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The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature Hardcover – Jun 1 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (June 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520233204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520233201
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,795,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Booklist

As stewards of the landscape, environmentalists have traditionally been categorized as either preservationists or conservationists, designations that are often considered not only limiting but mutually exclusive. Jordan recommends a third classification, "ecological restoration," for proponents of a method for eliminating and correcting environmental disturbances and destruction through sustained rehabilitative activities. In a wide-ranging philosophical exploration of humanity's relationship to nature and an astute etymological explanation of the spirit behind the science, Jordan explores environmentalism from anthropological, sociological, literary, and religious disciplines to create a new paradigm for interacting with the environment. Influenced by pioneering conservationists such as Aldo Leopold and John Muir, Jordan takes a metaphysical approach, quoting philosophers as distinguished as Joseph Campbell and Ralph Waldo Emerson and alluding to literary works as diverse as Charlotte's Web and Moby Dick. Elevating ecological restoration beyond the basic technical aspects to encompass ethical and social considerations, Jordan forges an ambitious model for solving the environmental challenges that threaten native habitats. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"Elevating ecological restoration beyond the basic technical aspets to encompass ethical and social considerations, Jordan forges an ambitious model for solving the environmental challenges that threaten native habitats."--"Booklist"

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Format: Hardcover
Ecological restoration has often been viewed as either a fringe hobby -- a few aficionados re-creating a patch of prairie on weekends -- or as a distraction from the vital and politically charged work of preserving more or less undisturbed landscapes. But William R. Jordan III argues that it's vital to the preservation of the Earth's ecosystems, and to ourselves. Jordan, founder of the journal Ecological Restoration, writes that restoration is "a way of achieving an ecologically close relationship with the rest of nature," as well as "a context for confronting the most troubling aspects of our relationship with our fellow creatures." The Sunflower Forest is an important book about a practice that is, in coming years, bound to become one of the most important ways we deal with our surroundings. Thanks to Jordan's wide-ranging intellect and compelling writing, it's also a great pleasure to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Way more than eco-philosophy Aug. 25 2006
By Paul Grant - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Bill Jordan says restoration is the only approach to ecological stewardship that will last in the long run, which is the only run that counts. Restoration assumes a heavy human hand, exactly something that rubs the nature-as-sacred camp the wrong way. Jordan proposes a metaphor for guiding ecology: community. One reason both "liberal" and "conservative" politicians and activists scorn restoration ecology is because we hate community. We like having friends, but true community is very costly, an observation in line with scripture. True community goes against sinful nature, and requires society's full efforts to avoid disintegration.

Jordan lists four stages of a human's community involvement in life. These four struck me as very important for understanding life, but less important for building ecological principles:

1. I am not God. (Some people never figure this out)

2. Get a Job. (We all need to contribute to the world)

3. Giving Gifts. (Giving connects others to us)

4. Receiving Gifts. (Receiving connects us to others)

This one surprised me. How is receiving a greater communal than giving? It's a simple answer that is changing my life: receiving a gift binds us to someone else, while giving a gift only binds others to us. As long as we only give and never receive, no one has any claim on us and we retain absolute control over the relationship.

The Sunflower Forest is a science book that taught me more about community than many books ostensibly about community. It's also an insightful, if a little "out there" treatise on restoration ecology. The lessons are profound, but the policy recommendations - a debate within a narrow field of eco-philosophers - will date very quickly.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Sunflower Forest July 8 2003
By Peter Friederici - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ecological restoration has often been viewed as either a fringe hobby -- a few aficionados re-creating a patch of prairie on weekends -- or as a distraction from the vital and politically charged work of preserving more or less undisturbed landscapes. But William R. Jordan III argues that it's vital to the preservation of the Earth's ecosystems, and to ourselves. Jordan, founder of the journal Ecological Restoration, writes that restoration is "a way of achieving an ecologically close relationship with the rest of nature," as well as "a context for confronting the most troubling aspects of our relationship with our fellow creatures." The Sunflower Forest is an important book about a practice that is, in coming years, bound to become one of the most important ways we deal with our surroundings. Thanks to Jordan's wide-ranging intellect and compelling writing, it's also a great pleasure to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Denying shame has gotten us where we are April 18 2013
By EJ Tangel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Bill Jordan is one of this country's most radical and deep thinking environmental philosophers. On the tenth anniversary of the publishing of his landmark work, The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature, we need this book more than ever. Wrangling with our most basic connections to nature Jordan finds not only truth and beauty, but troubling complexity all but ignored by environmentalists and the broader culture at large. His work is not just about the environment--it is about us, deeply, as humans, as relational beings--and so maps onto everything we do, from our day-to-day lives to our policy making both domestically and internationally. His erudition and writing style are reminiscent of Joseph Campbell, but more pointedly, in the true tradition of philosophy, Jordan is asking us to ask ourselves, "How should we live?"

