by Barbara Ras, Director of Trinity University Press
On a pristine New England evening in January, with snowfall clinging to every tree branch and every twig in a windless, sparkling confection, sixty guests made their way to Millstone Farm, in Wilton, Conn., to join in a book salon dedicated to Trinity University Press’s book–MORAL GROUND: ETHICAL ACTION FOR A PLANET IN PERIL, edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson. The editors, two environmental philosophers and thought leaders, gathered more than 80 visionaries in this original and compelling work to address some of the compelling ethical questions of our time, which might be summed up by asking, Is climate change fundamentally a moral crisis?
Last Saturday, Betsy and Jesse Fink provided the venue, complete with food prepared by master chef Brian Lewis, who demonstrated that using locally grown produce and products can indeed raise the local to a high art. Tables decorated with flora from a variety of ecosystems underscored our biotic wealth that deserves preservation. I felt privileged to sit at a table adorned with tropical plants–orchids and other bromeliads–species that speak to my own love affair with the tropics.
The occasion was stunning for its high spirits, engendered by the Finks’ hospitality and the lovely setting, and for the serious and sometimes challenging messages delivered by the five contributors to MORAL GROUND, each speaking from his or her unique perspectives.
Jesse Fink spoke about the essential relationship between capital investment, corporate responsibility, and capitalism’s essential requirement to accommodate a new world — one challenged by ever-changing needs — and to acknowledge our time as a tipping point for corporate responsibility.
Mary Evelyn Tucker spoke about the sacred waters of India–how rivers can be both revered and polluted at the same time. She asked, poignantly, how we can preserve the purity and holiness of waters that have graced our planet for millennia.
Marty Kaplan invoked Aldo Leopold, the elder most oft-quoted in Moral Ground. How, he asked, can we save something–land, ecosystems, species–unless we devote ourselves to them with reverence?
Stephen R. Kellert spoke compellingly about biodiversity and our need to have creatures in the natural world teach us lessons about what it means to be human.
Jonathan Rose spoke eloquently about his friendship and history with Jesse Fink, and his experiences with ecofriendly and sustainable urban, real estate development.