Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ten Things Thursday: 10 Thought-Provoking Things

The Story Behind 10 Things Thursdays
For most of us there will be some level of gift shopping to do in the coming weeks. On each of the 10 Thursdays from October 21, up until the day before Christmas Eve, it is my goal to present 10 ideas, in 10 different themes, for eco-friendly gifting. Many suggestions will be places I know or products I've purchased or received. One hundred ideas by no means makes a comprehensive list. But it's a start. Suggestions for future lists are most welcome. For gift-giving season I have gone through my bookshelves and scoured stores both in town and online for books and DVDs wonderful, upbeat and mindbending. No gloom and doom for me this holiday season. I offer up List 7, with more than a dozen suggestions. After all, it’s my blog.

The world is beautiful (1-2 of 10)
    Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America's Wild Places
  1. Ansel Adams in the National Parks. Renowned American photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) began photographing in the national parks in 1923. This recently released volume (October, 2010) contains over two hundred images, some never before published. “This is the most comprehensive collection of Ansel Adams' photographs of America's national parks and wilderness areas… Edited and with commentary by Andrea G. Stillman, the foremost expert on Adams' work, this landmark publication includes quotations by Adams… and essays by a number of prominent authors.” I have held this one in my hands and turned the pages, but I don’t own it (yet, anyway). You can get a preview here.
  2. Eye to Eye, by Frans Lanting. A collection of animal close-ups, this volume published in 2003 by Taschen is one I treasure. Life: A Journey Through Time is a later offering. Check out the slideshow by clicking on “Start the Journey” at this website to get a taste of these extraordinary images. If you ever find yourself in Santa Cruz, CA, you can visit the Frans Lanting Gallery featuring Lanting’s prints from around the world. There is a complete list of Lanting’s books here
Its creatures are amazing (3-6 of 10)
    Honey, I'm Homemade: Sweet Treats from the Beehive across the Centuries and around the World
  1. Honey, I’m Homemade: Sweet Treats from the Beehive across the Centuries and Around the World. May R. Berenbaum, my college classmate and professor of entomology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, edited this extensive collection of recipes she “gleaned from friends, family, alumni, and colleagues as well as from various and sundry campus archives (e.g., the Illinois State Fair culinary honey competition winners from the Illinois State Beekeepers Association records over the past century).” Honey: The A-B-Cs, May’s introduction to the book, tells the remarkable story of honey and the honeybees who produce it. Proceeds from this volume benefit the UI Pollinatarium, a science center devoted to pollinators and pollination.
  2. Leaf Cutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct by Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of The Ants. Accessible to the lay person as well as the scientist, “The Leafcutter Ants provides an unforgettable tour of Earth's most evolved animal societies. Each colony of leafcutters contains as many as five million workers, all the daughters of a single queen that can live over a decade. A gigantic nest can stretch thirty feet across, rise five feet or more above the ground, and consist of hundreds of chambers that reach twenty-five feet below the ground surface. Indeed, the leafcutters have parlayed their instinctive civilization into a virtual domination of forest, grassland, and cropland—from Louisiana to Patagonia. Inspired by a section of the authors' acclaimed The Superorganism, this brilliantly illustrated work provides the ultimate explanation of what a social order with a half-billion years of animal evolution has achieved.”
  3. Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, by Paul Stamets. This book was written as a manual for using mushrooms to rescue the planet.With  sections on “The Mycelial Mind” and “Mycorestoration,” I guarantee this book will permanently change the way you think about mushrooms.
  4. Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. This new field guide is illustrated with more than 3,400 photos, some 90 of them by nature photographer Jim Zipp, co-proprietor of the Fat Robin in nearby Hamden, CT. The guide comes with a bonus CD and contains a wealth of updated information on bird ranges.
So are its people (7 of 10)
    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope (P.S.)
  1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope is the true story of William Kamkwamba, born in Malawi. Forced to withdraw from school due to lack of funding as a teenager, and with only a book from the local library to inspire him, William built a windmill to supply electricity to his family’s home using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a scrapyard. He became famous after a newspaper story about him was circulated in the blogosphere. William was invited to speak at TEDGlobal 2007 and is now a student at Dartmouth. Go here to read more of his story.
Anything is possible/thinking outside the box (8-10 of 10)
    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.)
  1. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Freakonomics argues “that many apparent mysteries of everyday life don't need to be so mysterious: they could be illuminated and made even more fascinating by asking the right questions and drawing connections.” Don’t be scared off by the word “economics” in the title. With Chapters like “Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with their Moms?” this concise volume is a fascinating read. Freakonomics: The Movie premiered in Spring 2010, was released to theaters in October, and will be available at iTunes in January.
  2. Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small, by Yale professors Barry Nalebuff (co-founder of Honest Tea) and Ian Ayres. Why Not? offers simple techniques for learning to think in new ways about the things we do and see every day. Once you become inspired, visit to become a participant in the WhyNot? Idea Exchange. 
  3. Living More with Less 30th Anniversary Edition. Published by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) “in memory of Doris Janzen Longacre, who died in 1979 at the age of thirty-nine before she could complete the original Living More with Less manuscript.” According to the MCC, the book was written “as a practical guide for simple, sustainable, healthy living that keeps the future of God’s creation and its inhabitants in mind.” Living More with Less has just been revised and updated by Valerie Weaver-Zercher in her honor. According to Weaver-Zercher, “With stories, reflections, and advice from people around the world who are making changes to their daily habits in response to climate change and global poverty, Living More with Less: 30th Anniversary Edition is a vibrant collection of testimonies, old and new, of those who are discovering the joy of living with enough.”
The Universe in a NutshellEverything can be explained (bonus)
  1. The Universe in a Nutshell, by Stephen W. Hawking. In this concise and beautiful volume, one of the most influential thinkers of our time takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, to explain in laymen’s terms the principles that control our universe.  Copious four-color illustrations help clarify such surreal aspects of the universe as the shape of time and the ten or 11 dimensions in which we exist.
And three documentary films to delight all ages (second bonus)
Earth (Disney, 2007), March of the Penguins (Warner Brothers, 2005, Academy Award for Best Documentary), Oceans (Disney, 2010)

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