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Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women
     

Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women

4.9 11
by Wilma Mankiller, Gloria Steinem
 

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A rare and often intimate glimpse at the resilience and perserverance of Native women who face each day positively and see the richnes in their lives.

Overview

A rare and often intimate glimpse at the resilience and perserverance of Native women who face each day positively and see the richnes in their lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555918057
Publisher:
Fulcrum Publishing
Publication date:
11/16/2016
Series:
Speaker's Corner
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Every Day Is a Good Day

Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women


By Wilma Mankiller

Fulcrum Publishing

Copyright © 2011 Wilma P. Mankiller
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-55591-805-7



CHAPTER 1

harvest moon

The medicine man arrived at our rural Oklahoma home on a cool fall day during that soft time just before dusk. As he busied himself gathering material for the evening ceremony in the woods surrounding our house, the Maple led the trees in a final burst of yellow and orange. Soon the nourishing rains would come to wash the leaves to the earth as part of an endless cycle of renewal. It was a good time for ceremony: a time of changing seasons, transition, and new beginnings. A time once called Harvest Moon, when Cherokee people gathered for ceremonies to mark the end of the growing seasons and the beginning of a new year.

When the Sun settled in the west, my family, friends, and I quieted our minds, opened our hearts, and began the ceremony. It was called to help me recover from my own "perfect storm" of chemotherapy treatments, political strife, and family trauma and to provide me with the strength to face additional medical treatments and an uncertain future. That night of prayer, songs, and ceremony took an unexpected turn when the medicine man planted the seed for this book by giving me and my daughter Gina special medicine to enable us to help tell the stories of others.

When the ceremony was over at dawn we all faced east to greet the new morning with a sense of renewal in our hearts, and the secrets we whispered during the ceremony safely tucked away. Besides my immediate family, two extraordinary women joined me for the ceremony, Debra LaFountaine, an Ojibway woman who always leads with heart, and Roberta Manuelito, who learned traditional Navajo ways from her beloved grandfather. By the time everyone began their journey home with their spirits still warmly wrapped in the ceremonial songs of the previous night, I was thinking about ways to share the experiences of women such as Roberta and Debra who get up every morning and stand for something larger than themselves.

Besides Debra and Roberta, many incredible women have danced in and out of my life. They are grandmothers, mothers, daughters, aunts, lovers, friends, sisters, and partners. Some have buried husbands and children, faced racism, confronted daunting health problems, and dealt with a staggering set of problems caused by extreme economic poverty, yet they lead their nations, their families, and their communities with dignity, strength, and optimism. Justine Buckskin was such a woman. She came to mind when I heard the Mohawk proverb, "It is hard to see the future with tears in your eyes." She faced great hardship in her life but didn't have time for despair. She kept a steady gaze toward the future. When I was an impressionable eleven-year-old, Justine invited me into her life by offering a babysitting job. I took the job, and we remained friends for the next four decades. Justine served on every board even remotely connected to the San Francisco Bay Area Native American community. She was a one-woman social service agency, the most relentlessly positive woman I have ever met. Even when she was down on her luck, she found a way to help others who were in worse circumstances. She had a gift for focusing on the positive attributes of people in difficult situations. When others saw only rough edges on me and the other youth who frequented the San Francisco Indian Center, Justine saw potential leaders and professionals. It was Justine who encouraged me to go to college and then accompanied me to campus to make sure I enrolled. Sadly, Justine was so busy taking care of other people that she did not always take care of herself. She developed diabetes. And when her kidneys failed she had to undergo dialysis, and then poor circulation caused the amputation of an arm. When I last saw her in San Francisco in the winter of 1990, she was quite frail, yet she spoke passionately about her work in the community and as a volunteer at Highland Hospital in Oakland, where she was helping other amputees learn how to live independently, as she always had. When people ask me what women influenced me, I always talk about Justine. Someone once told me that the Earth will always remember people as long as we continue to say their name. I often say Justine Buckskin's name.

