By Mike Madison
As the average age of America’s farmers continues to rise, we face serious questions about what farming will look like in the near future, and who will be growing our food. Many younger people are interested in going into agriculture, especially organic farming, but cannot find affordable land, or lack the conceptual framework and practical information they need to succeed in a job that can be both difficult and deeply fulfilling.
In Fruitful Labor, Mike Madison meticulously describes the ecology of his own small family farm in the Sacramento Valley of California. He covers issues of crop ecology such as soil fertility, irrigation needs,, and species interactions, as well as the broader agroecological issues of the social, economic, regulatory, and technological environments in which the farm operates. The final section includes an extensive analysis of sustainability on every level.
Pithy, readable, and highly relevant, this book covers both the ecology and the economy of a truly sustainable agriculture. Although Madison’s farm is unique, the broad lessons he has gleaned from his more than three decades as an organic farmer will resonate strongly with the new generation of farmers who work the land, wherever they might live.
Available in: Paperback
The Permaculture Guide to Reed Beds
By Féidhlim Harty
The Permaculture Guide to Reed Beds is a comprehensive overview of reed bed systems and treatment wetlands for household effluent treatment. Going from system selection and design to construction, planting and maintenance; this guide offers the reader a complete how-to manual for getting your own reed bed system up and running.
Reed beds are an efficient, effective, low-energy filter system for protecting local groundwater and streams from septic tank effluent and greywater. This thorough book explains the background to wastewater treatment and water quality and describes how reed beds work to get wastewater clean again.
Reed beds and treatment wetlands are well-established elements within permaculture design, and many of the permaculture principles are readily applied to them. This guide goes a step further than simply explaining how to design and build reed beds by providing greater insight into permaculture as a design tool and exploring how to maximize the yields, beneficial relationships, and sustainability of the reed bed and indeed the whole sewage treatment process within your site.
Complete with an overview of planning guidelines for the UK and Ireland, The Permaculture Guide to Reed Beds is an invaluable resource for homeowners who want to build their own system. It is also an essential reference manual for permaculture designers, architects, engineers, landscape designers, planners and others with an interest in this area. Easy to follow and clearly set out, with beautiful line drawings to illustrate the text, this is a book you'll find both useful and inspiring.
Resilience, Community Action & Societal Transformation
Resilience, Community Action and Societal Transformation is a unique collection bridging research, theory and practical action to create more resilient societies. It includes accounts from people and organizations on the front line of efforts to build community resilience; cutting-edge theory and analysis from engaged scholar-activists; and commentary from sympathetic researchers. Its content ranges from first-hand accounts of the Transition Movement in the UK, Canada and Spain, to theoretical reflections on resilience theory and the shifts in mindsets and perspectives required for transitions to sustainability.
The book contains substantive contributions from activists and activist-scholars such as Lorenzo Chelleri (Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy), Juan del Rio (Transition Spain), Naresh Giangrande (Transition Network), Maja Göpel (Wuppertal Institute), Thomas Henfrey (Transition Research Network), Justin Kenrick (Forest People’s Programme), Glen Kuecker (University of Indiana), Cheryl Lyon (Transition Peterborough Ontario) and Gesa Maschowski (Transition Bonn), along with briefing notes from noted experts in resilience. The result is a compelling cocktail of insights, ideas and action points likely to define the scientific and practical fields of community resilience for years to come.
The MultiCapital Scorecard
By Martin P. Thomas and Mark W. McElroy
For decades now, organizations have been struggling to find the best way to address their social and environmental responsibilities alongside their economic obligations. In other words, they want to know how best to effectively manage their operations based on a triple bottom line (3BL)—one that reflects social, environmental, and economic performance.
Recently, an international standard for integrated reporting has emerged that in principle emphasizes the importance of managing toward a triple bottom line. But it fails to provide specific guidance on how to do so. Organizations have been left to their own devices to respond. How should 3BL management actually be done?
In this book, sustainability and performance experts Martin Thomas and Mark McElroy introduce the world’s most advanced 3BL performance accounting methodology: The MultiCapital Scorecard. It is the first context-based integrated measurement, management, and reporting system. And, it can help corporations, public institutions, and other organizations answer the question they should be asking themselves for every aspect of their operations: “How much is enough for us to be sustainable?” The answers set internal performance standards against which operations and their impacts can be measured. Nothing less will do!
