In 1971 a bestseller landed on my book shelf. With its spiral binding, Diet for a Small Planet was easy to prop open on a kitchen counter, while this novice cook learned how to create healthy meals.
The author was 26-year-old Frances Moore Lappé, who was ahead of her time in calling for a vegetarian diet as a way of safeguarding the planet. In the intervening years she has authored 17 more books, founded several national organizations and worked tirelessly on behalf of the environment and social justice.
By the time I bought her Hopes Edge in 2002, I was farming organically and deeply involved in food systems issues. Like the earliest book, this one had a profound impact on me, inspiring me to believe the global food system could be sustainable and just in spite of the problems I was working to address.
Her daughter would have cut her eye teeth on social activism so it was no surprise when Anna Lappé joined her mother to launch the Small Planet Institute, whose slogan I embrace: “Living democracy, feeding hope.” The first sentence of their mission sets my inner tuning fork humming because it articulates what I try to do with this blog:
We believe that ideas have enormous power and that humans are capable of changing failing ideas in order to turn our planet toward life.
In a June 2013 conversation with Fritjof Capra for the Center for Ecoliteracy, Lappé said something else that had me nodding my head while sitting here at the computer:
‘Hope is not what we find in evidence; it’s what we become in action.’ Really, it should say, ‘Hope is what we become in action together in community.’
Lappe’s latest book, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want, is a call to turn away from fear and toward possibility. As she described it to Capra:
‘The challenge is not, ‘How do we pull back?’ but, ‘How do we remake our human-made systems to align positively with what we know creates sustainable and resilient communities?’…
EcoMind focuses on the three C’s, the opposite of the S’s. Instead of separateness, there’s connectedness. Instead of stasis, reality is continuous change, and instead of scarcity is co-creation. If the nature of life is that we’re all connected and that change is continuous, then we are all co-creators.
That shift in thinking throws off the shackles of uncertainty and negativity and opens wide the doors of connection, with each other, with other species, with the earth. It is a hope-filled vision.