Traverse City Record-Eagle

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January 12, 2014

Reading project stresses community resilience

TRAVERSE CITY — An area slogan, “one book, one community,” could change to “two books, several communities” with the addition of a new regional reading project.

The Bob Russell Resilience Reading Project kicks off this winter with the first of several books recommended by the late local activist and environmentalist.

Russell died in August from cancer, but not before approaching the Michigan Land Use Institute about promoting books he considered key in helping people understand what they can do to make their communities as economically, environmentally and socially healthy and resilient as possible.

“This is a targeted list of 14 books that were carefully curated by Bob, that all tie to the theme of community resilience,” said Hans Voss, executive director of the Michigan Land Use Institute, one of 16 partners in the regional book club. “After he died, we came up with this idea of making it a reading project and exploring what happens when thousands of people read the same book at the same time.”

Area residents are encouraged to read one designated book a season, then talk about it at a community discussion. The inaugural book, “Cooked”

by Michael Pollan, will be discussed on Feb. 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the lower level of Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City.

Russell was co-director of the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center and a producer of “Investigating Community Resiliency,” an interview series on Traverse City’s UpNorthTV public access station. He defined resilience as a community’s ability to adapt to, rather than bounce back from, unpredictable change.

“We’re now past the point of repair and are going into a time of transition to lack of abundance and change of climate,” Russell said in a 2012 Record-Eagle interview. “We’ve had to shift to the work of resilience and how to adapt to the conditions humans have created.”

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