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Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World

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The environmental “tipping point” we approach is more palpable each day, and people are seeing it in ways they can no longer ignore—we need only turn on the news to hear the litany of what is wrong around us. Serious reflection, inspiration, and direction on how to approach the future are now critical.

Hope Beneath Our Feet creates a space for change with stories, meditations, and essays that address the question, “If our world is facing an imminent environmental catastrophe, how do I live my life right now?” This collection provides tools, both practical and spiritual, to those who care about our world and to those who are just now realizing they need to care. Featuring prominent environmentalists, artists, CEOs, grassroots activists, religious figures, scientists, policy makers, and indigenous leaders, Hope Beneath Our Feet shows readers how to find constructive ways to channel their energies and fight despair with engagement and participation. Presenting diverse strategies for change as well as grounds for hope, the contributors to this anthology celebrate the ways in which we can all engage in beneficial action for ourselves, our communities, and the world.

Contributors include:
Diane Ackerman
Paul Hawken
Derrick Jensen
Barbara Kingsolver
Francis Moore Lappé
Barry Lopez
Bill McKibben
Michael Pollan
Alice Walker
Howard Zinn

320 pages, Paperback

First published September 7, 2010

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Martin Keogh

14 books5 followers

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5 stars
62 (37%)
4 stars
62 (37%)
3 stars
26 (15%)
2 stars
7 (4%)
1 star
9 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for Roberta.
287 reviews8 followers
February 16, 2013
This is not a book to be read quickly. Its essays, poems, and stories were written by different authors, some of whom are well known--Barry Lopez, Howard Zinn, Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan, Alice Walker. They need to be savored and absorbed. They are all directed towards a question I have been asking myself, "In a time of environmental crisis, how can we live right now?" Gardening, eating locally grown food, being vegetarian, being an activist are all encouraged, but so are less obvious things.

One of my favorite essays was called "Wonder: a Yoga for Everyday Life," in which ways to practice wonder are shared. They include such things as "spending the day with a mystic, lunatic, writer, or child" and "staying up all night, outside" as well as walking or wandering for 10 minutes every day, letting wonder find you.

Another jolted me after working in schools for many years. It described setting up "Idle-Free Zones" around public schools to remind parents and bus drivers not to idle their engines while waiting for kids who breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults and so are more vulnerable to air-borne toxins like the carbon dioxide produced by vehicles (20 times more pollution idling engines than when traveling at 32 mph)

A Canadian writer and naturalist in Jasper National Park starts his essay with "Those of us who have tried to save the world from the depredations of our own species have lost." He is particularly concerned about population growth on the planet. He divides his life in thirds: one third making a living, another third doing chores, volunteering and protesting, and a last third "brightening his life," often with physical activity outdoors such as hiking. All of these help ward off despair about what's wrong with the world. And he finds doing what's right is equally important.

A worthwhile book!

Profile Image for Rebecca.
9 reviews
Want to read
August 16, 2010
I first want to mention that I won this book in the giveaway, thank you so much.
I haven't finished yet, but I love the book so far. It is a collection of short essays and speeches, many only a few pages long, about the state of the world today and how we should react. As a scientist, I have thought a lot about the issue and have heard and read many different opinions. What I love about this book is the shear diversity of stories and suggestions; it covers hard science, living sustainably, tips on gardening, calming yoga, political action, activism and everything in between.
I like that the essays are short, it makes the book perfect for reading in waiting rooms, before going to work, while cooking, and whenever you have 15 minuets to spare. After each essay is an editors note of where to find similar works by the author. The book is a fantastic way to find authors and speakers with interesting and a great encouragement to step out of your comfort zone and read things from viewpoints you would otherwise ignore.
Profile Image for Katie.
4 reviews
June 13, 2016
This book taught me so much, about the environment and about myself. It was an eye-opening and inspiring experience. I recommend this to anyone who cares about the environment, our planet, and our future.
Profile Image for Kris.
307 reviews1 follower
August 22, 2010
This collection of about 50 essays, some by better known authors such as Howard Zinn, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and Paul Hawken, are concerned with the topic of how we can live right now, in this time of environmental crisis. Many of the entries were inspirational. I, for one, often am quite discouraged and despondent over the state of our world and the way in which we humans have mistreated it. Many of the ideas for perservering and not losing hope involve growing our own food, eating locally, and other such popular trends. I found comfort in these particular essays. Other essayists would appeal to those with other interests: futurists, those with a more spiritual bent, those who are into bodywork: some of these particular essays I did not particularly like, but the range of inspiration in this collection is varied.

I won this book in a Goodreads contest. Thank you North Atlantic Books for the advance copy! I'll keep tending my chickens, harvesting honey from our beehives, and growing and preserving the fruits and vegetables to ensure some of our food is safe and organic, and to help our little suburban corner of the earth.
Profile Image for Monica.
15 reviews
June 7, 2021
A flowy read. Meaningful anthology of essays and stories on environment.
Profile Image for Rori Rockman.
421 reviews14 followers
March 22, 2012
It took me a long time to read this book, but I wouldn't call that a bad thing. I was at a busy point in my life when I picked up this book, and it was nice to have a book that I could put down and pick up two weeks later, and not have to worry about having forgotten all the important details of the book. Because it's a collection of essays, you can take your time with this one.

Also, with few exceptions, the essays were the kind that kept the wheels of your brain turning beyond the conclusion of the text. You could definitely put this book down, walk away, and still be thinking through its message.

As for its message, that's the reason I gave it five stars. I've never read such an optimistic book about conserving our resources. Rather than using scare tactics, this book celebrates the environment, and has undertones of hope, rather than despair. It nudges the reader in the right direction, rather than attempting to guilt him into doing what you want him to do.

