Online Reading Challenge – November Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Book Lovers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you find something to read that fits in this month’s theme of the lives of contemporary Native Americans? If so, what did you think about what (if anything) the book showed you?

I read our main title, There, There by Tommy Orange although I admit that I struggled to finish. It is, in short, devastating. Relentless prejudice, addiction and crushing poverty haunt the characters in this book as they struggle to find a balance between the history of their people and the present day. The recounting of the past, told from the point-of-view of Native people tells a very different story from the whitewashed stories of colonists and pioneers that invaded their land. It is both eye-opening and horrifying.

From the publisher:

“Here is a story of several people, each of whom has private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honour his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.”

A difficult book that is well worth reading.

If you are interested in learning more about the Native American people and their stories, check out the following links.

Learn about the Land You’re Living On.  Find out what Native peoples lived here.

What We Say Matters: the Power of Words in American and Indigenous Histories. This was also explored in There, There.

Native Hope. This blog “exists to address the injustice done to Native Americans. We dismantle barriers through storytelling and impactful programs to bring healing and inspire hope.” Lots of interesting posts of current issues.

Project 562 is “a multi-year national photography project dedicated to photographing over 562 federally recognized Tribes, urban Native communities, Tribes fighting for federal recognition and Indigenous role models in what is currently-known-as the United States.” Stunning photography and stories.

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Close, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability by David Owen

green metropolis Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability makes a compelling argument against the anti-urban rhetoric of leaving the city and moving to the country to live a more sustainable, environmentally conscious life. The author, David Owen, outlines for readers why the ideas of living smaller, living closer, and driving less will lead to a more energy efficient and a better human/lifestyle environmental footprint than escaping to the country for open space.

To help solidify his argument, Owen discusses in detail how the current thinking of crowded cities, like New York and Chicago, as nightmares from an ecological standpoint actually misses the entire point of an urban setting. Since people who live an urban lifestyle are essentially living on top of and right next to other people, they are forced to live in smaller spaces and actually consume and use far less than the people who move to the country to spread out. Their per-capita greenhouse gas emissions are overall less than a third of the average Americans. Owen argues that the greenest community in the country is Manhattan and I must admit his argument is very compelling. Urban settings encourage people to rely less heavily on automobiles and more on their own feet, bicycles, or public transportation to get from point A to point B or else they are forced to sit through horribly backed up and congested traffic. It becomes simpler to utilize the public transit system and even walk to work. Owen argues that people spreading throughout the countryside are actually having a greater impact on the environment as they are effectively using up more of the world’s resources than people who live in urban settings.

Pick up David Owen’s Green Metropolis and decide for yourself whether or not living in an urban setting vs. living in a rural setting is a more environmentally stable principle. Owen’s clearly thought out and expressively written arguments must be read in full to understand why he believes living in an asphalt jungle is a greener way to live than leaving the city and spreading your life into the countryside.