We are honored in sharing the wisdom, love, and creativity
flowing from our Award-Winning Books.

November 2022 Feature Focus: Books as Gifts

Our Nautilus Award-Winning Books make thoughtful gifts for your friends and family. Our innovative and creative authors explore many new ways to connect with our Earth, one another, and ourselves.

Connection


 
KINSHIP: Belonging in a World of Relations (5 vol. set)
Gavin Van Horn, Robin Wall Kimmerer, & John Hausdoerffer, editors
Center for Humans and Nature
 

We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy
Natalie Baszile
Amistad / HarperCollins
Night on Earth: Photography by Art Wolfe
Art Wolfe
Earth Aware Editions

Personal Stories


Fox & I : An Uncommon Friendship
Catherine Raven
Spiegel & Grau

 

 

Hollywood to the Himalayas
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati
Mandala Publishing

 

Fox Light: Magic Hidden in Plain Sight
Susan Andra Lion
Wild Vale Press

Creativity


Mystical Stitches
Christi Johnson
Storey Publishing

 

 

 

 

Purposeful Memoir as a Quest for a Thriving Future: Inspiration for Writers & Seekers
Jennifer Browdy PhD
Green Fire Press

 

 

How Dreams Speak: An Interactive Journey Into Your Subconscious
Nicole Chilton
Workman Publishing

Fantastic Fiction


Little Hours
Lil Copan
One Bird Books

 

 

 

Shoal Water
Kip Robinson Greenthal
Homebound Publications

 

 

 

Once There Were Wolves
Charlotte McConaghy
Macmillan / Flatiron Books

Nature


Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit
Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Little, Brown Spark

 

 

 

 

The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond
with Forests and Nature
Peter Wohlleben
Greystone Books

 

 

100 Plants to Feed the Monarch
Xerces Society, OR
Storey Publishing

Poetry


No, Love Is Not Dead
Chris McCabe, editor
Chambers

 

 

 

 

Ordinary Psalms
Julia B. Levine
LSU Press / LA State Univ.

 

Whispers of the Soul: New and Selected Poems
Patricia Greer
Chiron Publications

 

Call Us What We Carry: Poems
Amanda Gorman
Penguin Random House / Viking Books

 

 

Natures Bounty


Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes
Linda Shiue MD, Chef; Foreword by Bryant Terry
Hachette Go

 

 

 

 

 

Homebrewed Vinegar: How to Ferment 60 Delicious Varieties
Kirsten K. Shockey
Storey Publishing

 

 

Energetic Herbalism
Kat Maier
Chelsea Green Publishing

 

 

Fantastic Fungi: Community Cookbook
Eugenia Bone, editor
Insight Editions

 

 

 

September 2022 Feature Focus:
The Web of it ALL

The real world-wide web is one of intrinsic whole-being, whole-creation connection! These Nautilus Award-winning books offer up a web of ways we can expand our viewpoints, open our minds and hearts, and actively participate in weaving it all together.


Diary of a Young Naturalist

Dara McAnulty

Ebury Press

Gold: Young Adult / Non-fiction

Back cover
Evocative, raw and lyrical, this startling debut explores the natural world through the eyes of Dara McAnulty, an autistic teenager coping with the uprooting of home, school, and his mental health, while pursuing his life as a conservationist and environmental activist.

Shifting from intense darkness to light, recalling his sensory encounters in the wild – with blackbirds, whooper swans, red kites, hen harriers, frogs, dandelions, Irish hares and more – Dara reveals worlds we have neglected to see, in a stunning world of nature writing that is a future classic.

Diary of a Young Naturalist is a powerful and scintillating portrayal of the beauty of the natural world, as it shines a light on autism and of overcoming severe anxiety. It is a story of the binding love of family and home, and how we can help each other through the most difficult of times.

p 17 (Prologue)
     This diary chronicles the turning of my world, from spring to winter, at home, in the wild, in my head. It travels from the west of Northern Ireland in County Fermanagh to the east in County Down. It records the uprooting of a home, a change of county and landscape, and at times the de-rooting of my senses and my mind. I’m Dara, a boy, an acorn. Mum used to call me lon dubh (which is Irish for blackbird) when I was a baby, and sometimes she still does. I have the heart of a naturalist, the head of a would-be scientist, and bones of someone who is already wearied by the apathy and destruction wielded against the natural world. The outpourings on these pages express my connection to wildlife, try to explain the way I see the world, and describe how we weather the storms as a family.

