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EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want [Hardcover]

Frances Moore Lappe
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2011 1568586833 978-1568586830
In EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappé-a giant of the environmental movement-confronts accepted wisdom of environmentalism. Drawing on the latest research from anthropology to neuroscience and her own field experience, she argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn't our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers, or other calamities. Rather, it's our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. Lappé dismantles seven common "thought traps"-from limits to growth to the failings of democracy- that belie what we now know about nature, including our own, and offers contrasting "thought leaps" that reveal our hidden power. Like her Diet for a Small Planet classic, EcoMind is challenging, controversial and empowering.

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Review

Jane Goodall
"Powerful and inspiring, Ecomind will open your eyes and change your thinking. I want everyone to read it." 

Vandana Shiva, Ph.D, is a philosopher scientist, activist and most recently, author Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development
"Frances Moore Lappé brings us yet another gift in EcoMind. She cautions us to avoid the mental traps that block our thinking. She awakens us to our immense possibilities and potentials. She invites us to release our latent energies to be the change we want to see."
 
Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
"Frances Moore Lappé's exceptionally thought-provoking book is a message of hope. It shows how change is possible, once we open our eyes, look around, and see that we depend on others and on nature. This book obliges us to re-imagine our world, brick by brick, by first re-imagining ourselves."
 
Mollie Katzen, author of the Moosewood Cookbook
"This book is pivotal in the most literal sense. As I read it, I find myself turning the crucial 180 degrees from frustration and fear to a sense of constructive possibility. Frances's ability to express the most complex, existential yearnings is epic—matched only by her courage. Nothing I can say will do justice to how this book continues to affect me.
 
Peter Barnes, author of Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons
"Lappé shows how by seeing the big picture we can change it. It's a clarion call in this rising age of rising despair."
 
John Gershman, Clinical Associate Professor, Robert F Wagner Graduate School of Pubic Service, New York University
"Frances Moore Lappé has done it again. As she has done so insightfully with respect to food, hunger, and democracy, Lappé now turns her sights on the contemporary ecological crises. Her accessible and provocative analysis demonstrates how the ways many people think and talk about these crises – especially the dominant narratives of scarcity – obscure the inequalities of power that lie at the root of these crises and inhibit rather than inspire the kind of effective movements necessary to confront them. EcoMind  is a profound  example of how analysis breeds not paralysis but rather informed and inspired action, and is on track to do so in the 21st century just like Diet for a Small Planet  and Food First did in the 20th. 
 
Michael Brune, Executive Director, The Sierra Club
"EcoMind reminds us that the most important resource for restoring a clean and healthy planet is the one sitting between our ears. Frances Moore Lappé brilliantly challenges the negative "thought traps" of doom-and-gloom environmental messages and emerges with a positive, people-powered approach."

About the Author

Frances Moore Lappe is the author of 17 books and cofounder of Food First: The Institute for Food and Development Policy, the Small Planet Institute, and the Small Planet Fund. She works in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changing the way we think and act Dec 31 2011
By Friederike Knabe TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
For quite some time, Frances Moore Lappé has been a household name among those concerned with the global crises around food, poverty, and the environment. Her book, Diet for a Small Planet, published in the nineteen seventies, became a world-wide success. Since then, climate change has emerged as an additional, if not all-encompassing, crisis. Among the many authors writing on this range of topics, Lappé, award wining author with eighteen books to her name, educator and activist, stands out not only for her thorough and broad-based and cross-cutting analysis of the roots of hunger, poverty and environmental crises but also for her engaging reflections on solutions that are emerging worldwide through what she calls "Living democracy", initiatives that are based in and growing out from communities - from the bottom-up. In her new book, EcoMind, she presents, among other concerns, a convincing case that "world hunger is not the result of food shortages" but of a lack of sustained access by poor and marginalized people to the means of adequate food production and/or food supplies. Her central argument is that "solutions to global crises are within reach [...] the challenge for us is to free ourselves from self-defeating thought-traps so that we can bring these solutions to life."

