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Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Undergroundby Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Laura Allen and July Oskar Cole and Annie Danger
Synopses & Reviews
Dam Nation combines environmental victories in the sustainable use movement with hands-on, participatory options for country and city dwellers. Not just a "how-to" but a "why-to," the book begins with the story of dams in the American West, and culminates in the vision of a new water culture. Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Laura Allen, both restoration activists and educators, demand a new approach for American watersheds and taxpayers: the restoration of the water commons.
Contributors to Dam Nation interviewed water organizers and innovators on five continents. Wide-ranging articles link diverse grassroots struggles with analysis of urban infrastructure, and river restoration with experiments in alternative water systems. The "water underground" surfaces to share strategies for redirecting household and urban waste streams, for recharging our aquifers and spirit of resistance alike, and for rebuilding our communities' physical and political strength.
"This essay anthology looks at water issues worldwide and throughout history, including science, history and investigative reporting, as well as personal stories and profiles. Among other concerns, writers collected here-mostly activists, but also sociologists, educators and reporters-address untreated sewage dumping and the disease outbreaks it causes; the destructive power of upstream dams; and the sediment-starved Mississippi Delta, its attendant erosion, and the horrific storm damage that's resulted. A short, frank multi-millennial history of urban sewage disposal illustrates well the dangers of water supplies contaminated by sewage-cholera, typhus, typhoid, etc.-and is equally forthright about the problems with current municipal sewage treatment practices. The authors maintain a tongue-in-cheek style that, for the most part, keeps tedium at bay; if readers find Part One too polemical, Parts Two and Three offer principles and proper construction techniques for practical, at-home solutions, including home watergardens, home-scale greywater systems and composting toilets." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The politics of water — as this brilliant anthology makes clear — are the politics of human survival. Read this, and believe me, you'll never flush with the same equanimity again." Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Dead Cities
"A sweeping overview of water use issues. Dam Nation is an accessible and energizing resource for the next generation of activists and radical plumbers." Art Ludwig, author of Create an Oasis with Greywater
"As the world faces a water crisis, this collection of thoughtful essays, illuminating profiles, and personal narratives, is interwoven with constructive, practical suggestions that range from harvesting rainwater to installing composting toilets. Dam Nation is a call to action, a conservation manifesto to create a movement one person at time." Robert Glennon, author of Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters
"Water has joined oil as the key political liquids of our epoch, and this book will join Amita Baviskar's In the Belly of the River as a powerful weapon in the struggle of commoners everywhere against the neoliberal makeover of our world and its waters." Iain Boal, author of Resisting the Virtual Life
"Dam Nation takes you to front line water battles around the world as told by young and indigenous peoples fighting to reclaim the earth's arteries, lakes, and seas. More than merely witnesses to the multiple crises engulfing our world, these committed activists tell us how biotechnics can make the water we have killed live again. If you love your children and the world that sustains as it delights them, listen to these voices, then act." Gray Brechin, author of Farewell, Promised Land: Waking from the California Dream
Edited by the coauthors of the notorious zine The Guerrilla Graywater Girls Guide to Water, this collection of original essays, drawings, and photographs is part radical history of water and part DIY guide to disengaging one's home, school, or workplace from the wasteful water grid. The pieces are arranged in three sections: "Water Wars" focuses on the history and politics of dams and water infrastructure; "The Water Grid" chronicles the rise of energy-intensive, polluting sewage treatment plants, and points out alternative systems; and "Watershed" examines the often destructive relationship between human settlements and nature, but finds hope in the experiences of those involved in watershed restoration.
The only book to combine environmental victories in the sustainable-use movement with hands-on, participatory options for country and city dwellers.
Notes from the Water Underground combines environmental victories in the sustainable use movement with hands-on, participatory options for country and city dwellers. Not just a "how to" but a "why to," the book begins with the story of dams in the American West—a story in which millions of acres of perfect farmland were flooded in order to irrigate the marginal land that—due to the same natural process that destroyed several ancient Native American civilizations—would turn the area into the Dust Bowl. Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Laura Allen, both restoration activists and educators, demand a different approach for American watersheds and taxpayers. Through their own experiments with alternative water systems and thousands of hours of interviews with innovators from around the world, they create a comprehensive game plan for reusing household water, constructing miniature wetlands and improving our communities physical and political health. From people building protest villages atop dams in Thailand to activist entrepreneurs in Mexico and Africa, to Spanish squatter-gardeners, Native American restorationists and wetlands activists battling bureaucracy in Louisiana and California; To the Last Drop gives voice to the water warriors battling for a sane relationship to our most essential shared resource.
About the Author
Cleo Woelfle-Erskine is a Bay Area based writer, teacher and agitator. His books include Urban Wilds: Gardener's Stories of the Struggle for Land and Justice (water/under/ground, 2001), the kids book Sink or Swim: A History of Sausal Creek (water/under/ground, 2004) and the infamous The Guerrilla Graywater Girls' Guide to Water zine (with Laura Allen). His water conservation projects have been featured in The Utne Reader and The San Francisco Chronicle. Cleo has lived in Los Angeles, and Santa Fe and currently lives in Oakland, CA.
Laura Allen is a Bay Area gardener, activist, and elementary school teacher. She has a BA in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley and a teaching credential from the New College of California. She also attended Solar Energy International where she received certificates in photovoltaic design and installation, wind power and microhydro power. Co-author of the notorious Guerrilla Greywater Girls Guide to Water, her writings can also be found in Urban Wilds: gardeners' stories of the struggle for land and justice (water/under/ground, 2001), Clamor, and Home Power magazine. She has lived in Eureka and Oakland, California.
July Oskar Cole learned to swim in the TVA lakes of Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and to identify wild plants in the forests of the Cumberland Plateau. He learned most of the rest in the deserts of the U.S. Southwest: philosophy and astronomy in the Sangre de Cristo foothills, alternative building and "charco" style greywater practices in the Rio Grande bosque, and in the Basin and Range territory more things than can be listed. In the San Francisco Bay Area, he keeps bees, designs and installs greywater treatment wetlands, and sells books. He co-edited Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground, and has also been published in ColorLines magazine and the 2006 Best Gay Erotica anthology.
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History and Social Science » Geography » Water and Hydrology