This is not just about books on environmental activism. That would miss the point. Sitting in camps, reading books which echo each other does not provide the necessary learning for social change. Broader narratives are necessary, and casting a wider net is conducive to much needed creative problem solving. Learning further afield also helps create the dialogue needed to bring people together for social movements.
As part of our project The Space Between, we want to share this list to inspire thought and action.
- Naomi Klein – This changes everything
An author of several other books which span across a range of interrelated topics, This Changes Everything is a guide to the hypocrisy of carbon neutrality and greenwashing on a global scale. For a book with such a large subject matter, it is relatively easy to understand. It challenges our governments’ accountability to climate action alongside the behaviour of corporations. It also shines a light on how the green movement has increasingly become commodified.
- Gene Sharp – From Dictatorship to Democracy
Gene Sharp is the world’s leading writer on non-violent action. ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’ is a terse book on the process of social change. Perhaps over-simplistic, it leaves you thinking, it surely can’t be that simple? Still, it’s a must-have handbook for people organising community, or wider social, action.
- John Paul Lederach – The Little Book of Conflict Transformation
Social movements create conflict, and these conflicts aren’t inherently violent. According to Lederach where there is conflict, there are opportunities for social change. Don’t wait until the conflict arises to have some rudimentary understanding of how to get out of them unscathed and use them for your benefit. Another small but essential handbook for those dealing with ideological battles and can easily be shared and discussed as a group.
- Bell Hooks – Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics
“Feminist thinking teaches us all, especially, how to love justice and freedom in ways that foster and affirm life.”
This essential feminist text looks at how feminism changes politics for the better and brings in virtues of compassion and humanity. A must-read for anyone interested in making social change in an inclusive way. Starting from the grassroots this book is now on every Gender Studies course’s reading list.
- Marshall Rosenberg – Nonviolent Communication
Similar to the Lederach book, this suggests we need skills when facing power. The nature of changing the world is conflict. Conflict is not inherently a bad thing, conflict provides opportunities for transformation and making better communities. Knowing how to do this without descending into violence is an art form.
A cornerstone in social change is addressing how we communicate with one another. By offering empathy we can defuse violent situations, listen to the needs of the marginalised and respect each other’s boundaries. When we learn to communicate in this way, we encourage others to do the same.
- John Seymour The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers
A great book for permaculture, self-sufficiency, homesteading, and growers. An activist and writer, Seymour wrote over 40 books. This book gives advice on everything from chopping down trees to harnessing solar energy. There is nothing more in line with Seymour’s politics than sharing this book and its rich and varied information in as many ways as possible. This is one of the more coffee table-sized books rather than a pocket-sized handbook. Nonetheless, you will never need to put it away.
Other books on our reading list:
- As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
- Little Free Libraries & Tiny Sheds 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build to Enhance Your Yard or Neighbourhood by Philip Schmidt.
- The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience by Rob Hopkins
- A Wind Turbine Recipe Book by Hugh Piggot – As recommended by Jake Krushell, this is the inspiration behind his commission TURBINE.
Call of the Wild – A podcast from WWF which digs deeper in to the environmental threats we are facing.
Climate Conversations – is a podcast produced by MIT Climate. MIT Climate is Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s hub for all the scientific work being done on climate change across the university.
Costing the Earth– is a BBC podcast about climate change, covering interesting topics such as emission reductions and sustainable technology.
Websites and online resources for people in Leeds:
- Zero Waste Leeds
Zero Waste Leeds has launched a website for exchanging great quality second-hand school uniforms.
A helpful map of school uniform re-use schemes in Leeds will help you find the uniform you need. You can also join the Leeds School Uniform Facebook group to find uniforms or let others know what you have to give away. Parents and schools who are interested in setting up their own exchange can find lots of resources on the Zero Waste Leeds website.
Using the school uniform exchange can help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint too.
- City Connect
City Connect is offering free socially distanced cycle training lessons to help you feel more confident on two wheels. Cycling is a great way to commute or just explore the city for fun!
To sign up, or to access helpful cycling advice, visit: https://www.cyclecityconnect.
- Trial an electric bike
Trial an electric bike. E-bikes are accessible, easy to use, and easy to charge. They can be cheaper and often quicker than driving or using public transport. By switching to an electric bike for commuting, you can reduce your carbon footprint and help keep the city’s air clean. To find out more or trial one for free visit, https://www.leeds.gov.uk/