pp 154-155
Sunday, 30 September
     Silver-streaked clouds, intense cold sunlight. The beach is invigorating today. I haven’t stretched my legs properly in a few days, and the comfort of walking unloads a little more weight. With every passing day, a little more joy sneaks in – is there a peak, a maximum amount of joy that we’re allowed to feel? In the past, noticings or moments like this have been overshadowed, if not immediately, then not long afterwards.
Unburdened, I breathe in the salty air. The common terns are still here, readying for the journey to the southern hemisphere – Africa, Asia and South America, a round journey of over 20,000 miles. Truly epic. I watch them hover and dive. Cackling. Silver feathers glittering and dazzling, red bill piercing the surface. One tern catches a small fish that I can’t identify with my rubbish binoculars, then flies off my radar as four others repeat the motion.
I lie back on the bottom of a dune bank and feel the light and the wind and the cold on my face. I feel something in the space around me change. I sit up and turn. Not ten feet away, a kestrel bursts over the top of the sand dunes. I hold it in my gaze where it stays for at least a minute, hovering. I send it a wave of admiration and it replies by holding for a few moments longer, before sweeping elegantly behind the marram grass. I bound upwards with bent body and silent footsteps, but it’s gone. I fall back onto the sand, breathless and giddy. A good day. A very good day.

 


The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change                      

Michelle Mijung Kim

HachetteGo Books

Gold: Social Change & Social Justice

 

Front flap
As we become more aware of various social injustices in the world, many of us want to be part of the movement toward positive change. But sometimes even our best intentions cause unintended harm, and we fumble despite our earnest efforts. We might feel afraid to say the wrong thing and feel guilt for not doing or knowing enough. Sometimes we might engage in performative allyship rather than thoughtful solidarity, leaving those already marginalized further burdened and exhausted.

The feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy put many at a crossroads between feeling stuck and giving up, or staying grounded to keep going. So how can we create real change in ourselves and in the world, together?

In The Wake Up, Michelle MiJung Kim shares foundational principles often missing in today’s mainstream conversations around “diversity and inclusion,” inviting readers to deep dive into the challenging and nuanced work of pursuing equity and justice, while exploring various complexities, contradictions, and conflicts inherent in our imperfect world. With a mix of in-the-trenches narrative and accessible unpacking of hot button issues – from inclusive language to representation to "cancel culture" – Michelle offers sustainable frameworks that guide us how to think, approach, and be in the journey as thoughtfully and powerfully as possible.

The Wake Up is divided into four key parts:

  • Grounding: begin by moving beyond good intentions to interrogating our deeper “why” for committing to social justice and uncovering our "hidden stories."
  • Orienting: establish a shared understanding around our historical and current context and issues we are trying to solve, starting with dismantling white supremacy.
  • Showing Up: learn critical principles to approach any situation with clarity and build our capacity to work through complexity, nuance, conflict, and imperfections.
  • Moving Together: remember the core of this work is about human lives, and commit to prioritizing humanity, healing, and community.

 

Excerpts pp 25-28 Know Your Why
     We live in a productivity-obsessed culture where we’ve been taught to prioritize doing over reflecting, to chase quantity over quality, and to solve for efficiency over relationships. So, it is no surprise the “What can I do?” is among the most commonly asked questions I get as a facilitator from people wanting to do good. Sometimes, this manifests as a more direct request: “Tell me what to do.” The focus on what is often reactive and urgent, and it reveals our intense craving for immediate relief. People often express their frustration when the relief doesn’t come immediately or easily. …
The what is important, but without first understanding the why, the what and even the how eventually fall short of achieving sustainable change. Before jumping into the what with frantic and reactive energy, practice understanding the why behind every move from a grounded and steady state. This will help anchor us to ensure that the implementation of the what is fully extended to meet the wide-ranging needs of marginalized communities, while guiding us to be in alignment with our deeper purpose throughout the journey.

 


The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe

Jeremy Lent

New Society Publisher

Gold: World Cultures’ Growth & Development

Silver: Science & Cosmology

 

Front flap

Our mainstream worldview has expired. What will replace it?