Audrey Shenandoah, an Onondaga Clan Mother, also comes to mind. Her powerful message of peace and hope has inspired thousands of people throughout the world. Out of love, respect, and concern for her people, she teaches the Onondaga language and the ways of the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) to children and members of her community. As a Clan Mother she is responsible for the welfare and social harmony of the clan. She gives traditional Onondaga names to people of the clan and has an important role in the installation and removal of male chiefs, who are considered Caretakers of the Peace.

Mary and Carrie Dann represent the personification of indigenous womanhood — beautiful, strong, loving, free women who live full, rich lives with their children and grandchildren while waging a forty-year battle to keep the U.S. government from impounding their horses and cattle and evicting them from their land. Now grandmothers themselves, they learned traditional Western Shoshone ways and values from their own grandmother, who would have been so proud to know her granddaughters would stare down the United States government for more than four decades to protect Shoshone lands.

While the U.S. government was preparing to invade Iraq to "fight terrorism," the Bureau of Land Management sent military-style convoys to round up hundreds of heads of cattle and horses belonging to Mary and Carrie Dann. The Dann sisters called the raids "domestic terrorism" with good reason. The government has fined the Dann sisters more than $2 million for grazing fees, interest, and penalties on what it claims is U.S. government land. It is difficult to understand why there has not been more of a public outcry against the federal government for raiding Shoshone land to confiscate the horses and cattle, and for trying to break the spirit and resolve of two elder Shoshone women.

The Western Shoshone never lost their land in war, by congressional act, or by treaty. Yet the U.S. government has taken the incomprehensible position that the Western Shoshone lost their land in 1872 to settlers who "gradually encroached" on the land, ostensibly ending Shoshone land rights. Mary Dann says, "We've repeatedly asked the federal government for Western Shoshone land transfer documents. If our ancestors agreed to give up or sell this land, we would respect the government. But the federal agencies have never been able to show us any document giving away the land. This is still our homeland." The position of the Dann sisters has been supported by a majority of Western Shoshone Tribal Councils, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Organization of American States, as well as dozens of global organizations and thousands of individuals.

Despite the decades-long fight waged by the Western Shoshone, the U.S. Congress recently passed legislation they allege extinguishes Shoshone title to the land and opens the land up for mining. Western Shoshone lands are the third-largest gold producing area in the world. The Western Shoshone Distribution Bill, signed by President Bush on July 7, 2004, purports to take tens of millions of acres of Shoshone land for payment of $145 million, most of which will be paid to thousands of eligible tribal members. Some of the funds will be used to set up an educational fund. But even with the passage of the distribution bill, the Dann sisters and other Western Shoshone have vowed to never give up the fight to retain their homelands, and say they will join many other tribal members in refusing to accept any payment for their land. Carrie Dann says, "I'm not going to sell my dignity, my spirituality, my culture. No way. I'm looking at the future of our children. I'm looking at our birthright, which is not for sale for $20,000."

There are many other women who have had an impact on me, including all the women whose conversations are included in this book. I am privileged to have close friendships with women from many cultures and economic backgrounds with whom I share common interests, though we live very different lives. But my relationships with indigenous women, particularly those who synchronize their lives with the land and the community, are markedly different from my relationships with most of my other friends. The deep, binding connection among indigenous women can be explained in part by our common life experiences, patterns of thought, and shared values, but I also believe it can be partially explained by a more complete, whole, interconnected understanding of the world. Among these women, there is less of a tendency to organize everything into categories and segments than there is in the larger society. While many of my other friends describe objects or events in a way that detaches them from their context, my tradition-oriented indigenous friends tend to think about, describe, and view things in their totality. They conduct their work and live their lives within the context of the family, clan, community, nation, and universe. Context is everything. They also seem to have a much greater degree of tolerance for the unevenness, differences, and contradictions in life, or what Linda Aranaydo calls "life's backward- and forwardness."

Another factor that greatly contributes to a different view of the world is our identity as members of a culturally distinct group of people with whom we have reciprocal relationships. Joanne Shenandoah says, "It is a beautiful thing to be part of a collective society and community where we are safe. Ingrained in our soul are lessons about our place in the community."

