A voice for bioregional sustainability, education and culture

Home | Recent Posts | Library | Xchange Store | Winter Olympics | Contact Us | Volunteer | Site Map | Donate!

 

Annotated Bibliography on Bioregionalism

 

[This bibliography was originally compiled by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Fred Cervin in 2007.

It was revised and updated by Planet Drum Foundation staff in March 2015.]

 

A Continental Bioregional Congress on the Prairie: An Audio Documentary of an Eco-Revolution produced by Jacqueline Froelich, hosted by Pete Hartman. KUAF National Public Radio, 2002. A marvelous 29 minute NPR report of the bioregional congress featuring Judy Goldhaft, David Haenke, Stephanie Mills, Gene Marshall, Alberto Ruiz, Anna Diaz, and many others.

 

A Green City Program: For San Francisco Bay Area Cities and Towns written and edited by Peter Berg, Beryl Magilavy and Seth Zuckerman. Planet Drum Books, 1989.  An updated and expanded version was published by Planet Drum in 1990 as: A Green City Program: For San Francisco Bay Area and Beyond. While this guide is focused on San Francisco, it’s an excellent model for other urban areas with lots of practical directions, illustrations, research and inspiration. The book covers everything from urban gardening to street construction. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. Oxford University Press, 1987. This is the premier book on nature writing in terms of its historical precedent and its impact on generations of nature writers. First published in 1949, this book, by one of the world’s great naturalists, includes essays divided into three parts.  "A Sand County Almanac" focuses on Leopold’s observations at his weekend refuge in a rural farm. The second part, “The Quality of Landscape” explores how he found his concern for the land over many decades, including a strong emphasis on what conservation is and could be. “A Taste for the Country,” the third part, is full of aware reflections of being outside and learning from the earth. As Leopold concludes, “Recreational development is a job not of building roads into lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.”

 

Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in Without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. New World Library, 2012. The challenges we face can be difficult to even think about. Climate change, depletion of oil, economic upheaval, and mass extinction together create a planetary emergency of overwhelming proportions. Active Hope shows us how to strengthen our capacity to face this crisis so that we can respond with unexpected resilience and creative power. Drawing on decades of teaching an empowerment approach known as the "Work That Reconnects", the authors guide us through a transformational process informed by mythic journeys, modern psychology, spirituality, and holistic science that equips us with tools to face the mess and play our role in the collective transition, or Great Turning, to a life-sustaining society.

 

Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko. Simon & Schuster, 1991. This long, surrealistic novel exposes the terrible disconnection of modern society from the natural world and from all sense of place from a Native American point of view.

 

Always Coming Home by Ursula LeGuin. University of California Press, 1985. A bioregional novel of California. Set in the distant future after the world has gone through a series of terrible wars and environmental disasters, the book imagines in detail a way of life that is a kind of post-industrial tribalism.

 

Aqua Terra: Water Concepts for Ecological Society edited by Jacqueline Froelich with Barbara Harmony, artwork by Jacqueline Froelich. The National Water Center, 1991. This fine anthology of works about water looks at everything from waste water disposal to the poetics of rushing rivers.  Its strong interdisciplinary focus helps us see the full circle not just of the water cycle but of water symbolism in our lives.

 

Artic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape by Barry Lopez. Bantam Books, 1987.  This important memoir and travel journey, telling of Lopez’s immersion in various communities and expeditions in the Arctic, also is an ethnographic, historical and scientific view of our coldest climates. Lopez writes beautifully of the North, showing us—by example—how to co-exist with each other and this climate.

 

Basic Call to Consciousness edited by Akwesasne Notes Mohawk Nation. Book Publishing Company, 1991. These position papers convey the point of view of the Natural Peoples of the Planet: "human beings are abusing one other, the planet they live on, and their individual persons. The destruction of the Natural World is the clearest indication of mankind's spiritual poverty." This is an address to the Western World, which clearly identifies Western civilization as the very process of that abuse of humanity and nature. This is a call for consciousness of and reconnection with the Sacred Web of Life in the Universe. An extremely important point of view that we ignore at our peril.           

 

Bienvenidos a Casa: Vivencia y Pensamiento Bioregional edited by Laura Kuri. Mexico City: Ayotl, 2003. This bioregional premier, edited by the pioneer of bioregionalism in Mexico and funded in part by the Continental Bioregional Congress, is an essential work when it comes to translating much of the theory developed for bioregionalism north of the border into Spanish. The collection also focuses on actions taken throughout Mexico and Central America where bioregionalism has flourished. Contributors include Alberto Ruiz, Ana Ruiz Diaz, Beatrice Briggs, Cristina Mendoza Dawe, Christopher Wells, David Haenke, Ekiwah Adler Belendez, Gene Marshall, Giovanni Ciarlo, Mike Carr, Peter Berg, Starhawk and others.  The book release party for this volume brought together over 3,000 people eager to have a copy.

 

Bioregional Education edited by Frank Traina and Susan Darley-Hill. North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), 1995.  This excellent guide to bioregionalism is focused on core concepts in bioregional education including methods and techniques for effective bioregional education. Contributors include Chris Wells, founder of the All Species Project; Ken Lassman; Amy Hannon; Jim Dodge; Marti Crouch; Marnie Muller; Frank Traina; Thomas Berry; David Abram and others.

 

Bioregionalism and Civil Society: Democratic Challenges to Corporate Globalism by Michael Carr. Toronto: UBC Press, 2004. This is an important book for understanding the theoretical underpinnings of bioregionalism in terms of consumerism, community building, and many strategies, tools and visions. Carr narrates the continental movement through the 1996 bioregional gathering in Mexico. This is also an important book in terms of better understanding reinhabition as a value and action, and how reinhabitation catalyzes a new view of civil society. 

 

Bioshelters, Ocean Arks, City Farming: Ecology as the Basis of Design by Nancy Todd, Jack and John Todd. Sierra Club Books, 1984. This important tome on ecological design and practice blends high tech approaches with biological principles, and it also chronicles the adventures of the Todds and their community in bringing ecological design to the forefront in various ways. The Todds advocate for a kind of design that is perpetually self-sustaining.

 

Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide by Andrea Olsen. Middlebury College Press, 2002.  This hands-on guide leads readers on an embodied, bioregional, expressive arts approach to feeling more alive and finding more of one's purpose and place. The exercises are excellent and include writing, guided meditation, drawings, walking, moving, breathing and even doing a place scan. Each day focuses on a theme such as “Breath and Voice,” “Art and the Environment,” “Movement,” “Bones,” “Soil,” “Underlying Patterns: A Bioregional Approach,” and “Perception.” This is a treasure of a book for individual practice and educational settings.

 

Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment edited by Doug Aberley. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series, 1993. Aberley’s edition of this valuable anthology on bioregional mapping includes essays by Kirkpatrick Sale, Beatrice Briggs, Whitney Smith, Freeman House, Kai Snyder, Seth Zuckerman, Gene Marshall, David McCloskey and others active in the development of bioregional and cognitive mapping.  While the book could use even more illustrations, it does a good job in communicating how to create step-by-step descriptions of place through available local sources, and what value such mapping has for political and social change.

 

Bring Back the Buffalo!: A Sustainable Future for America's Great Plains by Ernest Callenbach. University of California Press, 1996. Though the Plains have been in economic and population decline since the twenties, they are actually within closer reach of vibrant ecological sustainability than any other region of the country. This visionary book offers a constructive alternative to the decline of cattle ranching, depletion of underground water, and dependency on outside energy sources. It shows how bringing back the hardy, majestic bison and using the region's winds to generate power are keys to renewed economic and social health for Plains communities.

