Living with the Land: Communities Restoring the Earth


131 pages
Contains Photos, Maps
ISBN 1-55092-193-2
DDC 333.7'13'091724




Edited by Christine Meyer and Faith Moosang
Reviewed by Simon Dalby

Simon Dalby is a research associate at the Centre for International
Studies at Simon Fraser University.


While numerous books have debated the meaning of “sustainable
development” and investigated its implementation on a large scale,
this volume offers a welcome change of perspective by coming at matters
from the other end of the story. The simple but eloquent testimony in
these pages shows how steps can be taken practically to develop
sustainability. This book has a slightly unusual genesis, in that it is
a compilation of responses to a question asked of grassroots development
organizations around the world.

The question posed was “How are communities working to meet the needs
and aspirations of present and future generations while maintaining
their local and regional environments?” The responses from community
activists around the world include discussions of the role of forests in
the very different environments of British Columbia, Ecuador, Northern
Thailand, and the Philippines; the importance of maintaining traditional
seed varieties in Java; the difficulties of using traditional
nonpatented seeds in Canada; the Campesino a Campesino program’s
collective efforts to improve the lot of poor farmers in Nicaragua; the
role of traditional medicines in Honduras; recycling and environmental
management in the barrios of Curitiba, Brazil; and community gardens in
a poor neighborhood of Vancouver.

The focus that provides the thematic continuity for these diverse
accounts is the importance of caring for the land as a strategy for
community regeneration and economic development. Local environments
provide the key to livelihoods for people with few other economic
resources around the world. The message of this book is that economic
development for the poorest people on earth is dependent on maintaining
environments and hence the renewable resources upon which these people
are reliant. Contrary to the usual assumptions, environment is seen as
the prerequisite for development rather than an inevitable casualty in
the process. As such, this easy-to-read collection of short chapters
provides a much-needed corrective to so much of the literature on global
development, which takes for granted the conventional “Northern”
economic assumptions about development.


“Living with the Land: Communities Restoring the Earth,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 2, 2023,