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Imagine: What America Could Be in the 21st Century Hardcover – November, 2000
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The writers in this optimistic anthology didn't want to buy into the typical doomsayer theories and gloomy forecasts when imagining the future of America. Instead, editor Marianne Williamson assembled a soul-stirring gospel choir to sing out vivid, uplifting songs of hope and imagination. When contributor John Robbins imagines the typical family meal in the year 2030, he serves organic food bought from the local farmer's market and lovingly prepared by enthusiastic family members--even teenagers. This may sound like pie-in-the-sky talk, but Robbins backs it up with a solid plan that could lead to better diets, healthier food production, and even end world hunger.
One of the most profound essays comes from Fred Branfman, who writes about "Legacies." He makes a convincing case for imagining the faces of future generations and taking responsibility now to ensure the health of their world. Other excellent contributions include Eric Utne (editor of Utne Reader magazine) speaking on a new media that becomes "the connective tissue" in our culture, emphasizing community, debate, and conversation. Iyanla Vanzant imagines "Civility," Bell Hooks gives voice to 21st-century sexuality, and John Bradshaw sees the future family. Even if you only time travel from your armchair, this is a future you'll want to spend a lifetime creating. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
The 39 contributorsDJohn Bradshaw, Sarah Ban Breathnach and Deepak Chopra among themDto this inspirational essay collection edited by bestselling author Williamson (Healing the Soul of America, etc.) represent expertise across a spectrum of disciplines, including business, medicine, education and law. Although their approaches differ, these leaders all share a vision of an America 50 years from now that is more environmentally aware, spiritual and humane than the America of today because they view the small, hard-to-see changes taking place already that are the harbingers of greater change to come. Ecologist Paul Hawken sees strength in the 30,000 disparate citizens' groups fighting for social and environmental sustainability. Physician Dean Ornish envisions a health system that recognizes and reimburses "good science," i.e., the growing alliance between traditional and alternative medicine based on the proven relationship between physical disease and emotional and spiritual well-being. David C. Korton (The Post-Corporate World) believes that the November 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle marked a turning point for Americans to begin to challenge a corporate global order that rewards an elite few, and to work for a future in which corporate monoliths will be replaced by community-based economies. Certainly, the ideas expressed in these carefully thought out yet demanding essays will resonate most with those who already have a spiritual, expansive and liberal outlook.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Four "great truths" are articulated many times over across the various readings, and they merit listing here:
1) Campaign finance reform is the absolute non-negotiable first step that must precede every other reform. Until the people can reassert their great common sense for the common good, and restore the true democratic tradition, nothing else will happen.
2) Neighborhoods are the bedrock of both democracy and sustainable development, and we have spent fifty years building in the wrong direction. New legal and economic incentives must be found to redirect both urban and suburban real estate management back in the direction of self-contained neighborhoods.
3) Local production of everything, from electricity to food to major goods like automobiles) appears to be a pre-requisite for deconflicting high quality of life needs from limited resource availability. The book includes several very intelligent discussions of how this might come about.
4) Networking makes everything else possible, and by this the book means electronic networking. I was especially fascinated by some of the examples of near-real-time sharing that electronic networking makes possible--everything from a neighborhood car to scheduled hand-me-downs of winter coats from one family to another. We have not progressed one mile down the road of what the Internet makes possible at a personal and neighborhood level, and I would recommend this book for that perspective alone.
The creative editorial role must be applauded. From the identification and recruitment of the contributors, to the selection of the photographs that each tell their own story, to the quality of the paper used to create the book, all testify to the competence and knowledge of the editor.
Lastly, it merits comment that the book serves as a very fine calling card from something called The Global Renaissance Alliance, a spiritually-oriented group that nurtures Citizens Circles and uses a web site to provide pointers to resources and other like-minded folk.
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