As our civilization careens toward a precipice of climate breakdown, ecological destruction, and gaping inequality, people are losing their existential moorings. The dominant worldview of disconnection, tells us we are split between mind and body, separate from each other, and at odds with the natural world, has been invalidated by modern science.
     Award-winning author, Jeremy Lent, investigates humanity’s age-old questions – Who am I? Why am I? How should I live? – from a fresh perspective, weaving together findings from modern systems thinking, evolutionary biology, and cognitive neuroscience with insights from Buddhism, Taoism, and Indigenous wisdom.

The result is a breathtaking accomplishment: a rich, coherent worldview based on a deep recognition of connectedness within ourselves, between each other, and with the entire natural world. It offers a compelling foundation for a new philosophical framework that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on a flourishing Earth.

The Web of Meaning is for everyone looking for deep and coherent answers to the crisis of civilization.

 

pp 362-363

But now, at this point in the human story, that worldview has expired. We live in an epoch when its flaws have become superordinate. The depiction of humans as selfish individuals, the view of nature as a resource to be exploited, and the idea that technology alone can fix our biggest problems are all profound misconceptions that have collectively led our civilization down an accelerating path to disaster, The only way we can truly change our trajectory is by approaching society’s problems from the foundation of an alternative worldview – one that affirms life rather than the accumulation of wealth above all else.

We’ve seen that this alternative worldview already exists – it has been constructed over millennia by wisdom traditions around the world and is soundly validated by the findings of modern science. It’s a worldview that arises from a recognition of our deep interconnectedness with each other and all aspects of the universe, and exalts the primacy of life through its entire value system.

What, we must ask, would a society look like that was constructed on the foundation of this worldview? It would naturally take its inspiration from the principles that life itself has developed over billions of years of evolution. After all, the timespan of the human presence on Earth is an infinitesimal fraction of life’s own habitation here. Over eons, life has gone from strength to strength, overcoming occasional serious setbacks to build resilience, diversity, and rich profusion in virtually every nook and cranny of the planet. There is much for humanity to learn if we look to the fundamentals of life’s own operating system.

Natural ecologies, as we’ve seen, are characterized by both competition and cooperation, but the major evolutionary transitions that brought life to its current state of abundance were the results of dramatic increases in cooperation. The key to each of these evolutionary steps, and to the effective functioning of all ecosystems, is a mutually beneficial symbiosis: each party to a relationship gives and receives reciprocally, reflecting each other’s abilities and needs. In symbiosis there is no zero-sum game – the contributions of each party create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.


Inner Alchemy: The Path of Mastery

Zulma Reyo

LightEn Publishing

Gold: Body, Mind & Spirit Practices

 

p xii (Preface)

Inner Alchemy is first and foremost training in the correct and immediate use of the higher, non-linear Mind. Combined with dynamic energy-altering practices involving body circuitry and circulation, and the development of special sensibilities, it produces a flexibility that allows you to tap unlimitedly into universal Mind and substance.

Inner Alchemy addresses those who want to see change happen and know that this begins with themselves. It appeals to those eager for total transformation without violence or imposition – emerging from within – leading to the rebuilding of a more humane society.

The first and most obvious application is to human health, both physical and mental, restructuring relationships of all sorts, and contributing significantly to the gradual effacing of self-importance and world illusion. Inner Alchemy is a path to inner peace, meaning, purpose, joy and wisdom.

A wholly new way of ‘seeing’ shifts attention from quantity to quality, from the particular to the global, without losing perspective of particular needs and dynamics. The implications of this system in business and commerce open options capable of benefitting everyone in the present and in the future by revealing real priorities. It calls for a re-evaluation of elements that separate rather than unite, bringing a tangible sense of justice to the foreground.

 

p 287 (Postscript)

Spiritual development and material progress go hand in hand. Success is built upon a foundation of underlying spiritualisation or focus of Light-power. We are now experiencing a collective urgency towards qualitative change. As we head into the future, we need to look at ourselves with a fresh perspective, separate from the influences set by previous cycles.

The need today is for the formation of a certain individualised will of Spirit. The Consciousness required is one of action – action from the level of activated higher chakras and faculties. Persons responding to this call show a special kind of identity adapted to third-dimensional situations, but fully conscious of its union with the whole. Within that identity there lies a mastery, a determined will-activity. Leadership.

