March 10, 2006
Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
It's an exciting time at GreenPrints, a journal out of North Carolina for the philosophizing gardener in all of us. Spring is approaching, and the quarterly is branching out with a new CD. The spring issue announces the arrival of The GreenPrints Companion, a compilation of some of their favorite stories read aloud, interspersed with songs sung by The Stone Family Singers (the journal is somewhat of a Stone family affair). Among this issue's dirges to daisies and paeans to petunias, you'll find a fascinating (albeit mock) case study of a man with an unusual condition: 'dendranthropy,' the belief that you have turned into a tree. Also notable: 'How to -- Quickly -- Empty a Room Full of Plants,' a short guide to planning a 'Spring Plant Exchange.' -- Nick Rose
Advance uncorrected proofs of Derrick Jensen's two-volume Endgame (Seven Stories Press) arrived in our mail this week. Dedicated to Shawnee organizer/resister Tecumseh, and weighing in at 929 pages, it forcefully, lovingly, despairingly, and tirelessly describes how human civilization -- with its global capitalism, plutocracy, and oil-based economy -- is destroying planet Earth ( Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization) and examines what is to be done to take down civilization and live sustainably ( Volume 2: Resistance). Militant and provocative, Jensen looks at systems of exploitation from many angles and criticizes those who fail to act and refuse to even consider the questions: 'What if those in power are murderous?' and 'What if they're not willing to listen to reason?' Jensen's assertive, aphoristic style demands reader response. ('A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper,' he writes.) Doing his best to speak for salmon and sturgeon, Jensen asks, 'What would the rivers themselves think?' He nudges readers not only to answer this and other difficult questions themselves ('What will you do when the oil runs out?), but to see their own complicity and act responsibly. Due out in June. -- Chris Dodge
The pages of the latest Earth First! reverberate with reactions to the recent arrests of environmental activists. Talk of 'snitches' abound as Earth First!ers wonder where to go from here. One writer, 'Josh,' makes the argument that 'this Green Scare is a public relations scheme' meant to distract people from recent political scandals. While there has been tough talk of treating these ecoteurs as 'terrorists,' Josh points out that the defendants were never charged under terrorism statutes. But the March/April issue highlights some positive developments too. 'EF! In the Big Easy?' centers on one member's humanitarian activities in post-Katrina New Orleans, while 'Peak Opportunity!' finds optimism in the prospect of 'peak oil.' -- Bennett Gordon
The March issue of New Mobility, the monthly magazine about 'Life on Wheels,' has two wonderful artist profiles: impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and DJ $hortness (Rynita McGuire). The juxtaposition of these two talents might seem jarring at first, but it all comes down to the essence of art. 'The pain passes, but the beauty remains,' Renoir said of painting through the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. A century later, DJ $hortness tells New Mobility, 'Music and creating things are deep in my soul. I love sharing a part of me with the world. When I'm up there doing my thing, I'm more than that girl in the wheelchair.' -- Beth Petsan
The newest issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy covers the charity workers in Iraq who are truly 'in harm's way.' In a place where help is sorely needed, humanitarian workers are facing grave danger from bomb attacks, shootings, and kidnappings. The biweekly newspaper profiles one group, Christian Peacemaker Teams, which employs the strategy of physically 'getting in the way' of potential harm. The pacifist organization has been in the headlines since four of its members were abducted in November. (As of March 9, they had not been released, though Al Jazeera aired a video of three of the men two days earlier.) Most relief groups in Iraq are trying to keep a lower profile, the impetus for which is explained in an article entitled 'Charity Under Fire.' The special section on the war also contains a moving memorial, 'The Wounds of War,' with pictures of some of the people who have lost their lives in Iraq for the sake of humanitarian causes. -- Bennett Gordon
A walk around your neighborhood will never be the same after you've read the latest issue of New Urban News. Winner of a 2005 Utne Independent Press Award, the newsletter gets specific while keeping it real. The March issue covers the arcane minutiae that make up our urban landscape -- street width, 'alley offset,' and 'parking benefit districts' -- with an eye toward the overall gestalt that makes our communities more, or less, livable. If ungainly gutters are getting your goat and you're a corner store policy wonk, then New Urban News will be right up your alley. -- Nick Rose