The Green Boat

The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture, by Mary Pipher.  Riverhead Books, 2013.

For anyone struggling to stay hopeful in a society in which corporate power rules and serious action on climate change by our government has not even begun, this timely little book provides strong support. As in her previous books, Mary Pipher writes simply, powerfully, humbly, and with a great heart. Instead of giving some intellectual treatise about how to sustain hope, she movingly describes her own experience, along with similarly motivated friends, in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline in her home state of Nebraska (which is on the proposed route of the pipeline).
Pipher’s group faced stiff and well-funded opposition, not just from TransCanada, the pipeline’s builder, but also from the Nebraska governor and legislators, who sided with TransCanada. Pipher and her coalition in Lincoln starting meeting regularly for potlucks and discussion, became friends, began to plan fun and creative public events and other actions to bring attention to the issue, were sometimes successful, sometimes discouraged, but most importantly, didn’t give up despite setbacks. (The ultimate outcome is still uncertain.) She saw firsthand that feelings of frustration and isolation are greatly relieved by taking action on behalf of a passionately-held cause, and that in so doing, a community develops. Ultimately hope is not some elusive feeling we may try to talk ourselves into, but is actively generated by a community that keeps showing up to defend the planet and its living beings. The greater the number of small groups of committed folks there are, the more hope is created, both for those involved and for the larger society.
The Green Boat covers some of the same ground as Joanna Macy’s excellent Active Hope, but if you only have time to read one, read Pipher.

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