Life is the process. Living is the alchemy. You are the instrument that turns experience into alchemy and living into Love. Every breath you take in consciousness lights the heavens which shed light upon the world as if through a shower of stars.

When we become aware of what we truly are, we have touched the heavens and stand before the Creator, both as creation and as the Creator Itself. It is a most difficult realisation to acknowledge that all we have sought outside and beyond is right here. That all the prayers and magic you invoked are answered by a simple state of awareness.

Ah! But this awareness extinguishes all that you set up in your search for answers and truth outside. All that work! For nothing? Not exactly. Every search is for the One, only we do not know this yet, not until we have looked everywhere. Not until we stand naked, helpless, empty-handed and innocent, do we realize the grandeur of life and that this life is within us, accessible if we would only stop to look, to feel, to witness and to behold.

Your life is the scenario for Inner Alchemy. The Light of Consciousness within you is the key to mastery and full realisation. Each action, each feeling, each thought brings you closer to the empty backdrop, wherein all treasures are found.

Welcome to your Self.”

 


World as Family: A Journey of Multi-Rooted Belongings

Vishakha N. Desai

Columbia University Press

Gold: Memoir / Large Publisher

 

Front flap

A Vedic phrase asks us to “treat the world as family.” In our age of global crises—pandemics, climate crisis, crippling inequality—this sentiment is more necessary than ever. Solutions to these seemingly insurmountable problems demand new approaches to thinking and acting locally, nationally, and transnationally, sometimes sequentially but often simultaneously. This is the mentality of the immigrant, the exchange student, the global native, and all who have made a life in a new place by choice or by necessity. Yet we suffer from a lack of the truly capacious thinking that is so urgently needed.

 

Vishakha N. Desai uses her life experiences to explore the significance of living globally and its urgency for our current moment. She weaves her narrative arc from growing up in a Gandhian household in Ahmedabad to arriving in the United States as a seventeen-year-old exchange student and her subsequent career as a dancer, curator, institutional leader, and teacher against the broad sweep of political and social changes in the two countries she calls home. Through her personal story, Desai reframes the idea of what it means to be global, considering how to lead a life of multiple belongings without losing local and national affinities. Vividly conjuring the complexities and exhilaration of a life that is rooted in many places, World as Family is a vital book for everyone who aspires to connect across borders—real and perceived—and bring to fruition the ideal of a global family.

 

pp 253-255 (Creating a Culture of “Us”)

The image of the steep cliff on the road kept reverberating in my mind long after I left Nairobi. I was disturbed by the dystopic vision it created, and struck by its stark contrast with my banyan tree metaphor of a collective, global belonging. Multirooted and expansive, the banyan tree invites a quiet meditative mind to go deeply within, but provides a gentle breeze coming from the air beyond and flowing through its large and small roots reminding us of our connected humanity. Using the metaphor of the banyan tree, I often make the case that we can fight for our little patch on earth and pretend that it is our world, but we have no choice but to live simultaneously in our little patches, in our national borders, and in the larger world and understand their interconnections.

Like a banyan tree, I had the luxury of growing into the reality of a multirooted global belonging over a lifetime. …I learned to grow and nurture my multiple roots over a lifetime, which in turn helped create a firmer ground to stand on while facing an unfamiliar future. Today, the only thing young people can count on is the speed of change: steadiness of the future is one thing they don’t have. The limits and failures of the systems they have inherited from the older generation only exacerbate their inability to deal with the world they inhabit now.

The drawing of a car on a falling road by the Nairobi students provides a powerful metaphor for the anxiety and impatience of young people. The challenge for all of us—fellow travelers on the path to multirooted global belongings—is to create conditions and systems that support young people to go beyond the anxiety of the falling road and experience the tranquility of sitting under a banyan tree. It is not easy to feel the grounded self that is part of the larger humanity, but the complexity of our intertwined world demands that we commit to making 7.7 billion strangers part of one human family. Our survival depends on it.

 


The Hours of the Universe: Reflections on God, Science, and the Human Journey

Ilia Delio

Orbis Books

Gold Award: Religion/Spirituality of Western Thought

 

from the back cover

Ilia Delio is one of the most creative thinkers on the dialogue between religion and science. Building on the visionary work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, she has explored the implications of an evolving universe for our understanding of catholicity. In these reflections, written for a broad audience of those seeing meaning and purpose in today’s world, she sees the universe itself as the new monastery, the place to seek God. Just as in a monastery the recitation of the Hours calls to mind the work of God in our lives, so too in the new monastery we reflect on the gifts of creation, the sufferings we bear, and our ultimate destiny.

