Posts Tagged ‘environmental degradation’

What children’s books say about the human-nature relationship

My mother loves children’s books. She collects them, really. Ever since I was little – and even now that I am not so little – she often will come home from the bookstore with a new Caldecott winner, a collection of children’s Christmas stories, or a treasury of children’s classics for a friend who’s having a baby. From beautifully illustrated read-to-me storybooks to beautifully written chapter books, there is no end to her love of children’s literature. In her retirement, she says, she wants to write children’s books.

So it’s only natural that I should inherit from her the same love of children’s books. However, for the longest time, I laughed at her every time she brought home a new book, saying that we, her children, had grown too old for this. We were too old for her to read us stories, too old to look at the pictures, too old to listen to the rhymes of children’s poetry. And yet, a year ago, I fell in love with children’s books all over again.

It started in a college course I took from the education department. In this course, the professor read to us several familiar children’s books that spoke of nature and the environment. He read Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, of course, but he also read Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumpius, and showed an animated interpretation of the French children’s story, The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono. It was these titles that got me thinking about the books I remembered and loved from my childhood. I thought of Bill Peet’s The Wump World and Cristina Bjork’s Linnea in Monet’s Garden. This summer, while working at a local bookstore, I also discovered a wonderful new children’s book by Peter Brown, called The Curious Garden, and it is now one of my favorites. And I re-discovered Frances Hamerstrom’s touching Walk When the Moon is Full while visiting my parents’ cabin in northern Wisconsin.

These were my favorites as a child – or have since become my new favorites – but also, or perhaps because of this, they influenced the way I think about the world. These books, as do all good books, say something about the way we as humans interpret and interact with the world. The more obvious messages to be found in The Lorax and The Wump World speak to our human pattern of overconsumption and destruction of nature – but also about nature’s resilience and ability to come back after humans have gone. Nature will always be there, and will always able to rebound, these books say. The Man Who Planted Trees, Miss Rumpius and The Curious Garden illustrate the power of one person to shape and change the world, to find and create beauty, and the ability of nature to influence people. Linnea in Monet’s Garden and Walk When the Moon is Full laud the redemptive and educative power of curiosity, particularly of the natural world.

The messages in these books are not lost on even their youngest readers. Inspired by The Curious Garden, the children to whom I gifted that book last spring started a garden in their mother’s backyard. And I can recall discussions about the need to “save the rainforest” motivated by readings of The Lorax in elementary school.

These on-the-surface meanings are not at all difficult to integrate into discussions both in the classroom and in the living room, because the fit nicely within the tenets of our modern worldview. The value of creativity to progress, the primacy of human influence on nature, the emphasis on the individual to affect change – these are all principals of our society in which progress is always good; bigger and more are always applauded; and individual effort is always better than group work.

But there are deeper messages between the pages of these books that are much harder to cultivate in either children or adult readers because they go against the grain of the modern paradigm. The Man Who Planted Trees presents an intriguing statement about the effect the condition of the natural world has on the human psyche and on human society. In the story,* there is a man who plants and cares for trees on a barren, human-created desert, ultimately resulting in the repopulation of the area with a community of people who live gently and in harmony with the land. Clearly, this is a much deeper sort of message than the superficial “power of one person to change the world.” This book cultivates ideas of stewardship of the land and repair of the human and natural environment, similar to Aldo Leopold’s idea of a “land ethic.” The true story behind The Man Who Planted Trees, I believe, is one that promotes an ideal relationship between humans and the land we live on that is healthy for both society and the environment.

The Man Who Planted Trees has a second message in its pages. The people who had lived in the desert prior to the growth of the man’s forest had been poor, miserly unhappy. But when people come to live in the valley where the man has planted trees, they are a happier people. They work, live and laugh together. This sentiment of happiness nearer to nature and greenness has been well-documented in the literature of preventative medicine, and much echoed by popular writers, such as Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods, on the benefits of nature to personal health and well-being. The Man Who Planted Trees conveys this deeply rooted relationship beautifully and simply in story form.

The idea of living sustainably with the land is not a new concept, but it is far from becoming an ideal valued by mainstream society. It used to be, however. The Jeffersonian ideal of the agrarian man was part of the creation of our nation. Thomas Jefferson envisioned a nation of small farmers, where everyone cultivated the land sustainably. This agrarian ideal included principles of crop rotation, community collaboration, and living in balance with the land around you.

