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Finding Environmental Unity in Simple Ways

Finding Environmental Unity in Simple Ways through Come Together: Handbook to Retool for the Future

Written By: Sydney Vincent   |  An Interview with GWP author Dana Simson

Sustainability.
This word has become a daily occurrence in many young people’s lives, including my own. Between keeping an active and healthy lifestyle and understanding that our own Earth is under attack, threatening our future, it can be hard to ignore this word. We are constantly bombarded by products and technology that ensure a longer life or encourage a new way to live. In a sense, sustainability has become a weaponized word in our society, a constant, looming idea many young people shy away from. We’ve seen it tear our nation apart. However, in her newest book Come Together: Handbook to Retool for the Future, Dana Simson does not shy away from this word. Instead, she looks at it with a new refreshing and positive lens. She offers easy and environmentally sustainable ways to live, eat, clean, and create with common items in your home. She encourages each reader to take this handbook seriously as it is not just another gimmick to spend more money on supposedly “organic” products, but promotes a change in lifestyle for the betterment of our earth. With her handbook, Simson redefines what it means to be sustainable and how, as members of humankind, each of us can understand that we are the problem, but we are also the solution.

I got the opportunity to sit down (socially distanced, of course) with Dana Simson and talk about the beautiful change this book could create, even asking for some tips of my own about how to navigate the secret to simple living as a college student.

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Author Dana Simson and her upcoming book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sydney: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to speak with me, Dana. I have read through this book and could not believe the amount of simple yet effective methods and recipes for products that I would normally purchase off of a shelf without a bat of my eye. How did you come across these tips and tricks? Were they self-taught or have you learned them from others over the years?

Dana: As an artist, I am trained to observe things on a variety of levels. This makes the world incredibly interesting and full of possibilities. When I walk into a building or pick up a product, the first thing I see is its design. Is it beautiful? Does it work well? How might it be improved? Invention is part of creativity. I have always loved the game of seeing alternatives and finding better ways to do things.

This guidebook contains beautiful illustrations that differentiate it from other handbooks I have read. What was your thought process in including these drawings and talk about your own style of art and why that helps you write about the earth.

My goal with the book is that the content gets out to as many folks as possible to start a bottom up movement that hopefully will grow to speed awareness and action, to stop the harmful practices currently hurting our planet and living things. I began my art career doing a comic strip for the Baltimore Sun and a few other newspapers, the illustrations lightened the message and also helped to deliver it. A bit of humor always helps. I want to encourage and create an atmosphere of joyful doing.

As I read this guidebook, I felt that I was being spoken to, my college self being able to resonate and become inspired through a lot of your tips and tricks. Why have you decided to gear your work towards younger audiences and how do you think that will help our world change for the better? Why not target the older generation, the generation in power now?

I’m glad you felt engaged, and I do think the book may be especially potent as young people become the next wave of consumers and legislators. The book was written for all ages: older people that feel frustrated and want to change old habits, also families that can tackle the gaming aspect together (try to get groceries with no plastic, or think how to reuse packaging materials in other ways), or anyone really. We all can enjoy rethinking and retooling.

We all can save money and our environment.

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Sample illustration from the book

When did you first become inspired by sustainability and discover your voice in advocating for a cleaner earth? What advice would you give to those struggling to speak up about climate change?

Funny, as a kid, when other kids were playing cops and robbers or the like, I wanted to play environmental activist. In the seventies, when I was growing up, there was a famous commercial that showed an Indigenous man paddling his canoe through garbage and litter. At the end he turns to the camera and a tear rolls down his cheek. People have lived in harmony with ecosystems- it can be done. The pandemic shows us we can get by with less driving, flying, we can find the joy of baking bread and eating from a garden we planted together. The commercial with the Indigenous man was actually sponsored by the plastics industry to promote recycling as a movement had started against plastic use. The problem with recycling is that it is more a concept than a working solution; it was better to limit/stop use of plastic and find alternatives.

