This article is part of our "Round Ups" series, where we share things that inspire us, guide us, or are just really cool.
Azora Zoe, Goldune's founder, here! I used to pick a thick stack of books for our monthly book club in hopes that I was giving curious folks a wide array of options to choose from when it came to what to crack open that month. The reality behind the scenes is that running a small business/startup, and surviving (not thriving!) in quarantine means that there is absolutely zero chance I am getting through a stack of climate related books each month, no matter how hard I try or how much I think I need to read every single sustainability related thing to be good at my job.
I used to feel like I needed to read every single book about sustainability that there was so I could be the most informed person under the sun before I started a sustainable business. The more I worried about being the smartest or most informed person in the room, the more time I wasted not actually getting started at driving any sort of change— there's value in being a student, in being open to learning forever, and to starting something and learning as you go, rather than waiting to become an imaginary perfect version of yourself first. That's a whole story for another day, but what I mean to say is that if you have amassed a big stack of books that you really want to read, but quite frankly, rarely pop open, you're not alone. I envisioned a year of quarantine as the year I spent all my time in nature, frolicked with wild horses, rose at dawn to drink a cup of herbal tea, made my own potions and poultices and read every book ever written. In reality, like a lot of other people, I spend 99% of my day in front of a screen, pretty much 7 days a week. It's not great, but it's what has to happen to make Goldune exist.
With the few days off that the end of 2020 afforded, I got a chance to catch my breath, watch all of Bridgerton, and also to take some time away from screens. I found myself wanting to read just to read, and not because I felt like it was something I was supposed to do every day to be an accomplished person. In that one book, I found everything I'd been looking for in the piles of other climate related reads I had not yet finished.
My proposal this month, or even this year, is quite simple: let's try to read one book a month, and to give that book our real, earnest and honest attention. That's what I'll be doing, and I'd love for you to join me, but if you don't have the bandwidth, don't sweat it. I want us to lower the bar a few notches, and to sit with what we're learning as we learn it, rather than speeding through so we can read a certain amount of books each month or week or year. There's no shame in sitting it out when you need to sit it out.
I can't give myself full credit for the slowing down, it was actually this month's read that got me there. Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future is penned by former President of Ireland and UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on Climate Change, Mary Robinson. (It gets a pretty great review from Barack Obama, if that sways you.)
What I love about this book is it dwells so much more on the lived experience of actual WOC who are living through climate change already— it reminds us that the climate crisis isn't a distant future, that the folks who are doing the most polluting are generally more immune to its effects relative to those who have low or no emissions. That's a hard and heartbreaking pill to swallow, but it's an important one, and we have a lot of lessons we could and should learn from the women Mary Robinson writes about, who manage to organize their communities against all odds, and in the face of utter catastrophe.
Each chapter tells the story of a different woman in a different part of the world, experiencing a different climate disaster or effect of global warming. It's a necessary reminder that there is nothing new about the climate crisis, but that so often the stories of people who are not rich or white simply don't get heard.
While I've read my fair share of sustainability related books, so few actually focus on the real people whose lived experiences have been irreversibly shaped by our consumption of natural resources and emissions of CO2. If you find talking about the facts or the science of global warming to be dull, complicated, overwhelming or anxiety-inducing, this approach might resonate a little more.
It's hard to have a virtual "book club", but we're going to give it our best shot— we'll share excerpts from the book and pages that we dogeared each week, and we'll do a wrap up review at the end of the month. Instagram is the best place to follow along, if you're reading along with us.
I'm hoping this new approach to our monthly reads is a better one, and I'm all ears if you have feedback. Drop a comment below or DM us on Instagram!