Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Found: The Orion Society

A while back I was passing by my neighborhood Free Books Library. Now - this is not a branch of the public library that probably comes to your mind. This is an impromtu offering of books and magazines that sponatenously appears on the stoop of an Upper West Side residence(West 88th, between Amsterdam and Columbus, on the south side, more precisely).

It seems that the owner of the building, a brick rowhouse, allows another person(who manages a thrift store)to place books there so he can reduce the excess number of donations he receives at the shop. He simply gets so many books that he's unable to moove them through the store. So, he puts out a selection of ten to twenty books on this stoop every week or so.

Being an unstopable reader, I take advantage. The books are often old classics but sometimes they're lesser titles; things I'd never pay for, even at a used book store. But put them out for free and suddenly the Howard Stern and Monica Lewinsky biographies(both of which I found there) are worth taking a look at. I've also found The Nanny Diaries from these stacks(okay, I admit...and I took and read it). There have been how-to's on subjects like basketmaking and photography, wordy, weighty "what's wrong with the government" best-sellers, and historical accounts of various cultures around the world. Also paperback editions of good old reads - Mark Twain, Collete, Hemingway and many other wonderful pieces of literature; there is usually good stuff, left for the taking.

Back to where I started..... A few weeks ago, as I rounded the corner and noticed....books! I hurried my pace. Because I was currently without a lover(yes....I am a booklover; there are many worse things one could be), and here I was, about to entertain multiple options. I wanted first pick before some stranger swooped in and snapped up my first choice....

My eyes scanned the selection quickly, and landed on a slim magazine, obviously an arty publication. The cover featured a beautiful photo of a snow owl of some sort. My mother had saved a baby owl once(well....saved him for a few days; people didn't know to call animal sanctuaries back in the 60's. At least farm people from Wisconsin didn't). I have been enthralled by owls ever since I spent those days with little Hoot.

Noticing there were several issues of the publication, each with a cover more intriging than the last, I found myself in a quandary. Not wanting to miss out on something potentially very good, I als didn't want to be a hog and take the entire bunch if, upon later inspection, I found myself uninterested after all.

Then, a headline on one of the issues - "Edward Abbey ~ The Unpublished Letters" - caught my attention. I had heard of this guy, and I wanted to know more! So, I decided to choose that issue from the group, take a gander, and then decide whether to take or leave the rest.

Walking down the street and thumbing through the pages, I quickly realized that I had stumbled across something very good. The magazine was put out by a group called the Orion Society and it was fabulaous reading, on subjects galore. Big news, for a person interested in the natural world around themselves. I can see how a "be a jerk/go to work/get a job and do it right/life's a ball/tv tonight" sort of drone would be bored....(That's reference to a Frank Zappa song, by the way)...but you wouldn't be here, right now, if you were that sort;I know that.

So - I continue.

Click that last link and see for yourself! You can come back here some other time. This is too important to miss. you've returned(or haven't left like I said to). Did I lie? Of course not! The Orion Society is damned cool, and a wonderful resource populated by interesting writers, artists, experts and educators. It's not propaganda for the masses. They don't tell you what to think but rather ask "What DO you think?"

That bears repeating: WHAT DO YOU THINK? And what's more - What are you going to do about it? The Orion Society isn't going to do it for you; what they do is offer plenty of opportunites - to learn, to ponder, to experience, to act.

In case you stayed here with me, I will give a bit of an idea as to what's in that website, that I feel is important for you to know about.

First - their mission statement: The Orion Society's mission
is to inform, inspire, and engage individuals and grassroots organizations in becoming a significant cultural force for healing nature and community.

Next is the entertainment portion of the program, the magazine, which was what piqued my interest in the first place. Obviously, there is a paper subscription of the thing available, and I think it is well worth the price. But they offer an incredible amount of content right here online. Many of the articles have discussion available to, which alleviates any reason to feel alienated or pandered to. Don't agree? Have further thoughts? Just speak up say so!

The Grassroots Network portion of the site includes a list Jobs and Internships that is a great resource if you're looking to work with a group focused on helping nature deal with human impact.

I could go on....but it seems that the site I publish through is...having some serious issues today. I have written a LOT more about this topic but there seems to be a ghost in the machine. It saves the draft, and then...the saved version disappears, and I am back to a version I had....AN HOUR AGO! What a drag.

So - take my word for it, and please DO check out the links I mentioned. I'll probably come back at another time and mention the items, because I really do feel this is a great resource that has not gotten enough notice.

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