Chelsea Green Publishing

Flying Blind

Pages:224 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603585200
Pub. Date August 23, 2013
eBook: 9781603585217
Pub. Date October 15, 2013

Flying Blind

One Man's Adventures Battling Buckthorn, Making Peace with Authority, and Creating a Home for Endangered Bats

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
August 23, 2013


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 15, 2013

$24.95 $19.96

When Middlebury writing professor Don Mitchell was approached by a biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department about tracking endangered Indiana bats on his 150-acre farm in Vermont's picturesque Champlain Valley, Mitchell's relationship with bats—and with government—could be characterized as distrustful, at best.

But the flying rats, as Mitchell initially thinks of them, launched him on a series of "improvements" to his land that would provide a more welcoming habitat for the bats—and a modest tax break for himself and his family. Whether persuading his neighbors to join him on a "silent meditation," pulling invasive garlic mustard out of the ground by hand, navigating the tacit ground rules of buying an ATV off Craigslist, or leaving just enough honeysuckle to give government inspectors "something to find," Mitchell’s tale is as profound as it is funny—a journey that changes Mitchell’s relationship with Chiroptera, the land, and, ultimately, his understanding of his own past.

Ruminating on the nature of authority, the purview of the state, and the value of inhabiting one’s niche—Mitchell reveals much about our inner and outer landscape, in this perfectly paced and skilled story of place.


“So what happened to the idealistic ’60s youth who went back to the land? Flying Blind is one couple’s answer. Don Mitchell presents a rich, evocative account of wise stewardship—and of how making ends meet on a Champlain Valley farm in Vermont becomes a conservation success story in the fight to save endangered Indiana bats.”--Andrew Walker, executive director, Bat Conservation International

“Don Mitchell has written a classic story of Vermont, of family, of farming, and of the evolving, never-romantic, always crucial story of the encounter between people and the larger world.”--Bill McKibben, author of Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist



“In Flying Blind, Don Mitchell not only gives us a wonderful story about creating habitat for bats on his land, but tells about his own personal journey of becoming a bat-loving conservationist. In addition to the many scientific bat-conservation efforts taking place around the world, we also need stories like this—of an individual developing a greater understanding of bats, and of the natural world, and coming away better for it.”--Merlin Tuttle, founder, Bat Conservation International



"Receiving a government grant to control invasive plants in the bat habitat around his farm was just the beginning. Don Mitchell hilariously chronicles the official visits and requirements that soon became such a prominent part of his life, along with the stupefying labor involved in grubbing up all that garlic mustard. What makes Flying Blind such a remarkably powerful memoir is Don Mitchell’s capacity to connect both the ecological puzzle of bats’ susceptibility to white-nose syndrome and a personal resistance to bureaucracy with his passionate and lifelong resistance to authority. At the deepest level, this is a story about how forgiveness and celebration help him find a trail through the woods to family and home."--John Elder, author of The Frog Run and coeditor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing

“Don Mitchell’s Flying Blind does for rural New England what Wendell Berry’s essays do for Kentucky and Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It does for the American West. On one level, Flying Blind tells the engaging and often hilarious story of a man’s determination to make his upcountry Vermont farm a welcoming home for an endangered and much-maligned species of ‘flying rat.’ It’s also the story of how place, the past, family, and meaningful work can still form character at a time when much of America is increasingly alienated from nature, history, and community. Beautifully written, relentlessly honest, and unfailingly entertaining, Flying Blind is the book Don Mitchell was born to write.”--Howard Frank Mosher, author of The Great Northern Express, Walking to Gatlinburg, and On Kingdom Mountain


Don Mitchell

Don Mitchell is a novelist, essayist, and sometime screenwriter whose most recent books are The Nature Notebooks (a novel) and a guidebook to Vermont in the Fodor’s/Compass American series. He’s also the architect and builder of over a dozen low-cost, energy-efficient structures on Treleven Farm, and a shepherd with thirty-five years’ experience managing a flock of sheep there. One of his current interests is forest management with the goal of enhancing habitat for endangered bats.

From 1984 to 2009 Don taught courses at Middlebury College, primarily in creative writing–especially narrative fiction and writing for film–and environmental literature. Now he devotes most of his time to projects designed to enhance the farm and support the vision of Treleven, Inc.


The Systems Thinking Playbook

The Systems Thinking Playbook

By Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows

This book has become a favorite of K–12 teachers, university faculty, and corporate consultants. It provides short gaming exercises that illustrate the subtleties of systems thinking. The companion DVD shows the authors introducing and running each of the thirty games.

