Archive for the 'Environment' Category

Read, Connect, Act

What now? Friends are asking in the wake of the presidential election shocker last week. What we can offer to those questioning how we got here, is more of what we so believe in: the power of books to inform and inspire. The power of community to support and strengthen the insights gained. And action, a plan for creative sustaining ways forward, to apply what we’ve gained through reading, reflection, conversation.

To that end, Canio’s Cultural Cafe will again offer a series of community discussion courses focusing on environmental issues. This winter we’ll present inspiring, engaging material to read, discuss & act upon focused on environmental activism, living simply, sustainable energy, and more. Join us for an upcoming course. Now more than ever the planet requires your participation. Find out more by contacting the shop.

We’re grateful to organizations like Northwest Earth Institute for creating and promoting these courses, and to Orion Magazine for providing inspiring articles to engage the imagination, the heart and mind in our understanding of our responsibilities toward Earth.

 

Literature Amid the Cypress and Eucalyptus

Some twenty of us carpooled down to Point Reyes National Seashore early one chilly fog-thick afternoon. We walked down (and then slowly up) some 300 steps to the lighthouse following our intrepid guide, marine biologist Sarah Allen, author of Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast.She trained her scope on a flock of shore birds invisible to the naked eye. Soon , someone spotted a whale blow, the foamy exhalation of this giant majestic creature. We gasped and rushed to the best vantage point. Why does a group of otherwise fairly serious adults seem to melt at the sight of whales? Is some basic creaturely connection at work?

Are the boundaries between humans, “animals,” “nature” really boundaries at all? What are our  responsibilities to our fellow creatures, to our island home? These and other questions were discussed during a lively, colorful, musical, literary and delicious conference we attended: Geography of Hope 2015. Some of our all-time favorite writers on women and the environment gave presentations: Susan Griffin, author of the groundbreaking work: Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her which birthed the eco-feminist movement; Rebecca Solnit whose recent bestseller The Faraway Nearby gained much critical acclaim; Kathleen Dean Moore, co-chair of the conference, whose Moral Ground: Ethical Action for the Planet is a must read; and Gretel Ehrlich whose stunning Solace of Open Spaces is just one of some 14 powerful works. Award-winning poet/activists Brenda Hillman and Robert Hass read from their moving, engaged and lyrical works.

We were introduced to writers we want to read: Ann Pancake, whose novel Strange As This Weather Has Been describes a West Virginia family devastated by mountain-top removal. Her new collection of stories, Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley is on our spring must-read list. Also Camille Dungy, poet of Smith Blue; and Robin Wall Kimmerer, environmental biologist, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. (Order any of these from Canio’s and get 10% off).

Session questions asked: “What is the work of a writer in a wounded world? What are women’s gifts and responsibilities in the work against carbon catastrophe? What are the metaphors we need for a new world?” We met enormously talented, committed, friendly, hospitable, concerned people. We ate well, sang (slightly off key), laughed, shed a tear or two, worried about the drought, recycled. We thought about what could be, and committed to do our part toward a more sustainable future.

Kudos to Kate Levinson and Steve Costa owners of Point Reyes Books, an exceptional independent bookshop in the heart of town. These two courageous souls are the energy and inspiration behind this extraordinary conference. Since 2008, Kate and Steve have presented outstanding literary festivals that celebrate what’s best about the creative human spirit. Live well & love Earth!

See more about the conference at this Orion magazine blog post: https://orionmagazine.org/2015/04/postcard-from-california-re-storying-the-world/?utm_source=Fresh+April+1%2C+2015&utm_campaign=FRESH+4%2F01%2F15&utm_medium=email

Keep It Simple

Stacks of books and boxes, piles of paper, catalogs, bills surround us. Call it clutter, or call it cozy lived-in. We’ve got lots of “stuff” here at the bookshop, most of it important, but some of it could go.  So we’re eager to start another community discussion course  this month called Voluntary Simplicity. We’ll address not just physical clutter, but personal as well as environmental clutter.

Call it ironic that here in the fabulous Hamptons a sandbar of conspicuous consumption, a small group of folks will gather to discuss how to get more out of life with less.

In 1981 Duane Elgin’s book, Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich  announced the movement.  Reissued in 2010, Voluntary Simplicity has become even more relevant, mainstream rather than marginal,  more urgent. According to Elgin, voluntary simplicity helps create community through a common purpose; protects plants and animals from extinction;  promotes self-discovery and well-being among humans, all the while promoting a balanced use of Earth’s precious resources. In fact, voluntary simplicity is crucial to a sustainable future.

Voluntary Simplicity, a five-week course designed by the Northwest Earth Institute, begins at Canio’s Tuesday, January 29. We’ll read intriguing articles, discuss our experiences, as we become more aware of how we’re spending our precious time, our limited resources. We’ll discover how these choices affect our health, our relationships, and Earth.

Pre-registration is required along with a $30. materials fee. Space is limited; contact us soon! The program is sponsored by Canio’s Cultural Cafe.

