The Authentic Underpinnings of Hope

Jean Giono wrote: “There are times in life when a person has to rush off in pursuit of hopefulness.” Well, whenever the Rocky Mountain Land Library rushes off, it’s usually in pursuit of good books. Here’s just a few of our latest arrivals. Somehow each volume answers Wendell Berry’s call: “A part of our obligation to our own being and to our descendents is to study life and our conditions, searching for the authentic underpinnings of hope.”

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The former Mayor of New York City, and the former Director of the Sierra Club team up to explore what a more local approach might mean in our age of climate change, along side Rachel Carson’s classic essay on the intimate joy of observing nature (now in a pocket-sized edition).

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We love David Montgomery’s earlier books, and we can never pass upa new book on soil — or the latest on water in the west!

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A slim volume on the joys of reading from one of our favorite writers, and a new collection of writings from the founding chief of the U.S. Forest Service, edited by Pinchot’s biographer, Char Miller.

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The Peregrine Returns: The Art and Architecture of an Urban Raptor Recovery, featuring the beautiful watercolor paintings of Peggy MacNamara.

Stay tuned for many more posts on great books at the Land Library!

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The Story of the Land, from Headwaters to Plains

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You can sense the change of season at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. But just as the summer winds down at the Land Library’s headwaters site, we have exciting news to report back here in Denver. The Rocky Mountain Land Library will soon be opening it’s third place-based learning center at Denver’s old Puritan Pie Factory, located in the historic Curtis Park neighborhood. This urban branch is designed to help connect people to nature — not the distant natural history of our nearest National Parks, but the nearby nature of the neighborhoods where we all live.

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The Puritan Pie Factory at 26th & Champa.

We have two city-inspired collections that we are anxious to share, namely a Kids Nature Library (with thousands of books on bugs, birds, bats, and more), along with (what we’re calling) an Urban Homestead Library, featuring books on nature in the city, with many volumes on green-living, including hundreds of titles on edible landscaping, urban farming, beekeeping, raising chickens, and much, much more.

With thousands of books as an inspiring resource, the Purtian Pie Factory will be home to workshops and classes, nature clubs and activities for kids, neighborhood gatherings, plus artist & craft studios. If the community has a creative need, we would love for the Pie Factory to help fill it.

For instance:

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Some of our favorite books are on seeds (really!). Along with seed books, we’ll be setting up a Free Seed Library, much like this wonderful photo from the Manitou, Colorado Seed Library.

 

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How about a Teaching Kitchen for both kids & adults? Over the years we have noticed that the intersection of food & land is a perfect place to feel those connections we all have to nature and the land! (This fun photo is from the Organic Teaching Kitchen in New York).

Thanks to the visionary owners of the Puritan Pie Factory, so much is possible! Over the next few weeks & months we’ll all be learning more about the Pie Factory and the Curtis Park neighborhood. Who knows what new ideas and programs will emerge as we explore this amazing opportunity together!

Many of us are especially excited that the Pie Factory is already part of Denver’s Beat Tour. Just next door to the factory is the site of Neal Cassady’s boyhood home.

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We’re already stacking up our Beat books, everything from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to Gary Snyder’s Riprap Poems!

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Let there be Pie! From Headwaters to Plains, from South Park to Curtis Park:

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Take a Trip to Buffalo Peaks Ranch

Thanks to a planning grant from the Borgen Family Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Land Library has been working hard this winter on renovation plans for Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Soon we’ll be carefully adapting this historic ranch, and creating a residential library devoted to people and the land.

Here’s a terrific new video on what’s ahead. Thanks to Winton Media for telling the Land Library’s story so well!

Watch, enjoy, share, and HELP the Land Library grow!

For much more information, here’s Your Trail Guide to the Rocky Mountain Land Library, or write jeff@landlibrary.org!

 

Cultivator of Words, Planter of Trees

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It’s always a thrill to add one more volume of W.S. Merwin’s poetry to the Land Library’s shelves. Our latest addition, What is a Garden? is a wonderful collaboration between Merwin’s words, and the vivid tropical images from photographer Larry Cameron.

Poet and environmentalist W.S. Merwin moved to Hawaii in 1976 and has spent the last forty years planting nineteen acres with more than 800 species of palm, creating a lush garden on a ruined former pineapple plantation.

PBS correspondent (and fellow poet) Jeffrey Brown visited W.S. Merwin at his Hawaii home, and captured the inspirational work of one of America’s greatest poets (& conservationists!):

 

 

For more on W.S. Merwin work in Hawaii, be sure to visit The Merwin Conservancy’s excellent website. Their mission is to preserve the living legacy of W.S. Merwin, his home and palm forest, for future retreat and study for botanists and writers, and for the benefit of environmental advocacy and community education.

I hope to be able to go on planting palms on this land for a long time, and I regard what has been done here so far as just a beginning….I hope that a future head gardener will have something of the same desire that I have had: to try to grow as many species as possible of the world’s palms….That is the abiding part of our hope that a Conservancy will want and will be able to save this bit of the Peahi streambed — what we have made here for those who come after us.” — W.S.Merwin

 

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W.S. Merwin is a two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, winner of a National Book Award, and twice served as the United States Poet Laureate. Recently he was honored as the 2015 Champion of the Land by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.

The Poetry Foundation has much more on W.S. Merwin on their always informative website!

Your Trail Guide to the Rocky Mountain Land Library

South Park's Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library's global collection of books on people and the land -- from the Arctic to the African savannas.

South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s global collection of books on people and the land — from the Arctic to the African savannas.

We find our place in the world through land and stories, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library unites our passion for both.” — Mark Fiege, author of The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States

Books are the tools we love best. They have a way of connecting people across the globe, and over the centuries. Books help us discover and celebrate the beauty of our improbable blue world. And books provide us with the tools we all need to live lighter on the land.

Our webpages (listed above) describes the Land Library’s books, programs, and the emerging Headwaters to Plains Network — a series of book-lined spaces, encouraging discovery, quiet thought, creative pursuits, and active community involvement.

Over the years, our website has also featured posts on some of the books that excite us to no end. You’ll also see that we report on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we all have to restore a historic Colorado ranch. Set in the high mountain grasslands of South Park, Buffalo Peaks Ranch will soon be the headwater site of a residential library — a place where you can come and stay for as long as you like.

Read about concrete corral stalls given new life as artist studios, our plans for a Land Library for inner-city Denver, complete with its very own Seed Library.

But as you’ll see from many years of web posts, we are happiest when reporting on books inspired by a sense of wonder, and hopeful for an even brighter future ahead.

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Stay tuned for much more from the Land Library in the months ahead!

The Rocky Mountain Land Library is like a gene bank for words, it’s our way of saving the past for the future. — David Mas Masumoto, farmer and author.

For more information on the Rocky Mountain Land Library, please contact jeff@landlibrary.org, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211 (office location), 303-321-3574

The Power of a Book: What’s New on our Shelves

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“Historians looking back often recognize turning points, but ordinary people living through them rarely do. Sometimes, however, a book catalyzes thought into action. Uncle Tom’s Cabin did this, and so did Silent Spring: they called attention to facts that had long been known but upon which people had failed to act. Like those works, Pope Francis’s Encyclical is a call to action that insists we embrace the moral dimensions of problems that have heretofore been viewed primarily as scientific, technological, and economic.” Naomi Oreskes

Pope Francis’s Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality has been called “the most astonishing and perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years” (The Guardian). It is also addressed to every person living on the planet, urging us all to take up the challenge of caring for our common home.

Copies are arriving at bookstores in the next few days. Let the conversations begin!