Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Roundup

Welcome Monday! Just thought I would see if there were any new books "rolling around" inside of you that you might like to share. Anybody want to "recycle" a suggestion, so we can "reuse" your knowledge? You can "reduce" our efforts at looking for books if you share ideas!

Just call us the great composter of books.........creating new soil for the Green scene. Share your book goodness!

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Light by Molly Bang

So what provides the energy for your lights? Do you find yourself struggling to explain what electricity is, how we get it and why do we need to save it?

Molly Bang has provided a must read picture book for children that explains the energy of solar, wind, fossil fuels, water power and more in a style that will help grown-ups explain what energy is and how we acquire it. She explores a few of the pros and cons of different types of energy and their impact on our world.

She received mixed reviews as her explanatory task was enormous, but I think that if you just change the lens on the target age range the book is much more successful. I'd gear it for preschool through second for a successful delivery. Parents that are using the book (as opposed to just the reviewers) are giving it top marks as they are also able to paraphrase.

I'm rating it as a top pick as an important introductory tool to the environmental dialogue. I'm finding that kids get the reduce part more when they understand what the heck we're talking about in the first place. Turn off the lights carries more impact when kids are starting to "get it" vs. blind habit.
I've reprinted this from a prior review on my my own little light is weary this week. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monday Roundup

The pic is from an interesting wall hanging made from sticks, twigs, rope and leaves. Just a beautiful piece of art from nature's scraps! Taken at Brookfield Zoo.

It's that time again! Time for Monday postings about what we are working on, or what we would like to read. Please drop a line in the comment section if you would like to tell us about a title - and hint - we *heart* guest reviews! Let me know if you've recently reviewed a title and would like to share on the Worm.

Round it up for Roundup Monday!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bothered By My Green Conscience

Not too long ago, another blogger suggested I read a book called Bothered by My Green Conscience by author and artist, Franke James. She even hooked me up with Ms. James who sent me a copy of her book for free. (Details on how to get my copy at the end of this review).

One sunny afternoon, I plodded down to the post office to see if my copy had arrived. Inside the post office box was a tiny little package, tightly wrapped and addressed to yours truly. When I opened it, I was surprised to find a small, brightly colored paperback filled with more doodles than words.

What I hadn't grasped, when I agreed to "read" the book, was that Ms. James is as much an artist as she is an author. Her "book" (or illustrated essay) documents her journey from caring less about the earth to fighting city government to go greener. Artwork illustrates her thoughts and steps as she moved toward a lighter and lighter footstep.

The book isn't ground breaking. There isn't much here that is new, that hasn't been experienced by most of us on our road to green (though her idea of replacing her driveway with plants was fairly revolutionary).

Still, I enjoyed Bothered By My Green Conscience and I enjoyed it immensely. Ms. James doesn't offer a new vision so much as a vision through different glasses. For the more visual learners amongst us, this book is a must. Her drawings are intriguing, unique, thoughtful and thought provoking. The book is small and a quick read. It offers just a little jolt of green-ness to get us over the next hump in our own personal journeys. I recommend it for the light and medium greens, especially those who think in pictures, and rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

And, now that I've absorbed my copy, it's time to share its wonderful uniqueness with you. To be entered to win my copy, pop over to The Green Phone Booth and leave your name in the comments. The winner will be announced next Friday, July 24.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Farm City: The Education Of An Urban Farmer

(First posted on 6/25/09 at kaleforsale)

I finished the perfect summer read, Farm City, by Novella Carpenter. The trouble is I finished it on the first day of summer. Now what do I do? I don't think anything is going to beat this book.

Farm City is a memoir but it's also bits and parts of how to, or how not to make a garden in the ghetto; on squatted land with an eventual farm yard of animals. The story reads like a novel. The characters are naturally characters; I fell in love with everyone. Except the prostitute looking butcher - there has to be someone not to like.

Novella is quirky, smart, driven and she has a seriously good heart. She made me laugh a lot and look at my own neighborhood with new eyes. There's a deserted house nearby with a sunny front yard that would be a perfect urban garden. The idea had never crossed my mind before. That's what this book does. Novella finds possibility and assistance in places generally looked away from. All is not pretty on the urban farm. Even when I was laughing.

To start with she's farming in Oakland, not Mayberry. A homeless man watches over the garden and offers constant advice. She hauls in free horse manure, forages from local dumpsters to feed the animals. She meets the neighborhood in the garden, invited and not. Even with the weeds and fish heads, I have to admit though, it sounded like fun.

The cute guy is nearly done with Farm City. He laughs out loud too. Stays up too late reading. "Where are you now?" I hungrily ask him. He tells me and we talk about it. It's almost like getting to read the book again.

Which is what I'm going to do - read the book again. That is unless I find an empty lot I can garden.

Rating: Definitely five stars
Recommended for: Gardeners, Gleaners, Memoir Readers, Social Activists and People-that-like-to-laugh

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Roundup

Ahem. Seems I'm lollygagging on the job. I've only now realized it's my turn to post the Monday call for new books, old books, reviews. I seriously looked at the blog and thought, someone must be on vacation and forgot to post.

