My book: “Rising to the Challenge”



I’ve captured much from my 2011 travels and new insights since then into a book, Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith. Rob Hopkins co-founder of the Transition Town Movement, kindly wrote the foreword. It’s now published. I encourage people to purchase from their local bookstores. They can easily order it on request. You can take a look at it on Amazon here.

An excerpt:

“I wake up each day grateful for the beauty of Earth and for the possibilities for love and care that abound. but I know that beyond the daily, personal challenges that we face, there is suffering that can be averted by human intervention. And this motivates me to act on behalf of all that live on Earth. We must do more than feed, clothe, and house the poor. We must change the very systems that cause the great inequity that abounds around the globe. We must do more than save small parcels of land for wildlife and agriculture. We must change the very systems that every day destroy forests and prime agricultural land and allow the extinctions of species. So, I have journeyed to find ways to change those systems, and when it took me to Transition I was motivated to act because of my belief in the goodness that dwells in the universe.”

I hope you take this journey with me…

Praise for the book:

Rising to the Challenge is a beautiful book about a beautiful movement. Almost by de nition, hoping we can effect a transition is a statement of faith, which means that those of us in communities of faith should be emboldened to support this great work with everything we’ve got.—Bill McKibben, author of The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation

Working on climate change issues every day, I frequently hear individ- uals lament that they don’t know what to do or they can never do enough to meet the challenge. Many people are overwhelmed by the daunting spectre of a radically changing world, with severe storms and drought, rising sea level, resource wars and escalating con ict becoming the norm. The Transition movement provides a package of inspiring ideas for what to do and connects people so they do not have to do this alone. It is what Gandhi called “constructive program”—building the kind of community that both your heart and your head tell you is needed. Thanks to Ruah for giving us a compelling summary of the movement and exploring the role of the faith community in bringing about our transition to renewable energy and a holistic, spirit-centered society.—Shelley Tanenbaum, General Secretary, Quaker Earthcare Witness

Can rising awareness of climate change help usher in a more peaceful, equitable, and environmentally sound future? Can it help unite people across diverse religious and philosophical traditions? Quaker environ- mental leader Ruah Swennerfelt thinks so, and has now shared her personal journey toward that hopeful understanding. Ruah chronicles her involve- ment in the worldwide Transition Town movement, visiting Transition communities and forward-looking permaculture projects across the U.S., Europe, Brazil, and Israel/Palestine. Drawing on the lived experiences of key founders and an impressive variety of on-the-ground organizers, she offers a highly accessible and compelling account of Transition’s practical and visionary dimensions, and reveals how the wisdom of diverse faith traditions has helped inspire this uniquely forward-looking and commun- ity-centered movement.—Brian Tokar, Lecturer in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, author of The Green Alternative, Earth for Sale, and Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change

Rising to the Challenge is a strong call to respond to the global climate challenge and put faith into action to “see what love can do.” Swennerfelt draws on inspiring stories from the world’s experimentation crucibles in Transition, offering up her vision of radical dreaming. Here we learn about energy descent planning, repair cafés, and permaculture communities, and the important role of faith traditions in healing the world. Based on her travels to Transition Towns around the world, this book demonstrates the possibilities of practicing loving kindness on a global scale. It is a marvelous manifesto for resilience and a powerful testimony of hope, re ecting Swennerfelt’s own deep personal commitment, an inspiring voice in this time of transformation.—Stephanie Kaza, author of Hooked! Buddhist Essays on Greed, Desire and the Urge to Consume

It is always a beautiful gift when someone introduces two of her close friends, knowing that a pair of strangers have much to offer to each other. In this short book, Ruah Swennerfelt performs that act of hospitality on an institutional level, providing a heartfelt introduction between the 10-year- old Transition Town Movement and long-standing faith traditions. Drawing on stories from many countries and many faiths, she reveals common perspectives and shared goals for these two movements, both of which are seeking to make a difference in the world. As an environmental activist on the faith side, I have been blessed by her insights, information, and her hope for this new collaboration.—Reverend Peter Sawtell, Executive Director Eco-Justice Ministries

The seeds of sanity are sprouting—and at the grass roots, more than grass is growing! Ruah Swennerfelt’s book not only shares some of the many sprouts of the great turning, the transition to an Earth we actually share with all life-forms—but itself sows seeds in every reader.—Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center, author of Down-to-Earth Judaism and co-author of Freedom Journeys

Rising to the Challenge is a book full of hope and optimism. Swennerfelt looks at the Transition Movement, which encourages people to band together with neighbors to design a transition to a low-carbon future. She examines the role of faith in the movement, and the ways in which the Transition Movement might strengthen and enliven faith communities. Beautifully written, personal and inspiring, the book points a way forward out of despair to connection and action rooted in deep connection to the sacredness of Earth.—Starhawk, author of The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups and Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery