RESOURCES & CONNECTIONS
Part of our work is to keep educating ourselves, and to find the best tools and resources to help us in our community outreach. On this page, we offer recommendations for books, publications, and websites that can assist us. We also offer links to some of the innovative work emerging from grassroots communities that exemplify what we mean by the work of “new creation.” The lists will change from time to time, so revisit this page to see our latest recommendations.
WHAT WE'RE READING - updated bi-monthly
The World As We Knew It - dispatches from a changing climate
Essay collection, eds. Amy Brady & Tajja Isen, Catapult, 2022
A collection from literary writers not about a world that will change, but one that is already changed by the impacts of climate change. The losses are already real. Tender, often searing accounts of how these writers experience those losses and who is bringing them about. That would be - us.
"Most of us think of ourselves as good people, but sometimes I trip on the fact that I am a menace to all earthy life." (from "Iowa Bestiary," by Melissa Febos).
From the back cover: "As the anthology unfolds - from Antarctica to Australia to America - an intimate portrait of a climate-changed world emerges, captured by writers whose lives jostle against incongruous memories of familiar places, now transformed."
Please order from your local independent bookstores, or online at Bookshop.org.
An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto For Our Earth
by Thanissara, North Atlantic Books, 2015
Former Buddhist nun, teacher, writer, founder of an Insight Meditation Center in South Africa and core teacher in others in the U.S., Thanissara illuminates the potential of Buddhist practice and teaching to engage the ecological crises of our times. A sharp critique of our contemporary separation from nature, of the ravages of consumerism and materialism on the planet, and of the necessity of speaking out, of actively engaging the crisis and its causes, and of learning to live "more fearlessly." Humans need to find a "new way to live" and "to love" on this planet. "We are the crisis." We need to start being the healing, before there is nothing left to heal.
Please order from your local independent bookstores, or online at Bookshop.org.
by Elizabeth Bush, Milkweed Editions, 2019
The Chicago Tribune calls this, "the book on climate change and sea levels that was missing." Yes, what is often missing is the compelling stories of human beings living through sea level rise all around our North American shores. Gorgeously and movingly written, the book brings some of these humans to life with great compassion and understanding of their predicament. These are not stories about the wealthy who are immune to many of these impacts, but about those who struggle day by day to get through life, "ordinary folks" who love where they live and see it disappearing inexorably year after year, storm after storm. Bush brought me to tears many times, not only with her own voice but the voices of the people she met.
"Rising" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Highly recommended. Please order from your local independent bookstore.
Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays
by Paul Kingsworth, 2017
Kingsworth gave up an "environmentalism" years ago and, for that reason, I have resonated with so much of his wonderful, challenging writings. Environmentalism has relied on "sustainability" as its goal and mantra, a word I often wish we could remove from our ecological lexicon altogether. Too much focus on how to sustain ways of life to which we are accustomed while "saving" the planet (a completely impossible project), and way too little on how our basic approach to nature and the world is errant at its core. It helps that Kingsworth is a wonderful writer. He takes us to the core with both terrifying and oddly comforting truth.
When the Rivers Run Dry - Water: the defining crisis of the 21st century
by Fred Pearce, 2006
A mega-drought deepens in the West. Water restrictions are being put in place. Tensions are rising. Water wars are part of American history. The conflicts among ranchers, farmers cities, and wildlife are real. What happens when the rivers run dry? This book is sobering and essential if we are to understand one of the essential elements of our ecological crisis.
by Ronald Wright, 2004
If you read it 15 years ago, read it again. If you've never read it, find a volume and read it. Patterns of history repeat themselves, and the history we are repeating right now does not bode well for our world.
"This human inability to foresee - or to watch out for - long-range consequences may be inherent to our kind, shaped by millions of years when we lived from hand to mouth by hunting and gathering. It may also be little more than a mix of inertia, greed, and foolishness encouraged by the shape of the social pyramid. The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general populace begin to suffer."
by Clive Hamilton, Earthscan, 2010
[from the jacket] This book does not set out once more to raise the alarm to encourage us to take radical measures to head off climate chaos. There have been any number of books and reports in recent years explaining just how dire the future looks and how little time we have left to act.
This book is about why we have ignored those warnings, and why it is now too late. It is a book about the frailties of the human species as expressed in both the institutions we built and the psychological dispositions that have led us on the path of self-destruction. It is about our strange obsessions, our hubris, and our penchant for avoiding the facts. It is the story of a battle within us between the forces that should have caused us to protect the Earth - our capacity to reason and our connection to Nature - and those that, in the end, have won out - our greed, materialism and alienation from Nature. And it is about the 21st century consequences of these failures.
by Margaret Wheatley, Barrett-Kohler Publishers, 2017
I've been working with this book for more than half a year now, studying, discussing, and taking up a training for which it is a basic resource. Wheatley is working with the signs of civilizational collapse, the inevitable last stage of all empires. She invites us to the difficult work of moving past fear, hope, and despair to a clear view of what is, "facing reality." This is an essential step if we are to be able to perceive what Buddhists call "right action." Rather than saving what cannot be saved, we are called to create "islands of sanity," communities where we draw from our best and most creative gifts to re-create the human community as things fall apart all around us. This work requires a deep practice rooted in meditation, in re-grounding ourselves with the Earth, in surrender and letting-go, and a commitment to be of service as things fall apart all around us.
