2hrs and 50 minutes. When I looked at my phone yesterday, that’s how much time it said I had left in the audio book of All We Can Save, a remarkable collection of essays and poetry on the climate crisis and solutions. This is just a bit longer than a 30 mile bike ride to New Paltz and back on the rail trail. Having been working since 6am, I decided a long afternoon bike ride was both needed and deserved. I popped on my aftershocks head phones, and off I went.
A bonus of the audio book is that all the poetry is read by the two editors, Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr Katharine Wilkinson, while all the essays are read by a collection of equally impressive woman like Jane Fonda, Julia Luis Dreyfuss, America Ferrera, and many more.
This book is remarkable. The wide range of voices, all with important but different insights. It’s not a single voice with an overriding thesis that keeps trying to convince you of something, it’s a rich chorus of personal experiences. 40 essays and 20 poems, orchestrated in an incredible tempo. There are so many layers in this book, that it will require rereading and relistening, and discussing and absorbing for years to come. And I cherish that idea of coming back to this book time and time again.
It’s hard to pick favorite pieces, but a few stand out in this first reading. (Many of the pieces were published in other forms prior to this book, so I’ll link to earlier versions where I can.)
Did It Ever Occur to You That Maybe You’re Falling in Love? is an irreverent take on “the problem”. It hit really close to home, and I laughed out loud during parts. Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s reading of it was spot on.
Heaven or High Water – Sarah Miller goes “undercover” in Miami pretending to be a Silicon Valley Wife looking for a place in this city under siege. And she keeps asking the realitors about climate change, and how it’s impacting them.
Reciprocity – Janine Benyus tells of her experience in forestry and ecology, and how a dominant narrative of individualism shaped forestry science for 5 decades. This prevented us from understanding what was actually happening beneath the soil, and the ways that trees exchange nutrients, and are healthier in a collective with diverse species.
A Field Guide for Transformation – Dr Leah Stokes lays out her journey, from recycling in 5th grade, to coming to really understand the energy system. How our influence, and collective action, works in widening circles, and how we must not demand perfection or purity in ourselves before tackling larger systems change.
This is just a flavor of the many incredible pieces in here, and only scratches the surface. I can’t recommend this book enough. Go get yourself a copy, and dive in. You won’t regret it.