Dig into our Articles - Nature & Environment
Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. He holds the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona Southwest Center, where he works with students, faculty, and non-profits to build a more just,…Read More
For those who aren’t in the know, it may seem like all farmers are created equal, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, there is such a wide variety of farmers that it’s nearly impossible to put a label on them. But that doesn’t stop organizations from trying. The following is an excerpt from…Read More
We have long been taught that evolution is a process that occurs gradually over millions of years, that change happens slowly without much attention. We’ve come to learn that in reality, evolution happens in fits and starts — very slowly for long periods, then in sudden spurts of rapid change. It may be triggered by…Read More
Nature & Environment
The Best of Making Things
A Hand Book of Creative Discovery
Why go to the mall when you can make things at home using materials recycled from around the house?
This classic educational and creative text features 125 projects, carefully selected by the author to “develop natural curiosity and self-esteem,” and to demonstrate “simple and important concepts that have shaped the cultures of the world.”
So when a child asks, “What can I do?” you can reply, “Make things! Paper from laundry lint! A bird feeder from clothes hangers! Chocolate pudding finger paintings! Beautiful fish & potato prints! A cardboard box loom that teaches weaving and math! A simple pattern to sew shirts, pants, or dresses!”
The author’s detailed and delightful drawings fill every page “so that children just starting out and grownups who have missed out can quickly grasp the ideas.”
The Humanure Handbook
A Guide to Composting Human Manure, 3rd Edition
There are almost seven billion defecating people on planet Earth, but few who have any clue about how to constructively handle the burgeoning mountain of human crap. The Humanure Handbook, third edition, will amuse you, educate you, and possibly offend you, but it will certainly pertain to you–unless, of course, your bowels never move.
This new edition of The Humanure Handbook is:
- The Tenth Anniversary Edition
- Richly illustrated with eye-candy artwork
- Perfect for reading while sitting on the “throne”
- Revised, improved, and updated
- 256 pages of crap
Dig Your Hands in the Dirt
A Manual for Making Art Out of Earth
- Turn the earth under your feet into natural, cheap, beautiful art: African-inspired murals, fanciful playground sculptures, labyrinths, sundials, sculpted benches, bird houses, & more
- Complete illustrated how-to guide to mud, art, & community
- Inspiring stories & color photos from earth-artists here & abroad
For teachers, parents, activists, builders, artists, & other kids. Here is inspiration and instruction for anyone interested in making beautiful art out of earth. The author of Build Your Own Earth Oven teaches you to find, mix, and sculpt the right mud; develop group goals and vision, and translate simple, natural (and easy to draw) patterns into sophisticated and complex designs. The resulting murals will transform anonymous “spaces” into real places. Or make “garden art” you can sit on (or in). Get inspirated by earth artists across the country and over the sea. Extensive resources for further study. Join them all in making art to help “join us, harmoniously, to a whole.” Brief, elegant, wonderfully and generously illustrated with drawings and 32 pages of color photos.
Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land
Janisse Ray, award-winning author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Wild Card Quilt, writes an evocative paean to wildness and wilderness restoration with an extraordinary journey into southern Georgia’s Pinhook Swamp.
Pinhook Swamp acts as a vital watershed and wildlife corridor, a link between the great southern wildernesses of Okefenokee Swamp and Osceola National Forest. Together Okefenokee, Osceola, and Pinhook form one of the largest expanse of protected wild land east of the Mississippi River. This is one of America’s last truly wild places, and Pinhook takes us into its heart.
Ray comes to know Pinhook intimately as she joins the fight to protect it, spending the night in the swamp, tasting honey made from its flowers, tracking wildlife, and talking to others about their relationship with the swamp. Ray sees Pinhook through the eyes of the people who live there–naturalists, beekeepers, homesteaders, hunters, and locals at the country store. In lyrical, down-home prose, she draws together the swamp’s need for restoration and the human desire for wholeness and wildness in our own lives and landscapes.
Walking on Water
Reading, Writing and Revolution
Remember the days of longing for the hands on the classroom clock to move faster? Most of us would say we love to learn, but we hated school. Why is that? What happens to creativity and individuality as we pass through the educational system?
