Thursday, May 20, 2010

Guest Post and Giveaway: Frances Moore Lappé, Author of Getting a Grip 2: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want

I’m thrilled to be able to offer you this guest post by Frances Moore Lappé, author of Getting a Grip 2: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want (read my review).

None of us gets up in the morning vowing, “Today, I’m going to make sure another child starves.” And no one turns off the alarm asking, “How do I heat the planet?”

But that’s exactly what we’re doing.

So what could be powerful enough to have us creating a world not one of us would ever choose?

Ideas! Human beings, uniquely, see through a mental map. It determines, literally, what we can see, what we believe our own nature to be and therefore what is possible.

Now that’s okay, if our framing lens serves life. But I believe we’re alive in an era in which the dominant mental map, going global, is destroying life… creating a downward spiral that’s brought us to this crazy place: Where solutions abound yet we’re convinced we’re powerless to bring them to life!

And what’s at the center of this spiral of powerlessness?

Lack. The belief that there’s not enough of anything. Not enough goods—energy, food or parking spots in Boston. And not enough goodness, for at heart we humans are just “selfish little shoppers.” Once believing this about ourselves, of course we believe we can’t come together to solve problems. You know… democracy? We’re too flawed. Best turn over our fate to an automatic law to sort out outcomes for us—the “magic of the market,” Reagan called it.

Markets are great. But unfortunately for us we’ve fallen for one peculiar version of a market, one driven by a single rule—highest return to existing wealth, corporate chiefs and shareholders. But wait! Didn’t we all play Monopoly?

At the end of the night one person (in my home, my brother!) had all the best property while I couldn’t even afford Baltic Avenue. That’s not too bad in a game—at least I got to go to bed at the end of the night. But in real life? Not so good. We end up with what in 2005 Citigroup glowingly named plutonomy… where the top one percent of U.S. households has as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

And the bad news doesn’t stop there. Tightly held financial power morphs into political power. For every single law maker there are two dozen lobbyists, mostly serving corporate interests working the halls of Congress.

FDR warned us: “[T]he liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism…” That was 1938. And here we are.

Starting with the false premise of scarcity of both goods and goodness, we end up actually manifesting lack—as now half of American children depend on food stamps at some point in their childhood. And we end up with the ultimate oxymoron: “privately held government.”

So, from the premise of lack, we’ve deprived ourselves of the very tool we need to make a planetary turn toward life: true, Living Democracy. To break free, we must ditch the sweet notion “seeing is believing.” For our species, it’s the opposite: Believing is seeing. So the challenge? To believe in a world actually aligned with our real nature.

Its premise is… possibility.

And that starts with embracing all of who we are—the good, the bad and the very ugly. To align with all of our nature, we can identify the conditions that bring out the worst; and, by flipping them, create the conditions proven to bring out the best. And it’s happening—as real, Living Democracy is emerging.

My argument here is that we live in an era where the dominant mental map is life destroying. What can we as individuals do to create a frame that it is life supporting? What are the conditions shown to bring out the worst in us? And how do we create the opposite to bring out the best, to create a world we really want?


The Small Planet Institute has offered to send a signed copy of Getting a Grip 2: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want to one of my readers. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only (no P.O. boxes). I will accept entries until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Friday, June 21.

To enter the giveaway:

Answer one of Ms. Lappé’s questions at the end of her post OR tell me why you want to read this book.

If you are a follower or subscriber, please let me know and I will give you another entry.

Please be sure to provide me with a way of getting in touch with you. Entries that fail to answer one of the questions or that don’t provide a blog link or email address will be disqualified.

Good luck!



  1. I would love the chance to read this one. I subscribe in Google Reader. I'm currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma which has me thinking a lot about the food we eat in this country and how it comes to our table. This book seems to dovetail nicely with what I am studying right now. Thanks for the chance to win and the guest post!

  2. Sounds like a fascinating book! To answer one of Ms Lappe's questions - to create a world we really want, I think it's important to make conscious choices every day. Don't just accept the status quo or use the "everyone is doing it excuse". Everyone can make a change - all it takes is small steps.

