A man reading at a desk in front of big sunny window image

What We’re Reading Now

Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning
by Timothy Beatley

(Washington, DC: Island Press, 2011, 179 pp).

We need access to nature, wherever we live. It is an essential part of livable, sustainable cities. In this book, Tim Beatley describes what biophilic cities are and how we can introduce opportunities for biophilia as we plan and design neighborhoods and places. Beatley also describes how to overcome cultural and social objections to advancing and enhancing natural areas within cities.

And stay tuned for Beatley’s practical handbook on biophilic city planning and design, forthcoming in early 2016.

Civic Ecology: Adaptation and Transformation from the Ground Up
by Marianne E. Krasny and Keith G. Tidball
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015, 293 pp).

In this book, Krasny and Tidball, noted Cornell University researchers, present ideas and case study examples of how hands-on stewardship practices grounded in civic and environmental values lead to “civic ecology” and build community capacity and resilience. They articulate 10 civic ecology principles, illustrating them with stories of civic ecology stewards in Germany, Iran, South Africa, South Korea and the United States taking action to restore their communities and places.

An Improbable School: Transforming How Teachers Teach & Students Learn
by Paul Tweed and Liz Seubert

(Lead the Path LLC, 2015, 145 pp).

This slim volume describes the reimagining of schools and education through the example of Wildlands School, a project-based, science-focused charter school in the woods outside Augusta, WI. The school is driven by a teacher-powered management and decision-making model; this book is a practical guide to that transformation.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (updated and expanded)
by Richard Louv

(Chapel Hill, NC: Algoquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008, 390 pp).

This book, first published in 2005 and updated in 2008, is a classic in the literature on the importance of connecting children directly with nature for their physical, social, and emotional health, well-being and development. The updated edition includes a list of 100 practical actions that can be taken, along with discussion points for book groups, classrooms, and communities.

Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems (A Community Resilience Guide)
by Philip Ackerman-Leist

(White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013, 321 pp).

Ackerman-Leist’s book addresses dilemmas and drivers in rebuilding local food systems. His discussion ranges from questions about how far we should push the “local” food movement before we lose sight of other communities in the U.S. and around the globe, to examining the collaborative possibilities for building resilient, community-based food systems that make use of as many interconnected resources as possible.

Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change
by Peter Newman, Timothy Beatley, and Heather Boyer

(Washington, DC: Island Press, 2009, 166 pp).

This readable book presents four potential scenarios for the future of cities following peak oil and the effects of climate change: complete collapse, re-ruralization, the divided city (self-sufficient eco-enclaves surrounded by chaos), and resilience. The authors discuss 7 key elements of resilient cities: renewable energy, carbon neutrality, distributed power systems, local production of food and fiber, eco-efficiency (capturing and reusing waste streams), place-based development, and sustainable transportation. Examples of resilience planning undertaken by different cities and regions around the world are presented.