Bill McKibben describes Tzeporah Berman as ‘a modern environmental hero.’ I like to think of her as a radical pragmatist. “This Crazy Time” is an autobiographical memoir of an effective eco-campaigner who has spent the past 18 years evolving from a student practicing civil disobedience to a key negotiator, leveraging vital policies and agreements with global corporations, government and environmental allies. Berman has been recognized by Utne Reader as one of 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World. This spring she assumed Greenpeace International’s co-head of the climate and energy campaign.
“This Crazy Time” is a direct and personal no-holds bar account, beginning with Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Sound Blockades of 1993—a tipping point in Canada’s environmental movement. Berman was charged with 837 counts of adding and abetting, a formal entre perhaps for a path that is still blazing change today. After years of work on the part of many allied organizations and individuals, over 12 million acres of endangered Canadian rainforest are protected today.
“This Crazy Time” has value just a good read, but it is also equal parts Northwestern Coastal history and activist training guide, as Berman describes in detail the development of her chain-supply research, understanding power dynamics and methodical goal setting. An effective negotiator who sometimes upsets folks on both sides of the fence, Tzeporah frankly states,
“If you’re going to campaign, and protest, and blockade, and do direct actions, you have to be willing to talk to all the players and work out solutions. Otherwise that’s not campaigning, it’s just complaining.”
It is a good ride, from the shores of Clayoquot Sound to the Hollywood Red Carpet Premiere of Leonardo Di Caprio’s environmental documentary “11th Hour”, which included Tzeporah as an expert, on to board rooms of some of the largest lumber companies in North America and to disappointing Copenhagen 2010.
Berman also reports on her direct experience at the Bali Climate Talks, where Canada was voted as the country doing the most to hurt the potential for progress in fighting climate change. Impassioned and practical Berman reminds readers
“We need to remember that a problem without a solution is a tragedy. A problem with a solution that is not being implemented is not a tragedy, it’s a scandal.”
Someday will we reflect ‘on this crazy time’ before we came to terms with creating a global economy which is not based on resource depletion? This vision seems part wistfulness and part hope, but all heart.
See also at crosscut.com