In a time of rapid climatic shift and lack of political will, the lessons in Ned Tillman’s book Saving the Places We Love: Paths to Environmental Stewardship are imperative for the younger generation to understand. By recounting his own experiences in nature as well as pointing to past environmental atrocities, Ned explains reasons for a societal paradigm shift that starts with the changing of our own personal habits and ends with the implementation of international and progressive political negotiations.
Oceans, forests, and mountains are only a few of the timeless natural wonders Tillman explores through grounding facts and first-person narrative reflections. Other areas of focus include: reducing grassin our own backyards in an attempt to focus on food growth, sustainably retrofitting our inland cities with best management practices to avoid excess nutrient runoff, and encouraging people to spend more time in nature in order to develop a connection to the land whose health we all rely on for survival.
The first time Ned saw machines preparing to build a highway across his family’s farm, he thought there was an invasion going on. He jokes, somewhat sarcastically, about special interests controlling the government, thus pursuing growth at any cost, and remembers throwing nails at an industry worker who became his first enemy after similarly assaulting the family dog with rocks. In the end of this minor skirmish, Ned reflects that to solve this and other environmental problems we will need collaborative action in order to preserve the planet’s natural habitats and resources for the enjoyment of future generations.
Throughout the text, there are grey boxes with personal anecdotes and information related to the chapter at hand. For example, one explains the story of an old man who dedicates his time to securing 15,000 lost fishing lures from streams. Another is aimed at plastic water bottles and reveals that some bottles were found to be more dangerous than Ned’s county’s private and public water supplies after he tested them. These informative grey boxes have two purposes: One is to allow the reader to understand Ned’s chapter topics on a personal level through compelling and emotion-filled reflection, and the other is to educate readers on popular (and not-so-popular) environmental problems, thus encouraging them to take immediate action in their own communities.
As a recent college grad who spent the majority of my collegiate career fighting climate change as ‘the campus radical’, I encourage professors to include this book in any class dealing with the social, political, or economic consequences of anthropogenic climate change. I’m not a scientist, third-world citizen, or political negotiator, but I am a member of the generation that is currently suffering from the fossil-fuel addiction of a society in which I have been conditioned to live. My hope is that this book will support those who are told their ideas are misguided and idealistic. If we want future generations to experience the beauty and inspiration that nature provides, we need to realize the radicals, the misguided, and the idealistic might be the ones worth listening to if we want to save the places we love.