Indigenous women are not only responsible for continuing time-honored traditions, they are also creators and interpreters of indigenous culture in the early twenty-first century, a time when advanced technology draws the entire world closer together and there are many attempts to homogenize world cultures. As native women work for the benefit of future generations, they are embraced by the memory of their ancestors. In the strength of that embrace, the line between the past, present, and future is not as distinct as it is in the larger society. Native women know the sacred places generations of their people have gone for renewal and for ceremony. They know where great battles were once fought and where their people held meetings to discuss momentous decisions about war and peace. They have a special relationship with the land where their ancestors sang their songs, told their stories, and were returned to the earth for burial. This is their homeland.

Outsiders are always admonishing Native women to forget about history and the past, but history is woven into the very fabric of their daily lives. History is much more than a series of abstract events. Gail Small says, "At our Northern Cheyenne homelands we look at history quite differently. Our history is the premise of who we are and how we make decisions today. Each time we hear stories about what American soldiers did to our people, especially our grandmothers, the pain and anger is fresh and raw. What we have gone through is so real, it is like it happened yesterday."

White anthropologists and "experts" on Native Americans have written volumes about the culture of traditional indigenous people with little understanding of the degree to which tribal knowledge continues to inform contemporary Native life. Too many books about specific tribal groups have been written by people who spent fifteen minutes on a reservation and became experts. But that is changing. Native scholars such as Dr. Bea Medicine have written and lectured extensively about the need for greater understanding of indigenous cultures. She said, "White people don't understand us or the strength and diversity of aboriginal people, and they don't even try. That's why there is such racism and misunderstanding. In any kind of reconciliation movement, they expect the Indian people to reconcile with them, and not the other way around." It is almost impossible for an outsider to grasp the underlying values of the community or the culture and lifeways of the people and their relationship to the natural world. Without an intellectual and spiritual frame of reference related to community and an understanding of the extended kinship system, they tend to filter everything through their own lens of the modern nuclear family, distant from the land and often from themselves. If one has never seen a grandmother who was prohibited from speaking her own language in a government boarding school overcome with love and joy when a young child proudly says a few words in her own language, how can one understand the people? If one has never felt the powerful unifying force of an indigenous-language prayer in ceremony, how can one possibly claim to understand indigenous people? Native people who can still speak their indigenous language are well respected. Darrell Kipp, founder of the Nizipuhwahsin Language Immersion School on the Blackfeet Reservation, says, "When people relearn their language, the first thing they wish to do is pray in it."

The movement of indigenous people in and out of two often very different cultures can sometimes cause outsiders to draw erroneous conclusions about the degree of assimilation in a given community. Indigenous people have long understood how to move in and out of parallel universes and maintain their cultural values. Dr. Bea Medicine says, "It is difficult to try to compartmentalize our lives. We have learned to assess the social situation and act accordingly. And it's not schizophrenia; it's just simply a rule to discern the proper behavior in different roles of life."

The pervasive influence of American popular culture has had a dramatic impact on indigenous communities, but it would be folly to draw conclusions about the degree of assimilation in these communities based primarily on external appearances and the fact that indigenous people do not look and act as they did 300 years ago. In tradition-oriented families, young people may watch MTV and older people tune in to CNN, but they filter the information through their own view of the world, which may be quite different from their white neighbors' view. One of my favorite scenes is the family campgrounds at the annual Crow Fair Celebration and Powwow at Crow Agency, Montana, where the dancers and horses are adorned with exquisite beadwork for the parade past dozens of tipis to the powwow grounds. Young people stroll through the powwow grounds with cell phones hooked to their waistbands, and Foreman grills and DVD players sit outside some tipis. I have yet to see a satellite dish in front of a tipi, but it wouldn't surprise me. The juxtaposition of tribal traditions and pop culture sometimes confounds outsiders who seem to think one precludes the other.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith describes the capriciousness of appearance: "In my art and life, I really strive to reverse the old adage that what you see is what you get. If I can be Coyote and practice my sneak-up, I can engage the viewers from a distance with one image and lure them in for exposure to another layer, which changes the initial view into quite a different reality. After all, that is what ethnic culture is all about — or even an ongoing relationship. What you see on the surface is never the same again once you begin to plumb the depths."

