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Read & Watch

The books and films inspiring you to make a difference

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BY LINDA WOODROW (MELLIODORA PUBLISHING 2020)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

A novel set in the 2030s in a future where the effects of climate change and global warming are starting to have serious effects. Set in both Melbourne and Northern NSW, this book follows the journey of one family and their communities’ experiences in a climate-changed world.

Melbourne has been ravaged by heat waves and bushfires, Northern NSW has been cut off by a cyclone with swathes of beach and homes washed away, leaving the communities with food supply chains cut and with a dire shortage of basic necessities.

By coming together as a family and community, by bartering, growing food and drawing on their combined skills and resources, they are able to not only survive but also thrive.

Following the year we’ve experienced in 2020, it isn’t too hard to imagine the future Woodrow depicts as a realistic setting. This book, while frightening on one hand, shares the hope that regardless of what the future may hold, with community, skills and resilience we will survive. A gripping read.

BRAIDING SWEETGRASS

INDIGENOUS WISDOM, SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND THE TEACHINGS OF PLANTS

BY ROBIN WALL KIMMERER (PENGUIN PRESS 2020)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, professor and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. This book is an ode to mother earth and Kimmer’s beautifully written musings share her own deep love of nature as a mother, botanist and native American. She examines nature in a way that combines the scientific approach to the natural world with her deep Indigenous knowledge and understanding that comes from generations of people living in harmony with the land.

She explores the relationship Indigenous cultures have to their natural surroundings and how interconnectedness enables them to live in a way mostly lost in this modern era. This book is ‘a braid of stories meant to heal our relationship with the world. This braid is woven from three strands: Indigenous ways, scientific knowledge, and the story of an Anishinaabekwe scientist trying to bring them together in service to what matters most.’

LIVING WITH THE ANTHROPOSCENE

LOVE, LOSS AND HOPE IN THE FACE OF ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS

EDITED BY CAMERON MUIR, KIRSTEN WEHNER & JENNY NEWELL (NEWSOUTH 2020)

Review by Eleanor Whitworth

Opening with an exquisite piece on grief and loss by Tony Birch and closing with a call for collective endeavour by David Ritter, this book of 44 essays takes the reader through a wide-ranging set of topics and perspectives grouped under thematic headings.

Reflecting on an ecological crisis, the essays are rigorous, riveting and heart-rending. From Jo.lle Gergis’ insight as a climate scientist to Justine Hyde’s reflection on cicadas, through to Angela TiaTia’s remembrance of life in Sāmoa, the reader is given a fascinating, touching and often very personal view on the multi-faceted challenge climate change presents us now and into the future.

Ultimately, this book is about shared experience. It’s an urgent call for human action to solve a human-caused problem and asks us to cherish and mobilise that strength that arises from community and connection.

THE SUSTAINABLE HOUSE HANDBOOK

BY JOSH BYRNE (HARDIE GRANT BOOKS 2020)

Review by Emily Stokes

When environmental scientist and Gardening Australia presenter Josh Byrne and his environmental scientist partner Kellie decided to build a sustainable home in a similar time frame and budget as a regular home, they documented the process. And the result is this beautifully laid-out and informative book.

Their aim was to find out if it was possible to build a house that was comfortable, healthy to live in and affordable, while also being good for the environment.

Using evidence captured by 70 sensors inside and outside the home to monitor the building’s energy performance, the pair not only proves you can, but shows you how. Chapters include designing a house for climate, the influence of building materials, efficient options for heating and cooling, solar system and greywater management and, of course, landscaping a highly productive organic garden.

This inspiring book is the perfect resource for anyone hoping to build their sustainable dream home.

THE ETHICAL OMNIVORE

BY LAURA DALRYMPLE & GRANT HILLIARD (MURDOCH BOOKS 2020)

Review by Emily Stokes

This beautifully photographed cookbook was born of the many conversations Laura and Grant have had with customers at their Sydney butchery Feather and Bone. For 14 years they have been sourcing whole animals from regenerative farmers to support a more sustainable food system.

According to the couple, their customers – who range from recovering vegetarians to those with food allergies – want to know ‘how did the meat live, how did it die and what impact does it have on climate change?’

To answer these questions, Laura and Grant crisscrossed the country to talk to farmers whose outstanding care for their animals and soil is inspiring. The first half of the book explains how we can be conscious, ethical and low-impact meat eaters, while the second half is full of recipes that gently encourage the use of a broader variety of cuts such as skirt tortillas, beef heart skewers and bone broth, along with mouth-watering slow-roasts and curries.

MOVIE

FANTASTIC FUNGI: THE MAGIC BENEATH US

A FILM BY LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG (2019)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

‘Imagine an organism that feeds you, heals you, reveals nature’s mysteries and could help save the planet … today.’

Fantastic Fungi is a consciousnessshifting film about the mycelium network that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical underground network that can heal and save our planet. Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors like Michael Pollan, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions that the fungi kingdom offers in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic and environmental challenges.

From its ability to help stabilise carbon in the soil, to its uses as psychedelics to remedy depression, anxiety and addiction, this film will open your mind to the magical and mystical nature of fungi and its powerful uses in so many aspects of our lives.

A beautiful film that will fill you with awe and wonder at the natural world and leave you with a greater understanding of the what lies beneath our feet.

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