Friday, August 22, 2008

Book: "Small Is Possible"

"Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy" (New Society Publishers, $17.95) is a fine, fun collection of essays, columns and blog postings about life in Chatham County, N.C.

If taking on the global climate issue is too much, scale back, is the message of author Lyle Estill. The idea is that we don't have to be world changers to eat, live and fuel our lives through local businesses and our own efforts.

Almost every chapter is named "(Something) Ourselves," such as "Feeding" "Housing" "Fueling" and "Financing".

It is extremely well written, loaded with hope, not hype. If you don't believe global warming is an issue, you can still enjoy this story about life in a small town.

He covers a lot of aspects of life in that town and one of them involves making economic/consumer decisions based on personal values. In one case, he writes about taking his sons into a barbershop where the kids learned how to use racist language. So he chose to take the boys to a more distant, more expensive place because of his values. This isn't precisely about greening the world but it is about choices that we all face.

Estill is the author of "Biodiesel Power: The Passion, the People, and the Politics of the Next Renewable Fuel" and part of this book deals with turning a homegrown biodiesel operation into a full-fledged business.

My personal favorite activist Bill McKibben--who seems to write more book blurbs than most people write checks--says of this book, "Community is quickly emerging as the most important word in the environmental lexicon and for a society that's focused so squarely of individualist consumers, it's not the easiest concept to really understand."

That's the truest sentence I've read in a long time. But this book show that it's possible. Enjoy.

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