Most people know very little about indigenous women, except for a few almost mythical icons such as Sacajawea, an intelligent, resourceful Shoshone interpreter who accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early nineteenth century. This appalling lack of accurate information about indigenous women fuels negative stereotypes. Television, film, and print media often portray indigenous women as asexual drudges or innocent children of nature, while rail-thin white women are held up as idealized representations of compassion, beauty, and sexuality. In film, as in the larger society, the power, strength, and complexity of indigenous women are rarely acknowledged or recognized.

While the role of indigenous women in the family and community, now and in the past, differs from nation to nation, each of the women at this gathering stated unequivocally that there was a point in time when there was greater equity between men and women, and that balance between men and women must be restored if we are ever to have whole, healthy communities again. Lurline Wailana McGregor says, "In the past, men and women had very specific roles that complemented each other, assuring a functional and thriving community life. Although these roles are less rigid today, they are no longer balanced. Western cultures devalue women. So now we struggle for equity in the workplace and recognition in our own communities."

Navajo women once controlled the economy by owning and managing the livestock, and Ojibway women trapped small animals, dressed furs, and built canoes. In some indigenous communities, women chose lives that transcended gender roles. Historian Connie Evans described a trader's observation that a Gros Ventre woman dressed as a woman but sat on the council and ranked as the third leading warrior in a band of 180 lodges. She eventually took four wives.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Every Day Is a Good Day by Wilma Mankiller. Copyright © 2011 Wilma P. Mankiller. Excerpted by permission of Fulcrum Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Wilma Mankiller was an author, activist, and former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Her roots were planted deep in the rural community Mankiller Flats in Adair County, Oklahoma, where she spent most of her life. She has been honored with many awards, including the Presidental Medal of Freedom, and has received honorary degrees from such esteemed institutions as Yale University, Dartmouth College, and Smith College. Wilma Mankiller died in 2010 after a long battle with cancer. Contributors include: Linda Aranaydo, Muscogee Creek (physician) Mary and Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone (traditionalists) Angela Gonzales, Hopi (professor) Joy Harjo, Muscogee Creek/Cherokee (poet/musician) LaDonna Harris, Comanche (warrior) Sarah James, Nee'Tsaii Gwich'in (human rights activist) Debra LaFountaine, Ojibway (environmentalist) Rosalie Little Thunder, Lakota (Lakota linguist/artist) Lurline Wailana McGregor, Native Hawaiian (television producer) Beatrice Medicine, Lakota (anthropologist) Ella Mulford, Navajo (biologist) Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Salish Flathead (artist) Audrey Shenandoah, Onondaga (Clan Mother) Joanne Shenandoah, Oneida (musician) Gail Small (Head Chief Woman), Northern Cheyenne (environmental activist) Faith Smith, Ojibway (educator) Florence Soap, Cherokee (grandmother) Octaviana Valenzuela Trujillo, Pascua Yaqui (educator)

