In 1992, Hess gave up her mainstream lifestyle and academic career in Eugene, Oregon, and moved to the woods—not to a picturesque retirement cottage, but to a sustainability-level existence in a beat-up trailer with no electricity or running water. Hess and her husband originally made this move out of economic necessity, but soon came to appreciate their new surroundings due to environmental advantages and social benefits. Nearly 30 years, and two books later, Hess gathers instances of individuals and local grassroots organizations that have come together to effect positive ecological change through education, legislation, and solidarity, and other activism. Engaging accounts document how these people found common ground, whether lumber companies and conservationists, energy executives and farmers, landowners and Indigenous groups fighting the installation of a natural-gas pipeline, or young activists who founded the Kids vs. Global Warming nonprofit. The final chapter talks about global concerns (equitable access to resources, just carbon consumption), and an appendix lists more than 50 environmental organizations. Hopefully, readers will be inspired to act.— Booklist
Most literature on environmental justice tacks in one of two ways—toward a technical overview of environmental conditions affecting human and other populations or in the direction of investigating the social, organizational, and human dynamics of environmental concerns. An award-winning writer of creative nonfiction, Hess offers a text that clearly falls into the latter group. The distinction she draws between silviculture and forest ecology, as parallel to the difference between seeing the trees and seeing the forest, says it all. Utilizing case studies from the Western Environmental Law Center, she wades into complex layers of environmental activism, introducing readers to key players to illustrate her sunny view of balance among competing interests. The five case studies deal with varying aspects of social justice: communication between disparate parties, power of place in the environment, the concept of natural resources as a public trust, close coordination among diverse environmental groups, and transition from a consumption-oriented to a sustainable lifestyle. Hess examines these topics through various lens adjustments, from small-group communication to the sociology of group behavior and finally to organizational communication, making the book nimbly well suited for social sciences collections and those supporting environmental programs. Recommended. — Choice Reviews
Sometimes in our despair at the world we forget just how many good people there are, working to make a difference. These powerful stories will inspire you to stay the course--or to get off the sidelines!— Bill McKibben, author Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
When people asked me, what can one person do? I used to answer, stop being one person. Now I will tell them to read Shoulder to Shoulder, Evelyn Hess’s powerful demonstration that what we can’t do alone, we can often do together. I can’t think of a more important message for our discordant times. Her stories of real-life collaborations are not only moving accounts of the hope and heartache of working across differences toward common goals, but also practical templates for change. Above all, they are stories of the joys and accomplishments that come when people resolve to create a common path forward. Evelyn Hess is a treasure.— Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Earth's Wild Music
Evelyn Hess tells stories of intention, commitment, learning, and success. The activists and eco-pioneers she interviews have pursued a variety of strategies, but they share one goal: a world in which human beings live in balance and harmony with the rest of life, and with one another. If there is hope to be found in these troubled times, it is in the life lessons of people like these. — Richard Heinberg, senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute
In a series of vivid stories, Evelyn Hess scales up from her two previous memoirs of sustainable living to consider larger regional and planetary social and environmental predicaments and enlightened processes for policy-making. Hess’s approach here is fact-based, her message urgent and inspiring. Shoulder to Shoulder offers a powerful call-to-action to those who would undertake the difficult, visionary work of community-building.— Scott Slovic, University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Humanities, University of Idaho
Evelyn Hess’ book is a resounding endorsement of cooperation and everyone working to do the right thing. Shoulder to Shoulder identifies and documents what we, as individual citizens, need to do to preserve our existence on this planet. We all have a part to play and each of us has the power to make a difference. Hess has laid out how we can all contribute to the next generation. She has made a powerful argument and we all need to pay attention! The only way this works is with cooperation with all of the stakeholders. We all need to communicate and work together. We've got this!— Lois F. Merkler, College of Southern Nevada