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Seeing Nature: Deliberate Encounters with the Visible World Paperback – December 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Krafel gets his insights while exploring granite basins deep in the Rockies that once cradled Ice Age glaciers, or while watching a million heliotropic buttercups' synchronized turning toward the sun on the Arctic tundra, or while climbing into an ancient cliff dwelling that housed the Hopis' ancestors. His deeply personal, lyrical meditation beckons readers to see the world as a spiral of coevolution, whereby life forms grow symbiotically through small, accumulating changes, rather than in linear cause-and-effect fashion. A former park ranger and naturalist with the National Park Service for eight years, Krafel is now a teacher in Northern California, where he and his wife founded Chrysalis, a chartered public school operating out of a natural science museum, with emphasis on nature study outdoors. Originally self-published 10 years ago under the title Shifting, this quietly ambitious book is an individualistic attempt to reorient everyday observation along the lines of the Gaia hypothesis formulated by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who envision Earth as a single, gigantic, self-regulating organism. The book unfolds as a series of perceptual exercises and intense interactions with the natural world. Though Krafel seems to aspire to the soaring lyricism of Annie Dillard or Loren Eiseley, he seldom achieves their profundity, and while some of his examples are illuminating, others are murky or pedestrian. Nevertheless, his inquiry beautifully underscores his central message that we tend to become what we practice: hope spirals into new possibilities, while cynicism restricts one's range of vision and begets more cynicism. Line drawings. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Publishers Weekly-
Krafel gets his insights while exploring granite basins deep in the Rockies that once cradled Ice Age glaciers, or while watching a million heliotropic buttercups' synchronized turning toward the sun on the Arctic tundra, or while climbing into an ancient cliff dwelling that housed the Hopis' ancestors. His deeply personal, lyrical meditation beckons readers to see the world as a spiral of coevolution, whereby life forms grow symbiotically through small, accumulating changes, rather than in linear cause-and-effect fashion. A former park ranger and naturalist with the National Park Service for eight years, Krafel is now a teacher in Northern California, where he and his wife founded Chrysalis, a chartered public school operating out of a natural science museum, with emphasis on nature study outdoors. Originally self-published 10 years ago under the title Shifting, this quietly ambitious book is an individualistic attempt to reorient everyday observation along the lines of the Gaia hypothesis formulated by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who envision Earth as a single, gigantic, self-regulating organism. The book unfolds as a series of perceptual exercises and intense interactions with the natural world. Though Krafel seems to aspire to the soaring lyricism of Annie Dillard or Loren Eiseley, he seldom achieves their profundity, and while some of his examples are illuminating, others are murky or pedestrian. Nevertheless, his inquiry beautifully underscores his central message that we tend to become what we practice: hope spirals into new possibilities, while cynicism restricts one's range of vision and begets more cynicism. Line drawings.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; First Edition edition (December 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189013242X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890132422
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Krafel and his family live in Cottonwood, California, where he is a founding teacher at Chrysalis, a chartered public school emphasizing nature study.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tom Atlee on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
A dozen years ago, Paul Krapfel wrote one of the most mind-and-eye-opening books I've ever read, a little self-published volume called SHIFTING: NATURE'S WAY OF CHANGE (recently revised and republished through Chelsea Green as SEEING NATURE: DELIBERATE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE VISIBLE WORLD). In it, I learned more about the patterns that nature creates and follows than I ever dreamed existed. Most importantly, I learned that life does a very creative dance with entropy. I've never thought about life the same since I read Paul's book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
Reminicent of Guy Murchie's "The Seven wonders of Life" or anything by Loren Eisley, this book charms you with it's open and honest joy in looking at the world. Informs you on two levels: the behavior of creatures and forms in the natural world, and the parallels you can draw from observations into your own view of yourself, and your place in the world.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Brock on December 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
I first received a copy of this book as a gift in 1989 under its original title _Shifting: Nature's Way of Change_ (under the last name Krapfel). Since then, I have bought over 25 copies to pass that gift along (as well as over 50 of his Upward Spiral DVDs which brilliantly illustrates of some of the books core themes).

It is so much more than a book about "Seeing Nature." It is my favorite book for insights about the patterns of Nature and how they can apply to making social change. Krafel has a powerful gift for simultaneously perceiving minute details and grand overarching patterns. He also provides some real-life tools to heal landscapes and build upward spirals of increasing possibilities -- both in natural and human settings.

I believe the _Shifting_ edition of the book was originally self-published in a small run, and it turns out that title has many layers of meaning within the book. For me it is a gentle reminder of the power to leverage small shifts that produce big cumulative change. "Begin the work even though you can not see the path by which this work can lead to your goal.... Evolution is the process by which the impossible becomes possible by small accumulating shifts."

Krafel actually became a significant influence in my life. I had the chance to correspond with, and even meet with him. He also shifted my view of evolution from frame of reference of competition to powerful co-creation. This perspective enabled me to create a number world-changing organizations which are still doing powerful work today.

If you have the sense that Nature has some profound lessons to teach us about healthier ways we could do things, this book can help you unlock those secrets.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tom Atlee on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
A dozen years ago, Paul Krapfel wrote one of the most mind-and-eye-opening books I've ever read, a little self-published volume called SHIFTING: NATURE'S WAY OF CHANGE (recently revised and republished through Chelsea Green as SEEING NATURE: DELIBERATE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE VISIBLE WORLD). In it, I learned more about the patterns that nature creates and follows than I ever dreamed existed. Most importantly, I learned that life does a very creative dance with entropy. I've never thought about life the same since I read Paul's book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John D. Daniels on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Science and art are processes that are part of us and are deeply rooted in nature. In a world of virtual reality, recreation a la SUV, and a distrussing number of people who think blackberries grow in the produce section of the supermarket, there is need of a new vision or a renewal of an old vision.
Paul Krafel is developing a part of this vision. There are four main points in SEEING NATURE.
1). Process (or change) is interesting: This is the primary point of application of his observational/perceptual tools, e.g. looking at gradients, balances, spirals etc. An observation is most fun, if it does not stand alone. What came before? What might happen next?
2). Experiment: By continously exploring your ideas on observation/perception, you master them so as to be able to use errors and mistakes constructively.
3). Get down and dirty: The perfect counter-point to a TV/Computer screen view of the world. Take a REAL close at something. Why not put your finger in a "cow pie"?
4). The most important tool is you: There is a place for bird books and what the experts say about birds. But the big question is: "What is that bird doing?" This also applies to doing as well as observing. Some of the stories in the book relate to Paul Krafel's job as a Park Ranger. But others are of an aware individual acting only for the reward of the "thing itself".
All this he summarized in both editions of the book with "Begin the work even though you cannot see the path by which this work can lead to your goal. Do not block your power with your current understanding."
The younger reader can find some neat tools to explore with. The older reader can, of course, also use these tools. But the older reader may additionaly recapture a glimpse of the wonder and joy that is our heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John C. Dunbar on July 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
The author presents 35 ways to observe nature. This book is like an extension course to Mollison's and Permaculture's discourses on observation. To be a good naturalist you must be able to observe, but just how do you do that?
This book is one of the best books on how to observe nature. It is both practical and inspirational.
This book is also very personal. The author describes his experiences as he developed his ways of observation. The book was most enjoyable to read, and the short, but many, chapters helped a lot.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and should be REQUIRED READING if you want to be a naturalist or are interested in Permaculture.
John Dunbar
Sugar Land, TX
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