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Bill McKibben in the NY Review of Books

Here's part of what Bill McKibben (End of Nature, etc.) has to say about us in his forthcoming New York Review of Books piece:

It is precisely this question -- how we might radically transform our daily lives -- that is addressed by the cheerful proprietors of the WorldChanging website in their new book of the same name. This is one of the most professional and interesting websites that you could possibly bookmark on your browser; almost every day they describe a new technology or technique for environmentalists. Their book, a compilation of their work over the last few years, is nothing less than The Whole Earth Catalog, that hippie bible, retooled for the iPod generation. There are short features on a thousand cool ideas: slow food, urban farming, hydrogen cars, messenger bags made from recycled truck tarps, pop-apart cell phones, and plyboo (i.e., plywood made from fast-growing bamboo). There are many hundreds of how-to guides (how to etch your own circuit board, how to break in your hybrid car so as to maximize mileage, how to organize a "smart mob" (a brief gathering of strangers in a public place).

WorldChanging can tell you whom to text-message from your phone in order to advocate for international debt relief, and how to build an iPod speaker from an old tin of Altoids mints. It's a compendium of everything a younger generation of environmental activists has to offer: creativity, digital dexterity, networking ability, an Internet-era optimism about the future, and a deep concern about not only green issues but related questions of human rights, poverty, and social justice. The book's pragmatism is refreshing: "We can do this" is the constant message, and there are enough examples to leave little doubt that sheer cleverness is not what we're lacking as we approach our uncertain future.

You can buy the book here:
Barnes and Noble

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McKibben also said, "If there's one flaw in the WorldChanging method, I think it might be a general distrust of the idea that government could help make things happen...."

Posted by: Wade Hudson on 23 Oct 06

Yes, which I don't think is a fair reading of either the book or this group of writers here on the site: indeed, we get complaints that we're too wonky, too interested in policies and politics and such...

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 23 Oct 06


Why on earth did you perpetuate the hydrogen fuel cell car myth? as if enough precious research dollars haven't been burned up chasing that futile idea.

well... at least Bush (or whoever writes his words) agrees that hydrogen fuel cells are distant future.

batteries batteries batteries! (for personal cars anyways) PHEV would be miles cheaper in europe now! why haven't europeans caught on? I thought europeans thought for themselves..

methanol for the rest of it (you can make methanol from hydrogen & co2) Its easier / less costly to move around.

Posted by: Matt on 23 Oct 06

Bill McKibben is a fine ally, and it's good to have him out of the gate with a review of the book. For one thing, that review will catch the eye of a lot of other publications, and they'll give WC the attention it deserves. Rock on, Bill!

Posted by: Ted on 23 Oct 06

McKibben also said, "If there's one flaw in the WorldChanging method, I think it might be a general distrust of the idea that government could help make things happen...."

An odd comment, yet understandable, because WorldChanging does, on first reading, seem to emphasize design over policy. In fact, WorldChanging often writes about the design of policy. How can new forms of communication and collaboration make policy more participatory and effective? How can policy become more grounded in environmental literacy? When facts challenge values, how can we bridge that gap? To what extent are we engaged in reforming policy or transforming culture?

Big questions - ones that need to be grounded through real application. When friends spout political generalizations, I often remind them how hard it would be to increase the recycling rate in their community above 50%, to reduce their household energy consumption 50%, or for 20% of their community's food to come from local sources. This kind of real, on-the-ground work is helped by joining communities of practice and sharing information. That's an example of good policy design, one of many that WorldChanging reports on and helps foster.

Think locally, network globally: WorldChanging is a great tool to help us do that.

Posted by: David Foley on 24 Oct 06

You all are publishing a book? ;)

Posted by: jw on 24 Oct 06



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