Friday, June 14, 2013

Mary Pipher's "The Green Boat"

Mary Pipher is a clinical psychologist and the author of nine books, including Reviving Ophelia, which was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for 26 weeks. Her area of interest is how American culture influences the mental health of its people.

Pipher applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Green Boat is titled “Organizing a Group.” It is neither the most lyrical of passages nor the most profound, but it actually captures the essence of my book. I describe calling a few friends together to talk about a local environmental issue, the Keystone XL Pipeline. And I shared my philosophy about how to make a group work.

“We met over soup and artisan sourdough. I wanted the event to be more like a party than a meeting. I assumed that my friends were like me—too busy already and tired at the end of a workday. They would only return if they were relaxed and having fun.”

My book is about how to transform our grief, fear and anger about global environmental problems into action, community, empowerment and even bliss. I suggest that action is the antidote to despair and I encourage readers to plan actions in their own hometowns. I write as a therapist, making a mental health argument for social engagement around environmental issues.

In The Green Boat I tell the story of our group’s evolution over its first two years. We planned many events, had lots of fun and, to our surprise, actually stopped the pipeline from being approved, at least until now. I learned many lessons from my adventures with our coalition, but I’ll share two in this brief space. I learned that if we believe we are powerless, we are. That belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or, to say this differently, action empowers us. I also learned that working with a group over time is deeply satisfying. I stopped feeling hopeless and alone and became a member of what Martin Luther King called “a beloved community.”

We don’t know what will happen with the Keystone XL pipeline, but we do know what happened to us. We became more vibrant, hopeful and connected to each other. We learned that saving the world and savoring it are not opposites, but rather deeply intertwined processes.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Pipher's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue