Publications and Public Talks
Center for Whole Communities publishes journals, essays, and books that inspire, inform, and empower people and their relationships with one another, communities and the land. We aim to publish books that are powerful, motivating, and practical tools to strengthen and broaden the practice of building healthy, whole communities.
Each spring we publish a collection of essays, photographs, receipes, reflections and drawings in our Whole Thinking Journal. Contributors include alumni, faculty, staff, board and others. Current and archived editions of the Journal are available to the public; if you would like to receive one please email us.
Inspired by the national tragedy of September 11, 2001, Peter chose to use his voice and his art of photography to speak out about land, soul, true wealth, and what is means to work together to create a healthy, whole community. In the ensuing decade, Peter has given over 100 keynote addresses at major national and regional events in 25 states to those who care about the fate of people and the land, including at Fire and Grit, Bioneers, Etown, The National Land Conservation Rally, River Rally, and the Quivira Coalition. Peter has shared the stage with Wendell Berry, Sarah James, Michael Pollan,Peter Matthiessen, and many of those who have inspired him the most. To read more please click here.
In 2012, Peter paused in his public speaking to observe, to create space to let all the stories settle, and to see what would arise. To obtain information about public talks or to inquire about speaker availabilties for your event or conference, please email us. Link here to an archive of public talks by Peter Forbes.
You can find our books in local bookstores nationwide. If you choose to buy online, please follow our links below and Center for Whole Communities will receive part of the purchase price. For more information about our books or our publishing program, please contact our Communications Associate Molly.
Entering This Land: A History of Knoll Farm
Entering this Land tells the story of Knoll Farm from ancient geologic time through the history of settlement of this mountain valley – first by plants, then animals, and then humans – and finally through its 200-year journey as a farmstead and refuge. Whether you are familiar with Knoll Farm or not, you’ll find its story both common and unusual, familiar and singular. We offer this story as a record of the past and as a hope for the future, as a conversation about what it means to live with place, and all that it embodies. Illustrated with beautiful historical and contemporary photographs.
What is a Whole Community: A Letter to Those Who Care for and Restore the Land
Or download the PDF.
In this new essay, written as a letter to the conservation movement, Peter Forbes asks those who love and care for the land to see that the world is changing and that conservationists risk being left behind. Every conservation organization in America today has both moral and strategic reasons to re-think why and for whom they are doing their work. Peter Forbes asks the conservation movement to rise to today's challenges with new approaches, new tools, and a new vision for success, and to look at these challenges as opportunities to see beyond the way things are; as a chance for re-invention."
Coming to Land in a Troubled World
The present rate of devastation to our natural world and to healthy lives is unprecedented, and accelerating. In the context of this rapid cycle of development and destruction, the work of conserving land, species, and ways of life is more urgent and vital than ever before. But what does it mean, in these times of progress, to truly conserve land and community life? And why is this conservation so important if we are to heal the divisions in our culture and ourselves, to change our patterns of consumption, and to reverse the fate of our earth?
In three powerful essays, three influential writers and thinkers—Scott Russell Sanders, Peter Forbes and Kathleen Dean Moore—explore these questions, giving us new insights into the promise of land conservation in our present world. Through its deep examination of the value of land to our culture and our souls, Coming to Land In a Troubled World becomes a meditation on reconciliation and restoration, love and loss, wholeness and innovation, fairness and community. It gives us new approaches and new hope to work to heal the great divisions and losses we see around us each day.
The Great Remembering: Further Thoughts on Land, Soul, and Society
The Great Remembering is an activist's exploration of what land means to our culture. In three chapters, "The Extinction of Experience," "Dissent and Defiance," and "Building a New Commons," the author traces the roots of our disconnection from place and from meaningful stories about our lives. He discusses what he terms the "ethics of enough"—the growing trend to slow down and place the quality of our experiences over the quantity of our possessions. It is through preserving land and rebuilding the relationship between land and people, he argues, that our culture can not only restore natural habitats, but revitalize human communities as well.
Our Land, Ourselves: Readings on People and Place
Our Land, Ourselves is a collection of diverse readings on the many themes of people and place — themes such as the protection of wilderness and the idea of the wild, the nature of home, the purpose of work, and the meaning of community. These voices suggest a new way of viewing land conservation as the process of building values and positively shaping human lives.
In The Story Handbook, contributors Tim Ahern, William Cronon, John Elder, Peter Forbes, Barry Lopez, and Scott Russell Sanders help us think about the power of stories of people and place, and how those stories can advance the work of land conservation toward creating meaningful change in our culture.
As Trust for Public Land president, Will Rogers, writes in his introduction, "true success in our work means moving land conservation out of the ‘emergency room’ of last-ditch efforts....To do this we will need to help create a fundamental change in how our society thinks about and treats land; we will need to nurture the flowering of a new land ethic. Stories may be our best way to get there."
Healthy Land, Whole Communities
This DVD presentation made from one of Peter Forbes’ keynote talks includes his favorite land and people stories and strongest arguments for the role land plays in creating whole communities. It focuses particularly on sustainable farming and local food. It also includes beautiful photography of the landscapes that have inspired this work. A good choice for introducing others to these stories and concepts.
The Yurt Talks: Rethinking the Promise of Land Conservation
This 2-CD set features Torri Estrada, Danyelle O’Hara and Peter Forbes in discussion around the need to understand the power of land to us an individuals as a step toward understanding the power of land to our culture. This is the closest thing we have to reproducing the dialogues that happen among participants of our Whole Thinking Retreats.
Building a New Movement: Conservation and Community Engagement
Free (Download PDF)
Conservation finds itself at a crossroads, where changing demographic, population pressures and climate change are causing leaders to rethink how conservation should focus its efforts, and for whom. Whole Communities is beginning a deep inquiry into how the crossroads is being mapped around the country, gathering the hopeful stories, relating the challenges, and providing resources to nurture positive solutions. This pdf is the first, partial draft of that study.
Free (Download PDF)
This framework, inspired directly by the work of Van Jones, is helpful in describing the movement-building aspects of our work. It illustrates the isolation among sectors that plagues an entire movement, and which is reproduced at large in our culture. Our work is to help leaders in different quadrants of this framework to see and hear one another so that true, deep collaboration and innovation is possible.