The thirty games are classified by these areas of learning: Systems Thinking, Mental Models, Team Learning, Shared Vision, and Personal Mastery. Each description clearly explains when, how, and why the game is useful. There are explicit instructions for debriefing each exercise as well as a list of all required materials. A summary matrix has been added for a quick glance at all thirty games. When you are in a hurry to find just the right initiative for some part of your course, the matrix will help you find it.

Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows both have many years of experience in teaching complex concepts. This book reflects their insights. Every game works well and provokes a deep variety of new insights about paradigms, system boundaries, causal-loop diagrams, reference modes, and leverage points. Each of the thirty exercises here was tested and refined many times until it became a reliable source of learning. Some of the games are adapted from classics of the outdoor education field. Others are completely new. But all of them complement readings and lectures to help participants understand intuitively the principles of systems thinking.

Available in: Mixed media product

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The Systems Thinking Playbook

Dennis Meadows, Linda Booth Sweeney

Mixed media product $70.00

The Lost Language of Plants

The Lost Language of Plants

By Stephen Harrod Buhner

This could be the most important book you will read this year. Around the office at Chelsea Green it is referred to as the "pharmaceutical Silent Spring." Well-known author, teacher, lecturer, and herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner has produced a book that is certain to generate controversy. It consists of three parts:

  1. A critique of technological medicine, and especially the dangers to the environment posed by pharmaceuticals and other synthetic substances that people use in connection with health care and personal body care.
  2. A new look at Gaia Theory, including an explanation that plants are the original chemistries of Gaia and those phytochemistries are the fundamental communications network for the Earth's ecosystems.
  3. Extensive documentation of how plants communicate their healing qualities to humans and other animals. Western culture has obliterated most people's capacity to perceive these messages, but this book also contains valuable information on how we can restore our faculties of perception.

The book will affect readers on rational and emotional planes. It is grounded in both a New Age spiritual sensibility and hard science. While some of the author's claims may strike traditional thinkers as outlandish, Buhner presents his arguments with such authority and documentation that the scientific underpinnings, however unconventional, are completely credible.

The overall impact is a powerful, eye-opening expos' of the threat that our allopathic Western medical system, in combination with our unquestioning faith in science and technology, poses to the primary life-support systems of the planet. At a time when we are preoccupied with the terrorist attacks and the possibility of biological warfare, perhaps it is time to listen to the planet. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the state of the environment, the state of health care, and our cultural sanity.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The Lost Language of Plants

Stephen Harrod Buhner

Paperback $19.95

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties

By Carol Deppe

All gardeners and farmers should be plant breeders, says author Carol Deppe. Developing new vegetable varieties doesn't require a specialized education, a lot of land, or even a lot of time. It can be done on any scale. It's enjoyable. It's deeply rewarding. You can get useful new varieties much faster than you might suppose. And you can eat your mistakes.

Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:

  • how to breed for a wide range of different traits (flavor, size, shape, or color; cold or heat tolerance; pest and disease resistance; and regional adaptation)
  • how to save seed and maintain varieties
  • how to conduct your own variety trials and other farm- or garden-based research
  • how to breed for performance under organic or sustainable growing methods

In this one-size-fits-all world of multinational seed companies, plant patents, and biotech monopolies, more and more gardeners and farmers are recognizing that they need to "take back their seeds." They need to save more of their own seed, grow and maintain the best traditional and regional varieties, and develop more of their own unique new varieties. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving shows the way, and offers an exciting introduction to a whole new gardening adventure.

Available in: Paperback

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Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties

Carol Deppe

Paperback $29.95

Angels by the River

Angels by the River

By James Gustave Speth

Angels by the River follows James Gustave Speth’s unlikely path—from a Southern boyhood to his career as an influential mainstream environmentalist to his current system-changing activism.

In this compelling memoir, Speth explores the issues, and realities, that have shaped the nation since the 1950s, and that turned an “ultimate insider” into someone willing to be arrested in front of the White House.

Born and raised in a town where both the best and worst of the South shone through—a town that eventually became the scene of South Carolina’s horrific Orangeburg Massacre—Speth explores how the civil rights movement and the South’s agrarian roots influenced his academic career at Yale and later work in the heyday of the environmental movement, when he helped launch two landmark and influential environmental groups—the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute—advise the White House on climate and other emerging issues, and lead the UN’s development efforts around the globe.

Speth fought to create and uphold the nation’s toughest environmental laws, but now believes a new environmentalism is needed to confront today’s challenges. The advancing climate crisis cannot be addressed, he warns, as long as we remain fixated on endless growth and consumption, corporate profits, increasing the incomes of the well-to-do, neglecting those just getting by, and helping abroad only modestly.

An American tale, in all its complexity, Speth’s memoir is an inspiration—especially for readers contemplating how to make a difference in an increasingly complex world.

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

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Angels by the River

James Gustave Speth

Hardcover $25.00