 

Excerpts pp. 91-92

Our ecological problems will continue to deepen unless we recognize the heart of the problem is the existential need for spiritual space. Our institutional religions do not provide a breathtaking openness for the human soul to soar. Teilhard de Chardin saw the problem early on. He spoke of Christianity as passive, resigned, and consigned to a cosmos that no longer exists. Because spiritual energy is vital to the evolution of life, Teilhard thought that we must reinvent ourselves religiously, and he set about his life’s work toward this goal.

We have yet to realize, however, a new synthesis between science and religion, a type of religion that is at home in an unfinished universe. But this is the key to a renewed sustainable earth. By conquering physical space, science has unwittingly shown our deep need for religion. Our souls need a place apart from the physical world of everyday stuff, a place to stretch toward the infinite and wonder about things that do not physically exist. How we reconceive religion in a scientific age is the basis of a healing earth. …

Computer technology should inspire us to rediscover religion—a technology of the spirit that deepens love, widens compassion, expands forgiveness, and radiates beauty; a democracy of the spirit open to healing and wholeness—in which sex, gender, or power determine relationships, only love.

But the power of newness comes from within. Science has conquered space, but it has not conquered the soul. The inner universe is still a vast expanse of infinite love and life. The religious imagination must be set free to realize that all that we seek in the outer life can be found in the inner universe, what the poet Rainer Maria Rilke called the “outer space within” where “through us the birds silently fly . . . (where) in me grows the tree.”

 p130

Love, in a sense is always moving out of a black hole of nothingness into the bright light of future fullness. It is an ongoing creative process, an amorizing of relationships through the outward flow of goodness and the receptivity of being. We humans are not doing too well at it, and we are missing out on the core energy of our lives. But the stars learned to forgive long ago, so too did the mountains and the valleys, the giraffe seahorses, the lemon trees, and the weeping willows. All of nature lives in the spirit of forgiveness because nature lives in the beauty and love. We must learn to love over and over again if we are to evolve into a unified planet, a wholeness of being, an earth community of compassion and peace. How shall we do so in this complex world? Saint John of the Cross advises us to put love where there is no love, and we will find love.

 

 



June 2022 Feature Focus:
Hope Is In Our Hands

If we are paying keen attention, the sheer magnitude of challenges facing us can seem overwhelming, disheartening and out of reach to address. Instead, the insights provided in these New 2022 Nautilus Award-winning books ignite and radiate HOPE!

Hope that is rooted in realizing the true power each of us holds in our own hands, and in effective actions that are at our own fingertips. These are glimmering, beckoning opportunities to actively contribute to an array of solutions for a brighter, brilliant future — together.
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SAVING US: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World
Gold Award: Green/Restorative Practices /Sustainability
Author: Katherine Hayhoe
Publisher: One Signal Publishers

(Front flap)
In Saving Us, Hayhoe argues that when it comes to changing hearts and minds, facts are only one part of the equation. We need to find shared values in order to connect our unique identities to collective action. This is not another doomsday narrative about a planet on fire.  It is a multilayered look at science, faith, and human psychology, from an icon in her field.

Drawing on interdisciplinary research and personal stories, Hayhoe shows that small conversations can have astonishing results.  Saving Us leaves us with the tools to open a dialogue with loved ones about how we all can play a role in pushing forward for change.

(excerpts pp 243-245)
Where My Hope Comes From
Real hope doesn’t usually come knocking on the door of our brains uninvited, though.  If we want to find it, we have to roll up our sleeves and go out and look for it.  If we do, chances are we’ll find it.  And then we have to practice it.

The idea of hope as a practice, rather than an emotion or a value, has ancient roots in Buddhist philosophy.  In their book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy, philosopher Joanna Macy and psychologist Chris Johnstone write:

"Active Hope is a practice.  Like tai chi or gardening, it is something we do rather than have... First, we take in a clear view of reality; second, we identify what we hope for; . . . and third, we take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction . . . Rather than weighing our chances and proceeding only when we feel hopeful, we focus on our intention and let it be our guide."

