Our Blog | October 2008

Plan C conference - Quiet Blog Ahead

by: Heather on 10/29/2008
Posted in: Author Events

We're off first thing in the morning to attend the Fifth U.S. Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions.Plan C: Individual and Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change is being held from October 31st - November 2 at Oakland University in Rochester MI. The conference features many New Society authors, including John …

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Sharon Astyk Responds to the New York Times

by: Heather on 10/28/2008
Posted in: Peak Oil

Last weekend Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance was featured in a New York Times article that treated her desire to reduce her family's carbon footprint as pathological, even coining the term "carborexic" to imply that her commitment to the environment is unhealthy to the point of being a mental illness. Those who know Sharon, are familiar with her work, or have read her book will recognize this for the completely ridiculous and unfounded accusation that it is. The best response is in Sharon's own words:

Just for one moment, I'm going to pretend that instead of a silly article diagnosing a pretend disease in the New York Times, I was given a chance to speak on the Op Ed Pages of the Times, that this is my one shot at the huge audience that the Sunday Times has. Ignoring, for a moment, how unlikely that is, here's what I would have said.

Last weekend my family and I appeared in the New York Times as victims (or perhaps purveyors) of a new mental illness, "carborexia." Apparently this is the pathological inability to produce sufficicient carbon, an environmental mania so extreme that it transforms ordinary lives into obsessive madness.

The article began with the fact that my son Simon is deprived of the great American pasttime because it is a half-hour drive to a league that doesn't have games on the Jewish Sabbath (poor kid, he has to play catch with his parents and pick up games with his friends and brothers - in fact, he and one of his friends actually broke one of our front windows yesterday with a particularly nice hit). The language of the article included the term "huddle together for warmth" to describe the fact that my young kids sleep together in both warm and cold weather. All of this operated to implicitly imply that I'm abusing my kids in my pursuit of a lower energy life. And since even implied accusations of child abuse and mental illness are a potent weapon in this society, I wouldn't be shocked if you did think I was crazy and a bad Mom.

My first inclination was to fire back with the accusation that instead, most Americans may be suffering from a pathology called "carbulimia" in which they gorge themselves on energy - twice as much as Europeans, who often have a similar or higher standard of living and level of happiness - and then effectively vomit up the excess, deriving no benefit and often actual harm to their health and hope for the future. But this doesn't quite get at the issue either - it just continues the Times's trivializing of real eating disorders and their sufferers, and adds another dumb and uneuphonious faux-disease to the cultural lexicon. Definitely not what is most needed. Moreover, most of us don't take in huge quantities of energy for its own sake, we use it because that's how our society is structured, and how we've been taught to meet our needs. We use most of our energy because we're not sure how to do anything else.

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Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive

by: Heather on 10/17/2008
Posted in: New Books

Dr. Marilyn Hamilton's Integral City is just off press!

In a recent interview with the magazine Integral Leadership Review, Marilyn describes one of the many reasons why she wrote the book - to help us understand cities as an integral whole rather than just a sum of their separate parts.

We are so embedded in the city that the city is us, we cannot …

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Blog Action Day 2008 - Take Action on Poverty!

by: Heather on 10/15/2008
Posted in: Activism

This year Blog Action Day is taking aim at poverty. Last year's Blog Action Day focused on the environment and nearly 16,000 blogs participated.

To get you thinking about poverty and the disproportionate allocation of wealth on a global level, here's a Youtube video of a spoken word performance by poet Rodney Paradox, called "The Matrix". It's a …

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Reader Response

by: Heather on 10/14/2008
Posted in: Events

Last week we received this e-mail from Kathryn from Indianapolis, and since it made us feel all warm and fuzzy, we asked her permission to share it on the blog. Thanks Kathryn!

My husband and I share a love of books. New and used, we have quite a library.

In the past several months I have had occasion to read 4 books published by New Society and …

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