I had high hopes for Mary Pipher’s book The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture. I’ve been a fan of Pipher’s writing ever since I read Reviving Ophelia when I was 10, so when I wandered into my local bookstore and found out that she’d written a book on healing ourselves and the earth in the age of climate change, I was excited. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
But like cheap Chinese food, the book left me hungry an hour later.
It does contain some good ideas; I especially like Pipher’s concept of the “new healthy normal” way of being for which we should strive:
In the context of our global storm, the new healthy normal requires the ability to move from awareness to action on a regular basis, to maintain a sense of balance, and to live intentionally. It also requires a particular kind of optimism, a connection to community, and a world-class set of stress-reduction skills. Implied in the term “new healthy normal” is my assumption that it is not mentally healthy to sit idly by while the human race destroys its mother ship. (Pipher, 117)
I also like her description of the coalition she built with other Nebraskans to fight the Keystone XL pipeline–which, thanks to her and many other people’s activism, is still an ongoing fight rather than a done deal. I like her emphasis on community-building, bringing together people from different walks of life, and combining hard work with good food, art, and music.
But overall, although the book was well-written, it just felt…shallow. It didn’t get into the depths demanded by the scale of the climate crisis. I read a Goodreads review by a woman named Megan that articulated exactly what I found so troublesome:
…I think the book fails at its main goal of breaking through the emotional paralysis to help us adequately address our current ecological, political, and social crisis.