Vastly More Practical (and Political) Than Title Suggests,
I almost did not buy this book, and I say that because an awful lot of really smart folks might be inclined to turn away on the basis of the title and the possibility that this is a fairy tale wishful-thinking la la land kind of book. It is not. It is practical (and political), it is enriching, and it is over-all a very high quality endeavor that has been well executed.
Four “great truths” are articulated many times over across the various readings, and they merit listing here:
1) Campaign finance reform is the absolute non-negotiable first step that must precede every other reform. Until the people can reassert their great common sense for the common good, and restore the true democratic tradition, nothing else will happen.
2) Neighborhoods are the bedrock of both democracy and sustainable development, and we have spent fifty years building in the wrong direction. New legal and economic incentives must be found to redirect both urban and suburban real estate management back in the direction of self-contained neighborhoods.
3) Local production of everything, from electricity to food to major goods like automobiles) appears to be a pre-requisite for deconflicting high quality of life needs from limited resource availability. The book includes several very intelligent discussions of how this might come about.
4) Networking makes everything else possible, and by this the book means electronic networking. I was especially fascinated by some of the examples of near-real-time sharing that electronic networking makes possible–everything from a neighborhood car to scheduled hand-me-downs of winter coats from one family to another. We have not progressed one mile down the road of what the Internet makes possible at a personal and neighborhood level, and I would recommend this book for that perspective alone.
The creative editorial role must be applauded. From the identification and recruitment of the contributors, to the selection of the photographs that each tell their own story, to the quality of the paper used to create the book, all testify to the competence and knowledge of the editor.
Lastly, it merits comment that the book serves as a very fine calling card from something called The Global Renaissance Alliance, a spiritually-oriented group that nurtures Citizens Circles and uses a web site to provide pointers to resources and other like-minded folk.