Tag Archives: A Paradise Built in Hell

A National Treasure

22 Dec

In some correspondence or other with Paul Slovak, Rebecca Sonit’s editor at Viking, he referred to her as a “national treasure”. Lacking(at the moment) a more apt designation for Solnit ( Utne Reader magazine named Solnit as one of the “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.”) let me just refer to her recent contribution at Tomdispatch, “A Shadow Government of Kindness“:

…The world could be much better if more of us were more active on behalf of what we believe in and love; it would be much worse if countless activists weren’t already at work from Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and the climate activists in Tuvalu to the homeless activists around the corner from me. When I studied disasters past, what amazed me was not just that people behaved so beautifully, but that, in doing so, they found such joy. It seems that something in their natures, starved in ordinary times, was fed by the opportunity, under the worst of conditions, to be generous, brave, idealistic, and connected; and when this appetite was fulfilled, the joy shone out, even amid the ruins.

This is a sentiment convincingly demonstrated in her recent opus A Paradise Built in Hell (Viking)which examines six disasters and the surprising community response to them. Also worth looking at is Solnit’s very original Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (University of California Press).