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
by Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone, New World Library, 2022
When this book was first published in 2012, it came with the title tagline, "How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy." The pace of change in our world has accelerated to such a degree over the past decade that the authors felt need for an update. The tagline now reads, "How to Face the Mess We're in with Unexpected Resilience and Power." There is a higher aspiration here. Rather than avoiding craziness, we are now invited to face the reality of our predicament on this planet full-on, and to do so with power, grace, compassion, and generosity. We cannot avoid some of the challenging, even traumatic changes coming to us now, but we can begin to find the grace to live in and with them, appealing to the best and strongest qualities of being human as we navigate the times. This book is full of creative ideas for working with ourselves and our communities toward the transformation necessary for living our humanity fully and compassionately despite all the upheavals.
Please order from your independent book stores, or online at Bookshop.org..
Begin Again - James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Crown, 2020
Both brilliant and disturbing, the book is a commentary on James Baldwin's evolving critique of white America through the Glaude's lens. It is not easy reading for white people, but it is necessary reading for white people. I want to say, put your automatic defensiveness away, lock it up somewhere, and just sit with this. Listen! Attend to the POV of those who must live on the other side of a white America that remains unable to see and to embrace the full humanity and dignity of black human beings. We have said often that this country cannot deal with any of its gravest crisis, its societal upheavals, the breakdown of politics if it does not come to terms with the racial legacy of enslavement and the denial of its corrosive legacy down through the generations. This book helps us see what we need to see to finally pass through this crucible so disturbing articulated through a Jeremiah-like Old Testament prophet - James Baldwin.
Please order from your independent book stores, or online at Bookshop.org.
The Dawn of Everything - A New History of Humanity
by David Graeber and David Wengrow, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021
A fascinating, if daunting read. An incredible feat of research. Taking advantage of archeological breakthroughs in recent years, the authors launch into a more in-depth, revealing history of the human species than we have seen up to now. This means all of it, the whole of that history from as far back as one can go. They enter without western bias, without historical prejudice, and reveal a far more complex human journey than the one we are given in school. According to the dominant POV, human societies have evolved linearly, from prehistoric ignorance to global capitalism, as if that development was inevitable, progressing from one stage to the next, resulting in this seemingly inescapable present. But here we find that over tens of thousands of years humans developed complex societies of great variety, many of them far more egalitarian, socially democratic, less hierarchical than history and anthropology has led us to believe. Yes, hierarchy was there, monarchy was there, brutal tyranny was there, but that is not all that was there. Some societies chose other ways to organize themselves and some of these lasted centuries or millennia. Rebecca Solnit writes of this book, "The Dawn of Everything" is the radical revision of everything."
We don't have to live in a world constructed as this one is. There are and have been many other possibilities. By tearing up some of the myths that shape our worldview, this volume can help unlock creative thinking, imaginings, of other worlds that are possible.
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.
Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore
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.
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.
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
A new message about how our work is developing in response to the challenges of our time
In these difficult days, it has never been more important to stay informed, to build community, to engage the reality of our moment on this planet. These are three of the priorities of the CNC. We do this by way of this website and our blog, our Facebook page, our constant search for the resources that clear the view for us, that help us see more clearly the cultural, social, and political dynamics that are at work in the various crises of our time - and sharing those sources with our visitors.
Before the pandemic, we did a lot of this work via in-person programs, including presentations and workshops. Now we want to recover some of that lost work. Margaret Swedish is available for online programs via Zoom. We are working to beef up those skills as Zoom continues to develop. In 2023, we hope to return to limited in-person programs within our geographic range here in SE Wisconsin.
So, stay tuned. You can reach us via email at:
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