  3. I subscribe by email.

  4. No need to enter me, doll. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

  5. I just added both Getting A Grip books to my wish list on Goodreads. Ms. Lappe sounds like me when I'm on my soap box!

    Great blog, also. I'm now a follower.

    And thank you, Susan, for pointing me this way on your West Of Mars blog!

  6. I think the best way to create a better world is to make sure that our individual actions are kind and in support of those around us, including the environment. Thanks!

  7. Reading both your review and this post reminds me of a study by Barry Hewlett a friend mentioned to me (you can see my friend's blog at, in which Hewlett describes how hunter-gatherer societies have a "mental map" (world view) of abundance, whereas our modern society--with all its gadgets, goods, consumer society, and the common wisdom that without it we would surely have so much lower standards of living--has a world view of scarcity.

    So to answer the last question from Frances Moore-Lappé, I think we create the best world, the one that we want, by talking about it, visualizing it in common with other people, in conversation, in activism/action, in letters, stories, dreams, wishes...we create it by checking out of our gym memberships and into our community garden plots!

    As I said to my seven-year-old daughter recently, it's easier to replace a thought than to make it go away, so when you're afraid of the dark or tired of the new world order, you need to use your imagination and put something different in there.

    Such visions are risk-taking, so I also think a part of the change is cultivating good-news stories, to boost our hopes, and as well we need to allow ourselves to feel sorrow for the bad news stories...because what we are facing is so big.

    Enter me for the giveaway!

  8. I would absolutely love to get a chance to read this -I just finished reading Tristram Stuart's "Waste" and it totally changed the way I think about food. I'm incredibly interested in learning about new ways to help improve the world, and I know the way to bring out the best in myself is through education. I'm a college student, but I'm also a major autodidact -I actively seek out supplementary learning and opportunities to become passionate about new things. This looks like the book for me.

    Great giveaway.

  9. Getting a Grip 2 by F. Lappe sounds like a book to get you motivated. I belong to one of the largest Canadian women's lobby groups that is able to obtain meetings with the PM. It's too bad that there aren't more people who have the same opinions as Lappe. If that were true our world would be in a much better state. I would really enjoy reading this book. Thanks for promoting it on your blog.

  10. Hi. I'm a follower as MarionG on GFC.

  11. I would like to read this book because it seems very interesting.

  12. Please enter me for the giveaway (not that I need another book, sigh... I'm also a follower!)

    I'd like to read this book both personally and professionally - my work involves giving advice to decision-makers on topics relating to science and technology and I think this book would give me ideas (and courage!) to give advice that can make more of a difference.


  13. I read a quote where someone saw Diogenes eating a humble meal of lentils and told him, "If you were subservient to the king, you would not need to live on lentils."

    Diogenes replied, "Learn to live on lentils, and you will not need to be subservient to the king."

    That was what came to mind when the review mentioned poverty and scarcity. I try to be careful both with my resources and the environment by reusing as much as I can, from clothes to bubble wrap, but I could definitely use more ideas and inspiration.


    mdperera at hotmail dot com

  14. I would love to read this because I look for books that inspire change in myself and make a differance, that after reading it gives you new ideas

  15. Wow, excellent post, excellent comments, wonderful giveaway. Very thought-provoking. I don't know the answers to those questions. In fact, I've been getting more discouraged year by year as I see the way the world seems to be going (and I use the word "seems" purposefully based on the ideas I got from post and comments). As I near retirement, I am thinking more and more of what I can do to change the world and my attitude toward it, as well as what to do to make my own footprint smaller. Ms. Lappé’s books might just have some answers, or at least point me in the right direction. I'd love to win, but, whether I do or not, I'll be reading them. (BTW, I've still got a dog-eared "Diet for a Small Planet" and a dog-eared and food-stained "Recipes for a Small Planet" on my booksheves. Wonderful books.)

    Oh, and, yes, I follow your blog via Google Reader.