 

Bulow Hammock: Mind in a Forest by David Rains Wallace. Sierra Club Books, 1988. Bulow Hammock is a subtropical woodland near, Daytona, Florida. "...Visiting Bulow Hammock at all seasons over several years, Wallace feels its discomforts but he also appreciates its wonders. Ancient whisk ferns, basking alligators, mating turtles, inventive spiders, personable otters and their rich array of ecological and evolutionary connections become alive and tangible through his vivid, graceful prose. It is a feeling and sensory journey as well as an intellectual one, and in the end it produces a perception of wholeness, affirming that the mind really does belong in the forest." From a book review by Joseph Meeker, author of Minding the Earth

 

Circles of Strength: Community Alternatives to Alienation edited by Helen Forsey, Forward by Judith Plant. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series, 1993. As neighborhood and family ties fray, support institutions crumble, and people move from place to place, many more of us long for a home-base of family and friends to ease the alienation we feel. This book helps turn that desire into reality by sharing the experience and reflection of over 20 members of communities as diverse as First Nations, religious orders, rural communities, activist camps, and urban neighborhoods. The contributors offer practical advice and inspiring visions about ways to reconstruct circles of mutual caring and support—and to relearn the wisdom that comes with enduring relations with people and places. They offer, through community, a culture of hope.

 

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. Viking, 2005.  Diamond does a startling thing here, he undertakes the study of many civilizations, analyzing exactly why some went the way of the dinosaur while others flourished. He then applies what he learns to our civilizations, and finds that we need to basically do 12 things (not doing any one would hasten our fall) to survive (and greenhouse gases is just one half of one of the 12!). He covers enormous ground (in all ways) in looking at Easter Island, Montana’s mining history, the Anasazi, China today, the Viking past, Rwanda’s genocide and so much more.  This is the kind of book a person needs time to read and absorb, yet it makes the strongest argument in one place for bioregionalism and other forms of ecological sustainability.

 

Deep Ecology for the 21st Century edited by George Sessions. Shambhala Publications, 1995. Every day, in newspapers and on television, we read and hear about the ongoing destruction of the environment, the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion deforestation, and air and water pollution. Deep Ecology offers a solution to the environmental crisis through a radical shift in human consciousness—a fundamental change in the way people relate with the environment. Instead of thinking of nature as a resource to be used for human needs, Deep Ecology argues that the true value of nature is intrinsic and independent of its utility. Emerging in the 1980s as an influential philosophical, social and political movement, Deep Ecology has shaped the environmental debate among leading activists and policymakers. The book contains 39 articles by the leading writers and thinkers in the field.

 

Deep Ecology: Living As If Nature Mattered by Bill Devall and George Sessions. Gibb Smith Publisher, Peregrine Smith Books, 1985. Deep Ecology explores the philosophical, psychological, and sociological roots of today's environmental movement, examines the human-centered assumptions behind most approaches to nature, explores the possibilities of an expanded human consciousness, and offers specific direct action suggestions for individuals to practice. Widely read in its first printing, Deep Ecology has established itself as one of the most significant books on environmental thought appear in this decade.

 

Delta Primer. A Field Guide to the California Delta by Jane Wolff. William Stout Publishers, 2003. The Delta, a very special place, is the contested landscape where California's Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet San Francisco Bay. It is a hybrid landscape with an engineered ecology where the boundaries of nature and technology have been in constant re-negotiation for a century. This book is an imaginative map, a deck of cards, a gazing ball, an open-ended environmental history, and, potentially, a mediation tool. It's also a political primer about the future of water and land uses in the State of California. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey. Simon and Schuster, 1968.  This classic memoir about living in the desert looks at culture, land and climate from a unique and particularly activist perspective. As Doug Peacock writes of Abbey, “Abbey traveled less widely than some, but he saw clearly and wrote with more fortitude and honesty than all but a handful of his contemporaries of the suffering and destruction seen everywhere on the Earth.”

 

Devolutionary Notes by Michael Zwerin. Planet Drum Books, 1980. Michael Zwerin insists that Devolutionary Notes is journalism. He set out to find the story behind what appeared to be a recent cultural and political upwelling, a provincial condition that could only be accurately observed outside the centers of mass culture. He went to meet the rural terriorists flashed on television originating in Paris. He wanted to interview people who insisted on teaching their children dying languages and antiquated folk music. He found reasons why the story in those peripheries of Europe will eventually dominate newspapers back in the capitals of major nation-states, and he found history.  [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Discovering Your Life Place: A First Bioregional Workbook by Peter Berg.  Planet Drum Books, 1994. The concept of a bioregion is uniquely useful in putting ourselves back into nature instead of on top of it. A bioregion is a way to describe the natural geography where one lives. It also identifies a locale for carrying out activities that are appropriate for maintaining those natural characteristics. Bioregions have distinct features such as climate, soils, landforms, watersheds, native plants and animals. They have also been a site for adaptive long-term inhabitation by native peoples in the past and can be reinhabited by their present occupants. This workbook introduces bioregional mapping, a method  to acquaint occupants with their life-places on a deeper, more conscious level. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision by Kirkpatrick Sale. Sierra Club Books, 1985. This classic bioregional book conveys a full range of bioregional visions in a clear and scholarly manner while also giving real-life, illuminating examples of bioregionalists in action. Sale divides his book into “The Bioregional Heritage,” “The Bioregional Paradigm,” “The Bioregional Project” and the “The Bioregional Imperative” while looking at economics, culture, politics and the understanding of the earth as alive and dynamic.

 

Earth Wisdom by Dolores LaChapelle. Finn Hill Arts, 1978. As Arne Naess, the Norwegian philosopher who first defined Deep Ecology, explains: "The essence of Deep Ecology is to ask deeper questions. We ask which society, which education, which form of religion is beneficial for all life on the planet as a whole, and then we ask further what we need to do in order to make the necessary changes." Deep Ecology asks the questions and Earth Wisdom tells you how to begin living so you can find the answers.

 

EcoCities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature by Richard Register. New Society Publishers, 2010. Most of the world's population now lives in cities. And in the short one hundred years of building cities for cars, humankind is destroying the basis for life on Earth as we know it. Now, with Peak Oil on the near horizon, it is time to build cities for people, not cars. EcoCities describes how.

 

Ecology: A Pocket Guide by Ernest Callenbach. University of California Press, 1998. This book is designed so you can dip into it, lay it down or put it in a pocket, and come back to it later. You can skip around in whatever order you like. In accordance with the ecological world that its terms describe, the book is a network—of words and ideas. So you can enter the network at any point. Complexities need time to sink in, and the process of seeing connections is gradual. Rereading an entry always makes its meaning easier to grasp. And the more entries you read, the more you'll appreciate the awesome complexity of life.

 

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray. Milkweed Publications, 1999.  Like Terry Tempest-Williams, Ray combines memoir with ecological discussion, but in her case, she is advocating for backwoods Georgia, a land often forgotten or seen as throwaway land, and for a people often marginalized by poverty and neglect. Throughout her writing, the earth breathes, and we can almost smell the pine trees as well as the rusting cars. This work is full of a kind of unrequited love and yearning while also deeply honoring the real and available beauty in unexpected places.

 

Economics As If the Earth Really Mattered by Susan Meeker Lowry. New Society Publishers, 1988. Meeker’s hands-on guide to socially responsible investing emphasizes ethics and community viability.

 

Ecophilosophy: A Field Guide to the Literature by Donald Edward Davis. R. & E. Miles, 1989. This collection of reviews and discussions—in annotation style—does wonders in unpacking many sources related to eco-philosophy from human ecology, animal rights, ecological feminism, theology, ecology and philosophy.

 

Ecotopia, a Novel by Ernest Callenbach. Bantam New Age Books, 1977. Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point, describes this book in the following way: "Callenbach gives us a vivid, comprehensive, positive vision of an ecologically sustainable world. [It is] essential reading for all who care about the Earth's future."

