Archive for July, 2012


Madeleine Kunin on C-SPAN Book TV

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Last week on C-SPAN’s Book TV, Madeleine Kunin, former governor of Vermont, presented her thoughts on the current state of gender politics in America with a focus on professional careers and employment.

Kunin contends that women have gained little support in their professional lives, despite the fact that they comprise 60% of college undergraduates and 50% of medical and law students.  She argues that women’s needs should be better represented in accordance with other countries, which maintain paid family leave, childcare, and the observance of equal pay for the same work performed by male colleagues.

Madeleine Kunin’s appearance was taped at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont.

For more information on Book TV, visit their website.

The Art of Fermentation is Now a New York Times Bestseller!

Friday, July 13th, 2012

All you fermentation fanatics, it’s time to get out your crocks, lift a glass of kombucha and rejoice! Thanks, in part, to you and your devotion to this craft The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz is now a New York Times bestseller! Sandor’s weighty tome of all things fermented landed Friday at number 14 in the “Hardcover Advice and Miscellaneous” category.

Sandor’s bubbling up to the Times list marks only the fourth time in company history that one of Chelsea Green Publishing’s books has made it to the bestseller list. Chelsea Green’s previous books that made the Times‘ bestseller list were: Don’t Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff (2004); The End of America by Naomi Wolf (2007); and, Obama’s Challenge by Robert Kuttner (2008).

At Number 14 on the list, Sandor’s book was tucked in between Go the Fuck to Sleep (13) and How Will You Measure Your Life? (15) on the Times’ extended list.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Sandor’s book, take a moment to:

In the meantime, we want to extend a big congratulations to Sandor — a well-deserved honor for this self-described fermentation fetishist whose workshops and pure enthusiasm and joy for this age-old, DIY craft have helped to fuel its renaissance. How many of you out  there own his earlier book Wild Fermentation? I thought so.

It’s been a heady couple of weeks here at Chelsea Green: We were named 2011 Independent Publisher of the Year by ForeWord Reviews; we just announced that the company’s ownership has been transferred to its employees; and, now a New York Times bestseller.

What a way to close out the first half of the year, eh? And, we still have another half of a year to go. Whew.

Ode to Campari—and a Recipe for Vodka Negroni

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The following is an excerpt from Libation, A Bitter Alchemy by Deirdre Heekin. It has been adapted for the Web.

I’m trying to remember the first time I tasted Campari. What’s difficult is isolating the occasion for the sense of that first taste: the setting, the weather, the conversation. There have been so many occasions, places, and circumstances. I’m trying to remember this particular moment because I’ve only just realized that a Campari and soda, or Campari and orange, or a negroni, that powerful elixir made of equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth (unless one doesn’t like gin—which I don’t, so I substitute vodka) have become a kind of personal madeleine, that theory laid out so languorously by Marcel Proust: that a taste could bring to mind a whole catalog of memory, the key to his remembrances of things past.

Campari stitches together a string of my own remembrances that have formed almost half my life. Somewhere along the line I decided that it was important to mark a place, a new place to which I’d traveled, by saluting it with a narrow, cold glass filled with ice and liquid the color of cochineal, cochineal being that strange and luminous red dye made from the wings of ladybugs. My initial experience with Campari clearly set the stage for my own particular era composed of equal parts adventure, romance, melancholy, and inspiration. I want to examine how a taste passing over the tongue conjures a memory, or a series of memories, allowing a person to experience them over and over again through the tip of the tongue, the sides of the mouth, the back of the throat. By most accounts, we can only sense five flavors, which seems to correspond quite elegantly to the inevitable events that mark our lives: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour, and then a fifth flavor, which I feel is somehow synonymous with the category we might label inexplicable, made possible by an amino acid and known by the Japanese as umami.

So I follow the braid back, the little woven string of all the glasses of Campari I have known, starting from the one I had just last week on the first hot day of our summer, a five o’clock cocktail after a day of gardening, of cutting back dead canes on roses, of weeding a plot of herbs, of building new cedar boxes for raised beds. This cocktail hour is reminiscent of growing up in an age when parents would break at the end of a hot summer day and mix their gin and tonics or Irish whiskies (why did they never have Campari?) and sit on the porch in the shade, or on the patio next to the white-blooming camellias. This is also what their parents did, some with the selfsame brand of Irish whisky, others with a glass of cold, pale local beer.

