Reasons for Hope – Two Books to add to your Winter Reading List!

We are in full-on winter now and I have to admit, this time of year is often challenging for me. Though I appreciate the opportunity to slow down and rest, the cold, snow, shorter days, and dry brittle plants often leave me feeling stagnant and stuck.

There is an absolute beauty in all of it, in the pause, and in the journey inward but winter will always be harder for me than the promise of spring, the energy of summer, or the abundance of fall.

I don’t know about you but winter also means that the weight of the world bears down on me just a little more. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s the darkness, or maybe it’s because if you are playing any attention to the news, there are COUNTLESS reasons to feel a little apocalyptic about the future. 

Whether it’s the climate crisis, gun violence, reproductive rights, or the loss of biodiversity, I know that people are tired and overwhelmed. 

It’s a lot to hold during this time.

So what gives me reasons for hope?

First, there are two books that you should add to your winter reading list that will change your outlook, perspective and leave you hopeful about the future. Check out my video above to hear more about them.

Another reason for hope? I’ve been sitting in on a Native Food Systems class this semester and it’s been SO GOOD. Granted, learning how to be a student again has been challenging (I mean, how does one have time for all of the reading??). Having been a bit of a nerd in high school and college, I’ve had to completely abandon the idea of reviving my earlier model student self.

Instead, I’ve settled for being a less than mediocre student who sometimes has to skip class (because…harvest/preservation season), never does the assignments or quizzes (because…harvest/preservation season), but still tries desperately to do all of her reading, fitting it in between working on client designs, dehydrating pears, cooking dinner, dealing with a sick chicken, doing laundry, business planning, oven-roasting tomatoes, and downsizing my parents’ belongings. Twenty-five years later, I’m happy to report that I no longer break into a sweat with the notion of speaking up in class so at least I have that going for me….

But here’s what’s been great. Not only does it give me hope to be around a group of young people who are insightful, intelligent and actively engaged in the world, I have learned so much about all of the initiatives happening in Native communities today like:

Tanka Bar Company – Watch the video on their homepage and learn about their approach to bringing the buffalo back to the plains while creating a holistic approach to food sovereignty, economic resilience and community.

White Earth Land Recovery Project – This organization is facilitating the recovery of the original land base of the White Earth Indian Reservation while at the same time restoring traditional land stewardship practices, revitalizing language, building collective economic systems, and strengthening culture.

Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance – In addition to the Indigenous Seedkeepers Network that collects, grows and shares heirloom seeds and plants, NAFSA enhances Native food systems, sustainable economic development, education, stewardship, and multi-generational empowerment.

Needless to say, if we want a guidebook in resilience and rebuilding, we should turn to people who lost their land, their ancestors, and their way of life and are still here, at the forefront of innovative initiatives that are feeding communities and revitalizing culture.

So if you’re like me, often overwhelmed by the state of the world and wondering where and how you can contribute, I encourage you to seek out these stories of communities across the world creating a different, more hopeful future.