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Living Green, 29 April 2009

A Conservationist Manifesto
by Scott Russell Sanders, 2009, Indiana
University Press, $19.95, paperback

Reviewed by Lynn Jenkins

Hoosier author, Scott Russell Sanders, repeats his urgent message of conservation in his latest work, A Conservationist Manifesto. Without the panicked shouts of street corner crazies holding prophetic signs heralding the end of the world, Sanders manages to warn us of the necessity to act immediately to protect life as we know it. The gluttony and impatience of our consumer-focused society—the buy newer, buy better, buy now lifestyle—is destroying our home planet, he states. There is no panic in his voice, but there is urgency in his message.

Sanders, born in Tennessee and well traveled, has found his “place” in Bloomington. His call for public practice of conservation is delivered with an urging for us to begin living lightly in our own “places” with their local economies; we must, he instructs, learn to know our places well. It is this sense of place that is important in order to outrun and outwit the bulldozers and chainsaws.

Calling for a lifestyle of simplicity, harmony and community instead of greedy consumption, his manifesto appears near the end of the book. It is composed of 40 stated truths to live by, e.g. #22, “In order to live, we must use the earth—but we should not use it up.” The last chapter is an apologetic message of hope to future generations.

Sanders’ style is full of the imagery and poetic prose of Aldo Leopold, the philosophic wanderings of Henry David Thoreau, and includes Wendell Berry’s vital sense of place. A Conservationist Manifesto is sure to find its way onto those treasured lists of must reads.

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