EcoMind is structures around seven "thought traps" which the author discusses in turn, providing numerous examples that give context and depth to her arguments. The traps, Lappé finds, hold "widely held environmental messages and related ideas - some of them largely unspoken assumptions - that now shape our culture's responses to the global environmental and poverty crises.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eco-Mind is the right book, at the right time... March 6 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Frances Moore Lappe continues to amaze as she effortlessly brings together cohesive issues and perspectives for living a conscious life. I find myself re-reading chapters because they resonate so well with bridging personal change with global sustainability. A recommended addition for anyone managing sustainability in their business, community or home.
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4.0 out of 5 stars an optimistic world vew March 24 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The first time I have seen Courage included as an essential aspect of change and how to develope it.Adresses the need to change our cognitive blocks and language to effect change in ourselves and others.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changing our mind Dec 14 2011
By Friederike Knabe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For quite some time, Frances Moore Lappé has been a household name among those concerned with the global crises around food, poverty, and the environment. Her book, Diet for a Small Planet, published in the nineteen seventies, became a world-wide success. Since then, climate change has emerged as an additional, if not all-encompassing, crisis. Among the many authors writing on this range of topics, Lappé, award wining author with eighteen books to her name, educator and activist, stands out not only for her thorough and broad-based and cross-cutting analysis of the roots of hunger, poverty and environmental crises but also for her engaging reflections on solutions that are emerging worldwide through what she calls "Living democracy", initiatives that are based in and growing out from communities - from the bottom-up. In her new book, EcoMind, she presents, among other concerns, a convincing case that "world hunger is not the result of food shortages" but of a lack of sustained access by poor and marginalized people to the means of adequate food production and/or food supplies. Her central argument is that "solutions to global crises are within reach [...] the challenge for us is to free ourselves from self-defeating thought-traps so that we can bring these solutions to life."

EcoMind is structures around seven "thought traps" which the author discusses in turn, providing numerous examples that give context and depth to her arguments. The traps, Lappé finds, hold "widely held environmental messages and related ideas - some of them largely unspoken assumptions - that now shape our culture's responses to the global environmental and poverty crises." They range from "no growth" as the only way forward, to the inherent problems of our "consumer society", to the limits of the earth's resource capacity, to "it is too late" for meaningful action. For the author, these perspectives are not helpful in tackling our current world crises, in fact they have a "negative and defeating influence on us, preventing us from seeking solutions." How to reach real and meaningful solutions is Lappé's primary interest and motivation.

Quoting Anais Nin's "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." as a starting point, Lappé posits that our minds cannot see "any unfiltered reality". We see our world through "a largely unconscious mental map, made up of the big ideas orienting our lives." The outcome is that among all our experiences we also fit our perspectives on the current global crises into the existing mental map. Lappe encourages us with her book, and in particular with the many positive initiatives in problem solving and local solutions, to challenge our mental map into new ways of seeing and understanding. Each chapter on one of the thought traps ends with a series of positive examples for change that she summarizes under the heading "thought leaps". Lappé strongly argues that it is possible to change the way we think about problems that appear unsurmountable. Understanding problems as challenges we can reframe them in ways that enable us to break them down into manageable parts and that enable us to act. EcoMind is full of encouraging initiatives. For example, on the subject of NO GROWTH vs. GROWTH, the author argues that rather than accepting no growth as a necessary future strategy for our economies, we have to move towards growth that "enhances the quality of our lives and our ecosystem." We have to understand humanity as part of the ecosystem and not outside it, in fact, we individually and together need to develop "ecominds" and think as an ecosystem, learning to view the challenges we face from that overriding perspective.

The fundamental question then remains is whether we can remake our mental map. Lappé brings many examples where this is already happening, whether among the farmers in India or West Africa or among our own societies. We are motivated to follow suite. For some readers, the author may sound too optimistic in this regard. However, her arguments are compelling and show a way forward that is worth serious consideration and participation. If nothing else, even for the sceptic this is a book rich in food for thought. [Friederike Knabe]
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for those looking to navigate society's challenges Nov. 18 2011
By Richard Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
EcoMind is another thought-provoking and insightful work from visionary author and activist Frances Moore Lappé. I am a professor of environmental studies at a smallish liberal arts college. I face the challenge of motivating and empowering undergraduate students on a daily basis, and I return again and again to Lappé's works. I have used many of her books and articles in my classes, and have already adopted EcoMind for an advanced seminar on critical thinking that I am teaching in spring 2012. Lappé's works have always provided intensely thoughtful and thought-provoking content for both an academic and general audience, and EcoMind is no exception. While I agree with many (though not all, and not uniformly) of the assumptions Lappé confronts in the book, it is the way she writes that so resonates with me and my students. She is keenly aware of the need to weave rhetorical craft, emotional openness, and intellectual rigor into hard questions - this has been her approach since Diet for a Small Planet was first published in 1971 (a book that remains current 40 years later), and is the thread that connects her work in many areas, including international aid, democracy, empowerment, and of course food systems. EcoMind is an easy book to read - because it's so well written - but asks us to grapple with hard questions. In this, Lappé provides access to challenging ideas in a manner that helps us better understand how to position ourselves in a society faced with complex and often frightening problems that are clearly in need of our greater attention. Her work rests alongside that of Bill McKibben and Thomas Friedman, among others, in achieving the balance of depth and readability. EcoMind, however, is not a book like (for example) McKibben's Eaarth or Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Rather, it is a book that should be read along with those other works - a book that helps us to interpret the challenges that McKibben and Friedman and others place before us in their assessments of society and human relationships with nature. What Lappé does so well - and has always done so well - is help us to take a long hard look at the human condition, while simultaneously helping us to be more active and effective citizens.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EcoMind will Truly Change the Way You Think Dec 2 2011
By Sean Moran - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a environmentally mindful college student I've read a few environmental books here and there from Bill McKibbon's Eaarth to Colin Beavan's No Impact Man. Unfortunately, I read those books with a regular mind; not an Eco-mind.

