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Wagari Maathai in NH

Last night Wangari Maathai came to our neck of the woods to give a talk at Dartmouth for the Social Justice Lecture Series. Last year we’d asked Wangari to write the foreword to our 20th anniversary edition of the Man Who Planted Trees, so we were eager for a chance to finally meet her. The woman behind the African Greenbelt Movement did not disappoint. She spoke passionately about the need to empower people at the grassroots level to protect their own environment; to help people realize they are responsible stewards of their land, and that the government can’t be counted on for sustainable help. Wangari used the metaphor of a bus throughout her talk, explaining that somewhere along the way, farmers in Kenya had gotten on the wrong bus in terms of their land use and environmental strategy. Now the first step toward moving in the right direction was getting them to realize that they can make the bus stop and let them off. During the q&a session after her talk, Wangari added “by the way, Africans are not the only ones who are riding the wrong bus!” Also during the q&a session, someone in the audience asked Wangari what she thought of Jeffrey Sach’s anti-malaria environmental campaign in Kenya. Wangari pulled no punches, saying that while it’s great that he’s buying so many people mosquito nets, you can’t solve a problem by giving people nets. If she had his money, Wangari explained that she’d start a campaign to stop the production of cheap plastics in Kenya, reducing the amount of plastics on roadways that are creating mosquito breeding grounds, and fighting malaria that way. The most impressive part of her response was the way it was delivered, as if she was just thinking this through for the first time. I’m not sure if that’s the way your average tree planter comes up with ideas–on a podium in front of hundreds of people–but it was pretty astounding.


Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More

Author David Stroh: First Steps to Becoming a Systems Thinker

Systems thinking is often seen as something relegated to scientific and business analysis – economics, resource depletion, and climate. However, Systems Thinking for Social Change focuses on how to use systems thinking to make breakthrough progress on intransigent social problems. We asked author David Stroh how this approach can make an impact, and how readers […] Read More

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More
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