All We Can Save book club: Week 1

Today’s the first official day of HEATED’s book club partnership with All We Can Save, an anthology of female climate wisdom.

Hey everyone! Today’s the first official day of HEATED’s book club partnership with All We Can Save, an anthology of female climate wisdom edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson.

For the next 10 weeks, two newsletters per week will be dedicated to the book, each week focusing on a different section. Tuesday newsletters will feature discussion questions and supplementary materials for the week’s section, and Thursday newsletters will feature original Q&As with an author from that section. You can find the original announcement here.

The section we’re focusing on this week is simply the prologue: “Begin.” It’s only eight pages, so a pretty easy start. As Johnson and Wilkinson said, “Everyone appreciates a light reading assignments at the beginning and end of the semester.”

“Begin” is a tribute to Eunice Newton Foote, the first woman of climate science, who in 1856 became the first person to publicly theorize that greenhouse gases might have an impact on the world’s temperature. Foote rarely gets credit for that, though; it usually goes to Irish physicist named John Tyndall, who published more detailed work about the theory three years later.

It’s hard to say whether Tyndall knew about Foote’s work before he published his own. But that’s not the point, really. The point is that women, though historically climate leaders, have been so rarely recognized for their pioneering contributions to the field. As Wilkinson and Johnson write: “We have to wonder if Eunice Newton Foote ever found herself remarking, as so many women have: ‘I literally just said that, dude.’”

In “Begin,” Wilkinson and Johnson make the case that Foote, also a suffragette, was a climate feminist—and that we should be, too. “The same patriarchal power structure the oppresses and exploits girls, women, and nonbinary people (and constricts boys and men) also wreaks destruction on the natural world,” they write. “Dominance, supremacy, violence, extraction, egotism, greed, ruthless competition—colluding with racism along the way.”

But a new climate movement led by women is working to upend these structures, they write—and All We Can Save is a love letter both to and by those women.

If you don’t yet have the book, you can get the gist of the “Begin” essay by reading two previously published articles by Wilkinson: One on Foote’s work published here, and one on gender equality in the climate movement here. (If you reached out to me for a copy of the book, I started sending them out yesterday; you should hopefully get them by next week).

Below are some questions to discuss with your circle, or consider on your own, about this week’s section. Some more information about circles and how to join on can be found here.

  1. Do you think of yourself as a climate feminist? If so, what does that identity mean to you? If not, how does it feel to try it on?

  2. What are the qualities of feminine/feminist climate leadership, and where do you see it emerging?

  3. If “what we pay attention to grows,” what do you want to pay attention to and grow over these 10 weeks together?

If you are leading a discussion circle for All We Can Save, here’s a link to a PDF with a facilitation guide for week one, agreements for dialogue, and additional resources for folks who want to go deeper.

A few more questions have come up, too so here are a few answers. You don’t have to be a woman to participate in the book club. Circles are open to people of any gender. If you want to join a circle; if you are looking for folks for your circle; if you’re open to welcoming others into your circle, please share that via social media and tag @allwecansave (Twitter or Instagram).

In the future, book club Tuesday emails will have non-book club material in them, too. But that’s not happening today. Too much other reporting, work, and various stress going on.

In the meantime, here are some supplementary reading materials for this week, if you’d like to go deeper on the concepts in “Begin.” Hope you enjoy them.

Thursday will also feature a Q&A with Johnson and Wilkinson. If you have questions you’d like me to ask them, please leave them in the comments, or email me at emily@heated.world.

Have a great Tuesday.


Supplementary reading/listening/watching materials for “Begin”

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson:

“I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet,” Op-Ed, Washington Post, 2020.

How to Save a Planet, Podcast, 2020.

The Concrete Jungle Has 578 Miles of Shoreline at Risk, Op-Ed, New York Times, 2019.

A Love Story for the Coral Reef Crisis, TED Talk, 2019.

Our Climate Crisis, Panel Discussion with Dr. Kate Marvel and Rhiana Gunn-Wright, moderated by Ayana, Pioneer Works, 2019

By Katharine Wilkinson:

—Wellbeing Series for Planetary Health, Keynote, 2020.

The Drawdown Review, Publication, 2020.

Women, Faith, & Courage for the Brokenhearted, Podcast, No Place Like Home, 2020.

—Showing up as a whole person to the climate movement, Podcast, DRILLED, 2019.

How empowering women and girls can help stop global warming, TED Talk, 2018.

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