Monthly Archives: June 2016

EcoVillage at Ithaca

This book, lent to me by a friend, tells the story of the creation and first ten years of the Eco Village at Ithaca, New York.  EVI was the first eco-village on the east coast of the U.S. (only the third in the entire U.S.) and is still going strong in 2016. An eco-village is an intentional community which combines sustainable design with co-housing. The concept originated in Denmark and there are many different models used in eco-villages worldwide. The one in Ithaca is a 175 acre community with 60 households residing in two clustered neighborhoods (as of 2005); the majority of the land is used for organic farming and open space. EVI is especially strong in the community aspect of an eco-village, with residents eating regular meals together and participating actively in community governance and events.  Although some houses use solar panels, EVI is still on the grid and uses town water and sewer systems. With the proximity of both Cornell University and Ithaca College, educating the wider community about sustainability and co-housing plays a significant role in the life of EVI. Liz Walker, founder and director of EVI, tells its story fairly without glossing over negatives like financial issues and interpersonal conflicts. Even so, this is an inspirational book.


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Filed under Environment, Urban planning

Everybody’s Fool

Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016)

The great thing about well-written fiction such as Everybody’s Fool is that it allows you to feel like you are experiencing someone else’s life, or in the case of this novel, the lives of a bunch of men who live in a small town in upstate New York. These particular men are not especially smart or successful, and some of them have pretty low self-esteem, but through their first person narratives we hear their human thoughts and feelings. The two younger men are both mentally ill (in fact the sociopath is rather scary), but the five older men are fairly decent. Several of them are facing serious illness and don’t know how many more days they have left. They treat their friends, their family, and the women they love to the best of their ability. So even though I am probably not his target audience, I can see why Richard Russo won a Pulitzer Prize for one of his previous novels. He is a storyteller on the level of the ones I hear on NPR.

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City of the lost

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong (Minotaur Books, 2016)

I was under the mistaken impression that this was going to be a science fiction/fantasy novel. Now that I realize it was a “crime novel” all the focus on crime victims and detective sleuthing makes so much more sense.  The “city of the lost” is a small fictional town in Canada’s Yukon Territory where criminals go to escape from their pasts. The main character is a young woman detective with a criminal past who moves to the city and is hired to solve some murder cases. Of course several more murders occur, no one turns out to be who we think they are, there’s a side romance, and she eventually solves the case.

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Left in the wind

Left in the Wind: the Roanoke Journal of Emme Merrimoth by Ed Gray (Pegasus Books, 2016)

I found this book disappointing. I was promised a plausible (though fictitious) explanation of what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke, and I didn’t get one. It was a confusing story, with several opposing groups of colonists and several opposing groups of Native Americans. That’s not unbelievable, but it could have been written and explained more clearly. What struck me about it was the similarity to science fiction books I’ve read about colonists on distant planets who encounter alien civilizations. I never thought of the settlement of the United States in that way before.

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Filed under Historical fiction