of poetry and a collection of essays. His first novel, Weave Me a Crooked Basket, is just out from University of Nevada Press. He writes and gardens near the confluence of the Marys and Willamette Rivers in Corvallis. 

Melissa Hart‘s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, The Washington Post, CNN, Orion, High Country News, and numerous other publications. She’s the author of two memoirs, two middle-grade novels, and Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens. 

Tom Titus is an author, biologist, forager, father, grandfather, and free-range philosopher who writes at the messy interface of human experience and the natural world. He corralled divergent paths in music, education, and biology into a career in evolutionary genetics, and is a recently retired research biologist. Tom has authored three collections of essays. His latest book, Dancing with an Apocalypse, is an attentive response to the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Tom blogs at “Words on the Nature of Life” 

Jorah LaFleur is a spoken word poet and performer, actor, and event emcee. She also works with youth as a spoken word educator and teaching artist. Running and hosting the Eugene Poetry Slam for over a decade left her harboring the belief that live performance is magical. She is committed to helping others experience the transformative power of being heard, and to promoting the arts as tools of social change and community building. Jorah loves words, courage, and really dark chocolate. Her favorite color is zebra. 

Eric Alan recently released his fourth book, Grateful by Nature. It includes photography and prose from his contributions to Celebrate What’s Right with the World, a project founded by National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones. His previous books include Wild Grace: Nature as a Spiritual Path. As a lyricist, he has collaborated with Halie Loren, Heather Hutton, Gypsy Soul, Laura Kemp, and others. Eric was a founding board member of Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy, and the full-time caregiver for Shirley B. Froyd until her passing in May, 2020. 

Do you have a story for The Advocate? Email