- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Milkweed Editions; Original edition (July 12, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1571313249
- ISBN-13: 978-1571313249
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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My Green Manifesto: Down the Charles River in Pursuit of a New Environmentalism Paperback – July 12, 2011
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"Raw and honest . . . there's a lilt in his jig that many will find invigorating." Los Angeles Times
"Funny and inspiring . . . Gessner believes that committing to a lifelong environmental fight is an act of personal fulfillment. [My Green Manifesto] is an easy, pleasurable read, with an environmental message that . . . there is still transcendence to be found in the 'limited wild' of our own communities. So get out there, enjoy it, and fight for it before it's gone because, at least according to Gessner, this is the key to a better life." Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
David Gessner is a major American writer in possession of the most hard-headed, pragmatic, passionate, and eloquent style of thinking and writing on what it means to be a human on Earth today.” Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury
Gessner has chopped down the strangling beanstalk of environmentalism, and has merrily, adroitly, hungrily planted something new in its place. His book comes just in time: After talking with environmental experts and reading the direst of scientific journal articles, I was starting to feel the mind-numbing grip of paralysis. But before you put a bullet through your head for the plight of Mother Earth, you should read this book. Gessner is not saying anybody is off the hook, but he offers a more effective way of relating to natureno, in fact, of being nature.” Craig Childs, author of The Animal Dialogues
David Gessner re-invents the environmental manifesto for people who hate the word environmental as much as they hate the word manifesto. Make no mistakehe can write about a blue heron or an osprey with the best of thembut if you're looking for mystical rhapsodies to Mother Earth, go elsewhere. Gessner is convinced that re-connecting ourselves with nature doesn't start with finger-wagging; it starts with fun.” Ginger Strand, author of Inventing Niagara
An engaging book with a serious message.” Kirkus Reviews
"Earthy and funny, frank and pragmatic. Gessner asserts that nature is necessary for our well-being, that 'the most important wilderness is rooted not in theory, renunciation, or gloom but, rather, in love and wonder, even anger. Take a 'good walk,' he advises, and be willing to fight and hustle for the place you love." Donna Seaman, Booklist
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First, he argues against the doom-and-gloom environmentalists. We’ve also seen them – the people who warn us of the grave danger of climate change, who talk about the current great extinction, or who share scenarios of pandemics. Gessner doesn’t dispute the possibility of scary outcomes, but he’d rather have us share the joy of experiencing the natural world. That energy can motivate people to want to avoid the doom-and-gloom.
Second, he also takes on the overly technocratic environmentalists. He has a different foil, but the ones who annoy me are the energy experts. I know it’s important, but it’s also boring. Like Gessner, I find the technocrats demotivating.
Third, he argues for a love of place. We all know Thoreau’s love of Walden Pond. Gessner paddles down the Charles River with an old friend, Dan Driscoll, whose love for that river has led him to save it. I’m entirely sympathetic to that project – I think most people find global challenges overwhelming, and in any case it’s good to save the natural space beyond your backyard.
Gessner makes those points not as argument but as musings that flow in and out of one another like the currents of the Charles River. His reflections on the rural, suburban, and urban landscapes of the Charles may help you appreciate better your own special place.
It definitely was a new slant on environmentalism.
Despite his many "Nature Books," Gessner continues to protest, rightly, that he is a writer, not a nature writer, that his writing is his priority and environmentalism perhaps a means to that end. The oldest writing-teacher cliche of them all is "Show it; Don't tell it." That is exactly what Gessner does.
Ok, Gessner doesn't do it exactly. His friend Dan Driscoll does. But Gessner shows us how Driscoll, working from within the state bureaucracy slowly and painfully over many years was able to save parts of the Charles, the river that ends up as the famous "muddy water" of Boston. For Gessner, who grew up in Massachusetts and went to Harvard, this is as local as it gets, and Driscoll is deservedly his hero.
Driscoll's story is told interspersed with the tale of a paddle down the Charles from its headwaters to the Basin, camping along the shore, ending up on the Esplanade on the 4th of July. Not since Ray Mungo in the '60s paddled up Thoreau's Concord and Merrimack Rivers have we been invited to view so closely what an urban river looks like, from its industrial garbage-strewn worst to its hidden idyllic best.
The best part of Gessner's style may be his honest uncertainty. In a field in which so many people are so certain they have the answers, Gessner humbly confesses his confusion. Like many of us, he knows what he would like to see happen but hasn't much faith in the mystic and dogmatic answers that so many others insist upon. Every time he begins to succumb to romantic discourse, which is often, he manages to pull himself back to the muddy reality. Nor does he think we can be saved by the schemes of global-warming technologists who scorn the sentiment of Wendell Berry and John Hay, two of his heroes.
There is a bit of the Puritan in him, in the good use of that misused word. He wants us to get out of our dreary selves, "admit that we are limited, human," and remember that there is something larger we are part of and somehow learn to love it. His friend, Dan, definitely fits the Puritan ideal of a man "In the world but not of it," living in the corrupt systems of practical reality but able to keep his eye on a higher vision.
Not entirely a romantic, but not free of the romantic's temptations either, Gessner makes us "love that muddy water" whether or not Boston is our home.
-- Dave Williams, author of
Sin Boldly!: Dr. Dave's Guide To Writing The College Paper and of
Searching for God in the Sixties