ed. C&J Plant, Turtle Talk

This book was something of a revelation for me. Edited by Christopher Plant and Judith Plant, published out of Lillooet BC as part of the The New Catalyst Bioregional Series, it's a solid collection of insightful interviews by challenging people - Turtle Talk: Voices for a Sustainable Future. The New Catalyst, after many years of valuable contributions, merged with another organization to become New Society Publishers ("books to walk the talk"); NSP has gone on to publish, among other things, Lyle Estill's forthcoming Small Is Possible, and M'Gonigle & Starke's Planet U.

But this collection, which contains interviews with Gary Snyder, Susan Griffin, Dave Foreman, Starhawk, Murray Bookchin, and several others, just has to represent one of TNC's high-water marks before the merger. It hasn't aged all that well, in that several speakers make claims that just haven't come true, but the intensity of its activist and theoretical impulses is still wildly evocative.

"Wings of the Eagle," by Gitksan Wet'suwet'en writer and leader Marie Wilson, was the most evocative, and feels the most urgent still. She remarks at one point, describing how she sees her own place in the succession of people and history and place, "We are the compost of the future," and I really like that idea. More challengingly, and chillingly, she makes this comment:
[T]he Indian attitude toward the natural world is different from the environmentalists'. I have had the awful feeling that when we are done dealing with the courts and our land claims, we will then have to battle the environmentalists and they will not understand why.
Which is close to where we are, in a lot of ways, with mining being considered outside of Tofino, and timber sales being considered along the coast by various First Nations groups. It's First Nations land, and it's the individual group's decision what to do with it (and hopefully they'll set up their own environmental assessment processes etc.), but oh dear, oh dear. The perils of self-determination, I guess: independence means you actually get to act independently.

Anyway, it's been great bumping into the pre-history of New Society Publishers, and I'm going to go a-digging for New Catalyst publications now.


Unknown said…
Hi Richard,

What a great post! I'm going to show it to Chris and Judith. I know they'll be pleased to hear that Turtle Talk is still reaching readers.

I'm with New Society Publishers in its current incarnation, and you might be interested in our New Catalyst Books series - an imprint that we use to bring sustainability classics back into print. You can check it out here, and of course we'd love to have you check out our blog too!
richard said…
Well, thanks, Heather! I've been aware of New Society for a while, but I didn't know its prehistory as New Catalyst. And yes, do tell Chris and Judith that Turtle Talk still carries some magic.

I'll probably get in touch with you through the New Society office one of these days, too, about an upcoming conference I'm involved with.

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