Walking on Water is a startling and provocative look at teaching, writing, creativity, and life by a writer increasingly recognized for his passionate and articulate critique of modern civilization. This time Derrick Jensen brings us into his classroom–whether college or maximum security prison–where he teaches writing. He reveals how schools perpetuate the great illusion that happiness lies outside of ourselves and that learning to please and submit to those in power makes us into lifelong clock-watchers. As a writing teacher Jensen guides his students out of the confines of traditional education to find their own voices, freedom, and creativity.
Jensen’s great gift as a teacher and writer is to bring us fully alive at the same moment he is making us confront our losses and count our defeats. It is at the center of Walking on Water, a book that is not only a hard-hitting and sometimes scathing critique of our current educational system and not only a hands-on method for learning how to write, but, like Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a lesson on how to connect to the core of our creative selves, to the miracle of waking up and arriving breathless (but with dry feet) on the far shore.
The Man Who Planted Trees
Twenty years ago Chelsea Green published the first trade edition of The Man Who Planted Trees, a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape-from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.
Since our first publication, the book has sold over a quarter of a million copies and inspired countless numbers of people around the world to take action and plant trees. On National Arbor Day, April 29, 2005, Chelsea Green released a special twentieth anniversary edition with a new foreword by Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the African Green Belt Movement.
The Earth Care Manual
A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates
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
The 30-Year Update
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.
The Culture of Make Believe
Derrick Jensen takes no prisoners in The Culture of Make Believe, his brilliant and eagerly awaited follow-up to his powerful and lyrical A Language Older Than Words. What begins as an exploration of the lines of thought and experience that run between the massive lynchings in early twentieth-century America to today’s death squads in South America soon explodes into an examination of the very heart of our civilization. The Culture of Make Believe is a book that is as impeccably researched as it is moving, with conclusions as far-reaching as they are shocking.
A Language Older Than Words
At once a beautifully poetic memoir and an exploration of the various ways we live in the world, A Language Older Than Words explains violence as a pathology that touches every aspect of our lives and indeed affects all aspects of life on Earth. This chronicle of a young man’s drive to transcend domestic abuse offers a challenging look at our worldwide sense of community and how we can make things better.
A Cafecito Story / El cuento del cafecito
A Cafecito Story is a story of love, coffee, birds and hope. It is a beautifully written eco-fable by best-selling author Julia Alvarez. Based on her and her husband’s experiences trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, A Cafecito Story shows how the return to the traditional methods of shade-grown coffee can rehabilitate and rejuvenate the landscape and human culture, while at the same time preserving vital winter habitat for threatened songbirds.
Not a political or environmental polemic, A Cafecito Story is instead a poetic, modern fable about human beings at their best. The challenge of producing coffee is a remarkable test of our ability to live more sustainably, caring for the land, growers, and consumers in an enlightened and just way. Written with Julia Alvarez’s deft touch, this is a story that stimulates while it comforts, waking the mind and warming the soul like the first cup of morning coffee. Indeed, this story is best read with a strong cup of organic, shade-grown, fresh-brewed coffee.
The Safari Companion
A Guide to Watching African Mammals Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, and Primates
Since its original publication in 1993, The Safari Companion has been the best field guide to observing and understanding the behavior of African mammals. An indispensable tool for naturalists traveling to Africa, this new edition has been revised to acknowledge the enthusiasm to those watching these magnificent animals at zoos and wildlife parks, and on film.
The Safari Companion enables readers to recognize and interpret visible behavioral activities, such as courtship rituals, territorial marking, aggression, and care of young. Each account of over 80 species includes a behavioral table in which the unique actions of the hoofed mammals, carnivores, and primates are described for easy reference. In addition, useful maps show the major national boundaries, vegetation zones, and game parks relevant to the guide. The book includes an extensive glossary, as well as tips on wildlife photography, a list of organizations working to protect African wildlife, and advice on where and when to see the animals.
