Small cities offer many assets for sustainable living not shared by their big city or small town counterparts: population density (and the capacity for more); fertile, nearby farmland available for local agriculture, windmills and solar farms; and manufacturing infrastructure and workforce skill that can be repurposed for the production of renewable-energy technology.
In six compelling essays, Wes Jackson lays the foundation for a new farming economy grounded in nature’s principles. Exploding the tenets of industrial agriculture, Jackson (a respected advocate for sustainable practices and the founder of The Land Institute) seeks to integrate food production with nature in a way that sustains both.
Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth offers bold new solutions to climate change that can begin right now! In order to rescue ourselves from climate catastrophe, we need to radically alter how humans live on Earth.
Locavore leaders such as Alice Waters, Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver all speak of the need for sweeping changes in how we get our food. A longtime leader of this movement is Wes Jackson, who for decades has taken it upon himself to speak for the land, to speak for the soil itself. Here, he offers a manifesto toward a conceptual revolution: Jackson asks us to look to natural ecosystems—or, if one prefers, nature in general—as the measure against which we judge all of our agricultural practices.
Jackson believes the time is right to do away with annual monoculture grains, which are vulnerable to national security threats and are partly responsible for the explosion in our health care costs. Soil erosion and the poisons polluting our water and air—all associated with agriculture from its beginnings—foretell a population with its natural fertility greatly destroyed.
In this eloquent and timely volume, Jackson argues we must look to nature itself to lead us out of the mess we’ve made. The natural ecosystems will tell us, if we listen, what should happen to the future of food.
Ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan has lived with the Tohono O'odham, long known as the Papagos, observing the delicate balance between these people and their environment. Bringing O'odham voices to the page at every turn, he writes elegantly of how they husband scant water supplies, grow crops, and utilize wild edible foods.
You want to do something for the planet, but what? Change a light bulb, install a low-flow faucet, eat organic? How about ride 4,700 miles across America on a bamboo bicycle, using only water from natural sources, avoiding fossil fuels almost completely, supplying your few electrical needs with solar power, and creating nearly zero waste?
Over the past 70 years, the industrial farming system and its ruinous practices have exhausted our soils, poisoned our groundwater, and provided the basis for a food culture that is making most of our population sick. In order to move forward, toward a more regenerative and sustainable form of agriculture, author and organic farmer Michael Foley suggests we will have to look back to recover lessons from traditional agriculture societies, stewardship, social organization, community, and resilience.
Farming for the Long Haul is a guide to building a viable small farm economy; one that can withstand the economic, political, and climatic shock waves that the 21st century portends. It details the innovative work of contemporary farmers, but more than anything else, it draws from the experience of farming societies that maintained resilient agriculture systems over centuries of often turbulent change.
America's average farmer is 60 years old. When young people can't get in, old people can't get out. Approaching a watershed moment, our culture desperately needs a generational transfer of millions of farm acres facing abandonment, development or amalgamation into ever-larger holdings. Based on his decades of experience with interns and multigenerational partnerships at Polyface Farm, farmer and author Joel Salatin digs deep into the problems and solutions surrounding this land- and knowledge-transfer crisis. Fields of Farmers empowers aspiring young farmers, midlife farmers and nonfarming landlords to build regenerative, profitable agricultural enterprises.
It's not often that someone stumbles into entrepreneurship and ends up reviving a community and starting a national economic-reform movement. But that’s what happened when, in 1983, Judy Wicks founded the White Dog Café on the first floor of her house on a row of Victorian brownstones in West Philadelphia. After helping to save her block from demolition, Judy grew what began as a tiny muffin shop into a 200-seat restaurant—one of the first to feature local, organic, and humane food. The restaurant blossomed into a regional hub for community, and a national powerhouse for modeling socially responsible business.
Good Morning, Beautiful Business is a memoir about the evolution of an entrepreneur who would not only change her neighborhood, but would also change her world—helping communities far and wide create local living economies that value people and place as much as commerce and that make communities not just interesting and diverse and prosperous, but also resilient.
Wicks recounts a girlhood coming of age in the sixties, a stint working in an Alaska Eskimo village in the seventies, her experience cofounding the first Free People's store (now well known as Urban Outfitters), her accidental entry into the world of restauranteering, the emergence of the celebrated White Dog Café, and her eventual role as an international leader and speaker in the local-living-economies movement.
Her memoir traces the roots of her career—exploring what it takes to marry social change and commerce, and do business differently. Passionate, fun, and inspirational, Good Morning, Beautiful Business explores the way women, and men, can follow both mind and heart, do what’s right, and do well by doing good.
This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress and economic instability?
The quick answers are: Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals. Soil scientists maintain that a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet's soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. But how could this be accomplished? What would it cost? Is it even possible?
Yes, says author Courtney White, it is not only possible, but essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and our economy.
Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food.
In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil, we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.
Renewable energy guru Brian F. Keane walks you through the cost-benefit trade-offs that come with the exciting new technologies and introduces you to the revolutionary clean-energy products on the horizon, making the ins and outs of renewable energy easily accessible. He shows what you can do on every level to seize the opportunity and profit from it.
Miraculous Abundance is the eloquent tale of the couple’s evolution from creating a farm to sustain their family to delving into an experiment in how to grow the most food possible, in the most ecological way possible, and create a farm model that can carry us into a post-carbon future … when oil is no longer moving goods and services, energy is scarcer, and localization is a must.