The beauty in adapting the practices suggested in the book is that you are speaking most eloquently and clearly with the actions you live by. In my rural community on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I am one of the few people that takes market bags into the grocery store. I also reuse the netbags onions or limes come in for loose produce rather than taking the filmy plastic single use bags provided. People note this and we start a dialogue. People want to do the right thing. Seeing others doing it is what inspires change.

Now that President Biden and Madam Vice President Harris are in office, what are your hopes for America’s role in climate change and our activism with it?

I believe President Biden and VP Harris, along with other mindful politicians, understand the gravity of the foolish setbacks and careless legislation of the Trump years. There are many hard working environmental groups, scientists, and educators working for swift, wise legislation and we may see some important steps forward here. But the point of Come Together is not to wait for others to tell us what we should do. Democracy takes time, years, and can experience counterproductive derailment, like the four wasted years of inaction and slipping backward as we have just experienced. We are the change.

Hypothetically, if the entire world were to read your book and take action, what do you envision would happen in five years? Ten years? Even fifty years?

This answer might surprise you. First off, we would be happier and healthier. I believe a feeling of being held-hostage by things we think are out of our control would be replaced by empowerment and clear direction. When people turn from toxic, over-processed, heavily packaged food or product, the companies producing such items will have to change to keep their market. If everyone today stopped buying/using plastic, the gushing faucet of manufacturing would turn off (plastic is fossil fuel’s Plan B). If people say we want to buy in bulk – we’d bring our own jars and bags – grocery stores would respond with this option. As consumers, we vote with our dollars. This is a numbers game; the more people that think about our future, the shorter the time frame to a smarter, safer one.

​I can’t let you go without asking about some tips for young people like myself. Got any tricks for a college student wanting to make a change in their lives and environmentally?

So many of the things we buy over and over again in plastic can be made easily in a few moments. A few key items that are very inexpensive can take the place of a clutter of cleaning products (and their bulky containers): vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, Castile soap, etc.

When you buy hand soap sold in small plastic push bottles – and we need to wash our hands a lot these days – you are paying a lot for water and a teaspoon of Castile soap flakes with a drop or two of glycerin and 6 drops of Teatree essential oil. Why not reuse the containers and fill a bunch of them? They make great gifts for friends and for spreading a wise idea; even put the easy recipe on the bottle.

You can make your own cleaning and personal care products like conditioner, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Many of these are actually better for you than the commercial products, which can contain toxic ingredients that build up in your system and harm the water supply once it goes down the drain.

When I was just starting out with little money in my pocket, I used to make my own bread, yogurt, and other items that cost little in time and money to make. Making is grounding and strengthens your resolve that whatever it is you can do it. This mindset has served me well and led me to amazing experiences I might not have tackled, like using my skill set to write this book and do something positive for the future we all share.

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Packaging doesn’t have to be waste!

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Who needs a store when you can DIY?

Being environmentally conscious and still having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. But don’t take it from me, take it from Dana, who lives this life of simple sustainability everyday and has passed on her own tips to us in her book Come Together: Handbook to Retool for the Future. As a college student struggling to balance my own life, diet, the political climate, and my responsibility to Mother Earth, it can be difficult to find clarity in how to take care of myself and others. Fortunately, Dana was able to provide some guidance. With this knowledge, I now feel confident in my actions and hope to provide unity in this world through all facets of my life, no longer seeing sustainability as a weapon, but a tool for change.


Come Together: Handbook to Retool for the Future releases on February 23, 2021 through Green Writers Press in Brattleboro, Vermont. Please visit our website http://greenwriterspress.com/book/come-together/ for more details on the book and how to order.

OR CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO ORDER TODAY FROM OUR FEATURED WEEKLY INDIE BOOKSTORE, EVERYONE’S BOOKS IN BRATTLEBORO, VT!

