Island Press began with a simple idea: knowledge is power—the power to imagine a better future and find ways for getting us there. Founded in 1984, Island Press’ mission is to provide the best ideas and information to those seeking to understand and protect the environment and create solutions to its complex problems.
A Falconer's Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife
In Bird Brother, Rodney Stotts shares his unlikely journey to becoming a conservationist and one of America’s few Black master falconers. Rodney grew up in Washington, D.C. during the crack epidemic, with guns, drugs, and the threat of incarceration affecting the lives of everyone he knew. He was no exception, but he was also employed by the newly founded Earth Conservation Corps, helping to restore and conserve the polluted Anacostia River. This work eventually sent his life in a different direction, as he began to train to become a master falconer and to develop his own raptor education program and sanctuary. Eye-opening, witty, and moving, Bird Brother is a testament to the healing power of nature, and a reminder that no matter how much heartbreak we’ve endured, we still have the capacity to give back to our communities and follow our dreams.
Hands-On Community Engagement for Enduring Spaces and Places
People love their communities and want them to become safer, healthier, more prosperous places. But the standard approach to public meetings somehow makes everyone miserable. Conversations that should be inspiring can become shouting matches. So what would it look like to facilitate truly meaningful discussions? What if they could be fun?
For twenty years, James Rojas and John Kamp have been using art, creative expression, and storytelling to shake up the classic community meeting. In Dream Play Build, they share their insights into building common ground and inviting active participation among diverse groups. Their approach, “Place It!,” draws on three methods: the interactive model-building workshop, the pop-up, and site exploration using our senses. Inspirational and fun, this book celebrates the value of engaging with the dreams we have for our communities.
How William H. Whyte's Unconventional Wisdom Reshaped Public Life
American Urbanist shares the remarkable life and wisdom of William H. Whyte, whose advocacy reshaped many of the places we know and love today—from New York’s bustling Bryant Park to preserved forests and farmlands around the country. Over his five decades of research and writing, his wide-ranging work changed how people thought about careers and companies, cities and suburbs, urban planning, open space preservation, and more. In a time when most Americans were eager to fit in, he advocated for oddball ideas and unconformity. His ideas influenced everything from corporate hiring practices to designs of city plazas. “We need the kind of curiosity that blows the lid off everything,” he once said. This fascinating biography offers a rare glimpse into the mind of an iconoclast whose healthy skepticism of the status quo can help guide our efforts to create the kinds of places we want to live in today.
Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities
In From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities, design expert Alison Sant focuses on the unique ways in which US cities are working to mitigate and adapt to climate change while creating equitable and livable communities.
Sant presents 12 case studies, drawn from research and over 90 interviews with people who are working in these communities to make a difference. These efforts show how US cities are reclaiming their streets from cars, restoring watersheds, growing forests, and adapting shorelines to improve people’s lives while addressing our changing climate.
From the Ground Up is a call to action. When we make the places we live more climate resilient, we need to acknowledge and address the history of social and racial injustice. Advocates, non-profit organizations, community-based groups, and government officials will find examples of how to build alliances to support and embolden this vision together.
Taking Conservation to Scale in Complex Systems
As environmental problems grow larger and more pressing, conservation work has increasingly emphasized broad approaches to combat global-scale crises of biodiversity loss, invasive species, and climate change. Pathways to Success is a modern guide to building large-scale transformative conservation programs capable of tackling the complex issues we now face.
In this strikingly illustrated volume, coauthors Nick Salafsky and Richard Margoluis walk readers through fundamental concepts of effective program-level design, helping them to think strategically about project coordination, funding, and stakeholder input. Pathways to Success is the definitive guide for conservation program managers and funders who want to increase the effectiveness of their work combating climate change, species extinctions, and the many challenges we face to keep our planet livable.
How Communities Can Recover from Trauma and Rebuild for Health
In cities around the world, planning and health experts are beginning to understand the role of social and environmental conditions that lead to trauma. By respecting the lived experience of those who were most impacted by harms, some cities have developed innovative solutions for urban trauma.
In Cities for Life, public health expert Jason Corburn shares lessons from three of these cities: Richmond, California; Medellín, Colombia; and Nairobi, Kenya. Corburn draws from his work with citizens, activists, and decision-makers in these cities over a ten-year period, as individuals and communities worked to heal from trauma—including from gun violence, housing and food insecurity, poverty, and other harms. Cities for Life is about a new way forward with urban communities that rebuilds our social institutions, practices, and policies to be more focused on healing and health.
The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving
In Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving, historian Peter Norton argues that driverless cars cannot be the safe, sustainable, and inclusive “mobility solutions” that tech companies and automakers are promising us. The salesmanship behind the “driverless future” is distracting us from better ways to get around that we can implement now. Unlike autonomous vehicles, these alternatives are inexpensive, safe, sustainable, and inclusive.
Norton takes the reader on an engaging ride—from the GM Futurama exhibit to “smart” highways and vehicles—to show how we are once again being sold car dependency in the guise of mobility.
Autonorama is hopeful, advocating for wise, proven, humane mobility that we can invest in now, without waiting for technology that is forever just out of reach.
Tundra Beavers, Quaking Bogs, and the Improbable World of Peat
In a world filled with breathtaking beauty, we have often overlooked the elusive magic of certain landscapes. A cloudy river flows into an Arctic wetland where sandhill cranes and muskoxen dwell. Further south, cypress branches hang low over dismal swamps. Places like these–collectively known as swamplands or peatlands–often go unnoticed for their ecological splendor. They are as globally significant as rainforests, yet, because of their reputation as wastelands, they are being systematically drained and degraded.
Swamplands celebrates these wild places, as journalist Edward Struzik highlights the unappreciated struggle to save peatlands by scientists, conservationists, and landowners around the world. An ode to peaty landscapes in all their offbeat glory, the book is also a demand for awareness of the myriad threats they face. It inspires us to see the beauty and importance in these least likely of places. Our planet’s survival might depend on it.
The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis
Much of what you’ve heard about plastic pollution may be wrong. Instead of a great island of trash, the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of manmade debris spread over hundreds of miles of sea—more like a soup than a floating garbage dump. Less than nine percent of the plastic we create is reused, and microplastic fragments are found almost everywhere, even in our bodies. In Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis, journalist Erica Cirino brings readers on a globe-hopping journey to meet the scientists and activists telling the real story of the plastic crisis. New technologies and awareness bring some hope, but Cirino shows that we can only fix the problem if we begin to repair our throwaway culture. Thicker Than Water is an eloquent call to reexamine the systems churning out waves of plastic waste.
The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America
In her late 40s, Beth Hoffman decided to upend her comfortable life as a professor and journalist to move to her husband’s family ranch in Iowa—all for the dream of becoming a farmer. There was just one problem: money. Half of America's two million farms made less than $300 in 2019, and many struggle just to stay afloat.
Bet the Farm chronicles this struggle through Beth’s eyes. She must contend with her father-in-law, who is reluctant to hand over control of the land. Growing oats is good for the environment but ends up being very bad for the wallet. And finding somewhere, in the midst of COVID-19, to slaughter grass finished beef is a nightmare.
If Beth can’t make it, how can farmers who confront racism, lack access to land, or don’t have other jobs to fall back on hack it? Bet the Farm is a first-hand account of the perils of farming today and a personal exploration of more just and sustainable ways of producing food.
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