 

Ecotopia: 40th Anniversary Epistle Edition by Ernest Callenbach. Bantam, Books, 2014. Twenty years have passed since northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the United States to create a new nation, Ecotopia. Now, this isolated, mysterious country welcomes its first American visitor, jaded reporter Will Weston, who explores a society structured around sustainability and social justice. Innovative and unsettling ideas unravel everything that Weston knows to be true about government, economics, and human nature and ultimately force him to choose between two competing views of civilization.

 

Since it was first published in 1975, Ecotopia has inspired and challenged readers throughout the world. This fortieth-anniversary edition includes Callenbach's final essay, ''An Epistle to the Ecotopians,'' written in the weeks before his death in 2012, and a new foreword by Callenbach's close friend and Heyday publisher, Malcolm Margolin.

 

Ecotopia Emerging by Ernest Callenbach. Banyan Tree Books, 1981. The prequel to Callenbach's classic Ecotopia dramatizes the rise and triumph of a powerful American movement to preserve the earth as a safe and sustainable environment.

Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and Her People edited by Hildur Jackson and Karen Svensson. Green Books, 2002. This collection of essays on ecovillage living has a distinctly international focus and covers everything from group process to building techniques, but all as part of a photographed journey through various ecovillages around the world.  There are testimonials, vibrant portraits of individuals and communities, and plenty to inspire anyone who’s thinking of ways to reinhabit the earth on a community level.

 

Envisioning Sustainability by Peter Berg. Subculture Books, 2009. In this book Planet Drum Foundation founder, Peter Berg, provides us with a collection of important essays that helped define the bioregional movement and established Berg as an icon in the environmental community. He is acknowledged as an originator of the use of the word “bioregion” to describe land areas in terms of their interdependent plant, animal and human life. Berg believed that the relationships between humans and the rest of nature point to the importance of supporting cultural diversity as a component of biodiversity. This collection, which spans three decades of Berg's life work, combines his candor, humor and vision that helped shape the sustainability revolution. From his home environment of San Francisco, to his work in Japan and Ecuador, Berg speaks with authority on the bioregional aspects of sustainability as cities around the world adopt and execute his Green City model. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Epicurian Simplicity by Stephanie Mills. Island Press, 2002.  This is a marvel of a book!  It’s mostly a memoir intertwined with thoughtful discussion on the ecological state of the world and particularly of a small Northern Michigan area, including deep reflection on how to live.  In the model of Thoreau, Mills tells of her own largely solitary life in the Michigan woods while also exploring the Greek philosopher Epicurus’ views on simplicity and pleasure. More than most ecological memoirs, this one grapples with the constant question of how to live in balance with place while writing of the seasons, vocation, travels, community, and our common fate.  As she writes,

 

"A life alert to simple pleasures, with perception cultivated and attuned to beauty, and a large capacity for friendship can serve us well come what may, be it Ecotopia, corporate fascism, or Armageddon. Whatever befalls, it behooves us to honor the moment by savings what there is: light and shadow, bitter and sweet, harsh and tender, fragrant and foul, lyric and discord."

 

At the same time, she also writes of our task, our work to change the world while also living fully in it.

 

Four Arguments For the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander. William Morrow, 1978.  This classic book, a radical critique of television, still holds strong ground and is worth taking a look at, especially in light of environmental education for children and adults.

 

Foxfire Books edited by Eliot Wigginton. Anchor Books, 1970s and beyond. This series of books, popular in the 70s, were collectively created by the editor and his Georgia community.  Each book is full of folk tales, instructions on growing and eating wild foods, stories and techniques for everything from midwifery to corn shucking, charts, drawings, instructions and more. Foxfire 2, for example, starts with a story of Maude Shope, an elder very attached to her mule, and then moves onto an essay on “Sourwood Honey,” an article on beekeeping, and then an essay on spring wild edible plants. These are marvelous guides not just for their information but for the model they give us for collecting and preserving local wisdom.

 

Futures by Design: The Practice of Ecological Planning edited by Doug Aberley. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series, 1994. In towns, urban neighborhoods, and rural communities across the continent, people are beginning to search for ways to make their home places truly sustainable. Futures by Design is both a primer and a reference for everyone interested in self-reliance and self-government, improved quality of life, wise use of technology, absolute social justice, and ecological health.

 

Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth.  Oxford University Press, 1979, and The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Planet. Norton, 1988, by James Lovelock. These classic philosophical, biological and ecological books unpack the Gaia Hypothesis, the realization of the atmosphere as a product and protector that shows us that the Earth is one organism. Lovelock’s first book focuses on the central evidence for the Gaia Hypothesis, and his more recent one looks at the ramifications of existance as one big organism, especially in a time of environmental crisis.

 

Gaviotas, A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman.  Chelsea Green Publishing, 1998. Chelsea Green’s 10th Anniversary Edition of Alan Weisman’s Gaviotas will be in stores this September. Gaviotas is a classic—one of the most elegant and hopeful environmental stories ever told. In the late 1960s, a young Colombian development worker named Paolo Lugari wondered if the nearly uninhabited, infertile land sixteen hours east of Bogota could be made livable. Lugari had no idea that four decades later his experiment would be one of the world’s most celebrated examples of sustainable living: a permanent village called Gaviotas. According to Gabriel Garcie Marquez, Paolo Lugari is “inventor of the World.”

 

Giving the Land A Voice, Mapping Our Home Places by Doug Aberley, Michael Dunn, and Briony Penn. LTA Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia, 1999. “GTLAV is the first book I’ve seen that’s taken the mystery out of mapping and given it the importance it deserves. I like the graphics too…nicely interspersed with illustrations; they make the text more interesting, not as daunting as other eco-texts with that much information.” “I’ll bet your book will have an influence beyond your imaginings.” From a review by Malcolm Wells, underground architect. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Going to Ground: Simple Life on a Georgia Pond by Amy Blackmarr. Penguin, 1997. This simple and clear collection of short essays and vignettes about learning a place well is refreshing and quietly illuminating. While it’s not the most startling or life-changing ecological memoir, its lyricism and deft focus make it worth reading and reflecting on in relation to other well-studied and well-loved places.

 

Green Business: Hope or Hoax? Toward An Authentic Strategy for Restoring the Earth edited by Christopher Plant and Judith Plant. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series,1991. This volume includes lively and well-written essays on a wide range of approaches to making and keeping the local economy. The offerings include Sandy Irvine’s “Beyond Green Consumerism,” Brian Tokar’s “The Greening of International Finances,” Barry Commoner’s “Environmental Democracy is the Planet’s Best Hope,” Kirkpatrick Sale’s “The Trouble with Earth Day,” Gar Smith’s “50 Things You Can Do to Save the Earth,” Alyssa Lovell’s “Community-Supported Agriculture,” Gene Logsdon’s “Amish Economics,” and David Morris’ “Free Cities At Once” plus many other essays. So much of what this "old" book discusses is as relevant as the newest thinking today, so clearly the collection was ahead of its time. The critical message it conveys is particularly helpful in articulating why environmentalism and green corporations aren’t enough.