My husband and I sit with our Campari on the porch, and as we drink we look at the garden we’ve so carefully tended all day, our glasses sweating in our hands, the evening heat sliding by us. We’ve marked the first day of our summer not by the calendar, but by the first sip of this bitter, slightly medicinal liquor. My husband proffers a notion: Perhaps every Campari is a first Campari, and each time you drink it the taste surprises you (because you are, on each occurrence, in a different state of mind) and marks the experience that much more clearly, while at the same time bringing on a flood of all the past Campari. Perhaps, he warns, I will never rediscover the original experience.

Trained in philosophy, he continues, recalling a discussion of memory theory from his university days. He remembers a warm spring afternoon in the classroom and the professor, her sleeves still buttoned at the wrist despite the heat, explaining the idea that we attach various tags to memories, and later we find a tag and then, we hope, the memory, provided the memory has not lost its tag, or vice versa. We might have tags for Campari such as: Taste, Campari; Scent, Campari; Location, Campari; Certain Temperature of Air with Quality of Light and Time of Year, Campari; and so on and so on. Anytime we raise a glass of it to our lips, we engage our minds, and we are back at that café table or dinner table, or in that city, or out in the countryside, and we have transported ourselves elsewhere in time, even while tagging a new moment.


recipe for vodka negroni

This drink is adapted from an hosteria in the little hamlet of Terano Nuovo in the Abruzzo, not far from Pineto, an old-fashioned seaside resort on Italy’s Adriatic coast. The padrone, a generous soul, treated us to three rounds of negroni, and would have treated us to more if we had felt more stalwart.

This is the sort of drink that can restore one’s faith. In any case, its fuchsia sunset color chases away all the darker moods. A traditional negroni is made with gin, but gin does not always agree with me, and the clean elements of vodka complement the bittersweet of the Campari and sweet vermouth very nicely.

  • Ice cubes
  • 1 healthy ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Campari
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Lemon twist

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add the vodka, Campari, and vermouth. Shake, then strain into a highball glass over more ice cubes. Finish with a twist of lemon.

Why Families Can’t “Have it All”

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

by Madeleine Kunin

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first woman director of Policy Planning in the State Department, sent Internet sparks flying when her recent Atlantic cover story told women that, yes, she’d tried to have it all—an elite career and a happy family—but, she couldn’t do it. And, she told readers, neither can any other woman. In the midst of the ensuing firestorm, a simple reality emerged: men can’t have it all, either. The solution to work-life balance lies not in the battle of the sexes, but in the policy fixes that have stalled for decades in the United States while we have watched the rest of the world, including developing countries, pass us in the race to make life better for working families.

That’s a race that Americans seem to be largely unaware of, despite its importance. The personal story Slaughter conveyed was unusual. Not every woman works in Washington while her family lives in Princeton, or has to pull all-nighters on her office couch while worrying about her teenage son. Yet the tug of war between work and family—that never-ending balancing act that all families attempt to perfect—is far from unusual. Instead of concluding that we have to reject the women’s movement’s promise that women could “have it all,” it’s time to acknowledge that many of the same limitations hold true for men. Getting home in time to read a bedtime story and kissing the kids goodnight is becoming important for fathers, as well as mothers.

It is not women’s fault that the acrobatic feat of balance is rarely achieved. Neither can we entirely blame men, even if they have set the standard for how the workplace functions, from the lowest rung to the top. The real culprit is embedded in the policies of the American workplace. Men and women have to march in the same parade for change, joined by the elderly, the sick and the disabled; all would benefit from more sensible policies that are the norm in almost all other countries.

Those policies include Paid Family and Medical Leave, Workplace Flexibility and high quality affordable child care and early education. We got a start when President Bill Clinton signed the Unpaid Family and Medical Leave law, on his first day in office, the similar bill which had been vetoed twice by President George Bush. It was thought to be a good first step. Nineteen years later, we are still waiting for the second step: Paid Family and Medical leave.

Paid leave sounds like an expensive idea to many American businesses. Why then, is some form of paid maternity leave the law in every country except Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia and the United States? The rest of the world recognizes that the first few months (in England paid leave was extended from six months to a year) of an infant’s life is critical for its development. According to Save the Children, paid maternity leave is the best predictor of both mothers’ and babies’ health. The United States ranks twenty-five on the list of best countries for mothers. The Scandinavian countries, wishing to engage fathers as well as mothers in child care have carved out special “use it or lose it” father time.

