Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket

This book explains what is wrong with our existing food system and provides examples of what different communities are doing about it. Most interesting to me is the development of Farm Shops, basically, grocery stores run by a collection of local farmers. I was also intrigued by a study that showed that communities with local farms have better economic development and quality of life than those with large industrial farms.

Emerald cities urban sustainability and economic development

This book seems well-researched but it was dense with data. I had trouble absorbing the flood of statistics in the narrative and found my mind wandering. I was most interested in the first chapter that talks about Freiburg, Germany because I traveled there. Fitzgerald approaches the challenges realistically, with no rose colored glasses about how quickly we can get off fossil fuels.


Local Money: How to Make It Happen in your Community

While this book frequently references the Transitions movement (which may not be your framing) and the UK (which can be problematic when he’s talking about tax policy), it’s a good primer on alternative currencies. It starts with a history and concepts. Then it provides case examples from around the world, including what worked and didn’t.

Planning and Community Development: A Guide for the 21st Century

CoverThis would make a good text for a course on sustainable development or urban planning. It provides a historical and current perspective on planning including comprehensive plans, urban planning, housing, historic preservation, economic development, transportation planning, environmental planning and rural/transitional planning. The appendix is a simulation you can use for training purposes.


Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story

It’s ironic in a book about the power of storytelling that I found myself wanting to scream, “Get to the point!”. Storytelling is powerful but I guess the lesson learned is that it has its place but sometimes we just want more how-to.

The social animal: the hidden sources of love, character, and achievement

CoverYou may know David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, from the PBS NewsHour TV program. He’s always seemed insightful (although more conservative than I) but who knew he was witty, with a wicked sense of humor and deep empathy for people who lived different lives than he.

Resilience Thinking

Good overview of resilience as a concept. Chapter 4, in particular, is a good overview of the adaptive cycle (the figure 8 on its side: exploitation/rapid growth, conservation, release, and reorganization), much easier for the non-scientist to understand that the book Panarchy.

The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity

This book provides a nice history of Western-style capitalism up to the current crash: bubbles, suburban development, technology. He compares this economic crisis to other societal resets like the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression. Then he provides some insights about where we go from here. Florida is mostly focused on socio-economic issues and is particularly blind to environmental issues.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

This is a disturbing look at how technology (in particular, robots, the Internet, and cell phones) is undermining our society. We’re inventing robots that look like baby seals to keep our elderly company. Confession websites are making it easier for people not to apologize or make amends.

Linking Social and Ecological Systems: Management Practices and Social Mechanisms for Building Resilience

As we move into uncertain ecological times, resilience is a critical concept, one that we should be managing toward. In particular, it will be important to understand how human societies can contribute to or undermine resilience. I skimmed this book which basically chronicles different social mechanisms for managing the commons.