Read & Watch

The books and films inspiring you to make a difference

GROUNDED

GROUNDED

A GARDENER’S JOURNEY TO ABUNDANCE AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY

BY LIZ ZORAB (PERMANENT PUBLICATIONS 2021)

Review by Morag Gamble

When a crises turns the world upside down, a garden can be a place of rest and healing – a place to remake your life. Grounded shares Liz Zorab’s personal story of courage and transformation alongside that of her small but abundant homestead in South West Wales, UK.

After a debilitating illness, Liz moves to the countryside and embarks on a journey to bring life to an empty paddock and to create a permaculture oasis and, in the process, reclaims her health and finds a new career. On less than one acre, Liz and her partner grow most of their food and produce surplus to sell through the local CSA box scheme.

Grounded is an honest and practical guide for anyone thinking of starting a small farm, or transforming an empty patch of garden. The book shares the first five years from the planning and design, integrating small livestock, creating a food forest, listening to nature and learning from mistakes. It’s an invaluable companion for living a simpler, healthier life for yourself and the land.

SONGLINES

THE POWER AND PROMISE

BY MARGO NEALE AND LYNNE KELLY (THAMES & HUDSON AUSTRALIA 2020)

Review by Emily Stokes

I knew this would be powerful when the first sentence moved me to tears. ‘Why do most Australians know so little about the deep history of this continent they call home?’ Without lingering on the why, the book explains how Aboriginal songlines work and why they exist.

While Western history is captured in books and the written word, Australian Aboriginal history is kept in stories, song and dance. An incredible encyclopaedic knowledge of animals, plants, genealogies, climate, land management, astrology, ecology, law, ethics and much more has been memorised by generation after generation. Using songlines to store, constantly update and refine this knowledge has enabled people to thrive on this continent for many thousands of years. And the best part of the book, for me, was ‘the promise’; how we can learn these memory techniques to understand our own songlines, a key to connecting with each other and to belonging on this continent we all call home. Songlines is the first in a series of six books on First Knowledges.

WITH A LITTLE KELP FROM OUR FRIENDS

THE SECRET LIFE OF SEAWEED

BY MATTHEW BATE (THAMES & HUDSON AUSTRALIA 2021)

Review by Emily Stokes & Mali (aged 12)

I asked my 12-year-old daughter to read this beautiful and extra-large sized children’s book on seaweed. She enjoyed the gentle illustrations and the lyrical explanations as much as I did. I’m always a bit wary of children’s books that touch on the disastrous possibilities climate change might bring, and this one did. However it also provided a number of seaweed-centric solutions such as 3D ocean farming and marine permaculture. The end of the book offers activities, recipes, foraging tips and an illustrated seaweed index.

This is Mali’s review: I think it’s a good book and I learnt quite a lot from it. One of the things I learnt is that seaweed is very cleansing and very good for the ocean and for people. It can feed us, heal us, fuel cars, it’s very sustainable and we should use a lot of it. I think the pictures helped explain quite a lot, but that doesn’t mean the writing wasn’t good – it was well written, too.

MOVIE

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET

(ALTITUDE FILMS 2020)

Review by Emily Stokes

David Attenborough fans will love the first half of this self-confessed ‘witness statement’, a sweeping overview of Attenborough’s life from his first forays into the natural world as a ten-year old in the English countryside, to his adulthood travelling the world’s most wild and remote places. The tribal and traditional people he’s visited and the wild animals and interesting plants he’s interacted with, he brought it all into our homes and hearts through our television sets.

The middle section of the movie is quite disheartening (make sure you watch it alongside children), as we’re given a visual depiction of what the earth might end up like if humans keep up the current rate of burning fossil fuels and forest and habitat destruction.

Though ‘it’s not all doom and gloom’, he finally admits, and then takes us on a beautiful dream sequence of where he hopes humans and nature might end up. Apart from a few disjointed sequences where he talks about the positives of moving to a ‘plant-based diet’ as we look at visuals of enormous seemingly unsustainable monocultures of greenhouse hydroponic tomatoes, this movie is quite a beautiful and moving statement from one of the world’s most loved nature-lovers.

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