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Agriculture & Ecology
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NEW! The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm:
The D Acres Model for Creating and Managing an Ecologically Designed Educational Center
by Josh Trought

2015, 416pp., $40

With practical examples of alternative building, renewable energy, holistic forestry, no-till gardening, hospitality management, community outreach, and more.

For almost twenty years, D Acres of New Hampshire has challenged and expanded the common definition of a farm. As an educational center that researches, applies, and teaches skills of sustainable living and small-scale organic farming, D Acres serves more than just a single function to its community. By turns it is a hostel for travelers to northern New England, a training center for everything from metal- and woodworking to cob building and seasonal cooking, a gathering place for music, poetry, joke-telling, and potluck meals, and much more.

From working with oxen to working with a board of directors, no other book contains such a wealth of innovative ideas and ways to make your farm or homestead not only more sustainable, but more inclusive of, and beneficial to, the larger community. Readers will find information on such subjects as:

 

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Working with pigs to transform forested landscapes into arable land;
Designing and building unique, multifunctional farm and community spaces using various techniques and materials;
Creating and perpetuating diverse revenue streams to keep your farm organization solvent and resilient;
Receiving maximum benefits and yields for the farm without denigrating resources or the regional ecology;
Implementing a fair and effective governance structure;
Constructing everything from solar dehydrators and cookers to treehouses and ponds; and,
Connecting and partnering with the larger community beyond the farm.

Emphasizing collaboration, cooperation, and mutualism, this book promises to inspire a new generation of growers, builders, educators, artists, and dreamers who are seeking new and practical ways to address today’s problems on a community scale

The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors' Toolkit
by Dmitry Orlov
2013, 288pp, $20

In the face of political impotence, looming resource depletion, and catastrophic climate change, many of us have become reconciled to an uncertain future. However, popular perception of how this future might actually unfold varies wildly from "a severe and prolonged recession," to James Howard Kunstler's "long emergency," to the complete breakdown of civilization. In The Five Stages of Collapse, Dmitry Orlov posits a taxonomy of collapse, offering a surprisingly optimistic perspective on surviving the sweeping changes of the day with health and sanity intact.

Arguing that it is during periods of disruption and extreme uncertainty that broad cultural change becomes possible, Orlov steers the reader through the challenges of financial, commercial, and political collapse. He suggests that if the first three stages are met with the appropriate responses, further breakdown may be arrested before the extremes of social and cultural collapse are reached.

Drawing on a detailed examination of post-collapse societies, including the Somali people of Africa, the Pashtuns of Afghanistan, the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe, and even the Russian mafia, The Five Stages of Collapse describes successful adaptations in areas such as finance, self-governance, and social and cultural organization. These fascinating case studies provide a unique perspective on the characteristics that determine highly resilient communities. Shot through with Orlov's trademark dark humor, this is an invaluable toolkit for creating workable post-collapse solutions.

 

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A Nation of Farmers:
Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil
By Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton

368pp, 2009, $20
(Read Review - PDF)

Once we could fill our grocery carts with cheap and plentiful food, but not anymore. Cheap food has gone the way of cheap oil. Climate change is already reducing crop yields worldwide. The cost of flying in food from far away and shipping it across the country in refrigerated trucks is rapidly becoming unviable. Cars and cows increasingly devour grain harvests, sending prices skyrocketing. More Americans than ever before require food stamps and food pantries just to get by, and a worldwide food crisis is unfolding, overseas and in our kitchens.

We can keep hunger from stalking our families, but doing so will require a fundamental shift in our approach to field and table. A Nation of Farmers examines the limits and dangers of the globalized food system and how returning to basics is our best hope.

 

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The book argues that we need to make self-provisioning, once the most ordinary of human activities, central to our lives. The results will be better food, better health, better security and freedom from corporations that don't have our interests at heart.

Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change
by David Holmgren
144pp, 2009, $12.00
(Read Review - PDF)

In Future Scenarios, permaculture co-originator and leading sustainability innovator David Holmgren outlines four scenarios that bring to life the likely cultural, political, agricultural, and economic implications of peak oil and climate change, and the generations-long era of “energy descent” that faces us.

“Scenario planning,” Holmgren explains, “allows us to use stories about the future as a reference point for imagining how particular strategies and structures might thrive, fail, or be transformed.”

Future Scenarios depicts four very different futures. Each is a permutation of mild or destructive climate change, combined with either slow or severe energy declines. Probable futures, explains Holmgren, range from the relatively benign Green Tech scenario to the near catastrophic Lifeboats scenario.

As Adam Grubb, founder of the influential Energy Bulletin Web site, says, “These aren’t two-dimensional nightmarish scenarios designed to scare people into environmental action.

 

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They are compellingly fleshed-out visions of quite plausible alternative futures, which delve into energy, politics, agriculture, social, and even spiritual trends. What they do help make clear are the best strategies for preparing for and adapting to these possible futures.” Future Scenarios provides brilliant and balanced consideration of the world’s options and will prove to be one of the most important books of the year.

Toolbox for Sustainable City Living:
A do-it-Ourselves Guide

by Scott Kellogg & Stacy Pettigrew, illustrated by Juan Martinez
242pp, 2008, $16.00

The tools you need to create self-sufficient, ecologically sustainable cities

“A surprisingly effective model for connecting people with dreams to the resources they need.” —Austin Chronicle

With more than half the world’s population now residing—and struggling to survive—in cities, we can no longer afford to think of sustainability as something that applies only to forests and fields. We need sustainable living right where so many of us are: in urban neighborhoods. But how do we do it?

