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Book Notes: How Vermont Got Green

The authors of Greening Vermont, a new book put out by North Pomfret’s Thistle Hill Publications, will talk about their work in Woodstock this evening.

Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State, is a snapshot of the development of environmental conscience and policy in Vermont over the past 50 years. Authors Elizabeth Courtney and Eric Zencey have been at the center of that project. Courtney was the longest-serving director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, and Zencey is a fellow of the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.

Their book illuminates the changes Vermont has undergone since the arrival of the interstate highways. Although Vermont was a pleasant state in the first half of the 20th century, it was mostly a poor one. The interstates and the concurrent development of ski areas brought an influx of people to the state, reversing decades of population decline.

Greening Vermont features interviews and short profiles of people who led the charge to preserve the state’s natural resources and agricultural land, starting with an overview written by Tom Slayton that encompasses Woodstock’s central role not only in Vermont’s environmental movement but in the history of ecology more broadly. Woodstock’s George Perkins Marsh, who noticed the erosion that followed the clear-cutting of the state’s forests in the 18th and 19th centuries, is widely considered the father of ecology, and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, the first national park dedicated to teaching conservation, bears his name.

Courtney and Zencey envision Vermont’s environmental movement as a long, slow walk toward sustainability, the establishment of an economy that works hand in hand with the environment. Their assessment is at once hopeful and sobering.

Tonight’s talk, at 6:30, takes place in the mezzanine of Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library and is sponsored by Thistle Hill’s Jack Crowl and the Yankee Bookshop.

∎ Hanover’s Howe Library holds its Books and Lunch on Tuesday discussion next week with a conversation about The Hare With Amber Eyes, in which ceramicist Edmund de Waal writes about a collection of netsuke, miniature figures carved in Japan, that leads to an exploration of his Russian Jewish family history. The discussion is scheduled for noon to 1 and copies of the book are available at the library.

Also at the Howe, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, recent Dartmouth College graduate Elizabeth Faiella gives a talk titled “Acts of Peace: Conscientious Objectors in World War II New Hampshire.”

A native of Northwood, N.H., Faiella is spending a year as a Dartmouth fellow expanding the work of her undergraduate thesis, on the subject of conscientious objectors in New Hampshire who volunteered to participate in medical research. In her talk, Faiella is researching, and will discuss, a forestry work camp in Thornton, N.H., that was home to 12,000 conscientious objectors from around the country. Her talk is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Authors, bookstores, libraries, send information about readings, lectures and other events to ahanson@vnews.com.