Earth Day 2011

I was invited by follow garden blogger Alan Lorence, aka It’s Not Work It’s Gardening, to participate in a reading project blog meme in celebration of Earth Day 2011. This particular meme was originated by The Sage Butterfly. It gives each blogger two assignments:

  1. List at least three books that “inspired you to perform any sustainable living act or inspired you to live green, and then tell us why they inspired you.”
  2. Post links to at least three other blogs.

If I’m making this sounds a bit complicated, it really isn’t. The goal is simple: raise awareness for Earth Day; encourage others to live green and sustainably; and inspire people to read.

Earth Day is Friday, April 22, 2011. The theme for this year is “A Billion Acts of Green: [a] people-powered campaign to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before Rio +20.” Visit the Earth Day 2011 web site for all the information, and check your local newspaper for Earth Day events in your area.

Three books that have inspired me

I had a hard time narrowing my choices down to three, but here they are. A decidedly mixed bunch that reflects my personal interpretation of “living green:” reuse as creatively as you can; eat local food; and create an environment that you feel connected to.


Matthew Levesque: The Revolutionary Yardscape

110421_rev_yardscapeTo call Matthew Levesque’s creations “inspired” would be an understatement. He is a master at repurposing anything and everything to create beautiful garden features, ranging from planting containers to arbors and tables and benches. This book really opened my eyes to what you can do with materials that were originally used for a completely different purpose. My favorite designs in this book are decorative elements made out of wildly divergent materials such as water heater baffles, eyeglass lenses, and pipette sterilizers. After reading this book, you’ll think twice before you throw anything away.


Mollie Katzen: The Moosewood Cookbook

110421_moosewood2Originally published in 1978 when Mollie Katzen was a member of the Moosewood Collective in Ithaca, NY, this hand-lettered cookbook has had a lasting influencing on my life. It was given to me as a goodbye gift after I finished graduate school in 1987 and it set me on a course towards organic vegetarian food from local sources that has more or less lasted until now. While I’m no longer a strict vegetarian, 80% of what I eat is from plant sources, and I try to make a real effort to buy produce that is grown as close to where I live as possible.


Dwell Magazine

Dwell Magazine’s byline is “At Home in the Modern World,” and it’s a perfect description of this monthly dedicated to modern architecture and design. With its focus on contemporary yet sustainable living, frequently in small spaces built from alternative materials, it is the polar opposite of mainstream shelter publications such as House Beautiful where square footage and decadent trimmings still reign supreme.

What makes Dwell stand out from the crowd is the quality of the ideas and the writing—both border on the philosophical at times and are leagues above anything else published in the architectural magazine market.



Three blogs I would like to recommend

The blogs I’m recommending are not focused on sustainability per se, but they are all mindful of how fragile our environment is. Hardcore environmentalist probably wouldn’t approve of focusing so heavily on non-native plants, but I find that the beauty the comes with a mindfully designed garden is the best way to inspire others to get their hands dirty and transform their own plot of land.

It’s Not Work It’s Gardening

St Louis blogger Alan Lorence posts daily about the goings-on in Midwestern garden. Alan’s writing is as inspiring as his stunning photographs. His Earth Day post is here.

Man Man Bamboo

Sean Bigley runs a small but exquisite bamboo nursery out of the backyard of his suburban Sacramento home. He got me interested in—or shall I say obsessed with?—bamboo, and will forever be a major source of inspiration. I outlined some of the environmental benefits of bamboo in this post.

Alternative Eden

I continue to be amazed at the exotic paradise gardeners Mark and Gaz have created in decidedly un-tropical England. Their garden shows that you can push past the boundaries imposed by your climate and create a lush look no matter where you live.

Being happy in your own small corner of the world and using no more than what you need, isn’t that what it’s all about?


  1. Is it creepy to be the first comment in a post that mentions your own name?

    These are quite interesting choices to me right now -- at least the first and third ones. I'm definitely checking out both of them!

  2. The Moosewood Cookbook is one of my favorite cookbooks. My copy is very worn from lots of use. One of my favorites is the Brazilian Black Bean Soup...yummy! I am going to add The Revolutionary Yardscape to my list of books to read. It sounds like it has a lot of great ideas. Thank you for celebrating Earth Day with me by joining in The Earth Day Reading Project. And Happy Earth Day!

  3. Alan, I think you'll love Matthew Levesque's book. Some of it is a bit far out but I found it very inspirational--and am constantly looking for things to repurpose.

    Sage Butterfly, the Moosewood Cookbook has so many yummy recipes, it's hard to pick a favorite. Montana's Mom's Dynamite Cheesecake is still the standard by which I judge all others.

    While it doesn't pretend to be more than a cookbook, it really is. I'm convinced it's influenced tens of thousands of people over the years to think about where the food they eat comes from.

  4. Love the selections and the Mossewood is an hour away from me...great book...Happy Earth Day

  5. If you want to raise environmental awareness, partner with Starbucks. Earth day was a success because Starbucks closed their lights for an hour and people noticed.

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