Somewhere in our society’s history, however, we lost our communitarian, agrarian ideal, and farming became the backward rustic’s job or the task of machine-wielding industrial farmers. People moved city-wards. We began working in factories and cubicles instead of fields. We lost our connection with the land and much of our knowledge of the workings of nature. We stopped being stewards of the land, and instead began to exploit it for profit, like the characters in The Lorax and The Wump World. We stopped being people who planted trees, and instead became makers of concrete and buildings, and consumers of “thneeds.”

Our modern worldview dictates that this was a change for the better. That no longer being directly dependent on the earth was a good thing. That going to the supermarket alone instead of the fields with each other for our food was progress. But there were always those who resisted. There have been counterculture movements since the beginning of industrialization that attempted to move society back towards nature. There were Utopian communities interwoven with the Populist movement of the 1890s. Intentional communities and co-ops sprung up in the 1960s and later, dedicated to self-sufficiency and a connection to nature and community. These movements questioned whether society’s movement away from nature was necessarily progress.

Children’s books and stories have always aimed to convey what society values in a simple, easily understood, often allegorical fashion for young readers. What our children’s books say about the way we as humans treat the natural world has an important affect on the way children grow up thinking about the world.
Nature, by instinct, I think, is intriguing to children. It is the world around us: the sky, the birds, the trees, the grass, the soil. The Lorax, The Curious Garden, The Man Who Planted Trees – these books have powerful messages, and can, perhaps, help endow our children with Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic,” or perhaps with Rachel Carson’s “sense of wonder” about the natural world. If we can use these books as a spring board for a discussion in living rooms and classrooms – to teach our children to be curious about the natural world, to teach them that a healthy environment means healthier and happier people, to teach them, ultimately, to be stewards of the land and the earth – then perhaps we can begin to shift in how society affects the environment. Perhaps we can stop wanting “thneeds” and instead be those who plant trees.

No one is too old for children’s books. As adults, we often have just as much to learn from them as children do. I reread The Wump World the other night. I had forgotten the ending of the story: after the “Pollutions” have finished turning the whole world to concrete and buildings, after they have used up all the green space, after they have dirtied the air and water, they leave. And through their cracked concrete streets, a small seedling emerges. Nature is still there, if we are willing to see it. Maybe we can plant a seed in our children, in hopes that someday, through a crack in the modern worldview, a land ethic will emerge.

*English translation, from Peter Doyle, available here. (This version lies in the public domain.)

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A sure sign of a food system that needs help

This weekend, as I was reading up on gardening in Indiana while my boyfriend watched a football game, I caught a commercial on television for Pepsi Throwback edition, advertising that the product was “made with real sugar.” The first thing that came to mind at this commercial was not shock at the fact that regular Pepsi isn’t already made with real sugar; I am well aware of all the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that goes into our soft drinks. Instead, I was floored by the fact that the company was marketing something made with real sugar as a novelty item.

When foods made with real sugar, a natural product, are advertised as innovative, is this not a sure sign of a food system in trouble? A backwards system where foods made with the chemical, the man-made are normal, and those foods made with “the real thing” are out of the ordinary? Has our world really come to a place where foods that are “natural” or “real” are mere novelties? If so, we have all but finally reached the world of Sci Fi, where food has been reduced to a tiny, man-made, chemical-based pill, and real foods, like vegetables, roast beef, seafood, or, gasp, sugar are considered quaint and outdated.

When did we start eating a diet composed largely of man-made, highly processed and refined “food products” instead of real, live food? I cannot help but read the Pepsi commercial as Exhibit A in the case for food system reform.

Maybe the commercial struck such a cord with me because I had just finished reading Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry‘s Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, which eloquently makes the case for a return to real, sustainable foods: to fresh, organic, locally-sourced produce, meats, and dairy products. Lappe and Terry outline the problems with our current food production system, and, although their complaints are not new – in fact, the organic, sustainable, local, hippie (whatever) community has been making the case for food reform for at least two decades – their book is a succinct and accurate assessment of the problems with modern industrial agriculture and of potential actions we can all make to take back control of our food.

In circles of environmentalists and sustainabilists (of which I count myself a member), it has nearly become common knowledge that modern means of food production – industrial-scale vegetable and grain farming using a plethora of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and other fossil-fuel based inputs, factory farming of animals for mass consumption of (too much) meat, high processing and use of additives and preservatives in conventional “food products,” and the transport of all of these food items thousands of miles to their destination on our supermarket shelves – are unhealthy for both humans and the environment. Writers such as Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathan Safran Foer, Marion Nestle, Eric Schlosser, and others have popularized the problems with the way we produce and consume food in this country. Even the new Obama White House has begun an attempt to spread a message about the importance of eating locally and sustainably through the creation of a new organic garden on the Lawn.

So, if the ailments of our food system have become such a widespread topic of conversation, why is nothing substantive being done to change things? Part of the problem is clearly the downturn of the economy and insurance and real estate market busts that have distracted our national attention from the real problems with our government and economy, such as the issues facing a society reliant on cheap fossil fuels, and lack of access to affordable health care, meaningful education, and healthy, sustainable food. Grub authors Lappe and Bryant argue that in order to spur change in our food system at the national level, we need to start “voting with our pocketbook,” or so the phrase goes. We can start changing what our food system looks like (and what our waistlines look like, too) by buying only sustainable food options – less fast food and processed junk food, and more organic produce and whole grains. Though most people immediately assume organic food is more expensive than conventionally farmed and produced options, Lappe and Bryant show that if you buy whole organic, local, sustainable ingredients and cook more from scratch instead of buying processed, quick-fix foods, a sustainable diet can actually save you money. You can also grow your own food, no matter where you live, from just a few seeds and soil, for not only huge savings but also the assurance that you know where your food comes from and where it’s been.

This last point is the reason I was looking at gardening books this weekend. While my boyfriend, Paul, and I live in a city apartment, we have a small, west-facing balcony on which I plan to grow as many of our own vegetables as possible this summer. I am in the process of planning a substantial container garden to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, salad greens, peas, beans and kale this spring, summer and fall. Living in south-central Indiana, our growing season consists of more than 175 days of frost-free weather, which I can extend even further by planting frost-tolerant kale in the early spring and late fall. Though I am a novice gardener and this first season may not produce as much as I would like, I am hoping to produce at least some produce for Paul and I to enjoy through the summer and fall, to help us live healthier and more sustainably.

There are many things we can do individually to change the way we think about food; growing your own is only one of many things to do. You can purchase food directly from farmers at your local farmers market, ask your grocery store to carry more local, sustainable, organic or fair-trade products, eat less (factory-farmed) meat, start tracking the “food miles” traveled of certain items in your diet and try to cut back on fossil-fuel intensive products, and more. If more people adopt a sustainable diet, the entire food system will begin to be more sustainable. Maybe then we’ll stop seeing commercials advertising products made with the real thing – “real sugar” – as a novelty, and eating “real food” will once again become the norm.

Yes! Magazine: Building a Just and Sustainable World

Yes Fall 2009 issue cover

Image credit: yesmagazine.org

Last week in the mail, I received the Fall 2009 issue of Yes!, a magazine I’d never heard of, and to which I did not subscribe. However, this magazine may be the best piece of unsolicited mail I have ever received. Subtitled “Building a Just and Sustainable World,” this magazine was filled with articles on building stronger community, retooling our education system to really educate people instead of just schooling them with how to stay afloat in the current everyone-for-themselves world, and inspiring stories of grassroots environmental activism. I don’t think I have ever been so accurately targeted with a piece of junk mail (unless someone secretly sent me a subscription to the magazine).

The Yes! Magazine website describes the goal of the organization to provide “inspiring solution-oriented journalism” and “connections with like-minded people.” If I may be allowed to judge from reading their Fall 2009 issue cover-to-cover, they have clearly succeeded in meeting these goals. The articles published by Yes! cover topics ranging from the holistic alternative education efforts in the place-based education movement, the community revitalization efforts of programs such as Detroit Summer, and the innovative inner life and education ideas of Parker Palmer. This issue is chock-a-block full of inspiring articles filled with real-world solutions to the problems of our communities, our schools, and our environment today.