The MultiCapital Scorecard describes this open-source methodology, which consists of a structured, quantitative measurement and reporting system that complies with international standards for 3BL integrated measurement and reporting. Moreover, the MultiCapital Scorecard is designed to help organizations assess their own 3BL performance in their own contexts with context-based metrics of their own choosing. An eminently practical management aid for integrated thinking, it can be tailored to any organization’s needs.
The authors also describe how and why businesses are gradually shifting from managing impacts on only one type of capital (economic) to managing impacts on multiple types. They also provide detailed examples of worked reports, showing how organizations might develop and quantify the interim and long-term goals to meet their obligations to their employees, community, shareholders, and the environment. The examples also show how an organization can use the Multicapital Scorecard methodology to assess their progress in meeting those goals, and convey that progress to their stakeholders.
Available in: Hardcover
Parachuting Cats into Borneo
By Axel Klimek and Alan AtKisson
A toolkit of proven strategies and practices for building capacity and creating transformation
Recent years have seen a proliferation of information on how to make change—in business, in social and environmental movements, and on a more personal scale. But, even with all this attention, two out of three change efforts fail to achieve their desired result. How can you make your own effort buck this trend?
In Parachuting Cats into Borneo, change-management experts Axel Klimek and Alan AtKisson offer crisp, concise, and targeted advice for success. They expose the most significant impediments—helping readers recognize their habitual patterns of thinking and perceiving a situation, critique their own beliefs regarding change, and then move beyond these unhelpful patterns using improved systems thinking.
Named after a classic tale of unintended consequences, Parachuting Cats into Borneo delivers tools that help leaders and others keep their change initiatives on track. The advice imparted will help you move away from agonizing over immediate problems toward stoking action, identifying collaborators, focusing at the right level for your cause, and aiding others in pursuing their change.
Klimek and AtKisson draw from their decades of helping corporations, networks, governments, and NGOs reach their change goals to demonstrate how to use system-based change tools to their maximum advantage.
A closing section is devoted to change making in the realm of sustainability, where complexity abounds but the right tools, used well, can help us tackle some of the most significant challenges of our time.
The Climate Change Playbook
By Dennis Meadows and Linda Booth Sweeney and Gillian Martin Mehers
Advocates and teachers often find it difficult to communicate the complexities of climate change, because the people they are trying to reach hold so many mistaken assumptions. They assume, for example, that when climate change becomes an obvious threat to our everyday lives, there will still be time enough to make changes that will avoid disaster. Yet at that point it will be too late. Or they assume we can use our current paradigms and policy tools to find solutions. Yet the approaches that caused damage in the first place will cause even more damage in the future.
Even the increasingly dire warnings from scientists haven’t shaken such assumptions. Is there another way to reach people?
The simple, interactive exercises in The Climate Change Playbook can help citizens better understand climate change, diagnose its causes, anticipate its future consequences, and effect constructive change. Adapted from The Systems Thinking Playbook, the twenty-two games are now specifically relevant to climate-change communications and crafted for use by experts, advocates, and educators. Illustrated guidelines walk leaders through setting each game up, facilitating it, and debriefing participants. Users will find games that are suitable for a variety of audiences—whether large and seated, as in a conference room, or smaller and mobile, as in a workshop, seminar, or meeting.
Designed by leading thinkers in systems, communications, and sustainability, the games focus on learning by doing.
The Art of Leading Collectively
By Petra Kuenkel
A guide to collaborative impact for leaders in industry, government, and social change networks
Our world is facing unsustainable global trends—from climate change and water scarcity to energy insecurity, unfair labor practices, and growing inequality. Tackling these crises effectively requires a new form of leadership—a collective one. But, in a world of many silos, how do we get people to work together toward a common goal? That is one of the most important questions facing sustainability and social-change professionals around the world, and it is a question that Petra Kuenkel answers in The Art of Leading Collectively.