Women, Men, children, and the elderly … all would benefit from more sensible policies that are the norm in almost all other countries.

Unpaid leave is an impractical option for most new parents. The birth of a baby puts new stress on family budgets; not a good time for a family to give up a badly needed paycheck. Slaughter writes that the ability to control her own schedule is what prompted her to leave the State Department and return to her (more than) full-time job at Princeton University. Workplace flexibility is precisely what every working father and mother would love to have; to be there when Emily is sick, to leave a half hour early from work to pick up David from child care, to be in the stands cheering for Johnny’s team, or to take an elderly parent to the doctor in an emergency. Women and men in top management positions often can negotiate flexibility, either in the number of hours worked, where they work, or how many days they work. Mid-level and low-level earners rarely have that opportunity because they have little power, and fear that by asking for flexibility they might be fired.

England and Australia have come up with a compromise that works for most employers and employees. It’s called the Right to Request Flexibility. An employee may ask her or his boss for flexibility without risking dismissal. The employer does not have to grant the request, but they are required to negotiate a compromise. If it is not achieved, the case goes to a tribunal. Employers have grown to like the law because it enables them to attract and retain talent, which saves them much more money in the long term than the cost of flexibility. James Wall, former vice president at Deloitte, calculates that it costs two to five times an annual salary to retrain a new employee, women and men alike.

Often the cost and quality of childcare is the biggest barrier for two-wage-earner working families. Childcare can cost the equivalent of paying off a mortgage. Care can be hard to find, especially for moderate to low-income families. Once again, the United States is a poor cousin compared to our global partners who are much more aware of studies that have shown that the availability of good child care is directly related to the ability of women and men to be in the workforce. One sector of our government understands the link—the United States Department of Defense. The Secretary of Defense manages the best child care system in America. All programs are nationally certified and parents pay on an affordable sliding scale.

It is not difficult to figure out why the Defense Department makes this investment. It would be impossible to recruit and retain men and women in the military if they could not obtain good care for their families while serving their country. Moreover, they saw a correlation between the lack of good childcare and the lack of suitable future recruits.

If only American businesses could make the same connection. The lack of affordable quality childcare has a major impact on economic security. A parent who can’t afford childcare can’t afford to work, and raises children in poverty. In America, we have the highest childhood poverty rate of all developed countries. Hovering between 20 and 22 percent, it has increased by 41percent since 2000. This means mean that we will have a generation of young people who are more likely to drop out of school, be unemployed, be incarcerated, and have lives interrupted with tragedy. The impact of a declining skilled workforce will be felt by everyone, particularly when we ask this same generation to pay for our Medicare and Social Security without having the ability to pay taxes.

There are success stories. We have succeeded in reducing poverty for the elderly to 9 percent. The consensus is that two government programs achieved these results—Social Security and Medicare. Government intervention, while never the total answer, did in this case, produce dramatic results.

Female leaders have traditionally been in the forefront on family/work issues, changing policies in the private sector, and promoting legislation in State Houses and in the Congress. It is time for men to promote these issues with equal fervor, drawing on their experiences as fathers and sons, just as women have done as mothers and daughters.

To succeed in a time of severe budget cuts in domestic spending and increasing hostility to the role of government, women and men have to join forces both at the grassroots, and in the top echelons of power. The case has to be made that work/life balance is no longer a women’s issue, nor is it a question of reducing stress or increasing comfort, it is a question of providing this generation of women and men and the next generation with the capacity to achieve what all families desire and the nation desperately needs: to enable parents to be both good caregivers and good providers. That conversation has begun. Now we have to continue the dialogue between employers and employees, between the old and the young, and between women and men.

Madeleine M. Kunin was Vermont’s first and only woman governor, and US ambassador to Switzerland during the Clinton administration. She is the author of The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family

Kunin recently appeared on C-SPAN’s BookTV. Watch the talk on YouTube.

Essential Books for Small Farmers On Sale

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The local food movement is alive and well, and Chelsea Green is thrilled to see growing interest in topics ranging from fermentation to organic agriculture. We have been the go-to publisher for small farmers and organic gardeners since 1989 when we published Eliot Coleman’s ground-breaking The New Organic Grower, a book that has since earned a treasured place on the bookshelves of vegetable growers everywhere.

