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Books & Other Resources for Navigating Novel Coronavirus

Communications Coordinator, Katie Maxwell, shares resources to help you navigate the complexities of living through a pandemic worsened by climate change.

A stack of environmental books from Katie Maxwell's bookshelf
A stack of environmental books from my bookshelf

Hey everyone, Katie Maxwell here!

I wanted to write this blog from a more personal angle because the lines between personal and professional are not quite what they were a few weeks ago.

My fellow Faith in Place colleagues and I have been thinking and praying a lot about all of you as the Coronavirus has changed the landscape of our daily lives. We know that many of these changes are hard to navigate and that they are affecting communities differently.

Environmental justice communities in Illinois are again shouldering a heavier burden than many in this pandemic. Not only are many in these communities not receiving any safeguards or support from their employers, but the government is overlooking their acute economic and health needs in relief packages being passed. Furthermore, disproportional rates of pollution and limited access to sufficient health care makes many environmental justice communities more vulnerable to COVID-19 and less able to care for those sick with the virus. Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood is a prime example of this “double jeopardy” scenario where residents have “higher risks and fewer resources”. Read more about this problem in an article recently published on The Verge titled, “Air pollution could make the COVID-19 pandemic worse for some people”.

It’s important to us that we not gloss over these harsh realities. As a faith-based environmental justice organization, we acknowledge how COVID-19 is affecting parts of our multifaith community differently.

Faith in Place offers multifaith resources to manage the stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We also are offering any support you need during such a uniquely stressful time. If you haven’t yet checked out our Covid-19 Resources page, there are a a wide variety of tools you can use with your fellow Green Team members, families, and on your own. Included are ideas for taking action, protecting your family, and staying mentally healthy, as well as advice for navigating this time as a non-profit.

In addition to the resources we already collected, I’ve also collaborated with my colleagues to put together a list of our top environmental book recommendations. We hope one of these speaks to you, helps you learn about or connect to this incredible world, and enriches your time as we practice physical distancing. Much like our work, this list blends the spiritual and the scientific and has something a person at any age can enjoy.

Scroll through the images to see the books we chose to feature:

Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots

This anthology connects scholars and environmental justice advocates and makes clear the relationship between racism and environmental quality.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder Child psychologist Richard Louv makes the case that children need to be in nature.

Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss

Robin Wall Kimmerer draws on her experiences as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and as a botanist in both of these texts.

The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-in Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation

A history of Earth Day – perfect reading to honor the 50th anniversary this year.

The Overstory — A Novel

Winner of the the Pullitzer Prize, this epic novel is an ode to the natural world and an impassioned call for activism and resistance.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Journey across the globe with journalist, Elizabeth Kolbert, as she interviews the scientists on the front lines of climate change and lays out the science behind the mass extinction we’re currently creating.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

A social history of the Great Lakes, this book explores how this precious resource became so threatened and what we can do to bring it back from the brink. The book comprises Dan Eagan’s decade of reporting from Milwaukee on these issues.

Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth's Climate

This is an anthology of stories from faith communities and their leaders who live across

North America and are trying to protect the planet.

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks

Spiritual and moving, Williams explores a different national park in this set of autobiographical essays.

The Grid: The Fraying Wires between Americans and Our Energy Futures

The USA’s electrical grid is holding our country back from achieving a new energy future. Imagine a new way with author and cultural anthropologist, Gretchen Bakke.

Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit: Womanist Wordings on God and Creation

Karen Baker-Fletcher, a black womanist, draws on her own experiences and knowledge

of environmental racism to construct a new theological framework.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Hawken compiled the top 100 ways to reduce carbon emitted into the atmosphere and

lessen the greatest harm from climate change.

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming

Find out how the oil and gas industry used the tobacco industry's marketing strategies

to obscure the truth about climate change.

African American Environmental Thought: Foundations

Smith reveals how black Americans have long been concerned about environmental issues

by peeling back history from the abolition movement to the Harlem Renaissance.

Where the Crawdads Sing — A Novel

A powerful novel that celebrates the natural world while also touching on themes of murder, romance, and coming of age.

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste

This book offers tips for living a lower waste lifestyle. Add a copy to your sustainability toolkit. You can also follow Kathryn on her blog and on social media for regularly updated content. To Love the Wind & the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History

This groundbreaking book explores African Americans' relationship to different landscapes – urban, suburban, and rural – to unpack environmental history and environmental justice.

For kids, check out these two great lists:

1) Top Ten Book Picks to Celebrate Earth Day published on Brain, Child Mag is from our very own, Christina Krost!

2) Huffpost’s 25 Books that Teach Kids to Care About the Environment includes some great titles that introduce young readers to leaders of the environmental movement, such as Kenyan activist Wangarĩ Maathai, British conservationist Jane Goodall, and stories of recycling and water access in Gambia and West Africa respectively.

Finding Books While Physical Distancing

Even though many libraries and bookshops are closed, there are still ways to support both. If you live in Chicago, its library system has a wealth of online resources. If you don’t live in Chicago, Libby is a fantastic app you can download on your mobile device to access digital content from your library. All you need is a library card.

If you are able, a great way to help independent bookshops stay afloat is by purchasing a book, a gift card, or an is the first audiobook company to directly support independent bookstores.” Many are even shipping free of charge. Find a shop via BookshopBeta’s cool map tool!

We hope this list offers you another resource that you can use to make the most of being socially distant and still in community. If there’s anything we at Faith in Place can do to better support you during this time, please let us know.

Don't forget to check out our Covid-19 Resources page, and if you have any ideas or requests, please email us at! We are updating it daily and would love your input.

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