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Mountaintop removal (MTR) does exactly what it says: A mountaintop is stripped of trees, blown to bits with explosives, then pushed aside by giant equipment … all to expose a layer of coal to be mined. Hundreds of thousands of acres of ancient forested mountains have been ''removed'' this way and will never again support the biologically rich and diverse forest and stream communities that evolved there over millions of years. Instead, they've been sacrificed to support a flawed national energy policy. Mountain Justice tells a terrific set of firsthand stories about living with MTR and offers on-the-scene (and behind-the-scenes) reporting of what people are doing to try to stop it. Tricia Shapiro lets the victims of mountaintop removal and their allies tell their own stories, allowing moments of quiet dignity and righteous indignation to share center stage. This book includes coverage of the sharp escalation of anti-MTR civil disobedience, with more than 130 arrests in West Virginia alone during the first year of the Obama administration. This is an international issue, with campaigns against this massively damaging method of mining taking place in the United Kingdom, India, Canada, New Zealand and Burma. The proposed destruction of a number of habitats, from mountaintops to heath land to jungle, is a loss for us all.
In Nature as Measure, a collection of Jackson’s essays from Altars of Unhewn Stone and Becoming Native to This Place, these ideas of land conservation and education are written from the point of view of a man who has practiced what he’s preached and proven that it is possible to partially restore much of the land that we’ve ravaged. Wes Jackson lays the foundation for a new farming economy, grounded in nature’s principles and located in dying small towns and rural communities.
This second volume in Sierra Club Books' Bioneers Series, Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel has gathered reports from scientific innovators on such diverse topics as biomimicry, "living technologies" and ecologically sound design for industries and buildings.
In 2002, Texas journalist Brad Tyer strapped a canoe on his truck and moved to Montana, a state that has long exerted a mythic pull on America's imagination as an unspoiled landscape. The son of an engineer who reclaimed wastewater, Tyer was looking for a pristine river to call his own. What he found instead was a century's worth of industrial poison clotting the Clark Fork River, a decades-long engineering project to clean it up, and a forgotten town named Opportunity.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, Montana exploited the richest copper deposits in the world, fueling the electric growth of twentieth-century America and building some of the nation's most outlandish fortunes. The toxic byproduct of those fortunes-what didn't spill into the river-was dumped in Opportunity.
In the twenty-first century, Montana's draw is no longer metal, but landscape: the blue-ribbon trout streams and unspoiled wilderness of the nation's "last best place." To match reality to the myth, affluent exurbanites and well-meaning environmentalists are trying to restore the Clark Fork River to its "natural state." In the process, millions of tons of toxic soils are being removed and dumped-once again-in Opportunity. As Tyer investigates Opportunity's history, he wrestles with questions of environmental justice and the ethics of burdening one community with an entire region's waste.
Stalled at the intersection of a fading extractive economy and a fledgling restoration boom, Opportunity's story is a secret history of the American Dream, and a key to understanding the country's-and increasingly the globe's-demand for modern convenience.
As Tyer explores the degradations of the landscape, he also probes the parallel emotional geography of familial estrangement. Part personal history and part reportorial narrative, Opportunity, Montana is a story of progress and its price, of copper and water, of father and son, and of our attempts to redeem the mistakes of the past.
In 1971, a caravan of 60 brightly painted school buses and assorted other vehicles carrying more than 300 hippie idealists landed on an abandoned farm in central Tennessee. They had a mission: to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to follow a peaceful and spiritual path, and to make a difference in the world. Out to Change the World tells the story of how those hippies established The Farm, one of the largest and longest-lasting intentional communities in the United States. Starting with the 1960s Haight-Ashbury scene where it all began and continuing through the changeover from commune to collective up to the present day, this is the first complete account of The Farm's origins, inception, growth and evolution. By turns inspiring, cautionary, triumphant and wistful, it's a captivating narrative from start to finish.
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Janisse Ray, award-winning author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Wild Card Quilt, writes an evocative paean to wildness and wilderness restoration with an extraordinary journey into southern Georgia's Pinhook Swamp.
Pinhook Swamp acts as a vital watershed and wildlife corridor, a link between the great southern wildernesses of Okefenokee Swamp and Osceola National Forest. Together Okefenokee, Osceola and Pinhook form one of the largest expanses of protected wild land east of the Mississippi River. This is one of America's last truly wild places, and Pinhook takes us into its heart.
Ray comes to know Pinhook intimately as she joins the fight to protect it, spending the night in the swamp, tasting honey made from its flowers, tracking wildlife, and talking to others about their relationship with the swamp. Ray sees Pinhook through the eyes of the people who live there: naturalists, beekeepers, homesteaders, hunters and locals at the country store. In lyrical, down-home prose, she draws together the swamp's need for restoration and the human desire for wholeness and wildness in our own lives and landscapes.
Concerns over climate change and energy depletion are increasing exponentially. Mainstream solutions still assume a panacea that will cure our climate ills without requiring any serious modification to our way of life.
Plan C explores the risks inherent in trying to continue our energy-intensive lifestyle. Using dirtier fossil fuels (Plan A) or switching to renewable energy sources (Plan B) allows people to remain complacent in the face of a potential global catastrophe. Dramatic lifestyle change is the only way to begin to create a sustainable, equitable world. The converging crises of Peak Oil, Climate Change and increasing inequity are presented in a clear, concise manner, as are the twin solutions of community (where cooperation replaces competition) and curtailment (deliberately reducing consumption of consumer goods).
Plan C shows how each person's individual choices can dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. It offers specific strategies in the areas of food, transportation and housing. One chapter analyzes the decimation of the Cuban economy when the USSR stopped oil exports in 1990 and provides an inspiring vision for a low energy way of living.
Plan C is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in living a lower-energy, saner and sustainable lifestyle.