A New Psychology for Sustainability Leadership

Exploring themes in the personal development of sustainability leaders
A book review by Mary A. Hernandez


A New Psychology of Sustainability Leadership:  The Hidden Power of Ecological Worldviews

by Steven Schein 2015 Greenleaf Publishing

Steven Shein is both a professor and a highly experienced entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in human development and organization systems.  Drawing on his own experiences with nature and his companionship with others who are likewise nature-oriented, his personal stories of communion and revelation in nature draws us into his own motivation to becoming curious about other leaders equally concerned about the environmental crisis.  His interests are inclusive and extend to eastern, aboriginal, and depth psychologies.  The author’s educational and occupational backgrounds and interests position him well to make recommendations related to the topics presented in the book.
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The Earth Manifesto

Earth Manifesto

The Earth Manifesto:  Saving Nature with Engaged Ecology
by David Tracey
Rocky Mountain Books
ISBN 9781927330890

Reviewed by John Scull

Here is a small review of this deceptively small book (132 pages), which is much bigger on the inside.  David Tracey (author of Guerilla Gardening) introduces the idea of “Engaged Ecology”, or E2, which has six laws:

  1. Nature is Here
  2. Wilderness is Within
  3. Cities are Alive
  4. The Earth is Our Witness
  5. We Have the Right to Clean Air, Pure Water, Healthy Soil
  6. Engaged Ecology Creates a Community

The first three chapters cover the first three “laws”, which come down to connecting to your place and with yourself.  Then the next three chapters cover what to do with this connection – join a small group where you are and do what you can to cool the earth and support biodiversity.  Engaged Ecology is what Ecopsychology should be about  — local, personal, and reflective, but also global, communitarian, and active.

“This Changes Everything” – A book review

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This Changes Everything
by Naomi Klein
Knopf Canada, 2014.

Reviewed by John Scull

“At nearly 500 pages plus 60 pages of endnotes, Klein has written an imposing book. Most of the space is taken up with case histories to illustrate and reinforce Klein’s arguments. Klein is a very good storyteller and she has done a great deal of research; the book is a goldmine of specifics. In this discussion I summarize her conclusions, omitting most of the factual background for those conclusions. I assure you it is there.

In chapter after chapter Klein convincingly makes her points, but I do not believe she succeeds in her main point that it is capitalism vs. the climate. In fact, she even suggests several “capitalist” solutions to the climate crisis. As I will describe later, I believe she has done something even more valuable by reframing the issue as Extractivism vs. Blockadia, abstract economics vs. our connection to the earth.”

Read the full review here.


Quaker Pantheism

Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist
by Sharman Apt Russell
New York: Basic Books, 2008.
Reviewed by John Scull

Standing in the Light I have seldom encountered a book that reflects my worldview as clearly as Standing in the Light: My Life as a pantheist. The book is both a sort of quirky spiritual autobiography and a treatise on the history of Pantheism.

The book follows several different but interrelated threads: On a personal level, she describes her experiences as an on- and off- and on-again Quaker, her personal history living in both urban and rural New Mexico and elsewhere, and accounts of exploring and assisting with research (banding birds) in protected natural areas. Interspersed with these personal stories and reflections she gives us a clear and insightful discussion of pantheism from the early Greeks to the present.

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Diversity in Ecopsychology: A Review by John Scull

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A Review of Peter H. Kahn, Jr., and Patricia H. Hasback. Ecopsychology:  Science, Totems, and the Technological Species, by John Scull, Ph.D.

John’s review begins:

“There is a confusing tangle of words about the several psychological disciplines related to the environment – environmental psychology, ecological psychology, conservation psychology, human ecology.  It is not just confusing for outsiders:  When communicating among themselves, psychologists need to explain what they mean because different writers have used these words in different ways.  These diverse fields all have one common feature; they are in the mainstream of academic social psychology.  They all privilege experiments and other controlled quantitative research over qualitative research and they elevate all kinds of research above anecdotal evidence, clinical experience, opinion, narrative, and philosophy.

Ecopsychology has come from different traditions.  The diverse pioneers in the field arrived at ecopsychology from humanistic and transpersonal psychology, experiential environmental education, scientific ecology, systems thinking, and deep ecology.  As a result, the field has been much more interdisciplinary than the inclusion of  “psychology” in the coined word suggests.”

Download this pdf for the rest …

Solomon Benatar’s Forward to “Billy Beaver: An Environmental Allegory”

photography by Amy Lenzo

photo by Amy Lenzo

Some years ago Michael Aleksiuk submitted a pdf of his book ‘Billy Beaver: An Environmental Allegory‘ to Gatherings.  Its premise is that the human striving for status is at the psychological roots of environmental degradation. This ‘children’s story’ has been heartily endorsed by academics and scholars worldwide as a breakthrough in understanding. It is still available in the Gatherings Archives of Jan 05 – December 05.

