GATHERING THE THREADS OF SOCIAL CHANGE - Nelson welcomes Judith Plant on October 8 at the Civic Theatre

by: Sara on 09/22/2014

All of us here at New Society are really excited about this event, for obvious reason. New Society Publisher's co-founder and publisher Judith Plant has been invited by Jon Steinman, co-creator of Deconstructing Dinner to speak at the Civic Centre in Nelson BC on the 30-year history of New Society Publishers. Judith has never been one for tooting her own horn and has always felt that if our work initiates change, that is more important than credit and accolades. This mentality is one of the characteristics that make her a great leader and mentor. But in this instance, we are laying on the horn on her and Chris Plant's behalf. The staff at New Society feel privileged to be a part of a company that not only walks the talk, but leads the way.

On October 8, Nelson will welcome British Columbia publishing pioneer, Judith Plant – the co-founder and publisher of New Society Publishers (NSP). Chances are, if your personal or professional interests revolve around food, gardening or permaculture, natural building & alternative energy, parenting, education & community building, or environmental & sustainability issues, you probably already have an NSP book on your bookshelf.

Presented by the Kootenay Co-op, Otter Books and Deconstructing Dinner, this will be a very special and rare opportunity to hear from a leader of our time who has been instrumental in empowering people and communities around the world to be their own leaders in building more ecologically sustainable and equitable societies. NSPs mission really has been to publish books that can change the world.

This Nelson-only event will host Plant as she shares a slideshow and presentation at the Civic Theatre alongside an NSP book sale organized by Otter Books. This type of event will be a first for Plant.


NSP has been publishing books for over 30 years and has operated as a “solutions-oriented publisher focused on providing people with the tools needed for a world of change”. They help us “know the talk, and walk the talk”. NSP has published the likes of Joanna Macy, Starhawk, John Taylor Gatto, Richard Heinberg, Michael Ruppert, Steve Solomon, David Holmgren, and John Ikerd among others.

 While NSP books are staples on Kootenay bookshelves, there are many recent examples of how their books have also supported or featured Kootenay initiatives. The now under-construction 24-unit Nelson Cohousing project at Six- Mile has been using the NSP-published book Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities (2011) as their project’s go-to manual and have employed authors Charles Durrett & Kathryn McCamant as architects and consultants. This past spring, the region was host to author Jean-Martin Fortier who offered workshops based on his recent NSP book – The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-scale Organic Farming(2014). Dozens of copies are now in the hands of local farmers. And last fall, NSP released Uprisings: A Hands-On Guide to the Community Grain Revolution (2013) – a book which features and was inspired by the Kootenay Grain CSA and Kootenay Co-op Radio’s former Deconstructing Dinner radio show.

This event is unique says coordinator Jon Steinman; “Our culture is pretty well-practiced at hosting and celebrating authors, but it’s not often we celebrate the publisher who makes the author’s ideas available to all of us.”

Steinman came up with the idea for the October 8 event earlier this year when NSP hosted a Gabriola Island screening of Steinman’s new Deconstructing Dinner television and web series. “When I was on Gabriola and had the chance to meet Judith Plant, I realized just how geographically isolated NSP is from the communities and people their work has touched globally,” describes Steinman. “I decided then that NSP was its own story worth celebrating and where better to do that than in the Nelson area where I would anticipate exists the highest per capita presence of NSP books in Canada.”

The History of New Society Publishers

In the US, an NSP office in Philadelphia first emerged from the Movement for a New Society which offered Americans nonviolent, civil disobedience training to oppose the Vietnam war. From this work grew the need for a publishing house, and NSP was created in the late 1970s with a mandate to publish books for nonviolent social change. The Canadian office had its origins in British Columbia's food co-op movement of the early 1970s and the bioregionalism movement of the 1980s. Known as The Catalyst Education Society, it began life in an off-grid homestead in the mountains near Lillooet. The fax machine was powered by microhydro, and more often than not, typesetting of The New Catalyst magazine was done by candlelight.

The US and Canadian organizations came together in 1990. For five years, the two offices operated as independent non-profits governed by a mutual aid agreement. Later, in 1996, the Canadian office relocated to Gabriola Island and through a friendly buy-out, took over continent-wide operations and the complete list of books. NSP was aided by Joel Solomon and Carol Newell of the Vancouver-based Renewal Partners, whose investment in the company made this possible. In 2008, NSP was acquired by Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group (D&M), one of Canada’s largest independent book publishers. For four years, NSP operated as a semi-autonomous entity but in late 2012, D&M filed for bankruptcy and the future of NSP remained uncertain. Thankfully, NSP was reacquired in 2013 by Carol Newell, and Judith and Chris Plant and continues publishing many incredible titles by emerging and established authors.

This event is expected to sell out and tickets are available on-line at

Many thanks to the local businesses and organizations who have made this event possible: The Adventure Hotel, Au Soleil Levant, Backwoods Solar, Columbia Basin Trust, Cover Architectural Collaborative, Ellenwood Homes, Gaia Rising, Hall Printing, Kootenay Carshare Co-op, Kootenay Co-op Radio, Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine, Mint Literary Agency, Mountain Baby, Nelson Cohousing, Nelson Commons, Nelson & District Credit Union, Nelson Hydro EcoSave, Nelson Public Library, The Queen Bee Project, Self-Design High, Selkirk Eyecare Optometrists, Stellar Seeds, West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op, West Arm Apiaries & Blueberry Farm


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