This issue of Yes! reminds me what is truly important and amazing about our world: the capacity for change in the status quo. Our current, individual-, consumption-based society struggles with creating healthy, mindful, strong individuals committed to their community and the betterment and sustainability of our world. In an educational system and corporate climate based on test scores and competition, we seek to groom individuals for obedience, prejudice, competition, and to remain just far enough removed from the natural world so that we can destroy it without it weighing too much on our conscience. We can change this status quo. We can educate with the aim of cultivating individuals who know how to sustain healthy relationships, are not afraid to voice their own opinions and beliefs or to challenge others’ opinions, are intelligent but also mindful and think before they speak or write. The place-based education movement, with its aim of providing students with relevant experiences so that they are learning for a purpose and not just memorizing facts for a test, uses the community as a classroom and laboratory to encourage individual exploration and also connection with and responsibility to those around us.

These are the values key to creating a society that will work together to transform this planet into a “just and sustainable world:” a belief in lifelong education that comes from within and is nurtured by a vital community, a healthy sense of responsibility to others and to the earth, and a desire to see and create the positive change needed in the world. Yes! magazine tells the stories of change we need to inspire sustainable action in our own lives.

*Post script: My mother has fessed up to sending me the “unsolicited subscription.” Thanks, Mom! Now I can look forward to the next issue of the magazine.

A brief outline of the modern socioecological crisis, Part 1: A “paradox of affluence”

The more I read in environmental studies, the more I realize that there seems to be a consensus among those in the field on two things: first, that we are definitely in an ecological crises, the causes of which are largely sociocultural (and within this, mainly consumerism and the modern worldview); and second, that there needs to be some sort of (at the very least, minimal) paradigm shift both outside of and within the environmental movement if we are to collectively solve any of our global problems.

In regards to this first point, in my post on Annie Leonard from a few weeks ago, I began to put together some thoughts on the effects of the disintegration of community on the environment and our current ecological crises. A quick, over-simplified recap of Leonard’s thesis is that the vast amount of consumerism in today’s (modern, Western) society contributes to ecological degradation in the form of loss of natural resources, destruction of natural habitat, and release of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases. According to Leonard, this consumption also leads us to have increasing work hours to fund our consumption, and decreasing time for community and meaningful relationships, which means we’re not as happy as a society, though our standard of living is higher than ever.

Leonard is not alone in thinking that our overconsumption leads to environmental degradation and unhappiness. Gregg Easterbrook, in The Progress Paradox (2003), expands on the point that as a society Westerner’s (and moreover, Americans) are less happy, despite our increased standard of living. Easterbrook argues that although we (in the Western world) are for the large part getting smarter (having higher average levels of education—debate the difference between degree-level and intelligence as one may) and wealthier (at least on average, or at least until quite recently—and our purchasing power and standard of living are definitely increasing), we are not getting happier. Levels of depression and mental illness are higher now than at any point in the past, and, according to Easterbrook, polling of the US populace has indicated that people were happier in our parents generations than in our own.

In addition to the paradox of affluence, disconnect from the environment has also been sited as a root cause of unhappiness. Journalist Richard Louv writes in his book, The Last Child in the Woods (2005), that a decline in awareness of the natural world—a sort of ecological intelligence—has accompanied population growth and the need for larger houses, yards and vacation homes that spurs urban sprawl and soaks up natural spaces in previously rural communities. Louv goes on to write that the loss of these “wild spaces” and of opportunities for children and adults alike to be out in nature has resulted not only in a largely ecologically illiterate population, but also individuals that are more stressed and less happy than during past times and in places where access to nature is more available. Environmental sociologists call this the so-called “paradox of affluence,” whereby individuals feel worse and worse, though they are supposedly “better off.”

Likewise, local Fox River Valley historian Gregory Summers, in Consuming Nature: The Rise of Environmentalism in the Fox River Valley 1850-1950 (2006), claims the rise of consumer society both contributed to a growing disconnect between society and the nature and natural resources upon which it relies, as well as allowed for the increased use of the natural environment for recreational activities. “Consumption served as a filter in people’s interactions with the material world, screening out nature’s unpleasant realities while at the same time creating new attachments to its recreational and aesthetic charms,” Summers writes (p8). As society became more and more market-oriented during industrialization, people’s direct interactions with the environment became much more limited than they had been under subsistence modes of production. Concurrently, however, as people became more affluent, opportunities to enjoy nature for recreation became more common and available to individuals (particularly those of the middle- and upper-class). Other environmental historians, such as Carolyn Merchant, concur with Summer’s view.

