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Every Grain of Sand

Canadian Perspectives on Ecology and Environment

Edited by J.A. Wainwright
Subjects Literary Criticism, Environmental Studies
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Paperback : 9780889204539, 192 pages, December 2004
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554588138, 192 pages, August 2009


Universal in scope, yet focusing on recognizable Canadian places, this collection of essays connects individuals’ love of nature to larger social issues, to cultural activities, and to sustainable technology. Subjects include activism in Cape Breton, eco-feminism, Native perspectives on the history of humans’ relationship with the natural world, the inconsistency of humankind’s affinity with nature alongside its capacity to destroy, and scientific and traditional accounts of evolution and how they can come together for the welfare of Earth’s ecology. These essays encourage us to break down the power-based divisions of centre versus marginal politics, to talk with our perceived enemies in environmental wars, to consider activism as a personal commitment, and to resist the construction of a “post-natural” world.

Using a combination of personal memoirs and formal essays, Every Grain of Sand seeks to involve readers in the extraordinary places they inhabit—and usually take for granted—and will appeal to both the general reader and to students in humanities, social sciences, and environmental studies. It is unique for its presentation of entirely Canadian perspectives on ecology and environmental issues.


``The introduction neatly ties the essays together, and the collection is well organized so that the essays follow in logical sequence. Most of them are well written, and none pose any serious problems in terms of readability. Most are accessible even to undergraduates. ... A few of the essays are real gems that are sure to find a place in classroom discussions in courses in environmental studies and in religion and ecology. The field of literary criticism is well represented, and the book will have some broader appeal in the humanities and social sciences. The narrative character of these writings increases their accessibility, and most of the essays are further enhanced by providing definitions of terms when necessary. ... This book is unique in being a Canadian collection, unlike most anthologies on ecology and the environment, which are American. The contributors show an awareness of issues beyond national borders, and demonstrate the need to speak beyond regional interests. ''

- Barbara Jane Davy, Ecotheology

``Several interconnected themes run through this richly diverse volue, which blends the insights of both doers and contemplators. ... [The book's chapters] are creative perspectives on, and nicely complementary to, the contributions to the understanding of the earth and our place in it that we get from environmental scientists. ... Connections back and forth among poets and scientists have regrettably become a rariety in the early twenty-first century. ... Every Grain of Sand takes us in these and other rewarding directions, and deserves to be widely read by all interested in the conditions of Canada's natural environment. ''

- Robert Boardman, Scientia Canadensis

Every Grain of Sand urges readers to resist the construction of a ``post-natural world. ''

- Alexander Craig, Canadian Book Review Annual, 2006

``In presenting a wide range of theoretical perspectives on what ecology is and why it is important to Canada, [Every Grain of Sand] succeeds admirably. ...Readers familiar with ecological theory will find much that is familiar here (and the book would serve as a good introduction to contemporary ecological theory), but they will also find much that is new. ...In insisting that `one of the most potent forces of opposition to end-of-nature scenarios is positive human memory of the experience of nature,' J. A. Wainwright places this book within a tradition of nature-writing that combines a clear-sighted recognition of the irreplaceable gifts that the experience of nature can give to those who are fortunate enough to receive them with an anxious recognition of the precarious state of such experiences in the modern world. ''

- Alan Bewell, University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2004

``Even though the perspectives are Canadian, the issues are universal, making Every Grain of Sand a very strongly recommended addition to environmental studies academic library collections and supplemental reading lists, as well as thoughtful and thought-provoking reading for non-specialist general readers with an interest in nature and environmental issues. ''

- Betsy Hogan, Midwest Book Review

``Just as the rallying cry ``the personal is the political'' focused for feminism the ways in which self and world, private and public, come together, these fourteen essays of narrative scholarship highlight for anyone with an interest in the environment the tenet that political issues--acid rain, pesticide use, corporate business, urban sprawl, erdication of habitat--are personal, not abstractions at all. ''

- Pamela Banting, professor of English, University of Calgary, editor of the anthology, Fresh Tracks: Writing the Western Landscape.