Readers learn how to tackle system change for sustainable development, reimagine leadership as a collaborative endeavor, retrain leaders to work collectively, and manage diverse groups through a change process that has sustainability as a guiding focus. Drawing upon two decades of pioneering, internationally recognized work orchestrating multi-stakeholder initiatives, Kuenkel presents her chief tool, the Collective Leadership Compass, and shows others how to use it with large groups of diverse stakeholders to solve complex, urgent problems—particularly those that enmesh business activities, governance, human needs, and environmental impacts.
The book offers many examples of collective leadership efforts involving corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors around the world. Readers learn about the processes that led to a sustainable textile alliance and set standards for sustainable cocoa and coffee production and trade, as well as those that helped nations rebound from war, develop sustainable infrastructure, and tackle resource conflicts with global businesses, to name a few.
Kuenkel provides a clear roadmap for leaders from multinational companies involved in partnerships, international organizations engaged in cooperative development, public agencies, and interest groups—as well as for citizens seeking solutions to social and sustainability challenge
The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm
By Josh Trought
With practical examples of alternative building, renewable energy, holistic forestry, no-till gardening, hospitality management, community outreach, and more
The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm describes not only the history of the D Acres project, but its evolving principles and practices that are rooted in the land, its inhabitants, and the joy inherent in collective empowerment.
For almost twenty years, D Acres of New Hampshire has challenged and expanded the common definition of a farm. As an educational center that researches, applies, and teaches skills of sustainable living and small-scale organic farming, D Acres serves more than just a single function to its community. By turns it is a hostel for travelers to northern New England, a training center for everything from metal- and woodworking to cob building and seasonal cooking, a gathering place for music, poetry, joke-telling, and potluck meals, and much more.
While this book provides a wide spectrum of practical information on the physical systems designed into a community-scale homestead, Trought also reviews the economics and organizational particulars that D Acres has experimented with over the years.
The D Acres model envisions a way to devise a sustainable future by building a localized economy that provides more than seasonal produce, a handful of eggs, and green appliances. With the goal of perennial viability for humanity within their ecosystem, D Acres is attempting an approach to sustainability that encompasses practical, spiritual, and ethical components. In short: They are trying to create a rural community ecology that evolves in perpetuity.
From working with oxen to working with a board of directors, no other book contains such a wealth of innovative ideas and ways to make your farm or homestead not only more sustainable, but more inclusive of, and beneficial to, the larger community. Readers will find information on such subjects as:
Emphasizing collaboration, cooperation, and mutualism, this book promises to inspire a new generation of growers, builders, educators, artists, and dreamers who are seeking new and practical ways to address today’s problems on a community scale.
Grass, Soil, Hope
By Courtney White
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.
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 carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil then we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.
By Janet Millington and Carolyn Nuttal
Outdoor Classrooms: A Handbook for School Gardens is ideal for teachers and home educators who want to incorporate education at all levels of the school curriculum with an emphasis on:
Beautifully illustrated throughout, Outdoor Classrooms is presented as two streams of thought:
Carolyn takes us through the history of school gardens and articulates the need for a revival before leading us on an enticing journey of the imagination into the schoolyard and delight in the natural world.
Janet then offers a comprehensive and practical plan for developing “a successful, supported school garden that has the potential to benefit an entire community.”
The Woodland Way
By Ben Law
A book for everyone who loves trees and woodlands. This 2015 edition of the 2001 classic is written from the heart by an innovative woodsman who is deeply committed to sustainability, this radical book presents an immensely practical alternative to conventional woodland management. Through his personal experience, Ben Law clearly demonstrates how you can create biodiverse, healthy environments, yield a great variety of value-added products, provide secure livelihoods for woodland workers and farmers, and benefit the local community. He argues the case for a new approach to planning, encouraging the creation of permaculture woodlands for the benefit of people, the local environment and the global climate.
Farms with a Future
By Rebecca Thistlethwaite
What makes a farm sustainable and successful? And what special qualities and skills are needed for someone to become a successful farmer?
Rebecca Thistlethwaite addresses these and other crucial questions in this uniquely important book, which is a must-read for anyone who aspires to get into farming, or who wants to make their farm business more dynamic, profitable, and, above all, sustainable. Over an entire year, the author and her husband-experienced farmers themselves-took a sabbatical and traveled the length and breadth of the United States to live and work alongside some of the nation's most innovative farmers. Along the way they learned about best practices, and a whole lot about what doesn't work.
Farms with a Future shares this collective wisdom in an inspirational yet practical manner; it will help beginners avoid many of the common mistakes that first-time farmers make. Just as importantly, it discusses positive ideas that can help make any farm enterprise vibrant and financially profitable. Profiles of more than a dozen representative farms help round out the invaluable information and encourage farmers to embrace their inner entrepreneur. Younger growers, in particular, will benefit by learning about "the right stuff" from both their peers and longtime experts.This book provides a useful reference for beginning and experienced farmers alike. While many other books address agricultural production, there are very few that talk about business management for long-term sustainability. Farms with a Future offers an approachable, colorful take on building a triple-bottom-line farming business.
Occupy World Street
By Ross Jackson
Ordinary citizens the world over have long paid the price for the swashbuckling behavior of the corporate and political elite. We've seen the reigning establishment widen the gap between rich and poor, champion endless growth on a finite planet, wreak havoc on developing nations, and ravage ecosystems in a mad race for natural resources.
Now, as demonstrators worldwide demand change, Occupy World Street offers a sweeping vision of how to reform our global economic and political structures, break away from empire, and build a world of self-determining sovereign states that respect the need for ecological sustainability and uphold human rights.
In this refreshingly detailed plan, Ross Jackson shows how a handful of small nations could take on a leadership role; create new alliances, new governance, and new global institutions; and, in cooperation with grassroots activists, pave the way for other nations to follow suit.
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
Mixed media product
By David Holmgren
In Future Scenarios, permaculture co-originator and leading sustainability innovator David Holmgren outlines four scenarios that bring to life the likely cultural, political, agricultural, and economic implications of peak oil and climate change, and the generations-long era of “energy descent” that faces us.
“Scenario planning,” Holmgren explains, “allows us to use stories about the future as a reference point for imagining how particular strategies and structures might thrive, fail, or be transformed.”
Future Scenarios depicts four very different futures. Each is a permutation of mild or destructive climate change, combined with either slow or severe energy declines. Probable futures, explains Holmgren, range from the relatively benign Green Tech scenario to the near catastrophic Lifeboats scenario.
As Adam Grubb, founder of the influential Energy Bulletin website, says, “These aren’t two-dimensional nightmarish scenarios designed to scare people into environmental action. They are compellingly fleshed-out visions of quite plausible alternative futures, which delve into energy, politics, agriculture, social, and even spiritual trends. What they do help make clear are the best strategies for preparing for and adapting to these possible futures.”
Future Scenarios provides brilliant and balanced consideration of the world’s options and will prove to be one of the most important books of the year.
Thinking in Systems
By Donella Meadows
In the years following her role as the lead author of the international bestseller, Limits to Growth—the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet— Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001.
Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.
Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.
While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.
In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.
When Technology Fails
By Matthew Stein
There’s never been a better time to “be prepared.” Matthew Stein’s comprehensive primer on sustainable living skills—from food and water to shelter and energy to first-aid and crisis-management skills—prepares you to embark on the path toward sustainability. But unlike any other book, Stein not only shows you how to live “green” in seemingly stable times, but to live in the face of potential disasters, lasting days or years, coming in the form of social upheaval, economic meltdown, or environmental catastrophe.
When Technology Fails covers the gamut. You’ll learn how to start a fire and keep warm if you’ve been left temporarily homeless, as well as the basics of installing a renewable energy system for your home or business. You’ll learn how to find and sterilize water in the face of utility failure, as well as practical information for dealing with water-quality issues even when the public tap water is still flowing. You’ll learn alternative techniques for healing equally suited to an era of profit-driven malpractice as to situations of social calamity. Each chapter (a survey of the risks to the status quo; supplies and preparation for short- and long-term emergencies; emergency measures for survival; water; food; shelter; clothing; first aid, low-tech medicine, and healing; energy, heat, and power; metalworking; utensils and storage; low-tech chemistry; and engineering, machines, and materials) offers the same approach, describing skills for self-reliance in good times and bad.
Fully revised and expanded—the first edition was written pre-9/11 and pre-Katrina, when few Americans took the risk of social disruption seriously—When Technology Fails ends on a positive, proactive note with a new chapter on "Making the Shift to Sustainability," which offers practical suggestions for changing our world on personal, community and global levels.
