A Review of Earth Repair: A Grassroots Guide to Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes by author Leila Darwish
I have always had a seventh-grade crush on mushrooms, the type of crush where you can’t stop thinking about them, watching them, and trying to casually glance at them from the corner of your eye but somehow, out of the entire school year, not speaking one word to one another. Whenever fungi talk entered the room, I turned into a gangly, awkward, infatuated, albeit silent, version of myself. That is, until I happened upon Earth Repair.
One fortuitous day while enjoying a “personal date-night” at the Boulder Bookstore, I stumbled upon a beautiful book, immediately captivated by one small plant lighting up the cover of an otherwise bleak industrial background. I immediately put back the other seven books I had been considering and headed to the nearest bench and devoured the first three chapters in one sitting, complete with notes (“LOVE THIS!” “GREAT POINT!” “LOOK THIS UP!”
Earth Repair is written by Leila Darwish, a community organizer, writer, permaculture practitioner & educator, grassroots herbalist, urban gardener, and based upon my subsequent e-mail interactions after completing the book, an all-around good person. A quick review of her bio speaks volumes about her expertise in this arena- she has worked on sites with large-scale environmental toxicity & harm in Canada and the United States, such as tar sands, fracking, nuclear energy, climate justice, and water protection, to name a few.
The first thing that I noticed when reading was the clear organization- Earth Repair is organized in a fashion that allows for direct and thorough application. Challenging concepts are broken down and communicated in such a way that those with any educational and experiential backgrounds are able to understand- and if you are like me, then there is no previous educational or experiential background. Not only does it provide sound science, case studies and interviews but it also provides tips and skills on how to create a stable and strong community around bioremediation efforts, one of the most invaluable parts of the book in my opinion. One piece that stood out to me is how Leila includes critiques and gaps that currently exist in the grassroots bioremediation movement, offering a truly investigative and ambitious person the avenues for exploring and furthering these frontiers. The book is replete with voices, projects, and insight from individuals in this work from around the country, helping you to see the “grand-scale” and, hopefully, see your place in the movement. Overall, Leila filled a gap that some of us don’t even realize is missing, but once filled feels so very essential to the surviving and thriving of daily living.
Reading this book was the beginning of my relationship with mycology. Up until Earth Repair, I had always quietly tip-toed around mushrooms, hoping that one day we might just bump into each other, and this book provided the formal introduction I was always waiting for.
For more information about the book and upcoming workshops, or to order the book, go to http://www.earthrepair.ca.