As someone who is interested in mankind's effect on the environment, but not an activist of any kind, this kind of gentle education was exactly what I was looking for.
Profile Image for Westcoast_girl.
179 reviews6 followers
May 25, 2014
In my recent ventures to live an eco-friendly, sustainable life, this book has been perfect.

When I feel unmotivated to do more to help, I read this book. When I feel as if what I'm doing could never possibly be enough or make a real difference, I read this book. When I feel so utterly terrified about the apocalyptic-like prospects our planet faces, I read this book.

'Hope Beneath our Feet' is
-eye opening
-thought provoking

and most of all, hopeful.

Each contributor to this book brings their own experiences, thoughts and opinions, suggestions and inspirations. Together, this diverse compilation of essays written by today's environmentally conscious authors, artists, speakers, political leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and activists create 'Hope Beneath our Feet'.

Whether you are new to the green movement or a long time participant, this book with awaken you to the problems facing our planet and inspire and push you to evoke change, all while keeping you hopeful enough to follow through with such changes.
Profile Image for Pam Kennedy.
163 reviews4 followers
November 11, 2018
This book is filled with inspiration for those of us who fight the despair that comes with the awareness of how climate change will effect us, and more importantly, the children of the earth. Some essays are practical, some are spiritual. I will visit a few favorites again and again when my spirit is low. No matter the outcome there is no time to waste in hand wringing and this books will help the reader identify the small ways in the context of an overwhelming problem they can keep actively working for change.
Profile Image for Kim.
167 reviews
August 28, 2010
I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway!! I am so thankful that i received this book.
Wow! I am reading this book through, it is a compilation of essays by several forward thinking people, and all I can say is WOW!
I think this should be mandatory reading for High School seniors and/or College students. It is so timely. I would love to see this sold or given away in Starbucks! So many wonderful conversations could be started.
18 reviews1 follower
March 4, 2015
So excited to win a copy, and can't wait to read it. Thanks, North Atlantic Books!
Profile Image for Karen.
24 reviews
May 27, 2011
50+ essays with unique perspectives on what constitutes hope for each writer in a time of environmental crisis. It's definitely worth the read, but not always hopeful.
Profile Image for Jaime.
173 reviews4 followers
September 28, 2010
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

The theory and practice of returning and protecting nature has recently become a much bigger priority in my life. When I saw this anthology in the First Reads giveaways, I was so excited to put my name in and then I won!

It's not a book to ready quickly, though several of the contributions can be read in a short amount of time. These essays are meant to inspire meditation on the ideas they discuss and hopefully call the reader to action.

There were several essays by authors I already have a great respect for: Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker and Howard Zinn. However, I was glad to read essays by authors/artists/activists that are new to me and am so excited to learn more about their work: Thais Mazur, Diane Ackerman and Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees.

I enjoyed this anthology first, because of the passion the authors displayed on a topic that is very important to me. However, I feel like I would recommend this book to friends and family members who are interested in being inspired and learning more about how they can make a difference in the world.
Profile Image for Jeff.
268 reviews
September 28, 2010
This is a large collection of very short pieces (3-5 pages was the norm), so it is hard to give the whole book an overall review, but I will try.

I found the pieces on specific action to be inspiring and practical, very well worth the read. Unfortunately, these only made up about 1/4 of the book. The rest was dominated by spirituality and psychological approaches to coping with the severe emotional distress that some people apparently feel over issues like pollution, global warming, etc. I don't have any problem coping in that respect, so these pieces didn't really do anything for me. I am sure my mom will love them, though, so if you know my mom, that should help you decide whether they are worth reading.

Since the book is clearly broken in to sections, it was easy for me to concentrate my reading effort on those pieces that resonated with me.
Profile Image for Heather.
773 reviews15 followers
October 14, 2010
Must get to reading this. Like the WAB, I'll be reading this off and on- probably an essay or so at a time- because of my schedule.

Oct. 6- I'm about halfway through. Not sure if I should start putting my comments down here or if I should wait until I'm done with the book. Also, don't read before bed unless you want dreams about how the earth is dying and needs us to clean up our act. Seriously dreamed about the themes in this book last week.

Oct. 14 Finished.
Essays that I liked:
"Commencement Address to the Class of 2009, University of Portland"
"Why Bother?'
"Letter from the Future"
"Ghandi Then and Now"
everything in chapter 3
"The World Doesn't Need to be Saved"
"Coping with New Realities"
"Questions for a Sacred Life"

I don't know what it is, but chapter 5 just didn't speak to me. Maybe I'm not at the right place in my life.
6 reviews
February 2, 2011
For me, reading Hope Beneath Our Feet was like meeting a complete stranger who shares the same precise concerns about the future and insecurities about what I can do to improve it. In the book, Martin Keogh compiles dozens of opinions about an uncertain environment and opinions on what the current generation can do to improve it.

Check out The Grid's review of the book here!.

Profile Image for Saundra Brookes.
Author 2 books7 followers
December 22, 2010
If you're already green, or vegetarian, or vegan or whatnot, you've probably read much of this before. I did like reading so many different essays that encompassed different authors' viewpoints. Some were, however, so...how do I say it...OUT THERE... The opinions did reinforce what I am doing to be part of the solution and not quite as much of the problem.
6 reviews
Currently reading
March 7, 2012
So far, so good! The essays are by Diane Ackerman, Paul Hawken,Derrick Jensen, Barbara Kingsolver, Francis Moore Lappé, Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben,Michael Pollan, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn!
Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews

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