With summer right around the corner, we’d like to offer you a special treat to encourage warm weather learning!
We asked our board members and staff to recommend books and audio for you to peruse this summer, and they delivered. Our list this year includes an activist’s journals, a collection of essays, podcasts, and even a musical score, all in the spirit of ICL’s commitment to healthy communities and a healthy Earth. We hope you find some inspiration on this list to take with you on a trip away or on a staycation at home.
Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965-2000, by Alice Walker, edited by Valerie Boyd
Reading excerpts of Alice Walker’s extraordinary journals from 35 years provides more than a glimpse into the life and inner thoughts of one of the most gifted writers, activists, and intellectuals of our times. Weeks after completing the book, I find myself provoked by and pondering her experiences and perspectives, especially as they relate to being in integrity and love with oneself and the world and in navigating the complexity of relationships with other humans. My mind is still slightly blown by the availability of this book!
-Sarah Clark, Senior Associate
The Overstory, by Richard Powers
This beautiful fiction book pulls together stories related to trees that masterfully relate to each other. There are some very interesting things to learn about trees as well, but mostly the characters’ lives are intertwined in a poetic and poignant narrative. Yum.
-Naomi Cobb, ICL Board Chair
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson
If you’re looking for a book of essays on the environment that will fill your heart with hope while also keeping you on your activist toes, this is the book for you. This collection of essays and poems, written by women, is remarkably well curated. It contains both a variety and a diversity of voices that I hadn’t come across in a collection of environmental writing until now. I keep this book on my nightstand and visit it multiple times a week for inspiration and reality checks.
-Sarah Dietz, Program & Communications Coordinator
Crazy Brave / Poet Warrior, by Joy Harjo
The economical richness of language in these two slim volumes, together comprising Joy Harjo’s deeply personal memoir, is unsurprising for the currently serving Poet Laureate of the United States. Despite this brevity, Harjo’s lived experience is twice, three times again fuller than most other autobiographies from her turbulent generation (she was born in 1951), and scenes in her memoirs stretch from the honky tonks of mid-century Tulsa to the burgeoning Native rights movement in 1960s Santa Fe to the dedication of the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian. Harjo was born poor and Indian in the second half of the twentieth century, and her artistic voice flows both from the experience of being Muscogee Creek at a particular moment in history and from the lived struggle of being a woman in these United States, whether her reality is working as a registered nurse to support raising her daughter as a single mother or editing an acclaimed volume of Native American poetry, both of which Harjo has done.
-Brandon Hayes, ICL Vice Chair
The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
This book is a fun read into the fascinating observations of trees and what creates a healthy forest and ecosystem. It definitely made me look at trees in a different way.
-Pri Ekanayake, Senior Associate
Why We’re Polarized, by Ezra Klein
This insightful book from wonky journalist Ezra Klein illuminates the psychological underpinnings of our country’s deep political divide as well as the media dynamics and political institutions that feed and amplify it. Good collaboration and effective advocacy start with a real understanding of the diverging identities that increasingly threaten the functionality of our body politic.
-Kevin Mills, ICL Board Member
The Puma Years, by Laura Coleman
This book is about a young woman from England – an art history graduate – who decides to go to Bolivia and volunteer for a wildlife sanctuary. Not only does she get very attached to animals she knew little about prior to her experience there, but she extends her stay from a planned one month to several years. This inspirational book about a life-changing experience also heightened my awareness of the damage being done to the environment in the jungle, and the impact on the animals and the planet.
-John Eben, ICL Board Treasurer
As leaders we benefit from understanding the cultural and historical context of communities and our perspectives. I’m recommending two pods that recently helped me learn different ways of grounding our learning and action. Code Switch’s “A New Movement on Standing Rock” provides a window into how protest and community have given birth to a vision for a new school based in Lakota language, traditions, and space. And because the past influences the now, give a listen to Throughline’s “Force of Nature,” a retrospective on “what led to Earth Day, and what Earth Day led to.”
-Dianne Russell, President
TED Talk – 3 steps to turn everyday get-togethers into transformative gatherings, by Priya Parker
For folks looking for creative ways to design meaningful and engaging gatherings, Priya Parker offers wonderful and dynamic advice. From beginning your planning process with the intentions, not logistics, to creating “pop-up rules” that create safe spaces for folks to gather despite their differences, her advice helps us all think more deeply about how and why we gather. This TED talk is a wonderful introduction to meaningful facilitation and many of the resources Priya Parker has to offer. You can also check out her book on the topic: The Art of Gathering.
-Joy Jackson, Senior Associate
The “score” of this piece of music is just a few lines of text that includes instructions, not notes. The piece requires everyone in attendance to participate, and results in something that nobody can predict. The piece is different each time and requires deep listening to be executed properly. This piece is better experienced than just heard, so I hope you all get the opportunity to do that at some point!
-Michael Oberhauser, Operations Coordinator
Looking for what you can do next in your own life to reduce your climate footprint? This podcast provides an overview of concrete steps you can take to really make a dent in reducing your reliance on fossil fuels. It even inspired me to make a whole website about switching to clean energy at home, at www.climatesmarthandbook.com!
-Madeline Fleisher, ICL Board Secretary