Minimum Viable Planet is a weekly newsletter on climate things and how to keep them together in a world gone mad. This week, we’re listening to what nature has to offer in the conversation about climate solutions.
I wake up in the middle of the night to read Suzanne Simard. So, it seems, Coach Beard, the sleeper’s favorite character from the charming and messy TV show, Ted Lasso. From the CBC:
Coach Nate’s character, played by Nick Mohammed, complains that he never gets credit for his tactical game planning. That’s when the philosopher and wacky Coach Beard, played by Brendan Hunt, responds:
“You know, we thought trees were competing for light. Suzanne Simard’s fieldwork has challenged this perception, and we now realize that the forest is a socialist community. Trees work in harmony to share sunlight.
I loved this breathtaking moment because A) pop culture rarely talks about climate, as I cried a lot, and B) Coach Beard’s reading references talk about the growing popularity of anime books. of nature. In another episode, Coach Beard reads another favorite from this emerging canon, Tangled life by Merlin Sheldrake.
I’m new to all of this. I tend to prefer policy papers, behavioral science leaflets, electrification and climate communication books, quality doorstop hardware. Longer than I would like to admit, I resisted that “nature has feelings” turned on. It seemed a bit, I don’t know, floofy. And also, scary. I feel pretty bad about what we’ve destroyed from this world regardless of whether the mushrooms have feelings. Corn Sweetgrass braiding (here’s the Patch Adams reading + the review of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s chapter on learning animation grammar – just watch him for his glasses) was my catwalk foam, and now I can’t let go of these books.
I loved this interview of Ezra Klein with The story author Richard Powers because they talk about bridging this gap between man and nature (humans are nature, I know, which they also discuss in the interview), and this little snippet sums it up perfectly:
Richard: I think if I had to oversimplify, I was concerned as a young writer, in my twenties, thirties and forties, with the humanities that amplify our ability to control, master and manipulate our situation here and to understand ourselves. . And in my 50s and 60s, I got interested in the sciences of humility, I guess I would say, which distracts our attention from ourselves and other living things.
Ezra: I like this idea of humiliating science. I’m gonna steal this from now on.
Richard: Yeah. And you know, astonishment and wonder is very close to humility in my own emotional wheel. The more amazing the world around us becomes, the more we have to share the limelight with these other things that are just mind boggling.
Yes! It reminds me of Mary Oliver:
Instructions for living a life.
Talk it over.
I know that I have prioritized the wonderful, albeit manipulative, power of humanity over the amazing and uplifting powers of the natural world. Humans are indeed part of the natural world, so prioritizing their knowledge to the exclusion of the rest of the world is just… narrow and a little sad.
But why was it so difficult for me to approach the humiliating sciences? It couldn’t just be the aforementioned fears about mushroom consciousness. I think part of it was the deeply held belief in the primacy of human knowledge – that the more I read behavioral science, the more I can resolve human irrationality when it comes to the climate crisis and living in it. general. It is an eager way to gather information to beat a problem with a very timed clock. It’s hard to balance the obvious fact that we need to act now, despite the fact that we have only a tiny understanding of this world we need to save. And to be clear, getting closer to nature’s sensitivity isn’t just about encouraging natural solutions. It’s more like listening to what nature has to offer to the conversation about natural solutions. Less donation tree, more sharing tree.
Also, embracing one way of seeing doesn’t mean you’ve given up on another. Learning how trees talk to each other doesn’t mean you don’t care how humans talk to each other. I’m saying it way too much, but this paragraph really deserves a “duh”, doesn’t it?
At one point in his Odyssian journey, Coach Beard or the dazzling writers who wrote this episode (including Brett Goldstein… Roy Kent reads Find the mother tree? Now this is an audiobook I would pay dearly for) seems to have put it all in its pleasantly mysterious noggin. On the two-season arc, Coach Beard’s reading ranges from narrowly literal literature to natural literature, from Football coaching for dummies to these two very deep books, no disrespect for the draw series of course. Change is possible. Football is life. And the trees speak. Who knew?
What else could Beard read, I wonder? Here are my guesses:
What are your favorite “The Forest Talks” books? Let me know!
Bonnie let me know that the OPP video was… a bit too much! It was a helpful reminder that I didn’t think twice about a lot of the less than excellent messages in all of the cultural artifacts from my youth – which usually came with a heavy dose of misogyny, materialism, or just plain crass priorities. It was not necessary to share the video when the slogan would have been enough!
Last week :
I will continue to share the meditations on climatic insomnia. Here is this beauty from Nathan:
In response to your invitation: Yes, the climate keeps me awake at night. Less than before, when the weight of everything was still sinking. Now that’s more or less a feature of my days and sometimes my nights. Your way of trashing it and responding to it with a good read is helpful. There doesn’t seem to be a dearth of amazing books, both directly and non-climate related, right now and I rarely consult them during the day, in part because I fear, irrationally, that they will make me think. Selecting a few that are the most inspiring and beautiful for trash reading seems a wise way to both a) deal with the subject that keeps me awake and b) channel energy in a useful direction. . What seems to me to be the two (oversimplified) steps to living with climate anxiety.
It is a comprehensive communication guide for impact entrepreneurs and societal change agents. I have met so many people who had great ideas for changing the world but just didn’t know how to make the world listen. So when my toddler’s eyes last year asked me “what are you doing to help my future?” I decided to write this book (Your mantra of crying, breathing, grasping definitely applied here…) the last decade or more wrapped in a simple guidebook.
I love this. If you could use any tools to better communicate your climate ideas, email me! I’ll write down all the names and one of our guinea pigs will pick a winner next week. In the meantime, check out Adam’s free tools here (sign up on the main page). Or read one of his posts to get an idea of what he’s doing. I like this one about why all change agents should see themselves as communicators.
Who else? Coach Beard of an Episode’s Most Perfect Scorcese Tribute. (Earworm warning: you’ll never be able to get that song out of your head again):
Thanks so much for reading. Make sure to drag this email to your main folder if it has a tendency to get lost. If you like this newsletter, subscribe or share. And as always, please let me know how to improve it.
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Have a nice, cozy and happy weekend,
PS Here is my newsletter for the week of October 22, 2021, published in partnership with YES! Media. You can sign up to receive the Minimum Viable Planet newsletter by email directly at https://mvp.substack.com/.
Sarah lazarovic is an award-winning artist, creative director, freelance host and filmmaker, and journalist, covering current affairs and cultural events in comic book form. She is the author of A bunch of pretty things that I didn’t buy.