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Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
derrymacbride More than 1 year ago
Those of us, who care about the health of the planet and the quality of life for our children and grandchildren, owe Larry Schweiger a deep debt of gratitude. Last Chance is a comprehensive, clear, concise, 200 page jewel of a book. Readers who are well educated on the looming dangers of climate change, as well as those who need to expand their knowledge, will appreciate this work of incredible scope presented in an eminently readable style. In addition, it offers readers practical recommendations on how to get involved and clearly presents the extensive, science based reasons supporting the urgency for action now. Last Chance is an easy yet critical read. We live in an interconnected world, and the many feedback loops illustrated in the book show us the existing evidence of an already changing world and fears about what is to come. Without a doubt, it is time to seize the moment as the planet is teetering so precariously out of balance. I hope everyone will heed Mr. Schweiger's call to action in whatever way they can. Future generations are counting on us.
Glacier-Wanderer More than 1 year ago
"It is with our heads that we must think and ponder, while it is with our hearts that we muster courage to act boldly when loved ones are at risk." Larry Schweiger - LAST CHANCE Larry Schweiger is a much respected environmental leader. He is known for taking on epic battles. Global climate change is certainly the largest battle of our times. In LAST CHANCE the battle lines are clear - they extend from every human to the systems that sustain life on earth. While the complexity of climatic variables like feedback effects are imperfectly known, climate scientists are overwhelmingly and alarmingly of one mind - humanity is in trouble. Many of my colleagues in the science community believe it is the scientist's job to report the facts and nothing but the facts. But what is the scientist to do when the preponderance of evidence clearly suggests that the planet is in trouble? Schweiger's book provides the answer. It is time for everyone to act - the scientist, the politician, the consumer, the activist, the parent and every person interested in a sustainable future. It may well be our last chance. I finished reading Larry's book last night. It is the optimum mix of precise science, engaging storytelling, political history, and above all the orbital view required to see the critical interconnections of planetary systems. Lest anyone still believe that global climate change will result in simple sea level rise and more storms in the coastal regions, Larry documents the fundamental disruptions that will rip the ecosystem anchors from their complex moorings. These disruptions will leave no major ecosystem intact. For years, I have been mystified why the science is so clear and yet 53% of Wyoming citizens [my home state] still don't see the connections between their extravagant energy use and the melting glaciers of the Wind River Range. This book explains the mystery. What a writer! What a book! Last Chance is not just another pessimistic environmental diatribe but an action guide that conveys optimism and direction. Absent from most of the debate on global climate change is hope for our children. LAST CHANCE heralds the hope for our children and a sustainable biosphere. The denizens of denial will realize the truth and power in this book. It is our responsibility to first spread this message as far and as wide as we can.
NatureandBookLover More than 1 year ago
This is a very readable explanation of global warming and its impact on all living creatures. Written by Larry Schweiger, who is both a devout Christian and a hunter, Last Chance provides a fresh, new perspective on the subject. Using Biblical quotes, true stories and hard science, Schweiger explains why global warming is the moral imperative of our time. Every bit of science mentioned in the book includes references to scientific studies. Schweiger invites readers to review these other sources of information to verify every fact and conclusion in the book for themselves. Anyone wishing to really understand global warming should start with this enjoyable, easy to read and well researched book. It is neither right nor left leaning, but scientific and beautifully heartfelt. If you read it - and especially if you take a little time to verify his conclusions - you will have a solid understanding of the issue, without the politicized garbage politicians and talk show hosts spew on the topic. Schweiger quotes Proverbs "A good man [person] leaves an inheritance for our children's children". Last Chance is a must read for anyone who cares about the world we will leave to them.
FenwayFan More than 1 year ago
I'm prancing through a succulent murder mystery called DIRTY WATER (featuring an abandoned baby left mysteriously in the Red Sox lockerroom at Fenway). Taking a break to contemplate whodunit, I made the mistake of flipping through a chapter called "On Thin Ice" and then another puckishly, provocatively entitled "What Happens in Greenland Will Not Stay in Greenland" in Larry Schweiger's spanking new, portentous LAST CHANCE. Problem is now I can't put LAST CHANCE down. Schweiger delivers the latest bad news climate science like a punch to the gut, no wonky feints, just the latest convincing, compelling eloquent imperative that we need to get our butts in gear to suppress greenhouse gas emissions PDQ. And he serves up more than attention-riveting hand-wringing by advising what we can do to get out our fix. Schweiger uses his substantial brain, but writes from the gut. LAST CHANCE is a can't-put-down "must-read" for anyone who cares about the future of this fragile planet we hope to pass to our children in some semblance of sustainable health. Now I gotta get back to Big Papi, Youk, Tek, Pap, and Baby Ted Williams.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How much longer can we watch the signs of global warming pile up before we act? That's the question Larry Schweiger addresses in his vital new book. Schweiger does an excellent job of presenting an evidence-based case without getting bogged down in scientific detail. His urgency jumps off the page as he asks readers to "add your voice to this effort in any and every way possible." Will Americans listen?