Whether you grow tomatoes, peppers, and herbs on your balcony, intensively garden a half-acre on your homestead, or make a living off the land as a full-time farmer, we’ve got a book (or two) for you.

This newsletter highlights books of special interest to farmers and gardeners—books on different business models, full of handy charts to help you scheme; books on specialty crops like fruits and medicinal herbs; and books that can help expand your farm’s offerings by teaching you how to breed vegetables for your climate, and even venture into small-scale grain growing.

As you’ve come to expect from Chelsea Green, our books never skim the surface. Our authors think in systems, and farm holistically, applying the wisdom of permaculture to let nature do the heavy lifting whenever possible and giving you the information necessary to empower you to care for the planet and those around you.

We hope you’re having a busy and abundant growing season! Happy reading from the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing

 

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

Small Scale Poultry Flock Cover Image
Retail Price: $39.95
Sale Price: $25.97

Longtime farmer Harvey Ussery has created the most comprehensive and definitive guide to date on raising all-natural poultry for the homesteader and small farmer.

No other book on raising poultry takes an entirely whole-systems approach, or discusses producing homegrown feed and breeding in such detail—it is truly an invaluable and groundbreaking guide that will lead farmers and homesteaders into a new world of self-reliance and enjoyment.

Harvey Ussery gives advice on working with broody hens in this video. WATCH IT HERE…


 

The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way

The Holistic Orchard Cover Image
Retail Price: $39.95
Sale Price: $25.97

Growing a small-scale orchard of tree fruits and berries is something virtually anyone can do, given a bit of space and desire, and the willingness to observe and learn from nature.

In this groundbreaking new book, orchard guru Michael Phillips (author of The Apple Grower) takes readers “beyond organic” and into the universe of holistic growing practices—a place where backyard and small commercial fruit growers maintain a balanced orchard ecology and don’t just substitute hard-hitting organic sprays for chemical “controls.”

In this video, Michael Phillips explains how he arrived at his holistic methods. WATCH IT HERE…

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: A Cultivator’s Guide to Small-Scale Organic Herb Production

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm Cover Image
Retail Price: $34.95
Sale Price: $22.72

Peg Schafer, longtime grower and teacher, guides readers with information on propagating, cultivating, and harvesting Chinese herbs, and presents fascinating new scientific data that reveal the age old wisdom of nature and the traditional systems of Chinese medicine.

 

Through 79 detailed herb profiles—all tested and trialed on Schafer’s certified organic farm—Schafer offers easy-to follow information, suitable for both growers and practitioners, for growing efficacious wild-simulated herbs.

This Spring, Herb Companion magazine paid a visit to Schafer’s farm, and featured an excerpt from the book. READ IT HERE…


 

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

The Winter Harvest Handbook Cover Image
Retail Price: $29.95 
Sale Price: $19.47

From the bestselling author of The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, a revolutionary guide to year-round harvests of fresh, organic produce—with little or no energy inputs. Gardeners and farmers can use the innovative, highly successful methods Coleman describes in this comprehensive handbook to raise crops throughout the coldest of winters.

 

Make sure to read the New York Times article that recently featured Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. The in-depth story focused on the couple’s continued ability to innovate and thrive on their year-round organic farm in Maine. 


 

The Farmstead Creamery Advisor: The Complete Guide to Building and Running a Small, Farm-Based Cheese Business

The Farmstead Creamery Advisor Cover Image
Retail Price: $34.95 
Sale Price: $22.72

More than ever before, the people who choose to become farmer-cheesemakers need access to the knowledge of established cheese artisans who can help them build their dream.

 

The Farmstead Creamery Advisor brings to life the story of creating a successful cheesemaking business in a practical, organized manner. It will also appeal to the many small and hobby-farm owners who already have milking animals and who wish to improve their home dairy practices and facilities.

Gianaclis’s forthcoming book is getting rave reviews from early readers! Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking will be available this fall. PREORDER IT HERE…

 

The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff—and Making a Profit

The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook Cover Image
Retail Price: $34.95 Sale Price: $22.72

Contrary to popular belief, a good living can be made on an organic farm. What’s required is farming smarter, not harder.

 

In The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, Richard Wiswall shares advice on how to make your vegetable production more efficient, better manage your employees and finances, and turn a profit. From his twenty-seven years of experience at Cate Farm in Vermont, Wiswall knows firsthand the joys of starting and operating an organic farm—as well as the challenges of making a living from one.

