NetworkNature Reads: A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Clotilde Mahe
20 May 2024

What is NetworkNature Reads?

#NetworkNatureReads is inspired by #ReadingRainbow and the #NewYorkTimes #ByTheBook series, both of which spread a love of reading by highlighting standout books and the people who love them. Our goal is to do the same, but with a #naturebasedsolutions flavor. Every month, we will feature one book selected by a NetworkNature member.  We believe that literature widens perspectives and can foster connection between human and environmental communities. Read Wild Geese by Mary Oliver if you aren’t sure what we mean.

This month’s interviewee is  Clotilde Mahé. Originally from Brittany in France, Clotilde has ample experience in European sustainability communication and brings together learners of all levels in the NbS EduWORLD project where she leads Communication work to connect educators to Nature-based Solutions. When she is off of work, you will find her playing board games, exploring nature and sharing a meal with friends.

Want to feature a book on NetworkNature Reads? Contact to find out how!

Book: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Tell us about yourself! What role do nature and reading play in your life?

I work as a Communications Expert and in my free time, I am an addict reader. Nothing helps me change my perspective, experience other lives and the diversity of human emotions quite like reading. I also love to read in and about nature!

Which book did you pick and why?

When I first heard about the #NetworkNatureReads campaign, A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers is one of the two titles that immediately came to my mind. It is a science fiction novella which relates the encounter of Dex, a tea monk traveling between human communities, and a robot, several hundred years after the robots left human society to live in the wilderness. I picked this book because it represents a positive and hopeful illustration of how to live in harmony with nature.

Can you share a specific moment from the book that resonates with you personally? How does it connect to your work with Nature-based Solutions projects?

I especially enjoyed all the conversations between the robot and the monk where it appears that the robot knows a lot more and is a lot closer to nature than the monk. The robot (named Splendid Speckled Mosscap) accepts natural elements as they are, while Dex is often suspicious and occasionally afraid. It shows an interesting relationship between technology and nature. This world is rewilding after a near disaster, and it turns out nature has all the solutions for a greener society, while people are the ones who need help, as shown by the question that Mosscap tries to find an answer to: “What do people need?”.

In what ways do you see the themes or lessons from the book aligning with the goals of conservation and the challenges we face in combating biodiversity loss today? 

Throughout the book, the values of respect for nature, sustainable living, and mindfulness are encouraged - principles that are essential in addressing the issue of biodiversity loss. The society depicted in the book practices sustainability and minimal environmental impact. They live in small agrarian communities and exchange goods and services instead of money. The lasting impression that novella left on me is that we need a change in our societies and lifestyles to also efficiently change our relationship with nature.

If you were recommending this book to a colleague or a friend within the conservation community, what key takeaway or message would you highlight?

I discovered A Psalm for the Wild-Built as I was looking for a book that doesn't talk about major societal issues such as climate change or gender inequality (as I concern myself with these issues every day, I need a break now and then). I found this and much more in A Psalm for the Wild-Built, which presents an optimistic vision of a sustainable future, and refuses climate pessimism. It is a witty, feel-good and poetic read I can only recommend.

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