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About the Book

Wilderness, Water, and Rust: A Journey toward Great Lakes Resilience asks us to consider what we value about life in the Great Lakes region and how caring for its remarkable ecosystems might help us imagine new, whole futures. Weaving together memories from her life in the upper Midwest with nearly fifty years of environmental policy advocacy work, Jane Elder provides a uniquely moving insider’s perspective into the quest to protect the Great Lakes and surrounding public lands, from past battles to protect Michigan wilderness and shape early management strategies for the national lakeshores to present fights against toxic pollution and climate change. She argues that endless cycles of resource exploitation and boom and bust created a ‘rust belt’ legacy that still threatens our capacity for resilience. The author lays out the challenges that lie ahead and invites us to imagine bold new strategies through which we might thrive.

Pre-order now for April 1, 2024 release through Michigan State University Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble at $39.95,  ISBN: 9781611864885

Book Cover

Comments and Reviews

“Jane Elder has been at the center of the struggle to protect the Great Lakes for four decades. Her memoir is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. While not overlooking setbacks and defeats, Jane, in exquisite prose, provides hope for the Great Lakes, the planet, and ourselves.”

—Dave Dempsey, author of Half Wild: People, Dogs, and Environmental Policy and The Heart of the Lakes: Freshwater in the Past, Present, and Future of Southeast Michigan, and former policy advisor, International Joint Commission.

“This book combines the author’s personal experience of the environment with the social, political and economic changes in the Great Lakes region. Detailed campaign anecdotes combine with her humour to effectively convey insights about the Great Lakes and about campaigning. Her valuable lesson? —Action must include the four traits of wonder, love, grit and wisdom. What a great lesson for all of us.”

—John Jackson, Great Lakes activist working across the Canada-U.S. border on Great Lakes environmental issues for the past forty years with groups such as Great Lakes United and the Great Lakes Ecoregion Network. 

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