—Systemic change begins with personal change—

710: Madeline Ostrander, part 2: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth


Since our last conversation, check out the reviews that have come in about Home on an Unruly Planet from past guests of this podcast: “With deep, compassionate reporting and elegant prose …  Ostrander finds creativity, vital hope, and a sense of home that outlasts any address.” —Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction “As each new climate calamity obliterates, incinerates, or engulfs entire communities, we shudder to think our own could be next. Gently but purposefully, Ostrander guides us into places that have known this nightmare, not to shock but to show that the meaning of home is so powerful that people will make surprising, imaginative, even transcendent leaps to hold on to theirs. By her book’s end, you realize that maybe you could, too.” —Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us and Countdown “What does it mean to maintain a sense of place in an age of climate change? In At Home on an Unruly Planet, Madeline Ostrander explores this question with searching intelligence and uncommon empathy.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer-prize-winning author of Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future The book comes out in paperback today (As I wrote in part 1, I don't get a commission, I just couldn't stop reading the book). In today's conversation, we talk more about what people are doing in the communities she spent time with. I may not have conveyed enough in the notes to part 1 that she spent years with these communities. She didn't just drop in on them. She created enduring relationships. She shares more from behind the scenes and her personal relationships with people who start with creating gardens and bike programs. They don't stop there. They organize to find ways to move oil refineries out of their neighborhoods. I brought up how Chevron doesn't buy its products. We all do. What they do, when we fill our gas tanks, buy airplane tickets, buy things shipped around the world, buy disposable diapers and other plastic, we fund their efforts. In my view, we have to change those patterns, not wait for them even if we say it's their responsibility. So Madeline and I talk about that view a bit too: individualism, capitalism, profit, and sustainability. Also, the way out: fun, community, gardens, persistence, and taking responsibility.

709: Madeline Ostrander, part 1: At Home on an Unruly Planet


What's actually happening with our environmental problems? Scientists predict. Journalists in periodicals tend to write what gets attention and clicks, so we don't know how accurately they represent versus sensationalize. There's plenty to sensationalize after all. Madeline spent time with several communities to find out what problems they faced, how seriously, and what they were doing about it. The result is she sensitively portrayed them in her book At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth. The book reads at time like she's projecting doom, but she isn't. She's describing things as she sees them and the people there describe them. The second half of the book talks about what people are doing. It's sobering, but if we want to do anything, we have to know where we are and how fast we're changing. In our conversation, beyond describing highlights of the book, she gives backstories of how she picked them, what motivated her, her goals, and more. GOOD NEWS: the paperback comes out tomorrow. (I don't get a commission, I just couldn't stop reading it once I started).

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