Jordan's concept of shame is central to his work. For Jordan, shame is the acknowledgement of our complex and demanding interconnection with, and reliance on the life and death of the "other" whether plant or animal. Critically, shame is not guilt, a common and misleading conflation. While guilt can be addressed by corrections in one's behavior (from apology to redress), shame is irresolvable because it is the awareness and acknowledgement of complete dependence and inter-dependence. Consumption, therefore, is an occasion for that awareness, an occasion for shame that must be recognized and dealt with.

It is shame-denial that has brought us to our current ecological condition of crisis, enabling as it does, thoughtless and endlessly increasing consumption. It is shame-denial that enables us to live our day-to-day economic lives consuming the world's resources, exploiting cheap labor in Asia and the Global South, while allowing unemployment, poverty and hunger to exist both here and abroad.

I've been thinking lately that Washington DC embodies in a microcosm what is wrong with our culture--and by extension with our relationship to nature. In the capital of the world's richest nation we find immeasurable wealth and power existing side-by-side with severe poverty, violence and destitution, as if a verdant rain forest would sprout in a dust-bowl field. In other words, there's nothing natural about Washington DC. This is an illuminating way to understand ourselves, since nature/culture are forever bound--the one is the other--and both the environment and people are suffering because of the denial of shame--the denial of dependence. And so it is productive to ask how we let such an unnatural and oxymoronic, condition to exist. Have the wealthy and powerful in Washington DC--and by extension all of us--no shame? As Voltaire famously said, "The comfort of the rich depends on an abundant supply of the poor." Shame offers us a new/old way to look at ourselves.

Jordan urges us to consider the importance of facing our shame by carefully devising rituals and performances that enrich both us, as human beings, and the ecological system from which we come, and of necessity, must be relationally bound. These are what Jordan calls "technologies of the imagination" that ground us as humans and reveal our embededness in nature and enable us to move from shame to beauty. It is the same with our relations to each other. Jordan's vision is not austere; he is in no way remonstrative. Jordan doesn't impel us towards a bleak future, but instead towards the richness of what it means to be human living in the wealth of nature. The process is not easy, but instead troubling and difficult. Yet denying shame has gotten us where we are--and will certainly propel us into a more dystopian climate-corrupted future. To deny shame is to embrace ignorance. Worse, it is license to exploit; it is freedom without responsibility. Embracing shame allows us to live richly with each other and nature.

The Sunflower Forest should be widely read and discussed for its probing of our condition and its illumination of who were are as humans: complex, inter-relational and embedded beings in need of the means to negotiate our way, with each other and the natural world. In short, "How should we live?" That is the conversation so sorely needed, yet near universally ignored and denied, especially by those who are calling themselves the "new environmentalists". That is the conversation we need to have, posthaste.

EJ Tangel, MA
Chicago
April 26, 2013
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Should be a classic May 2 2011
By Todd J. Levasseur - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is ambitious, broad in scope, interesting, and well written. Jordan advances a new theory about shame and eco-ritual that needs to be taken seriously by everyone from policy makers, ecophilosophers, educators, ecologists, and farmers. There is a lot of depth here and new terrain is covered, and it is covered with humility and clarity. Worth the read, and then pass it along.


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