Frances Moore Lappe's EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create a World We Want contains amazingly unique analysis I have not found elsewhere. I have read books detailing why we must focus on certain issues, what society needs to do, what individuals need to do, what technologies need to be advanced, etc. but EcoMind is the first book that has changed the way I think and address those problems. It's a very difficult concept to explain but the book allows you to see what's currently wrong with our thinking and addressing issues with seven "Thought-Traps," then you see how to fix that way of thinking with "Thought-Leaps," and in between the two she gives several examples of people already making those leaps, which are incredibly inspirational.

Particularly interesting was her analysis of the debate of whether we need to reduce our growth to sustain the planet. Basically, she makes us examine whether we should be using words like "growth" and "progress" when our way of life is ruining our environment and distancing us farther from our roots. But alas, I won't give anymore of the book away.

Read the book, I highly doubt you'll regret it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of great information to challenge viewpoints Dec 18 2012
By Kevin Kromash - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In the introduction to EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappé wisely states that "if our mental frame is flawed, we'll fail no matter how hard and sincerely we struggle." This statement is a reasonable summary of the main theme of the book. Moore Lappé guides the reader through a tour of seven "Thought Traps" that she contends are responsible for the stagnation we have seen in achieving sustainability.

These Thought Traps include notions such as the idea that in this brave new world of Facebook, fried foods, and freeways, we urban humans have lost our connection to nature; or that humans have a natural tendency to over-consume, making exploitation of the Earth inevitable; or indeed that even if we as a society collectively decide to take action, it's already too late.

Whether you agree with Moore Lappé's characterization of these Thought Traps or not, it is hard to argue with the central premise: that people often don't even look at the frameworks that guide our thinking, and that only by looking closely at why we hold certain opinions can we begin to shape them in a more positive direction.

For example, one subtle misconception that Moore Lappé discusses is the idea that humans have always lived in the way we do now in the United States (with the corollary being that this lifestyle is "natural" or "non-negotiable"). Moore Lappé does not challenge people's right to live comfortable lives (in fact, she takes the opposite view, that it is a myth that we have to give up comfort in order to live sustainably), but she hammers home the case that we currently live is most certainly an aberration. Case in point: "In the one hundred years of the twentieth century, humans used ten times more energy than we did in the previous 1,000 years."

Once you look closely at the roots of your beliefs, all kinds of possibilities open up:

* America could be powered entirely with renewable energy.
* Ecological farming practices could grow more food than chemically-dependent agribusinesses.
* Businesses and households could vastly improve the efficiency of their energy-demanding tasks.

Such ideas certainly require further research, but they are not as unbelievable as you might think. The reason they unbelievable is partly due to misinformation from groups that don't want those ideas to be true, but also because when we use a flawed frame of logic, we tend to ignore facts that support ideas outside of the frame.

Furthermore, this book is worth purchasing if only for the amazing collection of facts that it compiles:

* How much water is used to make 1 pound of beef? 12,000 gallons.
* What percent of fruit that Americans purchase is thrown out? 14%.
* What percent of soy is fed to livestock? 90%.
* How much wealth does the Walton family have? As much as 40 percent of Americans combined.
* How many more hours per year does the average American work than the average German? 400.
* How much would it cost to preserve all the world's rain forests? About 0.1 percent of the value lost in the 2008 stock market crash.
* How much weight does an American man gain when his income drops? 5.5 pounds.

In addition to the through research of EcoMind, it is ultimately a life-affirming book. It does not criticize people for being greedy or ignorant or couch potatoes. Quite the opposite. It tells us that if we feel like couch potatoes, it is because we feel like a cog in a machine built by someone else. It tells us that humans are resilient, perceptive, and innovative. It tells us that we are motivated not just by the expectation of material reward, but by the desire for meaning. It tells us that there are indeed solutions available to all the world's problems, and that they are not very far from our grasp. We just have to reach for them.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A world changing book Sept. 13 2011
By Drumore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappe facilitates a much needed shift in how we perceive the world's most pressing problems, from climate change to hunger, empowering us to create the world we truly want. Insightful and inspiring, this book is a must read for the new generation of environmentalists and world-changers.
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