Go beyond the book with Wiswall’s new DVD: Business Advice for Organic Farmers. Also available with the book as a specially priced set.

 

You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise

You Can Farm Cover Image
Retail Price: $35.00 
Sale Price: $22.75

Have you ever desired, deep within your soul, to make a comfortable full-time living from a farming enterprise? Too often people dare not even vocalize this desire because it seems absurd.

But for farm entrepreneurs, the opportunities for a farm family business have never been greater. The aging farm population is creating cavernous niches begging to be filled by creative visionaries who will go in dynamic new directions. While this book can be helpful to all farmers, it targets the wannabes, the folks who actually entertain notions of living, loving and learning on a piece of land.

“Is it really possible for me?” is the burning question this book addresses.

Joel’s son Daniel shows you how to cut up a chicken in this video. WATCH IT HERE…

 

Small-Scale Grain Raising: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers

Small Scale Grain Raising Cover Image
Retail Price: $29.95
Sale Price: $19.47

First published in 1977, this book—from one of America’s most famous and prolific agricultural writers—became an almost instant classic among homestead gardeners and small farmers.

 

Starting from the simple but revolutionary concept of the garden “pancake patch,” Logsdon opens up our eyes to a whole world of plants that we wrongly assume only the agricultural “big boys” can grow. He succinctly covers all the basics, from planting and dealing with pests, weeds, and diseases to harvesting, processing, storing, and using whole grains. There are even a few recipes sprinkled throughout, along with more than a little wit and wisdom. 

Chapter 7 looks at rye and barley, two delicious grains you can grow on a small-scale. READ IT HERE…

 

Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture

Sharing the Harvest Cover Image
Includes instructional DVD Retail Price: $35.00
Sale Price: $22.75

To an increasing number of American families the CSA (community supported agriculture) is the answer to the globalization of our food supply. The premise is simple: create a partnership between local farmers and nearby consumers, who become members or subscribers in support of the farm.

 

Sharing the Harvest provides new insight into making CSA not only a viable economic model, but the right choice for food lovers and farmers alike.

 

The groundbreaking first edition helped spark a movement and, with this revised edition, Sharing the Harvest is poised to lead the way toward a revitalized agriculture.

 

You can flip through a preview of the book here. BROWSE THE PREVIEW… 


More New and Noteworthy Titles On Sale

NOFA Guides Set The Flower FarmerThe Grape GrowerThe New Organic GrowerBreed Your Own Vegetable Varieties
Growing Great GarlicThe Soul of SoilSepp Holzer's PermaculturePastured Poultry Profit$Natural Beekeeping

 

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* Books on sale until July 31st*

National Pickle Month is Off to a Sour Start

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

…And for this holiday, that’s a good thing!

July is the perfect time to celebrate pickles. Their tangy zing and refreshing crunch go great with steamy evenings out by the grill, or as a garnish to a dish of cold quinoa and veggies when it’s too hot to cook. If you’re a gardener you might be drowning in cucumbers or green beans by now too, and pickling is one of the best ways to preserve the beauty and nutrition of the growing season on into the winter.

This week we’re putting our very best books on pickles and other zesty, fermented methods of preserving fresh vegetables on sale, and we’ll be sharing pickle recipes for the rest of the month too. Join our Facebook community to be the first to know when we spill the dilly bean tips and kimchi checklists!

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World by Sandor Ellix Katz, Foreword by Michael Pollan
Simply put, the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Required reading for any aspiring prince or princess of pickles.
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz
The first cookbook to widely explore the culinary magic of fermentation, this book offers simple, step-by-step instructions for a range of foods from sour pickles to yogurt to beer.
Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by The Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante

A book that goes back to the future — celebrating traditional but little-known French techniques for storing and preserving edibles in ways that maximize flavor and nutrition.

Making the Most of Your Glorious Glut: Cooking, Storing, Freezing, Drying & Preserving Your Garden Produce by Jackie Sherman
What do you do when life gives you bushels of beans? Pickle them, of course! Recipes for using fresh produce in new and exciting ways, plus how to pickle, preserve, dry, bottle and juice all your surplus fruit and vegetables so that they can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Books on sale for 25% off until July 16.

“Cheese as a lens to march us through time.” – Paul Kindstedt on the Callie Crossley Show

Monday, July 9th, 2012

What do Homer’s Odyssey, slave labor, and European monasteries have in common? Cheese!