 


​Start with EASY BREAD RECIPE from Dana Simson:

You can put this together in the morning and let it rise all day—bake it as you make dinner and have fresh bread! Great for breakfast in the morning with almond butter and honey, or peanut butter and banana.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 cups of flour or bread flour (I sometimes do 2 cup flour, 1 cup whole wheat, .5 cup (half) of flax meal)

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1tsp yeast

  • .5 tsp salt

  • 1.5 cup warm water

Steps:

  1. Mix it up in the bowl with a spoon till it forms a ball— flour your hands and knead the dough a minute or two

  2. Put a little cornmeal or flour in bottom of bowl so it doesn’t stick

  3. Cover with a damp clean dish towel and have your day (you can also cook bread in a few hours if you want)

  4. Around dinnertime….preheat the oven to 425 and put an empty metal bowl on the bottom rack.

  5. Tip the bread out onto a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan

  6. Push it into shape—lightly score top

  7. Put in oven

  8. Take a half glass of water and pour into the heated bowl below the bread pan for steam (this will make a nice crunchy crust, European style)

  9. Keep an eye on it—maybe 25 minutes— and test by pushing a silverware knife in- comes out clean

  10. All done. Super yummy and hot with butter—bon appetit!

2021 Winter Interns — The Best!

GWP Winter 2021 FWT Interns
This  year, 2021 is off to a great start with this stellar group of Bennington College Field Work Term interns and three other amazing interns. Dede is always impressed with working with these smart, motivated young people, who take their internships seriously and really help run the press!  

Daisy Billington is a first year student at Bennington College. She is interested in studying creative writing, the arts and education. In her free time, Daisy loves spending time outdoors, meeting new people, drawing, playing guitar and writing short stories. Lately, Daisy has enjoyed reading classic plays and poetry.

Iulia Butner is a Bennington College sophomore. “Being an English student, literature is a deep fascination of mine, and my ever-present love of reading and writing from a young age has lent to me an intrinsically keen eye for the fine details of spelling, grammar,  punctuation, and structure.”

Kat L’Esperance-Stokes is a current sophomore at Bennington College studying Literature and Anthropology. She has publications with Gathering Storms, Wingless Dreamer, and Newfound Magazine. You can find her on instagram and twitter @katlstokes

Bernie Frishberg is a freshman at Bennington, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. Her favorite books include One More Thing by BJ Novak and Room by Emma Donoghue; her favorite colors include #8500b5, #c787ff, and #ff69dd. In her free time, Bernie occasionally does things, such as sewing things onto her pants and writing weird prose.

Jasmine Groom is a second year at Bennington College, studying the cultural adaptation of mythology. She has a long-held interest in art, 19th century fiction and creative writing. From the suburbs of Chicago, in her spare time she likes to bake, take long walks and listen to music.

Emily Gutierrez is a first year student at Bennington, originally from Miami, Fl. She is a student of Philosophy with a love for writing. In her time left over, she loves music, meditation, and cooking.

Connie McClugage is a first year at Bennington College studying  creative writing and linguistics. Hailing from Tampa, Florida, she’s still getting used to the cold weather but you can find her writing poetry, watching a Star Wars movie, or learning a new language.

Sofia Titina Salusso is always looking for a good book to read. She is a sophomore at Bennington College where she dedicates her time to writing, literature, theater, media studies, playing the violin, conversations with friends that make her think or laugh, running on back roads, mending all the little tears that clothes grow with wear, and watching the seasons go by, only to find herself constantly astounded at time’s passing. She loves to be in the mountains and hopes to find, in her future, a balance between breadth of nature and the comfort of other curious souls.

Cassandra Taylor is a senior at Bennington college, studying literature and writing with a specific interest in using the medium of storytelling to help forge and strengthen communities. Raised by a family of avid storytellers herself, she loves to gather around family and friends to share tales old and new. In her spare time, Cassandra spends her time cozied up with her cats enjoying a nice cup of tea and working on her latest knitting project.


Dylan Walawender
is a freshman at Bennington College, studying literature/writing with supporting areas of media studies and psychology. He has an interest in Modernist literature and journalism, with a special affinity for contemporary essays, personal narratives, and poetry. Hailing from Cayuga, New York, in his free time Dylan enjoys hiking, writing, reading, and collecting plants.

