A Conservationist Manifesto
Point 1 - The work of conservation is inspired by wonder, gratitude, reason, and love. We need all of these emotions and faculties to do the work well. But the first impulse is love – love for wild and settled places, for animals and plants, for people living now and those yet to come, for the creations of human hands and minds.
Scott Russell Sanders has not been a professor of English at Indiana University for the last 40 years for nothing. The man can write. He has mastered the art of the personal essay and won awards for his, as he should. I found myself all through this marvelous book rereading paragraphs more than once, to savor the language, the turn of a phrase, the expressive beauty and style of the message. I thought of copying passages so many times I realized I would have a quarter of the book written out for a keepsake. I decided to just buy the book, so I can dip in at will.
A Conservationist Manifesto tells how and why (but more why) we must turn from consuming to conserving in order to redress the imbalances we have wrought on the planet. It explores our enduring relationship with Earth’s bounty and beauty and the necessity of choosing a place to stay put in; a home community in which to invest one’s care and attention. Sanders tells numerous stories about his adopted home in southern Indiana. I was especially happy to read about the restoration of the Limberlost, which was once a 13,000 acre wetlands immortalized by Gene Stratton-Porter in The Girl of the Limberlost and other books. Until recently the Limberlost was gone, but careful efforts are bringing back a small section of it, renamed Loblolly Marsh.
Read this book for the urgency of the 40-point manifesto, calling for more attention and justice in our relationship to the Earth and its creatures, and for the change and commitment it will inspire. Read it also for the beauty of the telling.
Point 40 - Conservation arises from the perennial human desire to dwell in harmony with our neighbors – those that creep and fly, those that swim and soar, those that sway on roots, as well as those that walk about on two legs. We seek to make a good and lasting home. We strive for a way of life that our descendants will look back on with gratitude, a way of life that is worthy of our magnificant planet.