Prophetic, challenging, and inspiring. An essential read.
a paper by Sir John Glubb, 1978
A foundational paper for our work, for how we understand the nature of the times and the phenomenon of societal collapse. Also a central reference in Wheatley's book (see above). Glubb lays out the inevitable trajectory for all empires throughout history from their origins to their inevitable collapse. This 26 downloadable PDF is not only to be read, but to be studied. He delineates the stages of empire, including the last 3 as collapse is imminent. They are eerily descriptive of what is happening now in our culture and in western civilization.
The Great Derangement - Climate Change and the Unthinkable
by Amitav Ghosh, University of Chicago Press, 2016
"Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming? ...Ghosh examines our inability—at the level of literature, history, and politics—to grasp the scale and violence of climate change." - University of Chicago Press
I think I was especially moved by this book because it comes from a writer, not a scientist or activist or politician or academic, a voice from the East, not the West. It is eloquently and searingly written. Ghosh is calling for artists and writers to deal with the "unthinkable," that these cultural voices are essential so that the next generations "will be able to transcend the isolation in which humanity was entrapped in the time of its derangement."
Some featured examples of what we mean by 'the work of New Creation' - from the bottom up
ALICE'S GARDEN URBAN FARM - we believe it is important to root ourselves in the places where we are, no matter how large the scope of the work we do. While we work to address systemic issues of ecology, culture, economy, and spirituality, this is the place where we sink our roots, in a praxis that engages the challenges of this urban community. Through this lens we make the connections that are fundamental to the mission of the CNC.
TEWA WOMEN UNITED - I met one of the leaders of this group at a conference 3 years ago (July 2016) and was so inspired by her presence, leadership, and spiritual depth. I have been following this group ever since. Talk about working against the legacy of history to bring healing and hope to a community from which the invaders have done everything they can to destroy it.
On Ecology and Spirituality (websites)
Spiritual Ecology: the Cry of the Earth
Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home - Pope Francis
Scroll down for more links
Emerging slowly from a rough year and a half:
The pandemic has impacted us all. Since March 2020, we have not been able to meet in community, to be physically present to one another as we gather to consider our deepening planetary crises and the urgency of dreaming, envisioning, articulating a new way of being as we move through it.
As we emerge from the tight restrictions of the pandemic, let's ponder how we might begin to gather again - not in little boxes on our screens, but physically together. For the vaccinated, we are able to do this now. Yet we do it still with masks in our pockets, respecting that we are not yet through this disease which is still spreading in many parts of our world. And travel is still a problem, especially air travel.
For now, Margaret Swedish is available for workshops, reflection days, and community conversations within a day's drive and among the fully vaccinated, or with masks and social distancing as recommended by local health officials. She is also available via Zoom.
For more info: email@example.com
BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS
Living Beyond the ‘End of the World:’ A Spirituality of Hope, by Center for New Creation program coordinator, Margaret Swedish, from Orbis Books, Maryknoll NY 2008.
LINKS TO THE ROOTS
More examples of what we mean by "grassroots" community-based groups - emergent movements "from below." This list will change from time to time.
Extinction Rebellion - powerful international grassroots movement. Life on Earth is in crisis. Our climate is changing faster than scientists predicted and the stakes are high. Biodiversity loss. Crop failure. Social and ecological collapse. Mass extinction. We are running out of time, and our governments have failed to act. Extinction Rebellion was formed to fix this.
Honor the Earth - We fight for the water, the land, and for the future of our people. Stand with us and #StopLine3.
MN350.org - building a climate movement in Minnesota, with a current focus on regenerative agriculture.
Alice's Garden (Milwaukee) - Honoring the Culture in Agriculture: urban farming and food justice
Friends of the Headwaters - local citizen's group organized to protect MN waters from Enbridge pipelines
Philly Thrive - Philadelphians taking action for clean air, climate justice, and the right to breathe
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth - a community of people working for a fair economy, a healthy environment, new safe energy and an honest democracy
Southeast Environmental Task Force - environmental organization serving the southeast side and south suburbs of Chicago by promoting environmental education, pollution prevention, and sustainable development
Black Lives Matter - working for the rights and dignity of every man, woman, and child in the African-American community