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The following article, "'Small Planet' author returns to her original proposition," from the Women's section (!?) of the Sacramento Bee http://www.sacbee.com/content/women/story/1673377p-1748749c.html speaks to a number of issues that have been debated recently on this list, including the relationship of politics and individual improvement and the question of what we find when we look deeply into our own hearts and those of others.


It seems a dreary setting for a discussion with the co-authors of the new book "Hope's Edge" (Putnam Tarcher, $26.95), which looks at ways in which people around the world are improving their lot in life.

After all, the book appears as the world seems in tatters. Still, says Frances, 58, mother of Anna, 28, and a longtime advocate for the hungry and sustainable development, it's a time to be hopeful.

"Hope is not a matter of us toting up the good and the bad," she says. "Hope is not a calculation. It's an action. It's more verb than noun."


"We know that hope can be killed," she says. "We've seen that. But it is always in bud, too, and it is our responsibility to help it bloom."

It is fitting she should feel that way, because Lappé's career as a writer and activist began when she faced down what appeared to all a hopeless situation and found renewed hope. And passed it on.


Accompanied by Anna, who during this interview is mostly silenced by laryngitis, Lappé set out to follow the food, from India to Brazil to Europe to Kenya to the United States. On their journey, they spoke with women who had started businesses with funds from a "village bank" in Bangladesh; witnessed the side effects of the so-called "green revolution" in Punjab, India; visited a tree-planting "green-belt" community in Kenya; and spoke with community gardeners in the Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhood of San Francisco.

Everywhere, they show people taking on difficult issues, such as deforestation. But though there is plenty of analysis in the book, the stories are very much flesh and blood. The book's aim is practical inspiration.


Lappé says the one thing she has learned in the 30 years since "Diet for a Small Planet" is that merely having information, as important as it is, isn't enough.

"Honestly, I really believed when I wrote 'Diet' that no one would choose for a child to die of hunger," she says. "I really believed that if I could show people that hunger was needless, and that we were supporting and creating organizations that were undermining our future food security, people would change their behavior.

"But I didn't realize that information can also be disempowering -- it discourages people -- and that information is not enough. So for the last 30 years I've been asking what more is needed besides information.

"And I've concluded that unless people can get a sense of power in the public sphere, they won't believe that anything else is possible. So we try to show regular people that they have to ignore their fear of being different and give them a sense of the possibilities for change. And that making changes in how they eat will have a positive impact on how they feel, as well."

George Sheridan
4467 Meadowbrook Road
Garden Valley, California 95633

(530) 333 4506

Hope is ... not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the
certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

Vaclav Havel

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