A complex and informative all-in-one manual on social forestry.

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Vaarde delivers a guide to forging reciprocal, regenerative relationships between nature and communities.

The author has been advising farms, stewarding forests, and teaching environmental sciences for more than 50 years since earning degrees in forestry and systematic botany from Syracuse University and SUNY College of Forestry. Vaarde’s book is a collection of data, prose, poems, photographs, drawings, and posters that explain the philosophies of social forestry and land ethics. Forests and bodies of water are often considered as essential only in relation to their benefits to human beings; the author challenges that idea by connecting nature to communities and emphasizing nature’s ; forestry work and ecology; cultures of place (shared values, belief systems, or ways of life within a specific geographical region); and visioning (picturing what one wants to happen and how a story might unfold). Vaarde recognizes that reading does not replace action when comes to environmentalism: “This book is not merely a recipe collection, where the reader can pick and choose their indulgences; rather, we want to suggest that all skills and opportunities are embedded in cultural contexts that shape action and involvement in complex ways that a book cannot fully enfold.” The author encourages conservation efforts, forest management, local food production, and the promotion of environmental resiliency, among other practices, and includes myths, anecdotes, and lessons from many North American Indigenous communities’ customs and traditions. The book is brimming with well-researched information on every aspect of social forestry—readers should be warned that a surfeit of data and academic jargon can make it read like a textbook. Despite that, Vaarde does their due diligence to honor the traditional wisdom of communities and help human beings live in harmony with their surroundings. The book is a must-read for anyone curious to learn more about ethical land practices.

A complex and informative all-in-one manual on social forestry.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781957869063

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Synergetic Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2023


From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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