This increasing disconnect society faces between the natural world that sustains us and our day to day activities brings me to the second point of this essay: that there must be a paradigm shift both within and outside the environmental movement in order to solve our environmental crisis. If we as a society continue to think as we do in regards to the earth and each other, we will not be able to successfully move out of the current ecological crisis into a sustainable world.

A professor of mine at Lawrence University, Professor Stewart Purkey, in teaching the class Environment, Community and Education, puts it this way: The environmental crisis is essentially a sociocultural crisis, and all the technical or scientific changes or advancements in the world will not make a difference, unless we change the underlying paradigms within which we see the environment and the natural world. I believe this is true: unless people begin to see things differently, the way we interact as humans—consumers, deforesters, resource-users—in the world will not change.

I’ve long thought that the biggest environmental problem facing the planet is education—that enough people do not recognize or acknowledge that our planet is in peril, nor do enough people know what they can do to help. However, it’s only been recently that I’ve become aware of the cause of this apparent lack of environmental education and awareness.

David Orr, in his groundbreaking book of essays in the field of environmental sociology, Earth in Mind (1994), states that all education is environmental education of some form or another. Either directly or indirectly, the modern educational system teaches us how to interact with the planet: as economically-minded consumers, as recreational tourists seeking exotic nature, as eco-conscious buyers of organic vegetables. More often than not, however, it is what our education does not teach us, claims Orr, that impacts the way we view the environment. For the large part, we do not see the connections between what we consume and how we live, and the environment. People do not recognize that the ability to turn on a light with the flip of a switch comes from the burning of coal at a power plant and the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We do not realize that the growing of our food via conventional agriculture in the US results in the runoff of fertilizer into the water of the Mississippi and thus in the eutrophic “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Unless, Orr continues, we somehow retool the educational system to teach our children holistically about the environment—how we affect it and how it affects us, and how all educational disciplines are interrelated—we will never be successful at creating a society of individuals capable of constructing a sustainable world.

Author and education professor Paul Theobald expands on the thoughts outlined above in his 1997 book, Teaching the Commons, furthering that the disconnect between humanity and the environment originated with the degradation of community—particularly rural community— that correlates with the rise of modernity over the past 500 or so years. This piece of theory is likely the root of the cultural crisis mentioned above. As society moved from collective, interdependent, communities of connectedness to individualistic, independent, modern corporate society (for a variety of reasons; see Teaching the Commons for a deeper explanation), the “ethic of care” for one another and for the earth was lost. Thus, environmental degradation is a casualty of modernization. If we could get back to a society that was more community-minded, more responsible for one another, more decentralized and participatory, more locally-oriented, says Theobald, we could hopefully create a healthier and more sustainable society.

All the things I’ve been talking about fit together. With a society that is more community-oriented and environmentally-aware, possessing an “ethic of care” for the environment and each other, we may have the paradigm shift we need to solve the disconnect inherent in modern, consumer, possessively-individualistic society, making us a healthier, happier, more sustainable society living with the natural world. The question, then, becomes how to inspire this new paradigm.

(To be continued in Part 2: A New Environmentalism)

Earth Week and Annie Leonard

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

This week, Green Roots: The Sustainable Lawrence Initiative, of which I am a committee member, has been hosting its first Earth Week celebration. This week has consisted of lectures, demonstrations, and activities for both campus and community members centered around fostering a greater awareness of sustainability and the environment.

The first event of the week on Monday was a lecture by Andrew McCann, director of Sustainable Local Food for All Canadians program at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Canada, on “Food vs. Agricultural Biotechnology.” Andrew’s lecture addressed the non-existent future of conventional, fossil fuel-based food production systems, and expounded on the two other possible food system methodologies for the future: the biotechnology-based system and the local-organic-slow food movement.

Also as part of Earth Week, yesterday, we had the pleasure of having the esteemed Annie Leonard, of The Story of Stuff fame, on campus. The Story of Stuff is a short internet film crafted by Leonard explaining the socio-political systems and factors driving our modern American materialistic culture of excessive consumerism and consumption. (See Leonard’s video here.)

Alright. I cannot reign in my enthusiasm while writing this post any longer. Annie Leonard was phenomenal! She was the most inspiring, energetic, fascinating, knowledgeable speaker on the subject of sustainability and environmental activism I have ever seen in my life! I not only got the opportunity to see her speak in the scheduled evening lecture, but I participated in a Q&A session earlier in the day, introduced her evening lecture, and got to go out to dinner with her afterwards! It was more than 6 full hours of pure inspiration!

