Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy
by Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone
Published 2012, New World Library

Reviewed by Jane Sarre

Ecophilosopher Joanna Macy has a track record of five decades of activism in the peace and environmental movements. Together with Chris Johnstone, a British doctor specialising in addiction work, trauma therapy and resilience training, she has written a truly useful and inspiring book.

The book provides practical guidance on the inner work useful to enable the outer work of creating a better future for the world. It follows Macy’s model of ‘the work that reconnects’ and guides the reader to start from gratitude to build resilience before going on to face the reality of the state of the world in order to externalise and honour the grief many of us feel about it. Having done so we are then freed to see with new eyes, to create new visions for a more sustainable society, create supportive communities and finally go forth and take action to make that better future more likely.

The intrapersonal work is given context in their analysis of framing narratives: the ‘business as usual’ model of corporate media or the ‘great unravelling’ of environmentalists predicting doom. Their alternate perspective is the ‘great turning’; showing how people are already taking many actions to stop or slow destruction, create new sustainable systems and equitable organisations etc. With this understanding each step that each of us individually takes is contributing to a huge mass movement, or turning, that is already achieving much.

Highly recommended for burnt-out activists and the cynical or overwhelmed who are not sure if and where to focus their efforts.

Available in store at Printed Matter Bookshop, 185 Queen’s Rd, TN34 1RG.

Next events at Printed Matter Bookshop are: Printed Matter Book Club, discussing Michael Albert’s Moving Forward. Thursday 25th October 6pm.

The launch of Dangerous Dog – Poetry book by David Francis. Thursday 8th November 7pm.

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