Winter Interns outside of Bennington’s Field Work Term:

Sydney Vincent is currently a sophomore at Susquehanna University, studying Publishing/Editing and Creative Writing with a minor in International Studies. In her free time, she enjoys spending her days outside hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing in the Pocono Mountains, which she calls home. She hopes to open her own independent bookstore or press one day, hike the El Camino in its entirety before she turns thirty, and move to Colorado with her crazy cat, Shelby.

Post-Graduate Fellowships:

Aubergine Evans (O for short) is a recent alum of the late Marlboro College & an emerging poet out of Brattleboro, VT. They grew up in Louisiana, where they cultivated their passion for writing, asking questions, and spicy food. But this is where they choose to root themself—in the Vermont soil where poetry grows thick as moss & tall as mountains. They are interested in the plurality & movement in language & form; this interest has led them to the edges of genre, to hybrid forms & hybrid ways of imagining language. They completed a writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center for Vermont Artists’ Week & have volunteered for & attended various writing programs through Stockton University. Though writing is their primary craft, they also delight in various 2D  & 3D visual arts, learning new skills, gardening, & flow arts.

Rosie Rudavsky is an artist and writer living in New York City. She is a recent graduate from Oberlin College, where she studied History and Religion and first developed an interest in writing creative non-fiction. These days, Rosie works at a cheese shop, tutors and reports for a local newspaper. Rosie loves to read short stories, dance, cook and visit museums.

 

Our Basin of Relations: The Art and Science of Living with Water

Vermonter Mike Sipe began photographing the pristine waters of the Lake Champlain region about fifteen years ago. His initial vision was a coffee-table book, sharing the beauty with the world with one hundred, sharing-quality images. He captured thousands of images, with thirty-five images to be included in OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS, The Art and Science of Living with Water, coming in early fall from GWP.

About five years ago a weightier purpose for the book, hit Mike like a brick—WATER QUALITY—the lake water quality is deteriorating with dangerously high levels of phosphorous, toxic enough to close swim areas, threaten drinking water, and maybe even harmful to breathe! Blue Green algae is not that good to look at, either. This algae bloom problem is not unique to Lake Champlain.

A few years ago, Mike got involved with the Vermont Clean Water Network, realizing that most of us aren’t aware of the issue, and he was eager to learn how to help preserve the Lake Champlain’s watershed ecosystem.

I believe we want to help protect what we love…. and we love…. and value, water. Knowledge and inspiration empowers us, producing resolve. —Mike Sipe

Editor Trevien Stanger on the shoreline of Lake Champlain.

A couple of years ago, after Mike joined the Vermont Clean Water Network, he became aware of an article in the Burlington Free Press, called Thinking like a Watershed. The article was written by environmental teacher, writer and poet, Trevien Stanger. According to Mike, he loved the article and knew he had to marry his photos with Trevien’s word wizardry—and do his part for clean water—albeit small. When Mike and Trevien came to GWP publisher Dede Cummings, she immediately jumped at the chance to publish the book but explained to the intrepid team of environmentalists that there was no budget for such an expensive book. After much discussion, the publisher came on board and will also donate the design and layout fee of $2,000 to the project. The book will be available in the late summer of 2019 if the fundraising goal of $10,000 is met.

Trevien Stanger is the curator of nearly fifteen articles by water quality advocates in OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS, The Art and Science of Living with Water. Trevien wrote the introduction to the book and it is reproduced on Mike’s website, www.MikeSipe.com, under the tab OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS.

Please help clean water
We invite you to read Trevien’s introduction, be inspired, consider some level of sponsorship to help publish OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS and have proceeds from the sale of the book go to clean water projects. Book sponsorship details are at the end of this article and there will be a list of sponsors in the book (and logos of organizations). GWP is a LC3 which means we can partner with nonprofits with no tax. Individuals wishing to send a tax-free donation, can contact us and we have an umbrella nonprofit/fiscal agent for this project.

