EcoMind

Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

by Frances Moore Lappé Buy Now Exam Copy

Powerful and inspiring, EcoMind will open your eyes and change your thinking. I want everyone to read it."

— Jane Goodall

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I wrote EcoMind because I believe that solutions to global crises are right in front of our noses, and our real challenge is to free ourselves from self-defeating thought traps that keep us from bringing these solutions to life. From our eroding soil to our eroding democracies, so much of what's wrong results from ways of thinking that are out of sync with human nature and nature's rhythms.

Humans are doers, I argue, but our capacity for doing is undermined by seven "thought traps" that leave us mired in fear, guilt, and despair—none of which motivate action. Chapter-by-chapter I navigate from "thought traps" to "thought leaps," as challenges morph into opportunities. Drawing on the latest research in climate studies, anthropology, and neuroscience, I weave analysis and stories of real people the world over who, having shifted some basic thought patterns, are shifting the balance of power in our world.

It turns out that gap between the world we long for and the world we thought we were stuck with can be bridged after all—if we can learn to think like an ecosystem. EcoMind shows us the way.

Responses to EcoMind

This book is pivotal in the most literal sense. As I read it, I find myself turning the crucial 180 degrees from frustration and fear to a sense of constructive possibility. Frances’ ability to express the most complex, existential yearnings is epic— matched only by her courage. Nothing I can say will do justice to how this book continues to affect me."
—Mollie Katzen
Author of The Moosewood Cookbook

Frances Moore Lappé brings us yet another gift in EcoMind. She cautions us to avoid the mental traps that block our thinking. She awakens us to our immense possibilities and potentials. She invites us to release our latent energies to be the change we want to see."
—Vandana Shiva
Ph.D, Scientist, Environmentalist, and Founder of Navdanya

Frances Moore Lappé’s exceptionally thought-provoking book is a message of hope. It shows how change is possible, once we open our eyes, look around, and see that we depend on others and on nature. This book obliges us to re-imagine our world, brick by brick, by first re-imagining ourselves."
—Olivier De Schutter
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

A thoroughly researched, overarching look at the political and emotional factors holding us back from making real changes...essential to those feeling powerless in the struggle to reduce our environmental impact. Strongly recommended."
—Jaime Hammond
Library Journal

EcoMind reminds us that the most important resource for restoring a clean and healthy planet is the one sitting between our ears. Frances Moore Lappé brilliantly challenges the negative 'thought traps' of doom-and-gloom environmental messages and emerges with a positive, people-powered approach."
—Michael Brune
Executive Director of the Sierra Club

Lappé shows how by seeing the big picture we can change it. It’s a clarion call in this age of rising despair."
—Peter Barnes
Author of Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons

The concepts laid out in well-organized chapters are worth revisiting for veteran activists, or discovering anew for those who have shied from the subject…An accessible introduction to the psychology of this ‘historic challenge,’ providing an enthusiastic shove toward reflection.”
Kirkus Reviews

Frances Moore Lappé has done it again. As she has done so insightfully with respect to food, hunger, and democracy, Lappé now turns her sights on the contemporary ecological crises. EcoMind is a profound example of how analysis breeds not paralysis, but rather informed and inspired action."
—John Gershman
Clinical Associate Professor,
Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University

EcoMind is "paradigm altering" and "brimming with useful information and analysis."
—Booklist Reviews

"There are, perhaps, three kinds of people: (1) the small but increasing number of those who are already effecting the change you have so eloquently outlined in your book; (2) the majority that is stuck in a trap – in fact, the many traps you have outlined – without being aware of their bondages: and (3) the powerful, the influential, the knowledgeable, the selfish, and the indomitable exploiters, who know that you are right will but will raise heaven on earth to create the illusion that you are wrong.

Your book helps all three categories.

To the first category, it provides reassurance that they are doing the right things and that their tribe in various parts of the world is increasing.
For the second, you visualize the traps they are in, open their eyes, and tell them how to step out and free themselves of the shackles they were not aware of.
The third category, you expose: you provide unassailable counter-arguments even before they have given you their arguments. You wake them up by pulling the carpet from under their feet. Now that they are awake, you show them that if they do not change, even their personal interests would suffer, as “the old order changeth, yielding place to new”.

