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The Open Space of Democracy: Reprint Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1608992089
ISBN-10: 160899208X
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including "Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place", "Finding Beauty in a Broken World", " "and "When Women Were Birds". Her work has been widely anthologized around the world. She divides her time between Castle Valley, Utah, and Moose, Wyoming.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 138 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub; Reprint edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160899208X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608992089
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have not read a book in the last ten years that I would give this description to, but The Open Space of Democracy will or at least should go down as an American masterpiece, and a seminal contribution to environmental and political writing. I pre-ordered my copy direct from the publisher and so received and read, or rather devoured, it right after it was published. The triptych of essays in this volume are woven together and inseparable from each other in the way that Aldo Leopold's "Land Ethic" is inseparable from the rest of A Sand County Almanac.

This book maps a future for America and Americans that is luminous, hopeful, fierce, and prophetic all in one. Anyone who truly cares about our democracy and about the health of the natural world NEEDS to read this, be inspired by it, and take action in honor of it.
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Format: Paperback
After interviewing Terry on radio, I am convinced that this gentle soul's strong undercurrent provides us with a rich new model of citizen involvement in this, our participatory government. Too many of us dismiss a deeper involvement in democracy with crusty cynicism - we feel ground down by the backhanded tactics used by government officials to strip us of our civil liberties and rape the earth's environment.

What Terry Tempest Williams proposes not only facilitates transformation within our democratic system, but by the simple act of learning to listen with open minds and hearts, we may receive one another's views on a very human scale. If we endeavor to connect in this manner, not only will we have a more functional democracy, we will become better human beings.

Bela Johnson, Medical Intuitive
[...]

Host, Alternative Currents
[...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh my. This book actually rates 10 stars in today's world. In this slim book, Terry Tempest Williams is calling for community, discussion, breaking out of boxes and labels and working together to solve our problems in democracy's open space. Throughout the book she defines what that open space should be and what would create it. How disheartening it is to know how far in the other direction we have gone in the 3 years since it has been published.

"In the open space of democracy, we engage the qualities of inquiry, intuition, and love as we become a dynamic citizenry, unafraid to exercise our shared knowledge and power. We can dissent. We can vote. We can step forward in times of terror with a confounding calm that will shatter fear and complacency."

As was illustrated in a recent 60 Minutes piece, Terry Tempest Williams describes what a trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge can do to open minds and souls.

"The power of nature is the power of a life in association. Nothing stands alone. On my haunches, I see a sunburst lichen attached to limestone; algae and fungi are working together to break down rock into soil. I cannot help but recognize a radical form of democracy at play. Each organism is rooted in its own biological niche, drawing its power from its relationship to other organisms. An equality of being contributes to an ecological state of health and succession."

It is very unfortunate that this book is out of print. I wish it would be re-issued and distributed widely. The open space of democracy is waiting for us.
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Format: Paperback
I passionately enjoy Terry Tempest's writing. She can put into words certain emotions and gut feelings that may be difficult for others to articulate. She intertwines personal experience with political policy, enduring histories, and conservation activism of the last many decades, creating a narrative of American open lands policy and recent developments and regressions. This book consists of three of her essays published in Orion, all interrelated, all focusing on her concept of "the open space of democracy," how "raw, wild beauty is a deeply held American value ... liberty is expressed through the simple act of wandering" (60) and how "open lands open minds" (76).

I love her statements on the importance of (and power in!) community decision-making, the very purpose of democracy. If we all felt so strongly and listened to one another as deeply, America may be a different place (better).

A fantastic, quick read, still raw in its recency.

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Select quotes:

"In the open space of democracy, beauty is not optional, but essential to our survival as a species." (41)

"An open democracy inspires wisdom and the dignity of choice. A closed society inspires terror and the tyranny of belief." (10)

"To engage in responsive citizenship, we must become citizens who respond. Passionately. This is how we can make a difference. This is how we can serve society." (10)

"If we cannot engage in respectful listening there can be no civil dialogue and without civil dialogue we the people will simply become bullies and brutes, deaf to the truth" (23)

"Patience is more powerful than anger. Humor is more attractive than fear. Pay attention. Listen. We are most alive when discovering. Humility is the capacity to see. [...
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