Josh Brewer | Biography | MOTHER EARTH NEWS

By Staff
article image

Josh Brewer

Josh was born and raised in the Ouachita Mountains outside the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Josh spent much of his childhood swimming, wading, canoeing and fishing in the cold mountain creeks, rivers, and lakes around the region while, in the summer, living for weeks at a time on a 1970’s camper spot welded to two pontoons, the House Shack, which sank twice near a beaver dam on Lake Ouachita. All that clean water first turned Josh to the strange brand of Southern environmentalism to which he still grudgingly ascribes. Josh’s fascination with the natural world and the oddest of apes, humans, led him to study Evolutionary Biology at Duke University where his love of reading and penchant for over-commitment payed off with a surprise double major in English.

Curiosity and the promise of a teaching fellowship took Josh to the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where he studied and wrote creative nonfiction and fiction in the Master of Fine Arts Program at Northern Michigan University. Perhaps the water conjured memories of the House Shack, because a fascination with tiny living quickly led to Josh’s attempt to winter in a 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon named Frosty the Snowvan. Before nearly freezing, on multiple occasions, the van connected Josh to the local, Northwood DIY scene, artisan spoon and chair carpenters, obligatory tinkerers, off-the-grid evangelists, environmental activists, farmers, and old-growth stands of hemlock and white pine. Those sub-zero weeks taught Josh something about the Finnish Sisu and sauna, and, ultimately, the necessity of community.

Josh reveres the eating habits of the American black bear, the original “freegan,” favoring a diet rich in roots, fish, berries and melons. He prefers his locomotion to be bipedal and bicycle, but, has a soft-spot for diesel. Josh loves to learn from permaculture enthusiasts and restoration ecologists. He likes his tools cord-free, well-honed and worn. His mantra is that anything is better with a little bacterium and time. He’s been called light pollution boy, a compost fanatic, worm-man and many more titles of honor.