Recently, award-winning journalist Callie Crossley welcomed food scientist and author Paul Kindstedt to her show to tell the grand narrative of cheese and describe how deeply interwoven this special food is with the rise and development of our culture.

In his new book, Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization, Kindstedt traces cheese from ancient civilization to the 21st century. He not only tracks how cheese changed the arc of human history, he also examines the versatility of this dairy wonder. Turns out a pockmarked wedge of artisanal Swiss and the preternaturally shiny and smooth Kraft single are linked by milk curds that are part of cheesemaking’s 9,000 year-old history.

From his point of view as leader of the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese, Kindstedt not only knows the story of cheese’s past, he sees the rapidly growing resurgence of small-scale cheesemaking. Even as industrial food grows in power, the culture of cheese as a food made by hand, a food that connects people to the sunlight, the grass, and the animals we share this planet with – is alive and well!

Listen to the show below, or on WGBH’s website.

Foreword Reviews Honors Chelsea Green at Book of the Year Awards

Friday, July 6th, 2012

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Chelsea Green, what with listening to our darling The Art of Fermentation on Fresh Air not once but twice, then watching Sandor Katz’s masterpiece hit the New York Times Bestseller list, and announcing our new employee-ownership status it looks like I forgot to highlight one additional tidbit of lovely news, so here it is! – Web Content Editor

At a ceremony on June 23 at ALA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, California, ForeWord named 209 Book of the Year Award winners in 54 categories. These books, representing the best independently published works from 2011, were selected by a panel of librarian and bookseller judges.

Chelsea Green Publishing was named the Independent Publisher of the Year for its significant contributions in the categories of politics and sustainable living. Two outstanding titles from the publisher this year were award winners. They are: Reinventing Fire by Amory B. Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute and the much-touted book of essays by Edward Hoagland, .

[One of Chelsea Green's distributed titles was] also named an Editor’s Choice Prize winner, a distinction that comes with a $1,500 cash prize.

Wolverine Farm Publishing was presented with the Editor’s Choice Prize for Nonfiction for its book, Logodaedaly by Erzsébet Gilbert.

Logodaedaly defies categorization,” said Kimber Bilby, ForeWord’s marketing and awards director. “It’s not a true reference book, but it is a beautifully written book about words—albeit quirky, obscure ones that I’m sure you’ve never heard of! Gilbert’s magical dictionary is a linguistic delight.”

Read the entire press release.

“Optimists Change the World” — The Life of Madeleine Kunin

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Award-winning journalist Joyce Marcel recently sat down to talk to Madeleine Kunin,Vermont’s first woman governor and author of The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family, which has garnered rave reviews for its blend of pragmatism and passion.

In her cultured, polite and graceful way, Madeleine M. Kunin is angry.

And when Kunin is angry, it pays to pay attention. After all, she’s got  impressive social change credentials.

Kunin was the first female governor of Vermont (1985-1991). And she was an activist governor, at that. She was the first Jewish governor of Vermont, for that matter. The first Jewish woman ever elected governor of a U.S. state. The first woman in U.S. history to be elected governor three times. The fourth woman to be elected governor in her own right (instead of inheriting the position from a deceased husband.)

After she left office, she founded the Institute for Sustainable Communities, which for more than 20 years has done successful community-building projects in 24 countries, including the U.S.

She also joined the Clinton administration, first to research vice-presidential candidates, then as Deputy Secretary of Education. Later, Clinton appointed her ambassador to Switzerland, where she prodded the Swiss banking establishment into confronting its financial actions during and after World War II.

She is the author of three books — a new one, “The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family,” comes out this month. She is the mother of four children; the grandmother of five. Many talented women look to her as a mentor. She is currently the Marsh Scholar and Professor at Large at the University of Vermont.

Although Kunin is an accomplished politician, author, teacher, mentor and public speaker — and a master of controlled emotion — when she entered public life she wasn’t even certain that she would like it — or be any good at it.

“But I found it a fascinating world,” Kunin told me. “All different points of view; it was stimulating. You have to be a quick study about a whole bunch of new issues. And I found the interaction with constituents interesting and fun. You may skim the surface, but the surface is huge. Instead of living a life in your own little bubble, you break out of it and see this enormous landscape of life.”

Kunin has won elections and lost elections.

