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The Web of Life: Weaving the Values That Sustain Us

Louv, Richard

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9781573241403: The Web of Life: Weaving the Values That Sustain Us

With great warmth and wisdom, The Web of Life sends a passionate call for rebuilding community and family life. Award-winning journalist Richard Louv explores the fragile network that connects people and the strands that make it up: nature, childhood, adulthood, spirit, purpose, and community. Richard Louv makes a compelling case that our future depends on rebuilding this fragile web of life through strengthening and treasuring our friendships, our business relationships, and our families.

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About the Author:

Journalist Richard Louv is a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune and other major newspapers. He has appeared on ABC-TVs Good Morning America, NBC-TVs Today Show, National Public Radios Fresh Air and many other television and radio programs. He has also been a commentator on Monitor Radio Network. Louv is senior editor of Connect for Kids, a Web site dedicated to reporting on the conditions of children and families in America. In 1997, Connect for Kids was the recipient of more than $100 million in donated media, making it the year's top public service campaign in America. He is a partner in The Citistates Group, an association of journalists, academics and urban designers helping cities and regions shape their future. He serves on the joint journalism advisory board of the UCLA Center on Communications and Community and FrameWorks Institute. He has also served as columnist, contributing editor and member of the editorial advisory board for Parents magazine; and as senior associate for the National Civic League, where he helped launch the Alliance for National Renewal.

He is the author of six books: AMERICA II (Penguin, 1983), about the rise of the new urban form and reinvented communities. CHILDHOODS FUTURE (Anchor Books, 1993), described by The New York Times as "a passionate call for rebuilding community and family life." The book was the subject of a Bill Moyers PBS program. 101 THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR OUR CHILDRENS FUTURE (Anchor, 1994), described by Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology, Yale University, as "a comprehensive and creative guidebook for building a supportive, family-friendly community, one neighborhood at a time." It was selected by the Coalition for America's Children and ABC-TV as a centerpiece in the network's Children First campaign. FATHERLOVE (Pocket Books, 1994), about which Ann Pleshette Murphy, editor-in-chief of Parents magazine, wrote: "I cannot think of another book that has so passionately defined the role fathers must play in their childrens lives." THE WEB OF LIFE (Conari Press, 1996), which explores the connections of family and community, and was chosen by the American Booksellers Association as top choice for reading groups for 1997. FLY-FISHING FOR SHARKS: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY (Simon & Schuster), his sixth book, is about the cultures of fishing in America and our relationship with nature. Of it, Jim Lehrer of PBS says,"Here's a book about fishing that is for people who do not fish...That's because its real subject is people, not fish."

Louv has been a key participant and speaker at conferences moderated by Vice President Al Gore, California Gov. Pete Wilson, and Colorado Gov. Roy Rohmer on the future of the family. In 1995, he was asked by the United Nations to write the Year of the Child white paper, "Reinventing Fatherhood." In 1996, Louv addressed the Domestic Policy Council at the White House on the issues of fatherhood, family and community. He has received numerous journalism and community awards, most recently a 1999 C. Everett Koop Media Award.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Strand of Family "Although it is made of thin, delicate strands, the web is not easily broken. However, a web gets torn every day by the insects that kick around in it, and a spider must rebuild it when it gets full of holes."

E.B. White The Little Things

The little things. The click of your wife's makeup bottles and brushes in the bathroom in the morning, the subsurface sound of them, a kind of music. The accompaniments: the older boy's bedroom door opening and shutting in haste, a faucet running, a gust of wind in the eucalyptus, the last rain on the window. The little things are what we remember, what we know, of family life. Of life.

The large events have their place, but even the large events of a family's passage are assembled from little things. The rush to the emergency room and the way the air feels there and the brave little chin thrust up beneath the mask, the small choked cry and the soundespecially this soundof the thread being pulled through the wound, and the way the little hand holds tight to your finger. The little things.

Without realizing it, we can neglect the little things.

Though I have never divorced and my vow is for life, I have like most people experienced a broken relationship or two. Grief does not attach itself so much to the empty space left by the other person, a loss often too abstract to grasp, but to the little things. The vertical space in the closet where familiar clothes once hung. The smell on the pillow or, on the street, a stranger's accent that conjures up a silenced voice.

When our parents and loved ones die, little things come back. Returning home after a death, you find a quilt that wrapped around you long ago, and you remember how the hands felt as they tucked you in. You find yourself startled by the way the dishes are arranged in your parent's kitchen cabinet; you are surprised because you know the arrangement, and you did not know it was so familiar until you looked at it within the context of loss.

The impression most remembered from my grandmother's death is not of the large fact of her body in the casket, but of coming into her cold kitchen a few days afterward and seeing the jar of mincemeat cookies, which she often made for me and my brother. In the jar, then, they were covered with mold.

Just as family grief is articulated by little things, so is joy. Here is an exercise: Go through your house when everyone is away and, in the silence, look for these little things.

In my house, I see the drawing of Wyoming with the owl in the tree singing, "Ho, ho, ho," and the little wooden toolbox, with the name Matt carved on the side, filled with crayons, some of them peeled. The smell of them connects you in time. The crumbs on top of the toaster, the empty cereal boxes left out, seem suddenly precious. So do the stacks of gamesCandyland, Clue, Monopoly. Each family's Monopoly is stamped with its own unique patina of worn corners and stained Chance cards. Little things.

The fishing rods leaning against the corner of the garage, some from my own childhood, some bought for the boys. The rods stand tall together. Shelves filled with books; most of them old, neglected friends, each with a story to tell.

A balsa glider on the stairs. At the top of the landing, a small landscape, a stop-time mountain scene painted in oils by the boys' grandfather. Once, twice, the bullfrog in my older son's room harrumphs, because spring is coming; in a distant time, when my sons or my wife or I, alone or together, drive past some stream or pond surrounded by reeds shaking with redwing blackbirds, we will hear this particular booming sound and in it recognize these years of our family life.

In the largest bedroom, the smell of a comforter; and in the closet, my wife's clothing hangs neat and fresh. And all around the room the bottles of roses, which she has carefully dried over 17 years, all the roses I have given, not one missed. And beside the bathtub a thick, red, scented candle with lots of time left in it.

Here is the next part of this exercise: When your family is home again, listen to them, watch them, wait for the sounds and smells and tilted chins and the shouted competitions between the children and the sighs of the house as it slips into sleep. Hold these things. These little things are everything.

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Book Description Conari Press,U.S., United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 178 x 124 mm. Language: English Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. With great warmth and wisdom, The Web of Life sends a passionate call for rebuilding community and family life. Award-winning journalist Richard Louv explores the fragile network that connects people and the strands that make it up: nature, childhood, adulthood, spirit, purpose, and community. Richard Louv makes a compelling case that our future depends on rebuilding this fragile web of life through strengthening and treasuring our friendships, our business relationships, and our families. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781573241403

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