Deliberate Encounters with the Visible World
Seeing Nature is a series of true stories or parables that offer tools for understanding relationships in the natural world. Many of the stories take the reader to wild landscapes, including canyons, tundra, and mountain ridges, while others contemplate the human-made world: water-diversion trenches and supermarket check-out lines. At one point, Krafel discovers a world in a one-inch-square patch of ordinary ground.
Inspiring for parents and teachers seeking to encourage excitement about the positive role of people in nature, Krafel’s work harkens to St. Exupery’s The Little Prince, Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Jean Giono’s The Man Who Planted Trees. As Barbara Damrosch has noted:
[This book] is a gift…. With curiosity, wit, and a spare and graceful style, Krafel notes why birds in flocks land as they do, how islands can move upstream in a river, how kelp forests, swaying gently, break the force of the sea’s power, how tundra plants create whole ecosystems on bare rock from mere specks of life. Yet there are no long-winded sermons about the woods, or cute anthropomorphizations of animals. The book’s economical, unsentimental style is part of its originality.
Paul Krafel’s years as a park ranger afforded him time to walk and think—his job was to observe the world around him. He is now a teacher, creating a curriculum for young people that is built on a startlingly simple truth: The world around us is an extended conversation between “upward spirals”—nature in regenerative, procreative modes—and downward spirals toward entropy and disintegration. As nature refreshes and rebuilds, the downward spirals are overcome. Nature’s process becomes the process of replenishing hope.
The Soul of Soil
A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, 4th Edition
Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.
Now back in print, this eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.
Chapter 2, “Understanding the Soil System,” is alone worth the price of admission. Gershuny and Smillie give lay readers and experts a clear explanation of subjects–soil life and nutrient cycles–that have confounded most authors. Nowhere will the reader find simpler and more coherent descriptions of key concepts including cation exchange capacity and chelation.
There are other books about soil available, including Grace Gershuny’s comprehensive Start with the Soil, and there are books that feature chapters on soil building. What distinguishes The Soil of Soilis the authors’ concise presentation; they give readers important information, including technical essentials, without getting bogged down in scientific or quasiscientific mumbo-jumbo. In addition, useful tables list specific compost materials, green manures, and other resources that allow growers to translate into action the more general information provided by the book.
The soil-building techniques featured include:
- Organic matter management
- Building and maintaining humus
- On-site composting
- Green manures and rotations
- Cultivation and weed control
- Nutrient balances and soil testing
- Using mineral fertilizers
- Planning for organic certification
Updates to the 1999 edition include analysis of Proposed Rules for the National Organic Standards, and expanded recommendations for private testing services and soil-testing equipment for home gardeners and organic farmers.
All of us involved in the cultivation of plants–from the backyard gardener to the largest farmer–need to help regenerate a “living soil,” for only in the diversity of the soil and its creatures can we ensure the long-term health of ourselves and our environment. The Soul of Soil offers everyone a basic understanding of what soil is and what we can do to improve our own patch of it. Seen in this light, this practical handbook will be an inspiration as well.
The Man Who Planted Trees
We have joined the Paul Winter Consort in the release of a CD version of the acclaimed audio of the story by Jean Giono. The original music was composed and is performed by the Paul Winter consort, and the text is narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema, host of “Morning Pro Musica.”
The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape-from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.
The Contrary Farmer
Gene Logsdon has become something of a rabble-rouser in progressive farm circles, stirring up debates and controversies with his popular New Farm Magazine column, The Contrary Farmer. One of Logsdon’s principle contrarieties is the opinion that–popular images of the vanishing American farmer, notwithstanding–greater numbers of people in the U.S. will soon be growing and raising a greater share of their own food than at any time since the last century. Instead of vanishing, more and more farmers will be cottage farming, part-time.
This detailed and personal account of how Logsdon’s family uses the art and science of agriculture to achieve a reasonably happy and ecologically sane way of life in an example for all who seek a sustainable lifestyle. In The Contrary Farmer, Logsdon offers the tried-and-true, practical advice of a manual for the cottage farmer, as well as the subtler delights of a meditation in praise of work and pleasure. The Contrary Farmer will give its readers tools and tenets, but also hilarious commentaries and beautiful evocations of the Ohio countryside that Logsdon knows as his place in the universe.