BOOK REVIEWS
By Sandy Gostel Perkins


 

WHY DO WE RECYCLE?
By Frank Ackerman
When recycling went mainstream, it seemed that we were moving in the right direction, and corporations that only went by "the bottom line" mentality had finally gotten the message. Most cities have contracted with disposal companies in order to offer recycling containers as part of regular trash pickup. In the city where I live, the company periodically publishes statistics in our local paper, showing the impact of the lessened amount of trash needing to go to the landfill, and disbursement of recyclable materials. Sounds good. But, Frank Ackerman examines this approach, and finds it may not be in our best interest after all. He explains why purely economic approaches to recycling are incomplete and argues for a different kind of decision making. One that addresses social issues, future as well as present resource needs, and non-economic values that cannot be translated into dollars and cents. Mr. Ackerman is a research professor at Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University. He has well-researched information regarding every aspect of recycling. Environmentally-minded and the economically-minded people will find information, backed up with facts, charts and statistics that will give an overall objective view of this subject. Mr. Ackerman states: "In the final analysis, there are two essential contributions that recycling today can make to our long-term future - it is important to start conserving material now despite low prices. One concerns the evolution of technology, and the other involves the nature of human values and behavior." I hope this book reaches into the schools, universities, and boardrooms of corporations. It is information that is necessary to heed. Published by Island Press, this book is available at your local bookstores or by calling (737) 983-6432.

 

THE FORGOTTEN POLLINATORS
By Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan
We have a fragile eco-system. The geodome experiments have proven this to be true. Yet we still tend to forget that protecting and saving one species, be it plant or animal form, will necessitate preserving the entirety of the environment. THE FORGOTTEN POLLINATORS strives to bring understanding and hope that co-evolved systems might survive in all their complexities and elegance. Before you reach for the bug spray the next time you are in your garden, pause and examine what end results you are after. After reading THE FORGOTTEN POLLINATORS, you will view these little critters with a more appreciative eye. Two-thirds of all kinds of organisms known to exist on the planet are plants and insects. We are part of the eco-system. If plants need the pollinators to exist, then we need them to exist. Eighty percent of the species of our food plants worldwide depend on pollination by animals, almost all of which are insects. Unfortunately the wild pollinators are declining around the world. Some have already suffered or faced total extinction. Our biofabric is about to rip. The authors describe these systems to us in a way that is not just from their intellect, but also from their heart. With sensitivity to the diffe rent species, they show us the necessity and value of preserving what is basically our lifeline. We need to consider our actions and the consequences we will face. We may consider these pollinators to be on the bottom of the food chain, but if they become extinct, they will take us with them. Food for thought. And, hopefully your mind will be pollinated by the seeds Stephen and Gary plant. Published by Island Press, this book is available at your local bookstores.

 

SHUNKA
Life with an Arctic Wolf
By Marika Lumi Morgan
SHUNKA . . . he came to this grandmother's house in book form. He captured my heart.

Wolves have always fascinated humanity. Through our lore and fairy tales, they have been our villains, our guides, our enemies and our saviors. The general population has their pre-conceived ideas about the nature of wolves. Of course we always think we know best. I know I did. I've even owned a hybrid. Before reading SHUNKA I believed that wolves were just wild dogs that are hard to domesticate. If you tempered their aggressive nature, you'd have a beautiful pet that everyone would admire.

Well, after reading SHUNKA, I only have one thing to say to wolves -"Please forgive me. I was wrong. And you have suffered for it."

The author's husband, David, became fascinated with wolves. He decided to own one. They were able to get an abandoned pup through a wild- life preserve. Fortunately, Marika and David had the wolf's best interest at heart. They wanted to understand Shunka and see the world from his perspective. They did just that, and their lives would never be the same again.

They've written this book for the purpose of getting Shunka's story out. Their hope is to educate humans into respecting this wild creature - which is not a dog. And especially to stop the trend in breeding wolves with do gs in order to have a unique pet.

I have had first-hand knowledge and I understand the point Marika is trying to make. I rescued Folly (as in Seward's Folly) from the pound. She was an Alaskan Wolf mix. We immediately took to each other. I loved her eyes, which seemed filled with affection. She was beautiful. I've been around many dogs. I know their behavior. So I couldn't figure out why Folly had so many deficiencies. The biggest problem was keeping her fenced in. She broke out of every fencing material we could find. We even tried steel Re-bar. She ripped her mouth and paws to shreds before she escaped.

Folly heard the call of her wild nature. She needed to be free. Unfortunately, like Shunka, she would not survive in the wild because of being raised with humans. She was unhappy in captivity. Bred into a no-win existence. She wanted both worlds and couldn't survive in either.

Shunka had all the human understanding a wolf could hope for. He had love and affection. He had shelter and food. But he didn't belong in captivity. Marika and David created the best environment possible for a wolf to exist in captivity. They allowed their lives to be connected to Shunka in the most caring of ways. But there is no place like home. And home for a wolf is in the wilds, running free.

Marika and David have given us a glimpse into their home and their heart as they experienced Shunka. Their message needs to be heard. We need to stop our arrogant attitude of superiority and learn. Learn from this story. Learn from Shunka, himself. He has tried to talk to us. He is an ambassador representing wildlife.

