An excerpt that I made of a review of the new book "Sustainability" follows. It is now available at Kokopelli Farm in Sebastopol. Call 829-8185 to make an appointment to buy your copy. It will hopefully soon be available at Copperfields, North Light Books, and elsewhere.

In addition to the essays mentioned below, other contributing authors to the book include Joanna Macy, Donella Meadows, Vandana Shiva, Richard Heinberg, Michael Ableman, Dave Henson, the Post-Carbon Institute, John Jeavons, James Howard Kunstler, and myself.

HopeDance Marks 10 Years--Radical Writings
Excerpted by SB from article in Santa Barbara Independent,
By Sam Kornell, Nov. 29, 2007

In the first essay of "Sustainability: Radical Solutions Inspiring Hope," environmental writer Derrick Jensen makes an urgent comparison between the Holocaust and the death—by dams—of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Jensen…writes letters to the editor rather than physically blowing up the offending dams. “The central—and in many ways only—question of our time is this: What are sane, effective, and appropriate responses to outrageously destructive behavior?” Jensen writes.

This question stands at the core of "Sustainability", a 450-page anthology of 10 years of writings from HopeDance, published and edited by activist Bob Banner. “There are so many problems in the world, and so often we get involved in this complaint-based, single-issue activism,” Banner says. “And so my intention is to broaden it, and [ask], where are the positive solutions? Where are the radical solutions people can go to so they can get inspired?”

"Sustainability" is split into 11 sections, which include “Activism,” “Communication/Conflict/Peace,” “Alternative Living,” “Peak Oil,” and “Permaculture.” The essays are written by progressives from the South Coast and elsewhere; there are also reprinted articles by the historian Howard Zinn, the American poet-laureate Wendell Berry, and Desmond Tutu.

In its depth of feeling and earnestness, "Sustainability" offers a picture of the modern American progressive movement, and what troubles it. “We know,” Banner writes in one article, “about the problems.” The problems, according to Sustainability's writers, are materialism, greed, war, and environmental destruction. For the most part, they are attributed to “Corporate America.” The “mainstream media” abets it. “I’m upset with mainstream media, mainstream culture, and a dominant paradigm [that creates] mindless consumers,” Banner said recently. “The leaders probably know what’s going on, but if they were to do anything really meaningful, they would be kicked out of office.”

Banner also screens political documentaries in Santa Barbara and San Luis in an effort to “encourage ordinary citizen action and enlightened behavior.” He explained, “We are into finding models that I sense are radical, which basically means going to the root of the problem.”

The essays "HopeDance" publishes—"Sustainability" offers a representative cross sample—run the progressive gamut, addressing topics from climate change to organic food. They tend to place a high premium on personal activism. Suspicion of the worth and efficacy of our traditional political process is prevalent. An essay entitled “Peace? Some Thoughts and Actions,” carries this representative coda: “The mavericks who rule with tanks and guns, those who have forgotten the orthodoxy of love, who have left the fold of peace-loving humanity, will lead us to destruction if we don’t show them another way.”

As fellow progressive (and former "Independent" writer) Sri Subramanian writes in one of the book’s essays: “Problems like global climate change … can only be addressed at the global level. However, while we continue to do that, let’s also do what we can to create a model of sustainability locally.”

The 10-year anthology "Sustainability: Radical Solutions Inspiring Hope," is available for $25. For more information visit