Friday, June 14, 2019

Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West

Heather Hansman, Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West (University of Chicago Press 2019).


The Green River, the most significant tributary of the Colorado River, runs 730 miles from the glaciers of Wyoming to the desert canyons of Utah. Over its course it meanders through ranches, cities, national parks, endangered fish habitats, and some of the most significant natural gas fields in the country, as it provides water for 33 million people. Stopped up by dams, slaked off by irrigation, and dried up by cities, the Green is crucial, overused, and at risk, now more than ever.

Fights over the river’s water, and what’s going to happen to it in the future, are longstanding, intractable, and only getting worse as the West gets hotter and drier and more people depend on the river with each passing year. As a former raft guide and an environmental reporter, Heather Hansman knew these fights were happening, but she felt driven to see them from a different perspective—from the river itself. So she set out on a journey, in a one-person inflatable pack raft, to paddle the river from source to confluence and see what the experience might teach her. Mixing lyrical accounts of quiet paddling through breathtaking beauty with nights spent camping solo and lively discussions with farmers, city officials, and other people met along the way, Downriver is the story of that journey, a foray into the present—and future—of water in the West.
- Publisher's description                                                       

Friday, June 7, 2019

Desert Gardens of Steve Martino

Caren Yglesias et al., Desert Gardens of Steve Martino (2018).


This survey of twenty-one gardens by Steve Martino, whose work blends colorful, man-made elements with native plants to reflect the sun-drenched beauty of the desert, is sure to inspire gardeners, landscapers, and admirers of California and the Southwest.

For more than thirty years, Steve Martino has been committed to the development and advancement of landscape architecture in the Southwest. His pioneering work with native plant material and the development of a desert-derived design aesthetic is widely recognized. A recurring theme of his work is the dramatic juxtaposition of man-made elements with ecological processes of the region. His love for the desert--the interplay of light and shadow, the colors, plants, and wildlife--inspires his work.

As Martino explains, "Gardens consist of two worlds, the man-made and the natural one. I've described my design style as 'Weeds and Walls'--nature and man. I use native plants to make the transition from a building to the adjacent natural desert." 

Though Martino's work is deeply connected to the natural world, he also has a flair for the dramatic, which is apparent from his lively color selections, sculptural use of plants, and keen attention to lighting, shadows, and reflections. Boldly colored stucco walls frame compelling views of the desert and sky, expanding the outdoor living area while solving common site problems such as lack of privacy or shade. Interspersed are custom structures molded in translucent fiberglass in vivid hues--colorful arbors, outdoor showers, and internally lit benches.
- Publisher's description                  

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy

Russell Muirhead (Dartmouth College) and Nancy L. Rosenblum (Harvard University), A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2019).

“Conspiracy theories are as old as politics. But conspiracists today have introduced something new―conspiracy without theory. And the new conspiracism has moved from the fringes to the heart of government with the election of Donald Trump. In A Lot of People Are Saying, Russell Muirhead and Nancy Rosenblum show how the new conspiracism differs from classic conspiracy theory, why so few officials speak truth to conspiracy, and what needs to be done to resist it.”

 – Publisher’s Description

The Right to Do Wrong: Morality and the Limits of Law

Mark Osiel (University of Iowa College of Law), The Right to Do Wrong: Morality and the Limits of Law (Harvard University Press, 2019).

“Much of what we could do, we shouldn’t—and we don’t. We have a free-speech right to be offensive, but we know we will face outrage in response. We may declare bankruptcy, but not without stigma. Moral norms constantly demand more of us than the law requires, sustaining promises we can legally break and preventing disrespectful behavior the law allows.

Mark Osiel takes up this curious interplay between lenient law and restrictive morality, showing that law permits much wrongdoing because we assume that rights are paired with informal but enforceable duties. . . .For the most part, this system has worked. The Right to Do Wrong collects vivid case studies and social scientific research to explore how resistance to the exercise of rights picks up where law leaves off and shapes the legal system in turn.”

– Publisher’s description

Urban Gardening and The Struggle for Social and Spatial Justice

Chiara Certomà (Ghent University), Susan Noori, and Martin Sondermann (Academy for Spatial Planning and Research), Urban Gardening and The Struggle for Social and Spatial Justice (Manchester University Press, 2019).

“This is the first book which explicitly addressed the issues of urban gardening and spatial justice. As urban gardening, initiatives have mushroomed worldwide, they have targeted a wide range of disparate goals, the majority of which are proven to be socio-political, rather than merely environmental, ecological, or economic. By combining scholarly perspectives with real cases, the essays in this collection focus on how urban gardening practices are able to address the most fundamental issues of spatial justice, social cohesion, inclusiveness, social innovations, and equity in cities.”

 – Publisher’s description