In a nutshell, your book is like Thomas More’s utopia, except that your book’s utopia is achievable within the context of modernity, by just doing things differently, and by having a different mindset which looks at the whole integrated (and not fragmented) reality before taking a decision.

Congratulations for your most readable book…"
—Pushpa M Bhargava
Founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, India

Frances Moore Lappé has long served as a powerful voice for food justice and a more sustainable future. Her new book EcoMind offers an insightful and inspirational ecology of hope, and is a must read for those concerned about the fate of the planet."
—Dr. Daniel Faber
Director, Environmental Justice Research Collaborative, Northeastern University

I have been a social worker for almost 50 years now and I am using EcoMind in my Social Welfare Policy Course because it is one of the most important books that has come out during the past half-century. EcoMind has many important features; however, one of the most important strengths of the book is that it provides a positive way of dealing with all the negatives in the world today.”
—Dr. Charles Frost
Professor, Middle Tennessee State University

Table of Contents

Why I Wrote This Book

OUR CHALLENGE—DEVELOPING AN ECO-MIND
Can we remake our mental map?
One: We’re living an aberration
Two: We already know how
Three: It’s not all locked up
Four: And a lot of people care

So why are we moving backward?
The power of ideas
The Gipper and Gekko
The trap
The seven thought traps
A liberating jolt

THOUGHT TRAP 1: NO-GROWTH IS THE ANSWER!
But why the built-in waste and destruction?
Privately held government
Refocusing on what matters
Beyond growth versus no-growth
Measuring our progress with an eco-mind
A clarification

THOUGHT TRAP 2: "CONSUMER SOCIETY" IS THE PROBLEM
Born to buy?
Materialism misdiagnosed?
Inside “market demand”
What is luxury?
Out of the cafeteria line into the kitchen
Waste before we buy . . . why?
The “glory of the human”?

THOUGHT TRAP 3: WE'VE HIT THE LIMITS OF A FINITE EARTH
The limits of limits thinking
Beyond limits to alignment
Righting the balance
“We stopped the desert”
From ancient farmers, a soil secret
Hunger as teacher of the eco-mind
Flourishing as, or even because, we cut greenhouse gas emissions
Have fossil fuels freed or enslaved us?
And how else has oil enslaved?
Distributing social power as we generate new and clean energy
A different pathway, a different message

THOUGHT TRAP 4: WE MUST OVERCOME HUMAN NATURE TO SAVE THE PLANET
Six human traits we can count on
One: Cooperation
Two: Empathy
Three: Fairness
Four: Efficacy
Five: Meaning
Six: Imagination and creativity

If we’re so great . . .
Speaking to our nature

THOUGHT TRAP 5: TO SAVE OUR PLANET, WE HAVE TO OVERRIDE HUMANITY'S NATURAL RESISTANCE TO RULES
Cues from nature
Rule-making power: who, how, why
Market mythology, market meltdown
Only change is constant
Possibility
Good-bye to the fiction that corporations are persons
Wildfires of common sense
Rules that work
Commons care
Real freedom

THOUGHT TRAP 6: HUMANS HAVE LOST THE CONNECTION TO NATURE
Soft-wired connection: The proof is in
Humans meet nature, even in city centers
Retrieving lives through the land
“Teach them to long for the endless immensity”

THOUGHT TRAP 7: IT'S TOO LATE!
The most worrisome deficit
Why democracy now
What works . . . what doesn’t
An ecology of democracy
Who pays the piper
If Deb can do it
What accountable government can do
Democracy, live it or lose it
New ways of tapping the wisdom of crowds
Democracy and dignity

AN INVITATION—THINKING LIKE AN ECOSYSTEM
The work of hope
Our culture’s food crisis through a relational lens
Reconnecting, but this time with intention
It’s the context, stupid!
Ready for surprises
Upping our courage quotient
Rethinking power

CULTIVATING THE ECO-MIND: MOVING INTO ACTION
Thoughts leaps for the eco-mind
Lexicon for the eco-mind
Upping our civil courage: The power of putting our eco-minds into action
Making our own connections
Connecting with other organizations and campaigns that are . . .
Engaging citizens in the work of planet healing
Working to involve citizens and remove the power of private wealth in our democracy
Engaging citizens in reclaiming our democracy

Some favorite reading: Books, magazines, and websites for the eco-mind

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index
About the Author

[ 628 ] View EcoMind Endnotes