Orion at Canio’s

On the first day of autumn we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Orion magazine. This fine publication combines exceptional essays, stories and articles about our human relationship with nature. Each issue features art, photography and poetry. At our celebratory event, were heard from Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point. Safina is a contributor to Orion. Local environmentalists read, as did organic farmer and poet Scoot Chaskey and Megan Chaskey a musician and yoga teacher. Readers chose an essay from Orion’s anniversary publication, Thirty-Year Plan: Thirty Writers on What We Need to Build a Better Future. Responses to that question showed an impressive range of vision by a host of the magazine’s contributors.
We’re so impressed with the quality of writing and image in the magazine that we’ve committed to carrying Orion each month. The November/December issue is just out. Its striking cover image, small white bones arranged in a mandala on a black ground is dramatically prescient. Here on the mid-Atlantic coast, we’re still picking up the pieces in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Trebbe Johnson’s essay on gazing at damaged places has special resonance for us as we observe the changes to our coastline, the loss of life, damaged property. Yet, the essay and the magazine itself is hope filled. Life does continue through destruction. Poetry by Pattiann Rogers, Tony Hoagland and others, and photographs by Ami Vitale make this issue one to savor. Pick up your copy, or give one as a gift to the environmentalist on your list. Let’s see Orion through another 30 years!

Connecting with Earth and each other

We’re about mid-way through a  fascinating and challenging course “Reconnecting with Earth.” Nine of us meet weekly to discuss readings and to speak from experience about how we view our relationship with Earth. Writers like Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Thomas Berry and Kathleen Dean Moore bring us their insights expressed in lyrical language. Physicist Fritjof Capra and Jeanette Armstrng, member of the Okanagan nation, among others help us understand and contemplate our inter-related nature. Our lively group consists of a photographer, two farmers, a Buddhist poet, an eco-feminist Catholic writer, and more —  all of us curious and open and eager to explore  how we live on Earth, “our island home.” The course is one of eleven  offered by the Northwest Earth Institute (see http://www.nwei.org). These community-based courses are so well designed and the readings so good, we have plans to offer more.  The courses are a great way to engage the mind, body and spirit. They also help promote community and action. We’ll be having a “celebration” gathering after our last session. We plan to offer another course, “Voluntary Simplicity” later this year. But anyone can  organize a course in their neighborhood, workplace, faith place or community center.  It’s one wonderful way to help promote awareness of the living world of which we are a part.

Green thumbs up for American Grown

It could be because we’re grandchildren of immigrants and fondly remember our grandparents’ bountiful backyard vegetable gardens. It could be because we support and advocate for community gardens. This year we’ve created our own front yard raised-bed garden following Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening methods.  Or it could be because First Lady Michelle Obama’s first book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America is bursting with beautifully photographed fresh produce just plucked from the South Lawn. But American Grown is our  current favorite summer read for more reasons than this. It’s about kids and families enjoying healthy food; it’s about the pleasures of planting and caring for the Earth. It includes interesting history, and hope-filled stories about community gardens across the country.  Not since Eleanor Roosevelt’s WWII victory garden has food been grown on the White House lawn. Two Thomas Jefferson beds have been planted with seeds collected from his gardens at Monticello.   An office building in Texas agreed to create container gardens out on the hot concrete of Houston. Workers on each floor assume responsibility for one container. They’ve got squash and okra and sweet potatoes and tomatoes thriving. Mostly, American Grown shows us how one  supremely intelligent and insightful First Lady can share her enthusiasm about vegetables and change a nation one backyard at a time.

After 30 years , a Face Lift

Thanks to the exacting care and attention paid it by artist Pat Moran, our iconic Canio’s Books shop sign has been given new life. This past fall when the weather was fine, Pat would climb a ladder and set to work on the 10 by 3-foot swinging shingle that has come to symbolize literary Sag Harbor. Its signature marine blue background is now brightened to match the blue of sun-saturated bay waters nearby. Pat worked painstakingly to first clean and protect the wood surface, then went in with matching colors and highlights to accentuate our Old English lettering. Our beloved logo, first created by artist Nohra Barros, the Pagliacci clown is once again beating his drum atop a pile of books. As we enter a new century of bookselling with much uncertainty about the future, we’re delighted to see our sign spruced up and ready for whatever weather is headed our way. And we’re eternally grateful to Pat Moran for helping us look our best.
As a complement to our newly restored sign, we’re flying a brand-new authentic Earth Flag. Designed by John McConnell, the man who also gave us Earth Day, the Earth flag helps raise consciousness about our precious planetary home. The Earth flag not only symbolizes our love of and reverence for planet Earth, it is truly beautiful. To gaze upon this image, is to experience awe. Come see our new sign, our new flag and browse our special selection of literary books on nature, spirituality, the environment and more.


Canio's Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. You can drop an email to info@caniosbooks.com, or even check out some of our stock online. Thanks for visiting our blog!

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