We humans have a tendency to devalue a creature or a fellow human when we assume that our way is better. We don't bother to look into the needs and wants of the other. We don't respect their right to be in a life different from our own. Our answer is to force them into submitting to what we feel is best for them.

I want to give you a few quotations from this book. I hope this sample will inspire you to read the entire story.

"Slowly, the cahin loosened, and I slipped it off Shunka's neck, gently scratching the thick ruff and caressing his head, seeking a spark of recognition, some contact, but Shunka had withdrawn into his own nightmare and we had become a part of it."

"That which man cannot control, he destroys," David said. Perhaps. Certainly the wolf represents all that is wild and untamable - always a shadow lurking in the depths of the forest, his eerie, unearthly howl chilling the spine. He gave us his friendship, never his soul - that was always wild and free."

After reading SHUNKA, I knew I had to talk with the author. A phone interview was granted.

 

MARIKA'S STORY
Interview By Sandy Gostel Perkins

Awareness: I notice you no longer live in Canada. I'm sure your life has changed since your experience with Shunka? Where did you and David go from there?
MARIKA: I don't think David and I realized how profoundly Shunka had become our life's focus. After we took Shunka to MacSkimming Outdoor Science School we moved back into the city. Since David and I worked in the film/TV industry, it was only natural that we would make a TV documentary about the school, featuring Shunka romping around with the school children.
After Shunka's move to British Columbia, I began writing the book. It was in the midst of the writing that we got the call telling us that Shunka had been killed. It was on our 6th wedding anniversary. It seemed that many of the locals in the area felt "the only good wolf was a dead wolf".
The shock and sense of helplessness was immense. Our first reaction was the need to somehow avenge Shunka's death - somehow bring his killers to justice. But to the legal system, Shunka's life meant nothing. This was hard to accept. We spent a lot of time and energy pursuing ways to bring this case to court - but in the end, we knew it was over. 

Awareness: And what about you and David?
MARIKA: Soon after that the marriage was over. There was a gradual drifting apart. You didn't talk about things anymore. I was trying to finish the book and David immersed himself in shooting a film. I think that was his way of distancing himself from the pain.
For four years our lives had been intensely focused on Shunka, our relationship became defined by our relationship with Shunka. I don't think either one of us had any emotional energy left to redefine our marriage. After the book was first published in Canada, we separated. I'm still working in the entertainment business and have remarried. My second husband, John Morgan (he also is a cameraman), and I now live in Los Angeles. David stayed on in Toronto, where he produces for film and television. He, too, has remarried.

Awareness: Your story would make a great movie or movie of the week. Your publicist says you are reluctant to do so. Why?
MARIKA: David and I both considered making a film from the book. The difficulty lies in how to present it so that Shunka is portrayed as the playful, affectionate, high-spirited, lovable creature that he was, while at the same time leaving the audience with the message that owning a wolf is a bad idea. People are touched by magical animal stories. But then they want to have a part of that magic in their lives. With a story like Shunka's, you want to show the magic of the story, but you don't want to encourage anyone to repeat it. However, having the right script with the right point of view, combined with the right people producing, it would be wonderful. 

Awareness: How do you think we can stop the business of breeding wolves and dogs?
MARIKA: I don't see an immediate or easy solution. A number of states have legislated that any animal that is part wolf must be defined as a wolf, needing special licensing and breeding requirements. I think the best thing to do is educate people.
David and I did an incredible amount of research on wolves before finding Shunka. Unfortunately, all the books we read portrayed the experience very much like having a very special dog. I don't recall any of them laying out the hardships. It was important for me, in telling Shunka's story, to make sure it was a balanced story - even if we don't always come off in the best light.
I hope anyone contemplating owning a wolf or hybrid will read Shunka's story. Wolves belong in the wild. If you love wolves, work toward saving our diminishing wilderness so that there will always be a place in this world for the wolf. If you feel you need more personal contact, consider financially assisting one of the wildlife havens dedicated to rescuing abandoned wolves and hybrids. I believe in most cases you can even visit your "adopted" wolf.

Awareness: Any final words to our readers?
MARIKA: In retrospect I see that this all started because David and I felt a need to get in touch with our own spiritual natures and from a desire to understand nature a little better. We were naive. So many people today have placed the wolf as a symbol for something mystical and spiritual. Native American spirituality has been embraced because of the Native American connection to nature and creation. But what most people don't understand is that originally wolves were not an enemy to humans. Before the "white man" started hunting wolves, the lone wolf would follow the Native American tribes as a means of survival. The Native Americans were sensitive to the need for all to co-exist and that is exactly what happened.
Because of the current fascination with wolves a friend of mine, Marsha McCreadie, suggested I publish the book again, in the United States. I'm glad she did. Many radio stations have interviewed me, now. And the message is getting out.
Our experience with Shunka brought us a glimpse of the wolf's reality - the wild, untouchable soul of him - it was like a small window into that unbound wildness.

Interviewer's note: After reading SHUNKA and getting to know Marika, I feel she has gifted me with the howl of the wolf in my soul. I invite you to join us.

Marika will be at the Eco Expo (L.A. Convention Center) Awareness Booth #938 on March 22-23 to sign her book and answer your questions about wolves.


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