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on June 7, 2002
Orr expands on some of the themes brought to the forefront in his last two books (Ecological Literacy and Earth in Mind). However, he highlights aspects critical to a sustaining culture that lie outside the boundaries of convential educational thought, and even outside the previous bounds of Orr's comprehensive vision of education.
He explains and argues for a continually expanded vision of 'education' again, and embeds this process in the larger processes of life; tirelessy showing that there are no boundaries between the two - and what this means for our place in the living world.
Chapters such as "Architecture as Pedagogy" represent some of his past work refined.
It is in the first half dozen chapters, however, that I feel he gets closest to the heart of the matter. In chapters such as "Slow Knowledge" and "Verbicide" he brings forth such elements as time, information, the speed at which we unite (or disjoint) them, and our relationship between such daily elements. I have been on a constant search for commentary on the implications of our relationship with time as it concerns sustainability. (Some of the best writing on it, that I've found is in The Sabbath by A.J Heschel and Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram). There is little written directly about this in the general literature, much of it not embedded in the concept of sustainability. The majority of it is also somewhat hidden in studies of religion, symbolism, and philosophy. Orr brings these relationships into the open and connects our perception and the design of our use of time directly to the ground. He never loses sight of the how such processes impact our prospects for a livable future.
He also contextualizes this relationship in the ever widening definition (largely thanks to Orr himself) of DESIGN - specifically ecological design.
These aspects are only part of this commentary however; other areas focus on the idea of wilderness, political economy, vocation, technology and human development.
David Orr's ability to connect such topics and contextualize them within the qualities of 'usefulness' is needed fundamentally.
He uncompromisingly subjects dominant current (and lesser-discussed, but possible) beliefs, paradigms, technologies and techniques, to the questions:
"What good is it, are they? How does it/do they influence us? How does it/do they inform our actions? Does this further our best intentions? How does this influence the prospects of life now and in the future?"
Never before has such scrutiny been so necessary, and I have found no more enlightening and pragmatic commentary than that offered by David Orr. This book should raise the bar for others in the many fields of sustainability to broaden, deepen and connect these concepts further, and soon.
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on October 28, 2003
One needn't read the blurb to know that DO is a professor. The writing style, the subject chosen and the way it has been treated, the examples given... all point towards a very advanced mind! The power of this book lies in the relentless power of the ideology and the prose to raise questions in the mind of the reader, and forcing the reader to reconsider some of his/her own beliefs and viewpoints.
The professor makes this journey even more enjoyable through his deliciously witty sarcasms and digs at the capitalistic society of today and its spin-doctors of advertising. Through numerous examples and penetrating questions, the writer clearly supports his point of view that humanity today is rushing headlong into the future, with a blind reliance on science and technology/forms of government/economic theories... and this faith he claims, seems to mirror an almost religious fervor. The writer clearly illustrates how humanity is increasingly trading its unknown future for short term gains of a few in positions of power to exploit those gains.
The book deals with the subject of designing the future with Nature in mind, and speaks of the nature of design. Quite a heavy book in terms of the ideas, though the writing is wonderfully simple and straightforward. But aren't the clearest minds with the most elegant and terse prose, the hardest to comprehend? Simply a brilliant book that is a must read, and replete with a wonderfully diverse reference list at the end.
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on March 3, 2009
David Orr presents the most comprehensive, understandable and honest description of everything that is wrong with our world from the environment to education and economics. A wonderful read that should be mandatory for all people. We need more David Orrs who are unafraid to express what is truly happening in our world. We need to reflect on how each and everyone of us can and must live a more responsible, sustainable and ethical life, not just for our immediate future but for generations to come.
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