Poet and essayist Lisa Wells takes us on a pilgrimage to the margins of the environmental movement, examining the lives and work of trailblazers and outliers who are finding new ways to live and reconnect to the Earth in the face of climate change.
... a thought-provoking and heady mix of memoir, journalism and philosophy ... Wells seeks out a variety of people whose radical responses to the climate crisis challenge and defy the norm. The characters she profiles are varied and fascinating, and their stories may resonate with older readers who remember their own idealism during the 1960s counterculture movement ... While Wells is adept at communicating her own coming-of-age story and life journey, Believers is most compelling when the author allows the fascinating people she meets to speak for themselves, providing a rich mosaic of perspectives on life in the 21st century. Believers is a reckoning with climate change and a testimony about how to live on our threatened planet that will engage thoughtful citizens everywhere.
Three-quarters of the way through her book, Wells gives up on her series of immersive jaunts with 'believers' and steps back to draw on the thoughts and writings of others. We miss the outrageous forays, the wrong turns and the tangled ways her rootlessness drives her. Somewhere she loses her thread and fails to fully break through. Her own 'promised land' is always elsewhere ... Wells’s final request, that we learn to work cooperatively and live in the loving embrace of true communities, tells only part of the story. Nature is the embrace, and if Wells digs in deeply enough wherever she is standing, she will find that nature’s long arms have always been twined through and around her.
Wells shows us the faces of an evolving movement dedicated to saving the planet from the ravages of human exploitation. Their stories are often heart-wrenching, with personal tragedies fueling their desire to create environmental change ... As foreshadowed by the title, there is a spiritual element braided into this book that may interest some readers and put off others ... even most people who care deeply about the environment can’t really imagine divorcing themselves from the power grid or making other drastic lifestyle modifications. These people will sense Wells’ disdain. To her, feckless do-gooders are like climate-change Muggles: semi-blind, ignorant by choice, impossible to teach. But the truth hurts, and real change often happens only after a struggle. Maybe we need the kind of jolt that Believers gives us if we’re ever going to become, finally, active caretakers of our planet.