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The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles Hardcover – February 2, 2015
The Amazon Book Review
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“Life on Earth is experienced two-dimensionally—with all of the distortion that that implies. Such a blinkered view is impossible from orbit, where you take in whole sweeps of the borderless globe in a glance. Garan’s book, The Orbital Perspective movingly explains the impact of such a perspective shift—one that by no means occurs for every astronaut. In Garan’s case—and perhaps Garan’s alone—the message is how the rest of us can put his lessons to use. The Orbital Perspective could wind up being the most important tale ever told from space.”
—Jeffrey Kluger, Time Magazine
"His thesis that 'Earth is a small town with many neighborhoods in a very big universe' rings powerfully true, and his lessons are particularly apt for those working in the nonprofit sector."
“The Orbital Perspective is an inspirational knockout. After reading this book you will refuse to accept the status quo on our planet.”
—Wladimir Klitschko, PhD, Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World and founder of Klitschko Management Group
“This is more than just a book; it is a call to action and a catalyst for a necessary movement. We need to look beyond what we think is possible and reimagine a world in which no one is limited by his or her circumstances. This is a defining book for a defining time in human history.”
—Daniel Epstein, founder and CEO, Unreasonable Group
“Written from Ron Garan’s unique perspective as an astronaut, The Orbital Perspective reminds us of our common humanity and that the pressing challenges we face, we must face and resolve together through tolerance, dialogue, and cooperation.”
—Kofi A. Annan, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair, Kofi Annan Foundation
“It is said that to understand a problem properly you need to get outside of it. Ron Garan has certainly done that. Ron’s focus is on finding new connections and collaborations that cross borders of all sorts that might just allow us to transform the world for the better before we destroy this big blue ball we call home.”
—Peter Gabriel, musician and a founder of WOMAD, Witness, and The Elders
“Ron Garan’s breakthrough book is one of a kind. Never before has a firsthand account of lessons learned in space been applied to firsthand humanitarian development work on Earth. Ron masterfully synthesizes the big-picture view of our world with the ground-level details necessary to overcome the barriers to improving life for all people”
—Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
“Astronaut Ron Garan’s fabulous book will transport you from the magnificent sense of possibility in outer space to the perspective of a worm on Earth’s rich soil and will reassert our fundamental connection to one another in ways that challenge and inspire. We all need more of an orbital perspective to remind us that, in the end, we only have each other.”
—Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO, Acumen, and author of The Blue Sweater
“A wonderful call to shift our point of view from local to global, from myopic to orbital. This consciousness-altering, ego-dissolving, mind-reconfiguring experience renders our common purpose clear: we are the frontal lobes of this Pale Blue Dot and we need to leverage our collective genius to overcome our challenges and unleash our potential. Bravo!”
—Jason Silva, filmmaker, media artist, and host of National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games
“Put a humanitarian into a spacesuit and keep sending him into space and books like this are bound to be written. You see, global problems can have a personal solution.”
—Keith Cowing, Executive Director, Space College Foundation
For astronaut Ron Garan, living on the International Space Station was transformative. If fifteen nations (some of them former enemies) can work together to create and run the most complex structure ever built in space, why can’t we work together to solve our problems on earth? Garan shows how we can all gain this “orbital perspective" to guide and inspire our efforts to build a better world.
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Spending time in space (189 days in the author’s case), orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes, causes deep and profound shifts in a person’s perception of our planet; this was especially true for Ron Garan.
Orbital Perspective begins with Looking Skyward:
The first of three sections contains enlightening aspects of how the USSR-Russia and USA overcame deep hostilities to achieve highly successful partnerships in space-related projects, starting with Apollo-Soyuz, then Shuttle-Mir, and finally the grand achievement of the International Space Station.
By using similar, smaller steps, it’s possible that current deeply-rooted global problems can be overcome.
The book continues with Looking Earthward and Looking Forward:
Frank White’s brilliant book “The Overview Effect” (there’s a great summary video here: http://vimeo.com/55073825) explains the change in thinking, a cognitive shift, that takes place when seeing the Earth from space. Orbital Perspective derives from that and is a call to action for worldwide collaboration (particularly among development workers) and new longer-term perceptions of global problems.
Garan advocates the benefits of and need for collaborating effectively on a global scale, using examples such as Vision Zero, which explores ways to eliminate traffic accidents through vehicle sensing and smart roadways, and the Chilean mine rescue, the success of which was aided by a shift from short-term to long-term thinking by international participants.
Earth is our one and only ride through space and time; we’d have a better chance at a better future by embracing the forward-looking, long term thinking outlined in this book.
Twitter: @ronrosano https://twitter.com/ronrosano
That was a question I had before reading a pre-release copy of “Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles”
I had met with the author Ron Garan on several occasions over the past few years and heard the story of how his time in space provided an existential transformation about what it means to be human. In Ron’s case (like many – but not all astronauts) that was the catalyst that propelled him to a life now which is committed to personally impacting the quality of life for all of humanity. This is evidenced through the many projects he has been directly involved with.
I have to admit however to having some pre-conceptions about what the book would actually be about – and what I would get from it.
I was expecting the story of an “existential awakening” from being exposed to views of the earth by being IN SPACE. I was expecting the tales of international collaboration (specifically US/Russian) that made the building of the ISS possible.
What I had not quite expected was the bottom line.
The bottom line is that Ron is saying the KEY to making a difference is never about governments. In the end it’s not even about Institutions (e.g. NASA / Roscosmos).
It’s never about “This organization” or “That organization”.
In the end it is about ordinary people who through whatever means manage to lift their views of what is possible to an “Orbital Perspective”. Out of that level of “Elevated Empathy” a new future becomes possible that disregards the short term gains that might otherwise be in the way of a sustainable solution to a critical issue in the world.
Who are these ordinary people? You and Me. #TheKeyIsWe
I hope you too can become present to what’s possible if we all raise ourselves up to the level of an “Orbital Perspective” and tackled our issues from that view.
The Orbital Perspective gives examples of successes and a roadmap to creating a future that works through creative collaboration and the power of the individual to make a real difference.
This book should be part of the course curriculum for any High School/University Government, Sociology, Economics, Environmental, Engineering or Political Studies courses. If more people applied this Orbital Perspective to the challenges we face, the world would look like a very different place!