 

Harbinger of Recovery, First Quarterly Report to Stakeholders by the Mattole Restoration Council, 2011.  From the Preface: “Some of the Mattole Restoration Council’s early publications can be read as a catalog of loss. Elements of Recovery published in 1989 documented the sources of erosion that were muddying the streams of the Mattole. A landmark 1988 map showed that less than a tenth of the Mattole’s old growth forests had survived the last forty years. And yet, as inhabitants of the watershed, we knew that the Mattole remained a precious place, with the potential to heal from these injuries. The creatures we encountered, from salmon and salamanders to schoolchildren, reminded us how important it was to foster that healing.  [Available from Planet Drum Foundation]

 

"Twenty-seven years after MRC was founded in the spreading shade of the Council Madrone near Ettersburg, we are pausing to take a long view of the watershed’s progress in rebounding from the injuries it suffered, to better understand the effectiveness of our efforts, and to share our experiences in the hope that they prove useful to the restoration movement beyond the Mattole."  [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism edited by Judith Plant. New Society Publishers, 1989. This superb anthology of eco-feminist essays—from Susan Griffin to Starhawk and beyond—is a wonderful introduction to ecofeminism. The critiques of the patriarchal paradigm and the call for a new vision inform all the intriguing essays of this collection.

 

Heart of the Land: Essays on Last Great Places edited by Joseph Barbato and Lisa Weinerman. Vintage Books, 1994. This moving collection of personal ecological essays features the work of Terry Tempest-Williams, Rick Bass, Bill McKibben, David James Duncan, Joel Achenback, Thomas McGuane, Gary Paul Nabhan, William Kittredge, James Welch, Ann Zwinger, Barbara Kingslover, Peter Matthiesson, Dorothy Allison, William Least-Heat Moon, and many others. Their focus is on specific places that are endangered, being lost or already lost, and the writing is exquisite.

 

Home: A Bioregional Reader edited by Van Andruss, Christopher Plant, Judith Plant, and Eleanor Wright. New Society Publishers, 1990. Introduction by Stephanie Mills. This excellent bioregional reader features articles by all the usual suspects: David Abram, Stephanie Mills, Peter Berg, David Haenke, Marnie Mueller, Doug Aberley, Starhawk along with photographs, seasonal charts (with discussion of how to create your own), and intriguing illustrations. It was one of the first bioregional collections and is still very helpful when trying to get a sense of bioregionalism and the bioregional movement.

 

How Nature Works: Regenerating Kinship with Planet Earth by Michael J. Cohen. Stillpoint Publishing with World Peace University and Center for Peace, United Nations, 1988.  This fairly unknown volume is simply one of the best guides for environmental education.  Part One: "Touch the Earth" includes exercises and discussions to help people familiarize themselves with their home environment. Part Two: "The Civilization of Nature" explores ways of seeing ourselves and our part in nature from other angles. The exercises are very innovative, and the discussion questions always provocative such as: “From your own life, find examples of misusing a physical map and having your internal map mislead you.”  Plus, this book has great charts, maps, illustrations and thinking throughout, making it a gem for anyone doing environmental education for any population. 

 

Imaging the Earth: Poetry and the Vision of Nature by John Elder. University of Georgia Press, 1985. Elder’s marvelous investigation into poetry as a gateway into environmental consciousness is considered a premier work of eco-criticism and eco-poetics. Elder looks at how poetry highlights ecological loss and ecological restoration in our land and in our souls, and he draws on both traditional and contemporary poets: from Basho to Wordsworth to Oliver plus many bioregional writers, to show “the wilderness at poetry’s edge.”

 

In Praise of Nature edited by Stephanie Mills. Island Press, 1990. This unusual annotated bibliography is divided into the sections of "Earth", "Air", "Fire", "Water", "Spirit," and includes annotations on a great many ecological sources plus small essays on important thinkers, activists, artists and scholars over the years (such as West Jackson, Rachel Carson, John Muir and others). It’s a treasure trove of great sources, its only limitation is that many good books have come out since this annotated bibliography was released. All in all, it is a fascinating read that can easily introduce you to many important sources in a short but illuminating time.

 

In Service of the Wild: Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land by Stephanie Mills. Beacon Press, 1995.  A combination travel guide to places where ecological restoration is particularly inspiring or effective, a memoir of learning more about restoring one’s home place, and a study of how, why, where and when ecological restoration works. Mills visits Aldo Leopold's Wisconsin shack, the salmon restoration project in the Northwest, a Utopian restoration community in southern India, and other locales to write—in eloquent, lingering and clear prose—of what she witnesses. She also explores in great depth the questions of what it means to be wild, virgin, undisturbed. This is an important book for anyone doing anything related to restoration.

 

Interpreting Bioregionalism: A Story from Many Voices by Doug Aberley, edited by Michael Vincent McGinnis. Routledge, 1999. An excellent history of the bioregional movement.

 

In the Absence of the Sacred: The Future of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations by Jerry Mander. Sierra Club Books, 1991. "Inspiring, sometimes gripping, Jerry Mander's elegant prose reminds us that re-attunement with nature's laws is not self-sacrificing attonement. It is the rediscovery of more soul-satisfying ways of living. Through Mander's eyes native peoples aren't quaint relics, they become sources of precisely the practical wisdom our species needs not only for survival but for renewal. Mander's insights help us gain confidence to declare liberation from the technological imperative." From a review by Frances Moore Lappě, author of Diet for a Small Planet.

 

Konza Prairie, A Tallgrass Natural History by O.J. Reichman. University Press of Kansas, 1987. Lavishly illustrated and written with brilliant detail, this book emphasizes the ecological principles that operate on Konza Prairie and on landscapes throughout our nation. It is a genealogy of the earth, its processes, and its living creatures. Reichman provides insight into the relationships in nature, showing how geology, climate, vegetation and animals relate to one another. He includes details on life histories of plants and animals that add interest to his wide-ranging discussion of a complex community of physical and living things.

 

Land Circle: Writings Collected from the Land by Linda Hasselstrom. Fulcrum Publishing, 1991. Hasselstrom’s close viewing of the land and sky, her way of capturing—with lucidity and concision—human, plant and animal behavior and her extraordinary way of writing of the ordinary (such as digging a ditch) make this book a treasure. It’s also useful in seeing many ways to write about our relationship to place, including through dialogue and poetry.

 

Life on a Little-Known Planet by Evans Howard Ensign. Delta Books, 1966. An wonderful book in all ways and everyone should read it!  Where else can you read “The Intellectual and Emotional World of the Cockroach” or “Parasitic Wasps, and How They Made Peyton Place Possible”?  The writing is superb, the insight is profound, and the details are mind-blowing. This stimulating account of insect life shows us our planet from a point-of-view often well hidden from us, and its ramifications tell us volumes about the more-than-human life around us. As Evans concludes, “The earth is a good place to live. We shall appreciate it more and more as we explore the moon and the planets. If man shall ever have another home, it is presently unimaginable. We had better learn to respect the little-known planet beneath our feet” after he shows us what—in its infinity—there is to respect.

 

Lifeplace: Bioregional Thought and Practice by Robert L. Thayer. University of California Press, 2003. A practical nuts and bolts handbook, drawing on the author’s extensive experience implementing bioregional principles in the Central Valley of California.

 

Living Here by the Frisco Bay Mussel Group. Planet Drum Books, 1976. From the introduction: "We who live around the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento River Estuary, all species ranging this watershed on the North Pacific Rim, feel a common resonance behind the quick beats of our separate lives; long pulse rhythms of the region pronouncing itself through Winter-Wet & Summer-Dry, Something-flowering anytime, Cool Fog, Tremor and Slide."  This is an excellent bioregional introduction to the San Francisco Bay Area that focuses on its flora, fauna, soil, geology, climate, its indigenous history, and many other aspects in a poetic and tangible fashion.  [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Living With the Land: Communities Restoring the Earth edited by Christine Meyer and Faith Moosang. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series, 1992. (A project of the British Columbia Environment and Development Working Group and IDERA.)  Whether one lives in the city or country, the first or third world, "development" too often means destruction—of land, of communities, and of cultures. The only kind of development that works for both people and place over time is development invented and implemented by the grassroots. This book is a lively collection of inspiring, first-hand accounts of communities from around the world that are taking charge of their destinies by taking back their land and waters and using them in ecologically and sustainable ways.

