This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.
Today we're launching One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet, which Elizabeth May calls "a book to be celebrated and shared!”
The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
One Earth is a nonfiction book with colour photos that tells the stories of 20 Black, Indigenous and people of colour who are environmental defenders.
Describe your ideal reader.
Loves nature and/or is looking for diverse role models. Perhaps doesn’t tend to see themselves reflected enough in popular media, and will breathe a sigh of relief and potentially tears of joy to see the faces in One Earth.
What authors/books is your work in conversation with?
David Suzuki, Wangari Maathai, Elizabeth May, Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue.
One Earth has been listed with the following “read-alikes” in Booklist Online: The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon, by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul; and We are Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom
What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?
There were so many more people I could have included in this book if I wasn’t limited by length. I asked everyone the same 10 questions to develop their stories. All the individuals are distinct, and came to environmental work from different pathways. Most didn’t know each other, but sometimes their answers and statements aligned, as if sewn together by some magical thread. The stories were an absolute joy to write, because the people I feature are so inspiring.
Why does the world need this book?
This book is needed right now because for too long, depictions and voices of the "environmental movement" have not truly reflected all the world’s environmental heroes. Black, Indigenous and people of colour have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of struggles to protect lands and waters, and the cultures that they sustain. This book is full of success stories and positive messages, and is a celebration of the intersection of ethnicity and environment.
The thank you's. Go ahead and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.
I acknowledge one of my biggest inspirations in the early part of my career—Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue, for her tireless work to protect Nitassinan, the lands and waters of the Innu people.
This is my first book, so I’d also love to acknowledge everyone who gave me advice and support as I climbed this steep learning curve—friends, authors and the fantastic team at Orca.
What are you reading right now or next?
I just finished Monkey Beach, by Eden Robinson, and I look forward to reading her Son of a Trickster next.
“The activists’ stories are extraordinary...It’s a powerful answer to Rao’s framing questions: ‘Who is an environmental defender? What does she or he look like? Maybe like you. Maybe like me.’”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Thought-provoking reading for young people figuring out their own contributions. This valuable compilation shows that Earth’s salvation lies in the diversity of its people.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
One Earth profiles Black, Indigenous and People of Color who live and work as environmental defenders. Through their individual stories, the book shows that the intersection of environment and ethnicity is an asset to achieving environmental goals. The twenty short biographies introduce readers to diverse activists from all around the world, who are of many ages and ethnicities. From saving ancient trees on the West Coast of Canada, to protecting the Irrawaddy dolphins of India, to uncovering racial inequalities in the food system in the United States, these environmental heroes are celebrated by author and biologist Anuradha Rao, who outlines how they went from being kids who cared about the environment to community leaders in their field. One Earth is full of environmental role models waiting to be found.