Saturday, 15 August 2009

Book Review - Interviews with Green Gurus

I love to read, but don't get as much time as I would like to do so. So it's always a treat to discover a book that's not only inspiring, but constructed in such a way that it can be read in bite-sized instalments. Conversations with Green Gurus, by Laura Mazur and Louella Miles, dispenses great wisdom in manageable chunks from people who have been influential in the environmental movement. They're a pretty eclectic bunch, from all over the World, some you will have heard of and some you may not have done.

For me, the beauty of this book is that after exploring the professional achievements of the subjects, it delves into the personal experiences that influenced them. I found these intimite insights into the personal history and home life of remarkable people fascinating. Their backgrounds have little in common, and not all of them can identify a"moment of truth" when their future path became clear and inevitable - but they all share a deeply held belief that drives them, a strong intellect and an inquiring mind. Fundamentally, though, they are just like you and me.

For example, I enjoyed learning more about John Grant, whose work is familar and has been a strong influence on my career. He recounts conversations with his young son that bear a spooky similarity to those that take place in our household. Equally, the book introduced me to Professor Wangari Maathai who has been honoured for her work on women's rights and tree planting programmes. She was born in rural Kenya and raised in the United States, but the way she describes her childhold and her thirst for knowledge will be familiar to many of us living in cities in the UK.

The genius of this book is that it presents leading edge thinking on sustainability and social responsibility, but counterpoints it with personal insights that ultimately make the wisdom more accessible. As we consider the challenges of climate change, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and feel that our own efforts can't make a difference. This book reminds us that all the positive action that has been taken, and is being taken, is driven by people just like us - with familes and jobs, mortgages and bills, doubts and fears. And that's really empowering.

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