So that’s what I do.  I make a practice of hope.  I search for and collect and share stories and good news about people who are making a difference, about tech innovations like solar fabric, floating solar farms on flooded open-pit coal mines in China, river-powered energy in remote Arctic villages, and more.  I participate in events and partner with organizations that share my values and promote advocacy and action — from museums to teachers’ programs to faith-based initiatives. I offer them what I have: it might be my expertise, or my time, a donation or a skill. …

Science tells us it’s too late to avoid all the impacts of climate change. Some are already here today. Others are inevitable, because of the past choices we’ve made, and that can make us afraid. Science also tells us that much of what we do is actively contributing to the problem, from turning on our lights to what we eat for lunch. That makes us feel guilty. But the research I do is clear: it is not too late to avoid the most serious and dangerous impacts.  Our choices will determine what happens.

The future we collectively face will be forged by our own actions.  Climate change stands between us and a breathtaking, exhilarating future.  We cannot afford to be paralyzed by fear or shame.  We must act, with power, love, and a sound mind. Together, we can save ourselves.
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WALLET ACTIVISM: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force For Change
Gold Award: Social Change and Social Justice
Author: Tanja Hester
Publisher: BenBella Books

(Back jacket)
While we call the American system a democracy, capitalism is the far more powerful force in our lives. The greatest power we have — especially when political leaders won’t move quickly enough — is how we spend our money: where we shop, what we buy, what institutions we entrust with our money, who we work for, and where we donate determine the trajectory of our society and planet.

From Tanja Hester, Our Next Life blogger and author of Work Optional, comes the mindset-shifting guide to help you put your money where your values are.  Wallet Activism goes beyond simple purchasing decisions to explore:

  • How to create a personal spending philosophy based on your values.
  • Practical questions to quickly assess the “goodness” of a product or an entity you may buy from.
  • The ethics of earning money, choosing what foods to eat, employing others, investing responsibly, and choosing where to live.

For anyone interested in leaving the world better than you found it, Wallet Activism will help you build habits to make your money matter.

(excerpts pp 20-22)
But this book is about taking action, and that means understanding how to navigate the capitalist system we have, flawed as it is: our true role in it, where the biggest levers of power lie, and what power we as individuals possess.

Some action can be spurred only by policy change at the highest levels, and pushing that requires political engagement and organization that we absolutely must be a part of.  But we can also work to understand the power of our everyday financial decisions, from what we buy to how we approach the work we do.  With that understanding, we can begin to take a more critical look at the messages we receive every day — whether they’re from marketers or from those who truly want to change things for the better — to determine if what they’re telling us is true and if we want to act on it.

Wallet activism is that action. Wallet activism means:

  1. harnessing the power in our wallets, our financial power as individuals to create change for the planet and our fellow humans;
  2. creating demand for the world we want to live in, choosing what to support financially based on its true impacts (not only those we can see) and, just as importantly, choosing what not to support; and
  3. learning to ask the right questions, developing the critical thinking skills to understand when you’re being lied to, and to recognize you have far more power than capitalist forces would have you believe.

Consuming at a sustainable level must always be a part of the conversation as well, so think of that as the calibration of each of the three elements of wallet activism. …

Transforming yourself into a wallet activist is to actively reject attempts by marketers and leaders to define you by your purchases and instead to define yourself by your values, as well as learning how to make choices in the interest of the collective good.
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THICKER THAN WATER: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis
Gold Award: Ecology & Environment
Author: Erica Cirino
Publisher: Island Press

(Front flap)
Much of what you’ve heard about plastic pollution may be wrong. The infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is spread over hundreds of thousands of miles— more like a soup than an island of trash. Recycling is more complicated than we think, as less than nine percent of the plastic ever created has been reused.  And plastic pollution isn’t confined to the oceans: It’s in much of the air we breathe, food we eat, and soil beneath our feet.

In Thicker Than Water, Erica Cirino takes us on a globe-trotting expedition to discover the real story of the plastic crisis.  Aboard a sailboat in the Pacific, we watch as researchers sift plastic from the waves thousands of miles from the nearest human community.  We visit labs from Western New York to Denmark, where scientists perform cutting-edge research on the hidden health impacts of nano- and microplastics.  And in Welcome, Louisiana, we meet organizers fighting a proposed plastic factory in a community already harmed by pollution and environmental racism.

