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Home Reading

Cultural & Ecological designing


last update: April 19, 2000

Some of this will be listings by author first, mentioning several titles, and some by title first (which will only mention several authors if more than one person wrote the book!). I have included ISBN numbers when available. Some of these are currently out of print, indicated by OOP at the end of the listing if I know they are - try your local library and local used bookstores!

  • Back to the Blanket Journal - a monthly Cherokee/Native American journal offering a fequently fresh perspective in a variety of areas, and seldom pulling punches. Published by Day Starr, of the Wolf Clan, Onondaga/Cherokee, and her husband Evergreen.
  • Bateson, Gregory - truly an original thinker; definitely a challenge to one's world-view, all for the better. He manages to synthesize most everything in ways both profound and amusing. If he wrote it, it's worth reading. Major works include Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Mind and Nature, and A Sacred Unity. OOP
  • The Black Mesa Syndrome: Indian Lands, Black Gold - by Judith Nies. Of Navajos, Hopis, coal deposits and related issues.
  • Cybernetics & Human Knowing - A Journal of Second Order Cybernetics & Cyber-Semiotics. If you're wondering what the heck that means, check this's probably not what you think. Start by reading a very informative and entertaining presentation by Heinz von Foerster, "Ethics and Second-order Cybernetics."
  • Dumbing Us Down, by John Taylor Gatto. An articulate and highly critical look at our dominant educational paradigms by a teacher who is a 26-year veteran of the New York City school system and was awarded the New York State Teacher of the Year award. He doesn't mince words, and he does go beyond criticism to suggest alternatives. There are also some excellent thoughts on institutions and communities.
  • Earth Quarterly - a new magazine "...covering all aspects of living a natural life - homebuilding, gardening, renewable energy, staying healthy, and developing right livelihood and community." Editorials, thoughts, observations and occasional content available online - subscription information provided.
  • Ecotopics - "An international, editorial news publication covering ecology, environmental concerns, human rights and agriculture." Includes current features and archives of previous issues.
  • Grist Magazine - this online magazine is "...a project of Earth Day Network," and according to themselves "...tackles environmental topics with energy and fresh perspective." Worth looking at, except for the excess of too-cute section names and headlines.
  • I and Thou, by Martin Buber, translated by Ronald Gregor Smith. I'm not going to try and describe this other than to say it's about oneness and separateness in a big way, and has a lot to offer to the attentive reader. Make sure to get the Smith translation, as there is another which is not recommended. ISBN 0-684-18254-8. OOP
  • Maturana, Humberto - provides a brilliant complement to Bateson - throws it all out and starts from scratch to examine how we "know" what we "know," and the implicit and explicit consequences of our ways of knowing - the biology of cognition. His two seminal papers, Ontology of Observing and Reality, are pure gold. All of this is extremely relevant to psychology, and an additional essay on time has just been published at this site. It may be hard to find much of his work in original form; his book The Tree of Knowledge is not that well recommended but may be all that's available in print. Read it in the original Spanish if you can - he did not do the translation to English himself.
  • My name is Chellis, and I'm in recovery from Western Civilization, by Chellis Glendinning; looks at our "civilization" from the viewpoint of trauma/addiction and recovery, drawing on a great diversity of sources (including Gregory Bateson and remaining nature-based peoples) and busting a lot of myths.
  • Places of the Soul - architecture as healing art, by Christopher Day. Looks at the psychologically (and physically) harsh built environments we create for our dwellings, workplaces, communities and so on and offers thoughts on alternatives that are gentler to body, mind and spirit. Not a builder's book, but a more general work, although there are a few specific examples here and there.
  • A Shelter Sketchbook - timeless building solutions, by John S. Taylor. A wealth of sketches and notes drawn from cultures, conditions and climates all over the world, ancient to contemporary. A rich source for design ideas for any shelter, anywhere. ISBN 1-890132-02-0
  • Skolimowski, Henryk - His seminal work to my mind is Eco-Philosophy, which addresses underlying aspects of much of what is causing problems for the human race and offers some starting points for change. It's out of print, but can be found in larger city or university libraries. Another goodie is Technology and Human Destiny, based on a series of lectures he did at a University in India - also hard to find but worth it. He's still writing, but I haven't read any of his more recent works yet. OOP
  • Sustainable Living News - "A West Coast Journal of Ecological Design." Largely reader-written, with a theme for each issue (guilds, natural building, bamboo, etc.) and a calendar of regional events for the Pacific Northwest.
  • Talking With our Brothers, by George M. Taylor. A ground-breaking book about creating and sustaining dynamic men's groups, showing how small groups help men grow and change. Plenty of inspirational stories, combined with group methods and exercises. Based on Geo's ten-plus years of experience with large and small men's groups, retreats, and workshops. Get info on and excerpts from the book, and check out an interview with the author. To buy a copy, order through your local independent bookseller or write Men's Community Publishing Project, P.O. Box 296, Fairfax, CA 94930, USA. Cost is US$9.50 plus US$2.00 for shipping; make check payable to George Taylor.
  • Terrain - "A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments." An about-to-be launched quarterly seeking to combine technical, journalistic and literary works into "...both a resource and a pleasure, a compass and a shelter."
  • Thich Nhat Hanh - a Vietnamese Buddhist monk with a gift for touching the heart and soul with his teachings. Clear, simple, straightforward, elegant - read this stuff to your kids! My favorite so far is Peace is Every Step.
  • Wildwood: a forest for the future, by Ruth Loomis, with Merv Wilkinson. This slim volume presents accumulated wisdom from Merv's nearly 60 years of continuous work with selective sustainable forestry. I've done a two-day workshop with Merv, and he is truly the embodiment of an excellent forester. He and his Wildwood forest farm are also living proof that this approach works! ISBN 0-9692570-6-6

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