All those years ago Solomon Benatar was invited to write a foreword to ‘Billy Beaver’ and he tracked us down so that we can include his foreword here with the original story; download and read his work here: Billy Beaver Foreword.

New Quote, New Book

“If you are divided from your body, you are also divided from the body of the world which then appears to be other than you or separate from you rather than the living continuum to which you belong”
~ From New Self New World, by Philip Shepherd

The quote comes from Parisian Pierre Goirand, who sends out an always-brilliant weekly quote to his mailing list.

New Ecopsychology Publications

A new ecopsychoanalysis blog.

And a new ecopsychology book, an anthology of writings from the UK: Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis by Mary-Jayne Rust & Nick Totton (Karnac, 2011).

From the Introduction:

“Vital signs’ are, of course, the basic physiological measures of functioning which health practitioners use to assess the gravity of a patient’s predicament. This anthology focuses not so much on our physical predicament, with so many of the Earth’s systems severely stressed and beginning to fail – there are plenty of other places to read about this. Instead we focus on our psychological predicament, as news of the situation slowly penetrates our defences and we struggle as individuals and as a society to find an adequate response.”

Ecopsychology and the Generative Approach

from Daniel Schwab, a video relating the correspondences between ecopsychology and Christopher Alexander’s generative approach to architecture, in several parts:

Schwab argues that the ecopsychology platform is shared to a high degree by architect Christopher Alexander (author of A Pattern Language and The Nature of Order) and that an ecopsychological understanding could enrich a nature-like approach to architecture.

The video was created for the 2011 Portland Urban Architecture Laboratory 2011 International Conference on “Generative Process, Patterns and the Urban Challenge.”

Partnering with Nature

by Catriona MacGregor
partnering with naturePartnering With Nature
Receives 2010
Best “Social Change Book” Award

A simple book with a powerful message that illuminates the fact that our connection to nature, animals, and the earth is a vital part of our existence.

Healing Natures, Repairing Relationships: New Perspectives on Restoring Ecological Spaces and Consciousness

Healing Natures, Repairing Relationships by Robert France brings together a leading group of distinctive voices to explore ideas underlying the restoration of environmental and human integrity in what pioneer restorationist Aldo Leopold once called our damaged “world of wounds.” This emerging paradigm—referred to by the editor as “Restoration Design”—is defined as the process by which participants creatively develop physical and conceptual relationships to engage nature through the architectural transformation of their inhabited ecological space as well as their internal environments. In this collection of essays, restoration design is shown to be a comprehensive process involving elements of sociology, anthropology, philosophy, ecopsychology, environmental art, ecological science, and landscape architecture. Continue Reading →

Deep Ecology: Steps to a new worldwiew

L’Ecologia Profonda – eBook

Lineamenti per una nuova visione del mondo
Author: Guido Dalla Casa

Price: € 5,90

Summary in English:  Deep Ecology. Steps to a new worldwiew. Pangea, 1996 – Arianna, 2008 (Ebook)

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Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature

Natural Attraction Ecology and The Web of Life Model:  Planet Earth Speaks Through 53 Natural Senses For Personal, Social and Environmental Well-Being, by Michael J Cohen

In his new sensory environmental science book, Educating, Counseling and Healing With Nature, Michael J. Cohen, Ph.D, demonstrates through a web-of-life ecology model that we inherit at least 53 natural senses and that they guide us to live in peaceful balance with Planet Earth’s global ecosystem and each other. The book documents from our human experience that, to our loss, Industrial Society’s seldom-acknowledged prejudice against nature-and-the-natural  socializes us to injure and suppress most of these natural senses. This disturbance underlies many disorders we suffer.

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Wild Swimming Revisited

by Harriet Greenwood

Wild Swimming has certainly caught on in the UK at least since I reviewed Roger Deakin’s Waterlog eight years ago

Two new books out this year chronicle the best places to swim, paddle or plunge outdoors in Britain.
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Wild Swimming

Immersing yourself in the wildness, magic and history of Britain
by Daniel Start

When I was young, the rambling old house we shared with two other families came with lakes, woods, streams and an overgrown boat house. Situated deep in the heart of the Wye valley, close to the Welsh border, in the UK,  it was here my brother and I first learned to make dams, build rafts and explore the river.

I loved one stream in particular. Gushing and snaking its way down the side of the Black Mountains, its mossy dingles and foxglove-filled dells enchanted me. Plunging into deep pools and sliding down chutes, my brother and I spent much of our summer squealing and slithering along its helter-skelter of cascades.

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