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
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.
In the shadows of mammoth BP refinery in Whiting IN, in the environmental racism that is the legacy of chemical and heavy metal plants, in housing built upon toxic soil, in playgrounds and drinking water full of toxic chemicals, communities are coming together, organizing around the most basic rights to clean water and some social justice. I follow the work of Tom Frank on Facebook. He works among community groups doing the nitty gritty organizing around those basic rights.
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
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 human crisis, the crisis of how we live on this planet, the urgency of dreaming, envisioning, articulating a new way of being as we move through it.
As we begin to 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, community conversations in local communities or within a relatively short drive and among the fully vaccinated. We will ponder what we might offer via Zoom.
For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Events & Campaigns of Note:
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:"
The Bold Alliance is a network of small but mighty groups protecting land and water
MN350.org is building a climate movement in Minnesota
Alice's Garden (Milwaukee) - Honoring the Culture in Agriculture: urban farming and food justice
Friends of the Headwaters, a 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
Keeper of the Mountains - Appalachian people working to move their communities away from an extraction economy to an economy that values people, land, and mountain heritage
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