The book arrives!


I’m very happy to report that the book has arrived!

 It’s Water Connections – now available at the click of a link to the publishers.

 And see what people are saying!

Physically the book arrived from Versa Press, Inc., a printer in Peoria, Illinois.  But in fact Water Connections arrived from multiple places. Such is the nature of a book.

The introduction says that Water Connections got its start in 2012 when I went looking into how watershed protections around two drinking water reservoirs and a federal flood control dam had helped keep my tiny town of Roxbury, New Hampshire permanently green.

That inquiry was for a short article for the town’s bicentennial booklet. But I stayed with the subject afterwards to scout out other ways that water has influenced human society; I looked into water power, floods and flood control, pollution, water technology, water terrorism and so on.

So, it would also be fair to say that Water Connections arrived from the water’s edge.

But philosophically there was yet another point of origin. It was a high school classroom in Keene, New Hampshire about 15 years ago.

The occasion was a writing project for American Studies students that entailed getting the students (they were juniors) out of the classroom and into the community to research and write about local aspects of the built and unbuilt environment.

At the time I was editor of the local daily newspaper, and I agreed to print the best essays in the paper after they’d been edited by a group of collaborators principally from Antioch New England Graduate School and the Historical Society of Cheshire County, both in Keene, and the Monadnock Institute of Nature, Place and Culture at Franklin Pierce University in nearby Rindge.

The students picked all sorts of topics – a statue, a pond, a park, an abandoned mansion, etc. -- as the writing project continued over the course of three years. The first year we asked the students to pick a name for the project. They came up with “Tracing Places in the Monadnock Region.”

The name resonated. Academically, the project fell under the umbrella of what’s called “place-based education” – a practice that immerses students in their community surroundings.

I have friends who are at the forefront of this discipline, some of whom are associated with a master’s degree program at Antioch university in Keene.

The underlying idea is that we become better citizens if we understand our surroundings, and what better way to improve that understanding than to get out of the classroom and into the real world.

Back to the first words of this blog post. They were about where Water Connections came from. You could safely say that some of Water Connections arrived from an educational innovation that had nothing explicitly to do with water at all. The innovation had to do with becoming aware of – and actively interested in – your surroundings.

Make sense? Now, about that river that you cross on the way to work every day…