 

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That’s where Toolbox for Sustainable City Living comes in. In 2000 the dynamic Rhizome Collective transformed an abandoned warehouse in Austin, Texas, into a sustainability training center. Here, with their first book, Scott and Stacy, two of Rhizome’s founders, provide city dwellers—those who have never foraged or gardened along with those who dumpster-dive and belong to CSAs—with step-by- step instructions for producing our own food, collecting water, managing waste, reclaiming land, and generating energy.

With vibrant illustrations created by Juan Martinez of the Beehive Collective and descriptive text based on years of experimentation, Stacy and Scott explain how to build and grow with cheap, salvaged, and recycled materials. More than a how-to manual, Toolbox is packed with accessible and relevant tools to help move our communities from envisioning a sustainable future toward living it.

Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty: A Guidebook on Peak Oil and Global Warming for Local Governments
by Daniel Lerch2007, 113pp, $19 SALE!

Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty is a guidebook on peak oil and global warming for people who work with and for local governments in the United States and Canada. It provides a sober look at how these phenomena are quickly creating new uncertainties and vulnerabilities for cities of all sizes, and explains what local decision-makers can do to address these challenges.

Post Carbon Cities fills an important gap in the resources currently available to local government decision-makers on planning for the changing global energy and climate context of the 21st century.

"How will we cope with a future of energy scarcity? As a policy maker I look to other communities for inspiration and ideas, but there's been a lack of information on what local governments are doing to adapt to Peak Oil. Post Carbon Cities fills this gap: herein lies the roadmap plotted by the cities that are leading the way. Enthusiastically recommended!" Dave Rollo, City Council President, Blooomington, Indiana

 

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"Post Carbon Cities is an exceptionally clear and comprehensive call-to-action to those who actually work in the trenches of city governance. We don't have any more time to waste getting ready for an energy-scarcer future, and for those who remain dazed and confused, this book is an excellent place to start." --James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and The Geography of Nowhere

 

 

 

Ecovillages: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Communities
by Jan Martin Bang 2005, 288 pages, $25

Explores the background & the history of the Ecovillage movement, & provides a comprehensive manual for planning, establishing, & maintaining a sustainable community in both urban & rural environments. Includes discussions on design, conflict management, food production, energy, economics, & more.

 

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Creating a Life Together:
Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities

by Diana Leafe Christian
previously editor of Communities Magazine
foreword by Patch Adams.
2003 New Society Publishers, 272 pp. $28.

Creating a Life Together is an overview of the process of forming new ecovillages and intentional communities, gleaned from founders of dozens of successful communities in North America formed since the early '90s. This is what they did, and what you can do, to create your community dream.

It attempts to distill their hard experience into solid advice on getting started as a group, creating vision documents, decision-making and governance, agreements and policies, buying and financing land, communication and process, and selecting people to join you. It's what works, what doesn't work, and how not to reinvent the wheel. This information is not only for people forming new communities - whether or not you already own your land. It can also be valuable for those of you thinking about joining community one day - since you, too, will need to know what works. And it's also for those of you already living in community, since you can only benefit from knowing what others have done in similar circumstances.

 

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"Wow! The newest, most comprehensive bible for builders of intentional communities. Covers every aspect with vital information and hundreds of examples of how successful communities faced the challenges and created their shared lives out of their visions. The cautionary tales of sadder experiences and how communities fail, will help in avoiding the pitfalls. Not since I wrote the Foreword to Ingrid Komar's Living the Dream (1983), which documented the Twin Oaks community, have I seen a more useful and inspiring book." --Hazel Henderson, author, Creating Alternative Futures, and Politics of the Solar Age.

"A great deal of research and trial-and-error has been assembled here, and every potential ecovillager should read it. This book will be an essential guide and msanual for the many Permaculture graduates who live in communities or design for them." --Bill Mollison, co-originator of the Permaculture concept, author of The Permaculture Designers Manual, Ferment and Human Nutrition.

"A really valuable resource for anyone thinking about intentional community. I wish I had it years ago." -- Starhawk, author of Webs of Power, The Spiral Dance, and The Fifth Sacred Thing -- and committed communitarian.

 

 

Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender
by Thomas H. Greco, Jr.,
2001, 295pp., $25

This is an eye-popping , fundamental look at money, both the "legal tender" and the innovative forms that have been developed to promote local economies in communities around the nation and the world. Money explains the mysteries mad realities of currency, interest, barter, and much more in clear and accessible prose, revealing the alarming fragility of our existing financial system. More than simply a radical critique, it is also a practical and inspirational how-to manual for creating a vibrant and effective community currency system.

 

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Heat by George Monbiot


Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning
by George Monbiot, 2003, 278pp., $22 Hardcover

Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning marks an important moment in our civilization's thinking about global warming. The question is no longer Is climate change actually happening? but What do we do about it? George Monbiot offers an ambitious and far-reaching program to cut our carbon dioxide emissions to the point where the environmental scales start tipping back-away from catastrophe.

Though writing with a "spirit of optimism," Monbiot does not pretend it will be easy. The only way to avoid further devastation, he argues, is a 90% cut in CO2 emissions in the rich nations of the world by 2030. In other words, our response will have to be immediate, and it will have to be decisive.

In every case he supports his proposals with a rigorous investigation into what works, what doesn't, how much it costs, and what the problems might be. He wages war on bad ideas as energetically as he promotes good ones. And he is not afraid to attack anyone-friend or foe-whose claims are false or whose figures have been fudged.

After all, there is no time to waste. As Monbiot has said himself, "we are the last generation that can make this happen, and this is the last possible moment at which we can make it happen."

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