The Windows of Brimnes
An American in Iceland
By Bill Holm, Milkweed Editions, 2007.
An American naturalist from Minnesota
unfolds the beauties of an unusual land,
showing how it has seized his heart and
challenged his understanding of the
meaning and purpose of America.
Building the Green Economy
Success Stories from the Grassroots
By Kevin Danaher, Shannon Biggs,
and Jason Mark, PoliPointPress, 2007.
Here’s an unusual roundup of diverse
grassroots efforts aimed at steward-
ship, cleaner economies, and greener,
more just communities. At its core are
conversations with leading thinkers,
interspersed with short, surprisingly en-
lightening explorations of the issues.
As the World Burns
50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay
By Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan,
Seven Stories Press, 2007.
The president has issued permits for
alien robots to consume the planet, any-
one believed to be aiding the renegade
bunnies who are trying to stop the mad-
ness is being imprisoned, and all you can
think to do is buy a stupid light bulb?
Environmental destruction in this
graphic novel is sad, but it’s also fun!
God Gardened East
A Gardener’s Meditation on the Dynamics
By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Cascade
In this refreshing reflection on the
Book of Genesis, Ruprecht navigates
readers through rich layers of ancient
traditions—as well as the seasons of his
own garden—while looking forward
through the violence of our present
conflicted world for a story of hope.
was determined that urban communities
be seen as a critical context for environmental action, and his 2005 revision
of that book validated his conviction.
Occidental would prove to
be fertile ground for the
Reinventing Los Angeles as an
account of his work with the
community and the Urban
and Environmental Policy
Institute that he founded at
Occidental as a way of inte-
grating his activism into his
teaching and research. His meditations
are organized around the interrelated
themes of water, automobiles, and immigration. The reclamation of the Los
Angeles River, management of freeway
tra;c, and the e=ects of globalization on
the city furnish the historical speci>cs,
while projects undertaken in the community provide the narrative. The upshot is
Gottlieb calling for the establishment of
an “urban nature agenda” developed in
the global laboratory of Los Angeles and
applied to cities elsewhere.
Gottlieb suggests that activists pick
signi>cant local geographical features
in need of transformation as rallying
points for policymakers and politicians.
One example he provides, and a successful intervention, is the “Corn>eld” in
downtown LA. Not far away from the Los
Angeles River and Chinatown, the thirty-two-acre parcel was called the
largest remaining block of
land available for development in the core of the city.
Community activists wanted
a park, city government was
pushing warehouses, and
in stepped a member of
the powerful Annenberg
family, the artist Lauren
Bon. She co-opted the conversation by turning the
land into a literal corn>eld titled—with
all deliberate irony—Not A Cornfield. The
work was modeled after a land art–action
conducted by Agnes Denes in New York
City during 1982 when she
planted a wheat >eld on a
land>ll near the World Trade
Center. Bon’s corn>eld is
now the Los Angeles Historic
State Park and awaiting >nal
Gottlieb never de>nes it
as such, but his richly informative book is really
about ?ow—of resources,
people, history—and about how we all
need to put our hands into that urban
stream as participants directing community, a word he sensibly makes very nearly
synonymous with environment.
—William L. Fox
A Toxic Comedy About Global
a film by daniel b. gold and
Produced by Daniel B. Gold, Judith
Helfand, Chris Pilaro, and Adam
Wolfensohn, 2007. $24.98, 89 minutes.
YOU MIGHT THINK that if a former
vice-president can make an Oscar-winning
>lm about global warming based on
a PowerPoint presentation, there’s no
room for any more climate
change documentaries on
American screens. An Inconvenient Truth is a >ne >lm,
but there’s one problem: no
Republican is ever going to
be convinced by Al Gore.
They just don’t like the guy.
But a new >lm seems to
do the impossible: it manages to be funny about