Guest More than 1 year ago
"It is with our heads that we must think and ponder, while it is with our hearts that we muster courage to act boldly when loved ones are at risk."Larry Schweiger - LAST CHANCELarry Schweiger is a much respected environmental leader. He is known for taking on epic battles. Global climate change is certainly the largest battle of our times. In LAST CHANCE the battle lines are clear - they extend from every human to the systems that sustain life on earth. While the complexity of climatic variables like feedback effects are imperfectly known, climate scientists are overwhelmingly and alarmingly of one mind _ humanity is in trouble. Many of my colleagues in the science community believe it is the scientist's job to report the facts and nothing but the facts. But what is the scientist to do when the preponderance of evidence clearly suggests that the planet is in trouble? Schweiger's book provides the answer. It is time for everyone to act - the scientist, the politician, the consumer, the activist, the parent and every person interested in a sustainable future. It may well be our last chance.I finished reading Larry's book last night. It is the optimum mix of precise science, engaging storytelling, political history, and above all the orbital view required to see the critical interconnections of planetary systems. Lest anyone still believe that global climate change will result in simple sea level rise and more storms in the coastal regions, Larry documents the fundamental disruptions that will rip the ecosystem anchors from their complex moorings. These disruptions will leave no major ecosystem intact.For years, I have been mystified why the science is so clear and yet 53% of Wyoming citizens [my home state] still don't see the connections between their extravagant energy use and the melting glaciers of the Wind River Range. This book explains the mystery.What a writer! What a book! Last Chance is not just another pessimistic environmental diatribe but an action guide that conveys optimism and direction. Absent from most of the debate on global climate change is hope for our children. LAST CHANCE heralds the hope for our children and a sustainable biosphere. The denizens of denial will realize the truth and power in this book. It is our responsibility to first spread this message as far and as wide as we can.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Those of us, who care about the health of the planet and the quality of life for our children and grandchildren, owe Larry Schweiger a deep debt of gratitude. Last Chance is a comprehensive, clear, concise, 200 page jewel of a book. Readers who are well educated on the looming dangers of climate change, as well as those who need to expand their knowledge, will appreciate this work of incredible scope presented in an eminently readable style. In addition, it offers readers practical recommendations on how to get involved and clearly presents the extensive, science based reasons supporting the urgency for action now.Last Chance is an easy yet critical read. We live in an interconnected world, and the many feedback loops illustrated in the book show us the existing evidence of an already changing world and fears about what is to come. Without a doubt, it is time to seize the moment as the planet is teetering so precariously out of balance. I hope everyone will heed Mr. Schweiger's call to action in whatever way they can. Future generations are counting on us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When a friend asked me, "Yes but what can I do? It's *global* warming, after all," I recommended she read "Last Chance, Preserving Life on Earth." Yes, the title is daunting, but I just finished it, and this book is so readable. The author, Larry J. Schweiger, weaves his life journey through the three major parts of his book, and makes the case based on his own ethics. "Global warming will harm children on the right as well as those on the left," he writes. And then he tells readers what to do about it. "Last Chance" is an excellent contemporary read on the impact of politics on science, all in a human-sized proportion. It's about what's going on at levels greater than the reader, but, even more important, the author gives readers a role to play. We know there are problems, but don't quite know how to respond. This book is a great guide to our personal response to climate change. It includes sections called, "What You Can Do," loaded with practical, do-able actions that anyone - a child, parent or grand-parent -- can take.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Papa_Bookworm More than 1 year ago
Wow. Larry Schweiger makes a complex and important issue easy to digest and an absorbing read. The book is an eye opener about the incredible opportunity that we have today to shape the world for our kids and grandkids. A must read.
ForwardProgress More than 1 year ago
When a friend asked me: "Yes but what can I do? It's *global* warming, after all," I recommended she read "Last Chance, Preserving Life on Earth." Yes, the title is daunting, but I just finished it, and this book is so readable. The author, Larry J. Schweiger, weaves his life journey through the three major parts of his book, and makes the case based on his own ethics. "Global warming will harm children on the right as well as those on the left," he writes. And then he tells readers what to do about it. "Last Chance" is an excellent contemporary read on the impact of politics on science, all in a human-sized proportion. It's about what's going at levels greater than the reader, but, even more important, the author gives readers a role to play. We know there are problems, but don't quite know how to respond. This book is a great guide to our personal response to climate change. It includes sections called, "What You Can Do," loaded with practical, do-able actions that anyone - a child, parent or grand-parent -- can take.