There is some hope, with new laws banning single-use items and technological innovations to replace plastic in our lives.  But Cirino shows that we can only fix the problem if we abandon our throwaway culture and repair our relationship with our planet.  Thicker Than Water is an eye-opening journey and an eloquent call to reexamine the systems churning out waves of plastic waste.

(Page xiv)
As the ocean gives to us, we take from her with abandon.  We’ve taken more than our share of oxygen, of plants and animals, of minerals and oil.  And when we have given to the sea, it’s been all the wrong things: More carbon than she can cope with, causing acidification and its consequent massacre of coral reefs and any species with a calcium carbonate shell.  More boat traffic than she can handle, leading to marine mammals’ deadly and disfiguring collisions with ship propellers.  More acoustic military drills and bombings than her resident marine wildlife can bear, causing behavioral anomalies in whales, fish, and dolphins, which rely on sound to survive.  More oil spills and nuclear meltdowns than she can easily shake off.  And more plastic debris than she has room to hold; what eighty years ago was an unknown phenomenon today has turned into one of the worst environmental crises in history.

While plastic is a material made on land, my story about humanity’s plastic crisis begins in the Pacific Ocean’s notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where so much of our detritus is accumulating to the detriment of marine plants and animals.  This single voyage compelled me to dedicate the past five years and counting to covering the story of our global plastic disaster, by sea and by land; documenting pollution and getting to know the many people who are working feverishly to address the crisis before it is too late— for the oceans, and, as I have learned, all of us.

Out at sea, time is not measured in hours or minutes, but by the intensity of the burning sun, the oscillating fade-sparkle-fade of thousands of stars and specks of glowing algae, the size and shape of the moon, the furor or calm of the sea.  Out there, the distractions of a modern life are abandoned on land, leaving one with nothing but her soul and most vivid dreams— and most tormenting demons.

Out there, I learned, life is beautiful and wild and painful, and in its pure rawness, the sea has the potential to reveal the truth.  The sea can show us what it is in life we need, and what we can live without.
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ELECTRIFY: An Optimist's Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future

Silver Award: Green/Restorative Practices /Sustainability
Author: Saul Griffith
Publisher: MIT Press

(pp 2-3)
In this book,  I am going to map out a viable path to averting a climate crisis.  The path I lay out is not the only one available, but I can illustrate it in enough detail to reassure you that averting climate catastrophe won’t require turning the world upside down.  We have one last chance to address climate change, one glimmer of hope, and we must act now.

It’s now time for end-game decarbonization, which means never producing or purchasing machines or technologies that rely on burning fossil fuels ever again. We don’t have enough carbon budget left to afford one more gasoline car each before we shift to electric vehicles (EVs).  There isn’t time for everyone to install one more natural gas furnace in their basement, there is no place for a new natural gas “peaker” plant, and there is definitely no room for any new coal anything.  Whatever fossil fuel machinery you own, whether it is as a grid operator, a small business, or a home, that fossil machinery needs to be your last.

My glimmer of hope comes from knowing that many of the barriers to a clean-energy future are systemic and bureaucratic, not technological.  We have the technical means to address climate change, to have cleaner air and a verdant future without giving up our cars and the comforts of home.  People have come to believe it will take a miracle to address climate change. It won’t; we just need hard work!  We have been told it will be too expensive, but doing it right it will actually save us money.  Doubters say it will cost jobs, but embracing a green future will, in reality, create millions of them. Most people believe a clean-energy future will require everyone to make do with less, but it actually means that we can have better things.

(excerpts pp 5-8)
I still see a glimmer of hope.  But to turn that hope into a reality for the future, we have to ask and answer some critical questions, which will be the focus of this book:

What is the Urgency?
What can inspire us?
How do we know what we know?
How should we change our thinking about climate change?
What do we have to do?
Where will our energy come from?
How will we make it work 24/7/365?
What is infrastructure?
Can we afford to make the switch?
But will you save money?
How are we going to pay for this transition?
How will we pay for the past?
How do we rewrite the rules?
What about jobs and the economy?

Can we handle this enormous challenge? Is there a precedent?
Isn’t climate just one of our many environmental problems?
What about carbon sequestration, carbon taxes, hydrogen, and other plans to fight climate change without electrifying everything?

How can you make a difference? The world can’t afford delays due to despair. That despair must be channeled into hope, and hope converted into action.

Who am I?  I am a scientist, engineer, inventor, and father who wants to leave my kids a better world.  I’d also like them to feel the sense of awe for our planet and its creatures that I have been lucky enough to enjoy.  I am in this fight and I’m giving it all I’ve got. The data convince me that it is still rational to have hope— but not for much longer.  We can win big against this climate emergency, but this is our last chance.  If we win—when we win, because there is no other option— we’ll all be much better off than before.
.


.
SACRED EARTH, SACRED SOUL: Celtic Wisdom for Reawakening to What Our Souls Know and Healing the World
Gold Award: Religion-Spirituality of Western Traditions
Author: John Philip Newell
Publisher: HarperOne /HarperCollins

(Front flap)
The hidden tradition of Celtic spirituality can help us renew our faith, heal the earth, overcome our conflicts, and reconnect with ourselves.

Leading spiritual teacher John Philip Newell reveals how Celtic Christianity can enable us to rediscover the natural rhythms of life and deepen our spiritual connection with God, each other, and the earth.  Newell walks us through the lives and spiritual teachings of great prophetic figures in this stream of wisdom like Brigid of Kildare, Pelagius, John Muir, and Teilhard de Chardin.

By embracing their wisdom, we can learn how to listen to the sacred and see the divine in all of creation and within each of us.  Human beings are inherently spiritual creatures who intuitively see the sacred in nature and within one another, but our cultures and at times even our faith traditions have led us to forget these truths.  Newell opens our eyes to what we have known all along, providing a new spiritual foundation by which we can find encouragement, guidance and hope for creating a better world.

(pp 161-162 on John Muir) 
Muir’s studies led him to two foundational realizations: He saw that everything is in flux and that everything is interrelated.  “Everything is flowing— going somewhere,” he said, “animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water.”  Everything is in a single mighty current of change. Creation he saw not as an act of the past that is finished.  Rather, “it is going on today as much as it ever was. But Nature”, he said, “is not in a hurry.”

For Muir, the flow of the universe was both sacred and evolutionary.  “We all flow from one fountain Soul, “ he said, which is “saturating all and fountainizing all.”  The God essence flows through mountain granites as much as through trees, whether living or fallen.  It even flows through death itself, he said.  “These brown weeds and grasses that we say are dying in autumn frosts are in a gushing glowing current of life; they too are Godful.”

Muir was aware that life has flowed to us through all that has preceded humanity in the universe, through the sun, moon, and stars, through mountain ranges, plants, and animals.  They are our parents, he said.  “The sun that shines not simply on us but in us.  The rivers flow not (just) past us but through us . . . and every bird song, wind song, and storm song (is our song).”  To know the beauty of a mountain, for instance, is to know something of the mountain’s beauty within us.  We are “a bundle of world,” he said. We are the universe squeezed into human form.

As sons and daughters of the universe, we are being invited to remember the interrelationship of all things.  All that God has made, he said, is joined and “one-d” by forces as irresistible as gravitation. Every atom is married to every other atom.  “When we try to pick out anything by itself," Muir said, ”we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”   What we do to one part of life we do to the whole.  Muir, like so many of the Celtic prophets before him, was announcing the growing realization of earth’s interrelatedness that we are in the midst of today.

Feature Focus 2021 Season:
Collaboration of Voices  |  Nurturing Wholeness  |  Give a Gift of Insight & Inspiration

FEATURE FOCUS 2020 SEASON:
A HARVEST OF WISDOM  |  UPLIFTING CURRENTS  | GIVE A GIFT OF HOPE  | GIVE A CHILD A GIFT OF HOPE

FEATURE FOCUS 2019 SEASON:
PORTALS TO NEW PERSPECTIVES  |  GIFT A CHILD A SEED OF HOPE  |  GIFT A SEED OF HOPE  |  BUILDING BRIDGES  |  OUTSIDE IN  |  CURRENTS OF CHANGE

FEATURE FOCUS 2018 SEASON: 
CREATE A NEW STORY  |  SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IN THE 21ST CENTURY  |  FINDING HOME  |  LIVING LIGHTLY, DEEPLY  |  EMBRACING DIVERSITY

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