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If you wish to help us fundraise for printing this gorgeous book, we will mail you a 16-page BLAD (Basic Layout And Design) of OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS to help you decide about sponsorship of the book. you can also view the BLAD by clicking this link: Our Basin BLAD inside Dec21 lo res and downloading/viewing the PDF on your computer.

Thank you,

Dede, Mike & Trevien

The Foreign Language Market & Exciting News

Exciting News: Green Writers Press/Green Place Books, & Green Sprouts for Kids has just accepted an offer from a German foreign rights agent for our Adult and Children’s titles exclusively for the German language market. They will also handle other international licensing deals like our current Chinese deal for an exclusive on our children’s titles.

Here is their website and they have offices in Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich!
Link: http://agentur-brauer.de
We will definitely save up for a table in Frankfurt at the International Book Fair in October this year!

Other publishers they represent include the following: Crossroads Press, Melville House, Two Dollar Radio, and more!

~~~~~~~~~ Please note: Our Cuba Trip has been postponed to early November! ~~~~~~~~~

Congrats to our Vermont Book Award Nominees from Green Writers Press!

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We Are Vermont! An Activist Calendar for 2018 is Here!

Our Calendar is a 100% donation to 350-Vermont! Thanks to all our photographers who donated their work! Conceived by Nancy Braus, GWP advisory board and owner of Everyone’s Books in Brattleboro. Our paper is Reincarnation, made from 100% recycled content waste, bleached without the use of chlorine compounds and printed locally in Vermont by Springfield Printing Company, using soy-based ink.

We are Vermont! is a calendar created to benefit 350Vermont. Our goal is to share the creativity, passion,  diversity, and progressive activism of Vermonters through beautiful color images donated by talented photographers. We will feature images of organic farms, farmers’ gardens, protests for climate and migrant justice, renewable energy, our outspoken and brave progressive elected officials, the women’s march, the 2016 pipeline protests, and more. Continue reading

JOURNEY TO ZERO WASTE, Part 2

By Maya London-Southern

Register for Plastic-Free July here!

Bulk in the Brattleboro Food Co-op.

BULK! It’s so important that I’m writing my entire second blog post about it. Even if everything you need isn’t available in bulk where you live, chances are this is where you can find a lot of things you do need or want.

When it comes to shopping sustainably, bulk is the ultimate lifesaver. While items bought in bulk likely still came in disposable packaging, the customer’s choice to buy in bulk as opposed to individually wrapped products reduces the amount of packaging used. The truth is, unless you’re growing all of your own food, it’s practically impossible to buy food without someone producing some type of trash along the way. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and by refusing this unnecessary packaging in everyday shopping, a consumer is voting for change.

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From Walden to Walden North: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Vermont

RoadWaldenNorthCoverMKTRooted in a Thoreauvian sense of Place, a new literary movement is sweeping Vermont. From Walden to Walden North, Vermont, localvores have shifted their focus from eating to reading, writing, and publishing! We are thrilled to be a big part of this movement. Our recent NEK (Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom) book tour was a great success—there is a lot of interest in our new publishing company. As publishers in a global market, we mediate between the great world and the place we call home. We look for the genius loci, the “spirit of place,” in selecting our titles and partnering with our authors and readers.

Locally, Vermonters are unearthing what was once “concealed”—to borrow Thoreau’s words—in their “haze-filled valleys” and mountainside farms to share with readers “their Waldens” in poetry, stories, and novels.

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Summer Is Upon Us & Some Exciting News

IMG_1860.JPGWith summer finally here, we can all let out a collective sigh of relief, but I am doing some stacking of wood for next winter at my home office, so there is always the “Winter Ready” — to paraphrase our very own poet, Leland Kinsey’s new book title — work that has to be done, especially in Vermont with our longer winters… But that brings me to the next thing: winter, seasons, climate crisis, and building awareness.

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