“Losing isn’t easy, and sometimes I took it personally,” she said. “But you have to move on. Politics has its ups and downs. When I lost my first campaign for governor, I was devastated, even though I knew it was a tough race. You get caught by the fever. It’s an adrenaline rush in politics that can be both wonderful and miserable, depending on where you are. But I have no regrets. The risk was worth taking.”

“She is a gutsy, visionary politician,” said Jonathan Lash, who served as Kunin’s secretary of natural resources and is now president of  Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. “I loved working for her. It was a blast. She’s somebody who makes ‘politician’ not a dirty word.”

To many people around the world, Kunin has become an icon of leadership.

“Madeleine is a remarkably compassionate and visionary leader,” said George Hamilton, the president of ISC. “She has had amazing accomplishments, from writing books to founding ISC to being a role model to women around the world. Most compelling is the way she’s inspired women by example and by writing honestly about what it means to be a leader. I travel with her a lot. I see the response she gets. It’s really very moving.”

One of the young women Kunin has mentored is Vermont Representative Kesha Ram (D-Chittenden 3-4), who was the student body president of the University of Vermont and, at 21, ran for state office and won.

“Madeleine Kunin was very inspirational,” Ram said. “When I first met her, she gave me an hour of her time, and I left feeling ‘Wow! I would love to be involved in politics in a state where a former governor is so warm and accessible.’ She was a reminder that you don’t have to leave who you are when you enter the halls of power. Since then she’s been an incredible mentor and inspiration. What also means a lot to me is that she’s able to inspire women of all ages and backgrounds. She’s someone I would like to be. She embodies strength and courage. She speaks her mind and is eloquent, but she is also humble.”

At 78, I found Kunin to be both feminine and fragile.

When we met to talk at the Burlington home she shares with her second husband, retired Dartmouth professor John W. Hennessey, Jr. she was charming and lovely and, as always, elegantly dressed and coiffed. (Kunin  dedicated her new book to Hennessey: “For John, my first reader, editor, constant support and also — a feminist.”)

The couple’s living room has floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking Lake Champlain. A bright red abstract by Vermont artist Emily Mason graces one wall opposite a purple forest painted by Mason’s husband, Wolf Kahn. The two paintings strike a nice ironic balance.

The house is filled with photos of Kunin’s four children, her five grandchildren, her husband’s children and grandchildren, and portraits of her with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Geraldine Ferraro and other notables.

When talking about herself, Kunin was thoughtful, patient, honest about herself and diplomatic about others. She has a good sense of humor and isn’t afraid to giggle when something strikes her as funny. She is deeply intelligent. Her focus is laser sharp. She gives a great interview.

“She’s the complete role model,” said Jan Blittersdorf, the president and CEO of NRG Systems. “She always looks fabulous and its never conservative or like ‘a woman of a certain age.’ She’s regal. I think she’s a fine example of a successful woman. I guess I wonder who’s going to follow her footsteps, politically. What’s going to happen coming up? And is anybody going to follow her lead of supporting women in political positions? A man or a woman?”

Kunin is far from ready to retire to a rocking chair. What is making her angry now is the fact that decades after the second wave of the women’s movement in the Sixties and Seventies —the first wave gave women the vote — gender equality has still not been achieved in the United States. And even worse, gains made by women in multiple areas of civic society are being threatened or taken away vote by vote, state by state.
It’s 2012, Kunin said. Things should be different.

“I’m angry that a golf course in Georgia doesn’t allow women,” Kunin told me. “How can that be? I thought we would have settled these issues.”
In the introduction to her new book she writes that by this time:

“I did not expect that women would still make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. I expected that one-third to one-half of our Congress, governors, state legislatures and mayors would be female. I did not expect that in 2010 that number would be 17 percent in the Congress, and the United States would be tied at 69th place in the percentage of women in parliaments, out of 178 countries. I expected that one-third to one-half of corporate board members would be women. I did not expect to see that proportion stuck at 17 percent. I expected that a high percentage of the Fortune 500 companies would be led by women. I did not expect that figure to be 3 percent.  I expected that misogyny, rape and other acts of violence against women would be widely condemned and sharply reduced…I expected that by 2011 grandmothers like myself would be able to tell their grandchildren of how life used to be ‘long ago.’”

Does she think the Republican right wing has declared war on women?

“It sure sounds that way,” she told me. “It’s contraception, it’s choice, it’s violence against women, it’s cutting social programs, cutting Pell Grants. But I’m sure they don’t see it that way. There’s a real disconnect — they just look at issues from the male perspective. We have a huge divide.”

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney can have many children because they can support them, she pointed out. What about single mothers who can’t support even their smaller families?

“Take the whole issue of contraception,” Kunin said. “I don’t know if I want to say it, but they should remember that Jesus was an only child. Almost every woman and family throughout history has practiced contraception. It didn’t start yesterday. The ability to control when and whether you want to bear children is the most essential thing for family life, not just for women. And making it possible for lower-income women have insurance coverage for that is just common sense, because it also dramatically reduces the number of abortions.”

Kunin is anything but shrill about a current political climate she characterizes as “nasty.”

“I guess I’m still polite in my anger,” she said. “That’s just my nature.”

Keep reading…

Energy Department Study Confirms Reinventing Fire‘s Vision

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

From TriplePundit, file in the extremely thin folder of articles that display governments’ ability to get with the program on climate change and peak oil!

May there be many more such articles in the years to come, and maybe, just maybe, by 2050 we’ll get to celebrate real independence — from fossil fuels and the gloom of a future we’re destroying with each gas-guzzling shopping trip and coal burning light-switch flip.

This has to be some of the more encouraging news I’ve heard in a while. A report released last week by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), called the Renewable Energy Futures Study, found that using renewables to provide the lion’s share of our electricity by 2050, without requiring any technological breakthroughs is a  reasonable proposition.

In fact, here is one of the key findings of the study.

“Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.”

This validates similar claims made in the Rocky Mountain Institute’s 2011 book, Reinventing Fire.

The NREL study, which used an hourly simulation analysis, evaluated a number of scenarios ranging from 30 percent to 90 percent, before settling on 80 percent as a reasonable, if ambitious, target. Of course it won’t be easy, and we won’t get there without real effort. Even if the technology doesn’t need a breakthrough to reach that goal, other things, such as business models, regulations, financing and infrastructure just might.

Renewables accounted for 10 percent of all electricity in 2010 (plus an additional 2 percent, mostly hydro, imported from Canada) with wind solar and others continuing to grow rapidly. In the 80 percent scenario, solar and wind, both of which are variable, unsteady sources, combine to contribute close to 50 percent of all electric power.

In order to accommodate this high level of variability, we will need a more flexible electric system (i.e. grid) that is capable of dynamically meeting the supply-demand balance in a world that relies heavily on renewables. This will include things like smart grid, demand forecasting, more flexible and responsive conventional plants (e.g. GE FlexEfficiency), grid storage (including V2G), and increased operational coordination.

The results achieved were found to be “consistent for a wide range of assumed conditions that constrained transmission expansion, grid flexibility, and renewable resource availability.”

Given the abundance and diversity of renewable resources in this country, there are multiple pathways by which this level of contribution might occur, which promises a robust and resilient energy future, if we can find the political will to overcome the many non-technological barriers that stand in the way.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • All regions of the United States could contribute substantial renewable electricity supply in 2050, consistent with their local renewable resource base.
  • Higher than current renewable growth rates will be required to achieve this level, but not higher than what has been achieved elsewhere.
  • Electricity supply and demand can be balanced in every hour of the year in each region with nearly 80 percent electricity from renewable resources,
  • Additional challenges to power system planning and operation would arise, including management of low-demand periods and curtailment of excess electricity generation.
  • Additional transmission infrastructure will be required.
  • The direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios.

The study is not without its critics. However, they might not be who you expect them to be. Brad Plumer, writing for the Washington Post, suggests that NREL might be wildly underestimating the potential of solar and wind energy, which have been growing exponentially since 2001. He claims that estimates from official agencies, like the IEA, consistently underestimate the potential of renewables. Could that be because of cozy relationships that representatives might have with the utility industry?

Rocky Mountain Institute’s James Newcomb, has a different concern. Though he gives high praise to the report, calling it “rigorous and deep,” he points out that it maintains a business-as-usual assumption when it comes to the business model that utilities will use in the future. Specifically, he is concerned that the role of distributed generation, which could fundamentally revise the electric utility business, has not been adequately represented in the study. RMI’s book, Reinventing Fire, which came out last fall, made the same prediction of 80 percent renewables by 2050 achievable by two different pathways: one, similar to the NREL study, following a centralized utility model, while the second path, shows a more distributed approach.

Keep reading…


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