Food Not Lawns
By Heather Jo Flores
Gardening can be a political act. Creativity, fulfillment, connection, revolution—it all begins when we get our hands in the dirt.
Food Not Lawns combines practical wisdom on ecological design and community-building with a fresh, green perspective on an age-old subject. Activist and urban gardener Heather Flores shares her nine-step permaculture design to help farmsteaders and city dwellers alike build fertile soil, promote biodiversity, and increase natural habitat in their own "paradise gardens."
But Food Not Lawns doesn't begin and end in the seed bed. This joyful permaculture lifestyle manual inspires readers to apply the principles of the paradise garden—simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, mindfulness, and community—to all aspects of life. Plant "guerilla gardens" in barren intersections and medians; organize community meals; start a street theater troupe or host a local art swap; free your kitchen from refrigeration and enjoy truly fresh, nourishing foods from your own plot of land; work with children to create garden play spaces.
Flores cares passionately about the damaged state of our environment and the ills of our throwaway society. In Food Not Lawns, she shows us how to reclaim the earth one garden at a time.
The Earth Care Manual
By Patrick Whitefield
As seen on the BBC 2 TV Series, It’s Not Easy Being Green (attracting over 3 million viewers), the critically acclaimed and definitive permaculture design book, reprinted due to popular demand
“You’ve probably never thought of yourself as the ultimate ‘eco-warrior’, but this book will make you think again... essential reading.” Kitchen Gardener
This is the book which inspired Brigit Strawbridge (It’s Not Easy Being Green, BBC2) to attended her first permaculture design course with Patrick Whitefield, and to set her and her family off on a voyage of discovery which is helping to introduce and inspire others to explore permaculture.
Already hailed in the UK, Europe and America as definitive, The Earth Care Manual offers an inspirational yet practical vision of a sustainable future invaluable to those new to the subject as well as to the experienced practitioner.
Permaculture started in the 1970s as a sustainable alternative to modern industrial agriculture, taking its inspiration from natural ecosystems. It placed an emphasis on gardening but since then, expanding on its principles, it now includes many other aspects, from building and community design to energy use. It is an interconnecting framework which links a diversity of green ideas. Its aims are a low input, high output efficient use of resources – and genuine sustainability.
The Earth Care Manual gives a vision of a sustainable future and the practical steps we can take towards it, both large and small, urban and rural. The book defines permaculture and places it in the context of the green movement.
Written by Patrick Whitefield, one of Europe’s foremost teachers and practitioners of temperate permaculture, it explains in depth how to apply permaculture to any situation, from the smallest of buildings or apartments, to houses, gardens, orchards, farms and woodlands. It covers subjects vital to sustainability including food, energy, water, microclimate and shelter.
Limits to Growth
By Donella Meadows and Jorgen Randers and Dennis Meadows
In 1972, three scientists from MIT created a computer model that analyzed global resource consumption and production. Their results shocked the world and created stirring conversation about global 'overshoot,' or resource use beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. Now, preeminent environmental scientists Donnella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows have teamed up again to update and expand their original findings in The Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Global Update.
Meadows, Randers, and Meadows are international environmental leaders recognized for their groundbreaking research into early signs of wear on the planet. Citing climate change as the most tangible example of our current overshoot, the scientists now provide us with an updated scenario and a plan to reduce our needs to meet the carrying capacity of the planet.
Over the past three decades, population growth and global warming have forged on with a striking semblance to the scenarios laid out by the World3 computer model in the original Limits to Growth. While Meadows, Randers, and Meadows do not make a practice of predicting future environmental degradation, they offer an analysis of present and future trends in resource use, and assess a variety of possible outcomes.
In many ways, the message contained in Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a warning. Overshoot cannot be sustained without collapse. But, as the authors are careful to point out, there is reason to believe that humanity can still reverse some of its damage to Earth if it takes appropriate measures to reduce inefficiency and waste.
Written in refreshingly accessible prose, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a long anticipated revival of some of the original voices in the growing chorus of sustainability. Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update is a work of stunning intelligence that will expose for humanity the hazy but critical line between human growth and human development.
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