(For those of you who missed Annie Leonard’s talk on The Story of Stuff, it was recorded and will soon be available through the Lawrence University website. As soon as it becomes available, I’ll be sure to link to it here!)*

Annie talked primarily about how in today’s world, we increasingly turn to stuff and things as a replacement for human interaction and connection. College students, she said in last night’s address, tend to have “a surplus of friends and a deficit of stuff.” However, as we go through life, she continued, we begin to have fewer and fewer friends and more and more stuff. This results in a three-part problem in society, she says:

“We’re trashing the planet.
We’re trashing each other.
And we’re not even having any fun.”

There is so much more in her arguments, but the crux of it is this: Because of the deterioration of community, we’re buying more and more stuff that we don’t need and is full of toxic chemicals anyways. And in order to pay for this consumption, we’re working more and more, and have less and less time to enjoy ourselves. And, of course, all this stuff we buy uses tons of natural resources, the extraction of which is destroying ecosystems and causing massive ecological crises. So we’re destroying the planet, ourselves, and we’re not even enjoying ourselves in the meantime.

Annie’s thoughts and ideas are essentially the culmination and articulation of things I’ve been stewing over since the start of my undergrad. In today’s world, we are increasingly disconnected from other people and from the ecological reality of our planet. As community deteriorates—perpetuated by urban sprawl, large yards with fences to barricade us from our neighbors, store-to-door delivery of everything from books to groceries, and fear of crime—it becomes harder and harder to even know the name of your neighbor, much less create meaningful relationships. Our daily needs become farther and farther away from where we live and so we increasingly rely on the fossil-fueled car to take us to work, the shopping mall, the internet café, etc. All so we can work more to buy more stuff!

As I said in my introduction to Annie’s talk, modern society often measures how “successful” we are by how much “stuff” we have. This concept—often termed “keeping up with the Jones’”—is not at all unfamiliar to us: how many times has each of us looked at our neighbor’s house or pool and wished we had something “as nice as they did”? We are constantly seeking to prove our worth to those around us by how much we have—do we have the latest flat screen HDTV? Do we have the newest iPod? Is the car we drive fancy enough, new enough, big enough? Even proclaimed “environmentalists” often define their status and commitment to the cause by what they have: do you drive a Prius hybrid, or ride your bike?

But Annie Leonard (not to mention the many others with similar ideas—Paul Theobald, David Orr, Richard Louv, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, et al.) is not all about the doom and gloom inherent in the destruction of community and the environment. Ms. Leonard, especially, more than any others I’ve come in contact with, is a true optimist and makes it clear that there are so many things we can do to help.

“One of the good things about such a pervasive problem,” she said yesterday, “is that there’s a lot to be done in terms of solutions.”

We can be more conscious of what we buy and whether we need it. We can send letters, emails, make phone calls and visit our legislators lobbying to get the toxics out of all the stuff we buy. We can get internships, volunteer, or work for the many organizations designed to help develop and implement solutions to these socio-ecological crises. We can talk to our neighbors and figure out how to share things so we don’t need to buy as much stuff for ourselves. We can start thinking about how to redesign the system.

One of the many tools people can use to start making a difference is Wiser Earth. Created by Paul Hawken, Wiser Earth is an open-source, wiki-based networking site for individuals, organizations, resources, solutions—everything dedicated to creating a sustainable earth. I recommend that everyone get connected on this website, and start finding the people in your area dedicated to sustainability and community activism. Then we can connect with each other, get organized, and start formulating plans for how to start the sustainability revolution!

My Wiser Earth page.

Endnote: For those who are hungry to know more about The Story of Stuff and the deeper reasons behind our consumerist society, Annie Leonard is fast at work on a book to accompany the internet version of The Story of Stuff. It is set to be published March 9, 2010, and I can’t wait to read it!

*A further note on the above from 5-12-09: Unfortunately, I have become aware that Ms. Leonard signed an agreement with Lawrence to have her talk recorded for archival purposes only. Meaning, her talk will be on CD in the Mudd Library of Lawrence University, and not available on the web. Sorry! If you are in the area, however, stop by the Mudd and ask the reference librarian to help you track down her lecture.