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Chelsea Green Blog

Wagari Maathai in NH

Last night Wangari Maathai came to our neck of the woods to give a talk at Dartmouth for the Social Justice Lecture Series. Last year we’d asked Wangari to write the foreword to our 20th anniversary edition of the Man Who Planted Trees, so we were eager for a chance to finally meet her. The woman behind the African Greenbelt Movement did not disappoint. She spoke passionately about the need to empower people at the grassroots level to protect their own environment; to help people realize they are responsible stewards of their land, and that the government can’t be counted on for sustainable help. Wangari used the metaphor of a bus throughout her talk, explaining that somewhere along the way, farmers in Kenya had gotten on the wrong bus in terms of their land use and environmental strategy. Now the first step toward moving in the right direction was getting them to realize that they can make the bus stop and let them off. During the q&a session after her talk, Wangari added “by the way, Africans are not the only ones who are riding the wrong bus!” Also during the q&a session, someone in the audience asked Wangari what she thought of Jeffrey Sach’s anti-malaria environmental campaign in Kenya. Wangari pulled no punches, saying that while it’s great that he’s buying so many people mosquito nets, you can’t solve a problem by giving people nets. If she had his money, Wangari explained that she’d start a campaign to stop the production of cheap plastics in Kenya, reducing the amount of plastics on roadways that are creating mosquito breeding grounds, and fighting malaria that way. The most impressive part of her response was the way it was delivered, as if she was just thinking this through for the first time. I’m not sure if that’s the way your average tree planter comes up with ideas–on a podium in front of hundreds of people–but it was pretty astounding.


Economic Development is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It

Economic development today is completely broken. That’s the argument of author Michael Shuman in his new book, The Local Economy Solution. The singular focus on attracting global corporations is not just ineffective but counterproductive, Shuman argues, especially given the huge opportunity costs. Indeed, it’s not far-fetched to suggest that the best way most communities can […] Read More..

5 Shareable Strategies for Creating Climate Action

Frustrated about climate change? You’re not alone. Most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the spectrum of depressed about our climate situation to flat-out denying that it exists. In fact, the more information about global warming that piles up, the less we seem to do to combat it. What is the reason for this […] Read More..

A Mini-Festo for Earth Day – Rebuild the Foodshed

For the past month, author Philip Ackerman-Leist has been on a Twitter MiniFesto campaign – each day sending out a new tweet designed to spark conversation and pass along some lessons he learned whilst working on his last book, Rebuilding the Foodshed. You might also know Philip as the author of his memoir Up Tunket […] Read More..

Books in the News: ‘The Tao of Vegetable Gardening’ & More!

What does Taoism have to do with gardening? That question is being answered in The Washington Post this week with a lengthy profile of Chelsea Green author Carol Deppe—gardener, plant breeder, seed expert, and geneticist based in Oregon—and her new book The Tao of Vegetable Gardening. “Once I read The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, with its […] Read More..

Depressed about Climate Change? Good. Here’s How to Take Action

The facts about climate change are settled. Mostly. In fact, the news seems to get worse, and more urgent, every day. Yet, the more the facts stack up, the less resolve many people seem to have about getting behind solutions that will stem, or turn, the tide. What gives? In What We Think About When […] Read More..