But it's still barely Monday and I've got a couple of books around the house I pick up periodically. The first is Coop: A Year of Poultry, Parenting and something else I can't quite remember. It may be a great book but I'm not that into it. If I pick it up fine, but if not that's okay too.

The other book is's Wanderlust. I bought it at the library for $2. Reading the introduction by Pico Iyer on travel was worth many times more than what I paid. Then I found a contribution to it by Taras Grescoe, the author of Bottomfeeder. What a great find! The travel stories are exactly the length of my attention span this time of year too - short.

What kind of summer vacation reading are you doing? Any new green stories or books we haven't about out there? Any opinions on the books we have heard about?

Whatever your reading status I hope you're finding plenty of time for summer lollygagging. It's way fun.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Voluntary Simplicity

Personally, I had chosen a life of voluntary simplicity years before I knew there was a name for such a lifestyle or that authors like Duane Elgin were leading the way, helping others discover a balanced, mindful, deliberate way of life. And although Elgin is surely one of the most recognized names in modern Voluntary Simplicity, it was only last month that I sat down to enjoy his almost 30 year old work, Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich.

Voluntary Simplicity (the book), I felt, could be divided into two parts:
  1. The personal transformation in living a life of voluntary simplicity
  2. The broader, environmental and economical impacts of our world should we choose or not choose simplicity
The first two-thirds of the book (what I call Part 1) begins by explaining what voluntary simplicity is and is not. It's not about living in abject poverty, but about living lightly, reducing our ecological impact on the earth, and sharing the world's resources with the whole world (not just the industrialized portions of it). It's not about denying ourselves the things we treasure most, but about de-cluttering our minds and lives so that we can concentrate on what's most important to us. It's not about withdrawing from life, but being empowered to transform the world around us by becoming intimately involved.

Particularly moving are the testimonials presented that illustrate a life of voluntary simplicity to be a slow, but amazing evolution wherein decisions of an individual, when made with mindfulness, have power to change the world:
The character of a whole society is the cumulative result of the countless small actions, day in and day out, of millions of persons. Small changes that may seem unimportant in isolation are of transformative significance when adopted by an entire society.
...our individual well-being is inseparable from the well-being of other members of the human family... [it] is the example of each person's life, much more than his or her words, that speaks with power. Even the smallest action done with a loving appreciation of life can touch other human beings in profound ways.
Unfortunately (for me, anyway), the book progressed into the final third (my "Part 2") which felt more like reading an economic text on what happens to the world if we do or do not choose voluntary simplicity. Personally, I preferred the discussion on how lives are transformed when we begin making deliberate and mindful choices, and how to go about making those choices.

Well, we can't win them all. I was glad to have finally sat down to read this book and it reinforced a lot of what I think about a life of voluntary simplicity. I'm looking forward to checking out some other books that might go further into how we, as individuals, can make informed, mindful, deliberate choices giving each and every one of us the power to change the world.
Recommended: To those interested in exploring the idea of voluntary simplicity
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Roundup

Welcome July! While we're broiling here in the Texas heat, I'm "escaping" through my old photo albums (that's a photo from my house-sitting adventure in southern France) and a few new books.

What do you do to escape the summer heat? Any good books keeping you company?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Ten Trusts

Acclaimed author, primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist Jane Goodall presents us with a book rich in guidance for conservation and environmental efforts in The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love. I found it extremely interesting that not only are the Ten Trusts geared to help only animals, they recognize and appreciate our role in the humanity of our world and the care we must give our environment.

The Ten Trusts are:

Rejoice That We Are Part of the Animal Kingdom
Respect All Life
Open Our Minds, In Humility, to Animals and Learn from Them
Teach our Children to Respect and Love Nature
Be Wise Stewards of Life on Earth
Value and Help Preserve the Sounds of Nature
Refrain from Harming Life in Order to Learn About It
Have the Courage of Our Convictions
Praise and Help Those Who Work for Animals and the Natural World
Act Knowing We Are Not Alone and Live with Hope

Coda: After all is said and done, silence is betrayal.

In each chapter there is information as well as moving stories that seek to personalize animals – without turning them into creatures that must mimic or entertain us in order to garner our protection. Stories of animals on land and sea, in flight and in our hearts will move you to consider the deeper meaning of our role in each trust.

What one must consider for each of these trusts is that we are also part of the environment, and each trust spoke to me in a way of how we should treat other humans as well as our natural world.

The Sixth Trust, Value and Help Preserve the Sounds of Nature “concerns the immense damage we have already inflicted on the complex web of life on Earth.” Goodall explores the poisons we have deposited on Earth including oil, chemicals, water pollution and more. Her brief comments on captive breeding programs resonated with me – as a former volunteer of the Carnivore Preservation Trust (feeding crew – whoo hoo!) I’ve looked into the eyes of some of the last of these beautiful creatures and seen how important breeding programs can be to restore even the possibility of some of our endangered species. Nowadays I have only to walk around a subdivision to realize the dim call of natural wildlife as even general wildlife habitat diminishes.

I found the Ten Trust to be a simple and inspiring read, one that prompted introspection of many pressing issues that affect not only animals, our ourselves the animal and the environment that we life in. Rated 4 out of 5 stars for Green Readers.