 

Meeting the Expectations of the Land: Essays on Sustainable Agriculture and Stewardship edited by Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry and Bruce Coleman. North Point Press, 1984. This anthology includes essays such as “The Importance of Traditional Farming Practices for a Sustainable Modern Agriculture” by Gene Logsdon; “Thinking Like a River” by Donald Worster; “Energy and Agriculture” by Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, and Marty Bender; “The Sustainable Garden” by Dana Jackson, co-founder of The Land Institute; “Sunshine Agriculture and Land Trusts” by Jennie Gerard and Sharon Johnson; “The Practice of Stewardship” by John Todd; and “Good, Wild, Sacred,” one of Gary Snyder’s finest essays. It is a clear-eyed, strongly researched and well-written collection that speaks to how we can live in concert with our life places and the role of those places’ in feeding us.

 

Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. Summit Books, 1986. This thoughtful, entertaining and important book looks at the forefront of ecology: microbes, the invisible life-forms that compose all of life. Telling the history of microbes and their composition, this book has vital ramifications for ecological problems of our present day, particularly when it comes to our changing climate. 

 

Mother Earth: Though the Eyes of Women Photographers and Writers edited by Judith Boice. Sierra Club Books, 1992. Divided into "Mineral", "Plant", "Animal and Human Realms", with a final section on “Oneness,” this imaginative combination of image and words features: Leslie Marmom Silko, Alice Walker, Annie Iberio, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Annie Dilliard, Brenda Tharp, Diane Ackerman, Ntozake Shange, Dolores LaChappelle and many other women photographers and writers. The book reads like a journey composed of fencepost moments, and particularly intriguing is the appendix, “The Passion to See: About the Photographers” in which each photographer speaks of her process and passion for the earth.

 

Mother of All: An Introduction to Bioregionalism by Kirkpatrick Sale. E. F. Schumacher Society pamphlet series, 1983. Available online at www.smallisbeautiful.org.

 

Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas by Donald Worster. Cambridge University Press, 1985. This fascinating history of ecological ideas and movements looks at the influences of Thoreau, Darwin, Lyell and many others. It’s particularly strong in making a scientific and historical argument for our ecological tradition of conservation and activism.

 

Noah’s Garden. North Point Press, 1995. Noah’s Children: Restoring the Ecology of Childhood. North Point Press, 2001. Planting Noah’s Garden: Further Adventures in Backyard Ecology. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997 by Sara Stein. Stein is astonishing as a writer and thinker. Her clarity, her insights, her understanding of the complex and her ability to explain it for the reader in a way that both informs and inspires—all of this is evident in her important work. She possesses one of the most acute understandings of how to grow both gardens and children and how to tend both, including the gardens and children within us.

 

Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series, 1996. Our Ecological Footprint cuts through the talk about sustainability and introduces a revolutionary new way to determine humanity's impact on the Earth. Equipped with useful charts and thought-provoking illustrations, this book converts the seemingly complex concepts of carrying capacity, sustainability, resource use, waste disposal and more into a graphic form that everyone can grasp and utilize.

 

Perfection of the Morning, by Sharon Butala. HarperPerennial, 1995. This powerful memoir chronicles what it took for Butala to make a life on the wide open prairies of Canada after years of urban living. But more than the story it tells, this memoir takes close-ups and wide-angled views of the land and sky in precise and profound ways. In doing so, Butala shows what she has learned about being human and how she learned it.

Permaculture: A Practice Guide for a Sustainable Future by Bill Mollison. Island Press, 1990.  Mollison’s book, often touted as the bible of permaculture, relays the philosophy and practice of growing our food in a whole-systems, sustainable manner. Permaculture combines much of what has been developed, unearthed or rediscovered about sustainable agriculture and organic farming as well as earth-friendly energy generation. As Mollison explains, “Permaculture as a design system contains nothing new. It arranges what was always there in a different way, so that it works to conserve energy or to generate more energy than it consumes. What is novel, and often overlooked, is that any system of total common-sense design for human communities is revolutionary!”

 

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dilliard. Harper and Row, 1974.  This book still sings in brilliant observation and daring perception to the luminosity and constant motion of the natural world. It’s a joy to read with writing always startling and surprising without ever becoming sentimental.

 

PrairyErth: An Epic History of the Tallgrass Country by William Least-Heat Moon. Mariner Books, 1999. This deep narrative and cognitive mapping of Chase County, Kansas—the heart of the Flint Hills and the tallgrass prairie—is an exquisite quilting together of portraits of individuals and places, history and geology, time and space. Least-Heat Moon spent six years researching what he called a “participatory history,” and his careful listening and detailed study shines through his excellent writing. Written on the tail end of his acclaim over Blue Highways, PrairyErth traces Least-Heat Moon’s connection (through his family) to the Flint Hills while also striving for a balanced view of what this land is and who lives there. This book is also a brilliant example of bioregional auto-ethnography.

 

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingslover. HarperPerennial, 2001. This bioregional novel celebrates the lushness of the earth and the gifts and challenges of the seasons through the lenses of three linked stories: that of a young widow, “Moth Love”; a solitary woman in the woods, “Predators”; and a stubborn old man. “Old Chestnuts.”  The sensory descriptions of everything from how a coyote moves to the smell of rain to the taste of wild berries alone make this book worth reading because in such descriptions, we can glimpse greater insight into the vibrancy of the world. The stories are compelling and important, touching on topics such as alternative agriculture, stewardship of woodland, protection of endangered species, the culturally diverse impacts of living on the land, procreation, the plight of the chestnut resurrection, the function or non-function of love, and what good are humans anyway. It’s a favorite novel for its poetry, vision, characters, and window into the life all around us.

 

Putting Power in its Place: Create Community Control! edited by Christopher Plant and Judith Plant. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series, 1992.  This volume gathers excellent essays on working together in community, including deep discussions of consensus, shadow governments, watershed stewardship alliances, working councils, urban communities, and even eco-constitutions. Some of the particularly exciting essays are John Papworth’s “The Best Government Comes in Small Packages,” Murray Bookchin’s “The Meaning of Confederalism,” Oren Lyons’ “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave: Iroquois Democracy,” and Robert Swann’s “The Need for Local Currencies.” There’s excellent discussion throughout this book on power dynamics in group process.

 

Recollected Essays 1965-1980 by Wendell Berry. North Point Press, 1981. While all of Berry’s essay collections are vital and informative, this collection brings together important investigations of wilderness and culture. Some of the key essays are “The Body and Earth,” in which Berry calls for embodied work and life; “The Unforeseen Wilderness,” which questions our cultural assumption of control over nature; and “The Making of a Marginal Farm,” on living close to the land, day by day. Berry is astonishingly clear and direct with an eye toward the poetic awareness of the land.

 

Reconnecting with Nature: Finding Wellness Through Restoring Your Bond with the Earth by Michael J. Cohen. Ecopress, 1997. Cohen’s talent for discussing complicated issues in innovative ways and then devising creative exercises and approaches is applied to health and healing here. This very embodied book advocates listening both to our bodies and the natural world, and writing new chapters in our health and life.

 

Reinhabiting a Separate Country: A Bioregional Anthology of Northern California edited by Peter Berg and Raymond F. Dasmann. Planet Drum Books, 1978. One of the first books on bioregionalism, it is important in its call to congress, its clear definition of bioregionalism and its potential worldwide. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. Random House, 1971. Alinksy’s theory and practice of political activism involves catalyzing communities to find the power within themselves to make and sustain change. He saw organizers as being largely facilitators of change (often invisible to people outside the organization) who help mentor leaders and develop consciousness.  With this no-ego, no-bullshit approach to activism, coupled with the comprehensive thinking that went into Alinsky’s protocols for poor, working and middle class organizing campaigns, this book is a classic on how to change the world, one group, one event, one issue at a time.

 

Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, Rapture of the Deep: Concerning Deep Ecology and Celebrating Life by Dolores LaChapelle. Kavakί Press, 1988. This book changes how we see the land and how we see each other. It is a very complete handbook on Deep Ecology.

 

Shell Game by Jerry Martien. Forward by Gary Snyder. Mercury House, 1996. A unique and revealing investigation into the nature of money and human exchange, intertwines two stories. One starts in Manhattan in 1627 with the transaction by which North America was “bought” by Europe. Martien shows how a gift relationship based on beads was replaced by monetary relations based on credit, and how ancient ways of bookkeeping, exemplified by the Iroquois wampum exchange, were replaced by a social contract based on scarcity and deficit.

 

Interspersed with his historical account, Martien tells a parallel story set in the present in which he attempts to negotiate a book advance, visit the wampum keeper at Onondaga, and unravel a personal tangle of love and habit in his life. Martien’s search becomes a journey of remembrance and acknowledgement and an apology and condolence for cultural and monetary misappropriation. It becomes a pilgrimage in search of restitution and recovery that many readers will want to join. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Silent Spring, Houghton Mifflin, 1962. The Sea Around Us, Oxford University Press, 1954. Under the Sea-Wind, Oxford University Press, 1952, by Rachel Carson. The one, the only, the first and the last in many ways when it comes to ecological activism through the written word, Rachel Carson remains a hero for anyone concerned about the effects of pesticides and other poisons on the environment. Her work resulted in the world’s ban on DDT and the eventual creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Silent Spring, according to Linda-Ruth Berger, “is a manifesto.” Her earlier books on the sea are also important sources in terms of inspiring awe and concern for the natural world. Carson’s questioning of who makes the decisions that destroy habitat and endanger many species (including humans) is chilling and still very much needed.

 

Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered by E. F. Schumacher. Harper and Row, 1973. This famous book is key to the global environmental movement, exploring and challenging economic theories that degrade the planet and its people, it proposes very workable small-scale economic systems that can help restore communities and life places.  The writing is lucid, comprehensive, visionary, relevant, and Schumacher also looks widely at global issues as well as local ones to make his case. 

 

Small Wonder by Barbara Kingslover. HarperPerennial, 2002. This superb collection of political, personal and ecological essays studies everything from genetic engineering to the war in Iraq to vegetable growing to American mythology, illuminating surprising and easily recognizable connections and insights. Kingslover, an excellent writer in many genres, draws on her background in botany and technical writing, gardening, jazz, motherhood, and being well-grounded to places in Appalachia and the Tucson desert.

 

Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace by Amory B. Lovins. Harper Colophon Books, 1979.  This oldie is still a goodie with lots of sound thinking and clear analysis of sustainable energy theory and practices by the guru of solar energy (along with his wife, Hunter Lovins).  Written in a clear, discerning manner with lots of strong, well-credited research and studies, Lovins makes many good arguments for pursuing sustainable energy sources.

 

Talking to the Moon: Wildlife Adventures on the Plains and Prairies of Osage Country by John Joseph Mathews. University of Oklahoma Press, 1945.  Mathews, an innovative writer and scientist, wrote this and several other essential books that view the earth through the lenses of the culture and rituals of the Osage. His descriptions of the land, his understanding of white and Osage cultures, and his careful and attentive observation make for refreshing clarity and meaning. This book mainly looks at the phases of the moon according to the Osage, which include the Light-of-Day-Returns moon, the Just-Doing-That moon, the Deer-Hiding Moon and even the Little-Flower-Killer moon. Through reading of these phases, we can come into an alternative—and much closer to the land—relationship with the seasons.

 

The Biosphere and the Bioregion: The Essential Writings of Peter Berg edited by Cheryll Glotfelty and Eve Quesnel. Routledge, 2015. As one of the originators of the concept of bioregionalism, Peter Berg (1937-2011) is a founding figure of contemporary environmental thought.  From books and essays to published interviews, this selection of writings represents Berg's bioregional vision and its global, local, urban and rural applications, making Berg's paradigm available as a guiding vision and practical "greenprint" for the twenty-first century. This valuable compilation lays the groundwork for future research by offering the first-ever comprehensive bibliography of Berg's publications and will be of interest to students and scholars in the interdisciplinary fields of environmental humanities, environment and sustainability studies, as well as political ecology, environmental sociology, and anthropology. [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler. Harper and Row, 1987. This critical book investigates spiritual development over the last six thousand years, looking at how patriarchal religious traditions took hold, and how these traditions separate us from the earth and from each other. There are ample ramifications in this work not just for spirituality but for education, ecology and day-to-day living.

 

The Desert Smells Like Rain by Gary Paul Nabhan. North Point Press, 1982. All of Nablan’s nature writing (usually in the form of memoir-esque essays) is superb and vivid with close attention to language and to his subject. An ethno-botanist by trade, Nabhan looks deeply at culture and agriculture.

 

The Dream of the Earth by Thomas Berry. Sierra Club Books, 1988. Berry’s pivotal book on becoming native to our place explores our place in the earth community, how to better use our creative energy toward a new story of our life here, and especially how we can draw on spiritual and religious traditions (particularly Christianity) along the way. One of the more intriguing angles here is Berry’s assertion that we’ve been autistic when it comes to relating to the earth. Much of this book also reads like a prose-bound poem:

 

"….Soon the late summer moon will give a light sheen to the landscape. Something of a dream experience. Perhaps on occasion we participate in the Original dream of the earth. Perhaps there are times when this primordial design Becomes visible, as in a palimpsest, when we remove the later imposition. The Dream of the earth. Where else can we go for the guidance needed for the task that is before us."

 

The Earth Is Enough by Harry Middleton. Pruett, 1996. Novel. The title says it all. Great book!

 

The Ecology of Hope: Communities Collaborate for Sustainability by Ted Bernard and Jora Young. New Society Publishers, 1997.  This delightful collection of ecological community portraits takes us to Monhegan Island, ME., Chattanooga, TN., Menominee, WI., the Sky Islands of the American Southwest, and to other locales. Each story is informative, inspiring and lucid in showing how communities can work together to reclaim and restore wild lands. What’s so helpful about this book is that it’s totally filled with examples of putting theories of restoration into everyday practice.

 

The End of Nature by Bill McKibben. Random House, 1989. This pivotal book looks at how destruction of the natural world is tied to our daily acts and consumption habits. Yet McKibben is optimistic about the return of nature through community initiative. He is leading the charge of that initiative, including walks across the Northeast to raise awareness. McKibben is also the founder of 350.org, the grassroots organization in the forefront of climate change action.

 

The Essential Whole Earth Catalogue edited by J. Baldwin. Doubleday, 1986. Few books are as fun as this oversized guide with all kinds of nuggets of information, charts, maps, reviews, instructions, dialogues and provocative essays and reviews. The focus on tools to make a decent life in balance with the natural world runs through all the quirky and profound entries. This is the kind of book best found in an obscure used bookstore or by other tilts of chance.

The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future by Thomas Berry. Bell Tower, 1999.  This gorgeous, wise and important reflection on the great work before us to create the future we envision is full of deep insight, far-reaching connections, clear-eyed vision, and hard won inspiration. As Berry concludes,

 

"We are now experiencing a moment of significance far beyond what any of us can imagine.  What can be said is that the foundations of a new historical period, the Ecozoic Era, have been established in every realm of human affairs. The mythic vision has been set into place. The distorted dream of an industrial technological paradise is being replaced by the more viable dream of a mutually enhancing human presence within an every-renewing organic-based Earth community. The dream drives the action. In the larger cultural context the dream becomes the myth that both guides and drives the action."

 

This book elaborates on that vast statement by looking at fields varied by economics, literature, mythology, culture, energy, spirituality, and then into all societal institutions that we need to transform with vision and action.

 

The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living by Fritjof Capra. Harper Collins, 2002. This visionary investigation of systematic understandings of life on many levels—written by the author of The Tao of Physics and drawing strongly on new physics—looks at human social structures from a bioregional and biological point of view. Capra particularly discusses how the global economic structure is on a collision course with the planet, and he does a good job of looking at power dynamics all around.

 

The Klamath Knot by David Rains Wallace. Sierra Club Books, 1984. Wallace describes the Klamath Mountains of the American Northwest with a mind open to all possibilities. From the Chicago Sun-Times review: "David Rains Wallace is the best sort of nature writer—one unafraid to link natural history and the imagination. Like his confrefres, Peter Matthiessen, John McPhee and Stephen Jay Gould, he asks large questions but knows the answers we find always will be too small..."

 

The Man Who Planted Trees But Grew Happiness by Jean Giono. Friends of Nature, 1967. This classic fable shows the effects of planting trees—excessively, whimsically and passionately. This book is also a good remedy for reading too much about ecological devastation since it’s a story of rebuilding after war and destruction. Perhaps this is best summed up by this conclusion to the book:

 

"On the sites of the ruins I had seen in 1913 now stand neat farms, cleanly plastered, testifying to a happy and comfortable life. The old streams, fed by the rains and snows that the forest conserves, are flowing again. The waters have been channeled. On each farm, in groves of maples, fountain pools overflow on carpets of fresh mint. Little by little, the villages have been rebuilt. People from the plains, where land is costly, have settled here, bringing youth, motion, the spirit of adventure. Along the roads you meet hearty men and          women, boys and girls who understand laughter and have recovered a taste for picnics."

 

The Ohlone Way, Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area by Malcolm Margolin, illustrations by Michael Harney. Heyday Books, 1978. Two hundred years ago herds of elk and antelope dotted the hills of the San Francisco-Monterey Bay area. Grizzly bears lumbered down to the creeks to fish for silver salmon and steelhead trout. From vast marshlands geese, ducks and other birds rose in thick clouds "with the sound like that of a hurricane." This land of "inexpressible fertility," as one early explorer described it, supported one of the densest Indian populations in all of North America. The Ohlone Way vividly recreates this lost world and the people who lived here such a short time ago.

 

The Politics of the Solar Age: Alternatives in Economics by Hazel Henderson. Knowledge Systems, 1988. This wild and effective solar energy activist’s manifesto brings together solar and alternative energy theory with activism savvy. The writing is lively and encourages us to develop collations to move toward positive change.

 

The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder. North Point Press, 1990. "Gary Snyder's deep hope—that some day we might all be Native Americans, at home in our Grand Place—is the only hope we have. This is an exquisite book, and a hard one. Read it—and then live it, as best you can." From a review by Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.

 

The Real Work: Interviews and Talks 1964-1979 by Gary Snyder, Introduction by William Scott McLean. A New Directions Book, 1980. This is one of the best collection of Gary Snyder writings and interviews, with such essays and interviews as “The Landscape of Consciousness,” and “On Earth Geography.”  While Snyder has been criticized for traveling the world to tell people to stay at home, his writing and his travels have planted bioregional ethics (not to mention Asian poetics) worldwide over the last 50 years.

 

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich. Penguin, 1985. This Western view, from Wyoming horizons, of Ehrlich’s relationship to the land in the aftermath of a broken heart shines with truth. Her perceptions of places and people enlarge how we might see the world.

 

The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World by David Abram. Pantheon Books, 1996.  Winner of the Lannan Award for non-fiction, this pivotal and paradigm-shifting book is a necessary read for anyone concerned with ecology.  Abram’s interdisciplinary work draws from philosophy (including a challenging romp through ecological philosophy), ecology, the Oral Tradition, Indigenous studies, language and linguistics, literature, and human development. His premise is that our written language and our cultural disposition have distanced us from an engaged and reciprocal relationship with the living earth. Abram, a magician and philosopher in addition to a writer, is a long-time bioregionalist and he developed the MAGIC committee work that so infused many continental congresses with a greater sense of the more-than-human world in which we dwell. This book is both extremely poetic and extremely scholarly, making it a dense, rich and long read. The titles alone are provocative: “The Ecology of Magic”, “Philosophy on the Way to Ecology”, “The Flesh of Language”, “Animism and the Alphabet”, “In the Landscape of Language”, “Time, Space, and the Eclipse of the Earth”, and “The Forgetting and Remembering of the Air.”  The book can help us broaden our ability to perceive the world on a sensory and intellectual level that cannot help to ripple out into everything from our gardening to our writing to our meeting facilitation. Most of all, it calls on us to re-learn how to trust our senses.  “Only as we come close to our senses, and begin to trust, once again, the nuanced intelligence of our sensing bodies, do we begin to notice and respond to the subtle logos of the land.”

 

The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature by William R. Jordan, III. University of California Press, 2003. This essential book is pivotal in understanding the ramifications and possibilities available to us through a new understanding of restoration. As Stephanie Mills writes of Jordan’s thinking, “An argument so brilliant that it’s a work of art, The Sunflower Forest envisions evolution, ecosystems, and human action as integral, dynamic, and harmonious.” Jordan, the director of the New Academy for Nature and Culture, has extensive experience in restoration and the theory behind the practice, but it’s his understanding of community and communion that bring his experience and practice to new levels.

 

The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry. Avon, 1977. “This book is about culture in the deep, ripe sense: A nurturing habitat,” writes Gary Snyder, and he couldn’t be more right. This is an astonishing collection of essays, focused primarily on how the ecological crisis in agriculture is a cultural crisis. Along with sounding the alarm, Berry is very inspiring, writing that “….the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”

 

The Way: An Ecological World-View by Edward Goldsmith. Shambala, 1993.  The complete account. Not about bioregionalism as such, but Goldsmith argues that some kind of return to village life and local control is implied in a thought-out ecological point of view.

 

The Way We Lived: California Indian Reminiscenses, Stories and Songs by Malcolm Margolin. Heyday Books, 1981. "A beautiful book written and illustrated with a genuine sympathy for the extraordinary texture of Indian life in the Bay Area 200 years ago. A serious and compelling recreation."  From a review by Richard Raznikov, Pacific Sun.

 

The Wild Within: Adventures in Nature and Animal Teachings by Paul Rezendes. Berkeley Books, 1998. Combining stories with reflections and insights, Rezendes writes of animals but even more, the places between seeing and meeting. His wanderings through woods and swamplands, learning to wake up to this other reality, brims with awareness and immediacy.

 

The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir by Linda Hogan. Norton, 2001. This quilted (small vignettes that fit together) memoir tells the story of Hogan and her people, looking at the harshness of life on the reservation as well as individual losses and challenges, tribal histories, generational stories, and much more. Her deft and poetic melding of the personal, political, social, tribal and western infuse this book with a kind of integrity and wisdom only born of deep experience, reflection and art. She writes, “We are, in part, the body of earth. It might be that this place of ours is alive and radiant with the dreams of human kind as well as the power of, the motion of, air on a feathered wing as the eagles remembered flights when the wind blew.” [Also see Hogan’s superb book, Dwelling.]

 

The World and the Wild: Expanding Wilderness Conservation Beyond Its American Roots edited by David Rothenberg and Marta Ulvaeus. University of Arizona Press, 2002. This international anthology looks at traditions of conservation and ecological restoration around the world in essays such as “In the Dust of Kilimanjaro”, “Recycled Rain Forest Myths”, “They Trampled on Our Taboos” and “The Unpaintable West.” The strong claim flowing through each essay is that our American view of wilderness is a privileged one, and that indigenous peoples must be entrusted to steward their own resources.

 

Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings by John Seed, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming and Arne Naess. New Society Publishers, 1988. One of the most important approaches to expanding environmental awareness through workshops and discussions related to Thinking Like a Mountain. This book encapsulates the workshops and is a good introduction to their premises, but the workshops themselves create amazing experiences that take participants through their own relationships to land and sky, and helps participants transform the despair and numbness that comes of witnessing ecological devastation into insight, optimism, and positive action.

 

Totem Salmon: Life Lessons from Another Species by Freeman House. Beacon Press, 1999. This wonderful book describes how a Northcoast California community of loggers, hippies, environmentalists and bureaucrats came together to work for the preservation of one of the last wild salmon rivers. An important book on ecological restoration, a key component of bioregionalism.  [Available from Planet Drum Foundation.]

 

Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to See Animal Signs by Paul Rezendes. Collins, 1999. While this book is a wonderful resource on how to track various North American mammals, what really makes it glow is Rezendes’s superb discussion of living in concert with the wild. His ways of honoring stillness and silence to find the more-than-human world are informational and inspiring.

 

Turtle Island by Gary Snyder. A New Directions Book, 1974. Gary Snyder writes in his introductory notes that Turtle Island is "the old/new name for the continent based on many creation myths of the people who have been here for millennia, and reapplied by some of them to 'North America' in recent years." The nearly five dozen poems in this book range from lucid, lyrical, almost mystical to the mytho-biotic. All share a common vision: a rediscovery of this land and the ways by which we might become natives of the place, ceasing to think and act (after all these centuries) as newcomers and invaders. Included in the book is the full text of the Four Changes, Snyder's seminal, ever more relevant, manifesto for environmental awareness.

 

Turtle Talk: Voices for a Sustainable Future by Christopher Plant and Judith Plant. New Society Publishers, New Catalyst Bioregional Series,1990. This anthology features essays by Christopher Plant, Gary Snyder, Peter Berg, Starhawk, George Woodcock, Susan Griffin, Dave Foreman, John Seed, Marie Wilson, George Watts, Caroline Estes, Freeman House, Susan Meeker-Lowry and Murray Bookchin—the usual gang of bioregionally-identified writers at the time. The topics range from consensus to deep ecology to Native people projects with non-natives to economics to spirituality. It’s a lovely primer to bioregionalism, illustrating through its examples what Kirkpatrick Sale writes in the introduction: “And it is the great lesson of the turtle, of course, that you can get ahead only when you stick your neck out.”

 

Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1854; 1942; 1960.  This is one of the earliest environmental memoirs and ecological guides, focusing on a small pond and a big vision. While Thoreau calls us to simplify our lives, his complex analysis of the industrial society growing around him speaks to many of the same issues we face today. As he writes, “The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men, and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity.”

 

Watersheds of the Mind by Giuseppe Moretti. Coyote Books, 2005. Giuseppe Moretti is the founder of the Italian Bioregional Network in Italy's Po River Valley, editor and publisher of Lato Salvetico (Wild Side) a bioregional magazine, and an organic farming advocate. In his words: "The forms and outlines of the watersheds define places and relations, provide vital liquids for microrganisms and plants, impart fertility to the soil, habitat for fish and wildlife, create beautiful landscapes, and carry richness to the sea. And here the cycle starts again...renewing itself...taking form."  This is an exquisite little book written by a true bioregionalist who is deeply connected with the land he inhabits.

 

We All Live Downstream: A Guide to Waste Treatment That Stops Water Pollution by Pat Costner with Holly Gettings and Glenna Booth. National Water Center, 1986. This is an excellent collection of writings about the effects of and possibilities for reforming our current disposal system for waste water. With examples of the political campaign against a water sewage plant for Eureka Springs and lots of information on low-flush, no-flush, and composting toilet options. It’s considered by many to be the best source of information on waste water disposal.

 

Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising by Starhawk. New Society Publishers, 2002. This field guide to the anti-globalism movement is valuable in learning more about non-violence in action, the importance of continually working to diminish the reach of corporate control in local communities, and how to be an effective activist in concert in other activists.  While it’s surely a way to sing to the choir, choirs do need renewed and inspired singing from time to time. Starhawk's attention to group process is particularly valuable and insightful.

 

Whatever Happened to Ecology? by Stephanie Mills. Sierra Club Books, 1989. This political and social change memoir is both a story of living, writing and working with an ecological focus, and a critique of societal diminishment of the ecological movement. Written in 1988, this book obviously came out of a time when global warming, the end of peak oil, and the disappearance of honey bees weren’t common knowledge, yet Mills clearly outlines the devastation already unfolding and the need to reignite our vigilance. The book is also a love story about place and community, and returning to one’s roots.

 

Where We Live: A Citizen’s Guide to Conducting a Community Environmental Inventory by Donald F. Harker and Elizabeth Ungar Natter. Island Press, 1995. This how-to guide is a gem for any community group ready to do battle with planning commissions, highway departments, or local governments. Many of the tools are readily available to help people create not just environmental inventories but also the basis for citizen-group shadow Environmental Impact Statements (to make sure any official EIS’s are done accurately). This guide also helps readers name what’s right around them, a necessary step toward preservation.

 

Wild Culture: Ecology and Imagination edited by Whitney Smith and Christopher Lowry. Somerville House, USA, 1992. This now-defunct journal/still-available book is a superb collection of explorations on what it means to be wild and to celebrate the wild in our culture.  This volume includes essays such as David Cayley’s “New Ideas in Ecology and Economics”, B.P. Nichol’s “R-Toys-Us?”, Marnie Jackson’s “Hormones or History?”, “Paul Shephard’s “Nature and Madness”, plus pieces on paleo-ecology, natural selection, the goddess, wild foods, Walden Pond, gender studies, recycling, and fear of knowing. In the book, there is music, photographs, illustrations and many surprises.

 

Wild Douglas County by Ken Lassman. Mammoth Publications, 2007. This deep map and seasonal approach to knowing and living well in one place has three important sections: One containing essays on living bioregionally in place, which would apply to people well beyond the one Kansas county the book focuses on; another of seasonal charts, which serve as excellent models for charting cycles of animal and plant life in any place (and each circular chart is arranged with the months around the perimeter, showing what plants are blooming, or amphibians hatching, or birds passing through at any time in the year); and the final one focuses on what to look for in the natural world on a day-to-day basis. Lassman created this volume after eight years of charting the seasonal activity. While the book has a very local focus, all of it would be particularly helpful as a tool to use in bioregions and watersheds around the world. This tool is all the more valuable as a way to map how global warming is affecting life places. The writing is beautiful, clear and pertinent, such as, “One of the most potent connections we have with the land, the air and the life around us is through water. Every time you take a drink, you are recharging your cells with water that has been in intimate contact with other forms of life, been in the soil, a thunderstorm, a river, a snowflake, a lake, or an ocean.”

 

Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin. Harper and Row, 1978.  A landmark book in so many ways. Its structure, pastiching fairy tale, personal experience, scholarly analysis and deep reflection, challenges traditional patriarchal ways of presenting information. The book is also divided into two sections, very much in line with the Old Testament and New Testament of the bible, but obviously with a very different intention.  Griffin also uses mythology and story to show how the same forces that divide women from their own power also divide humans from the land. As Judith Plant writes, “The book is designed to stir this roaring as it traces Western civilization’s history, showing how women and nature have been regarded by the patriarchy—as existing for the use of and abuse by the self-interested.”

 

 

125 books total

 

 

Last updated: 14 Apr 2015