Ann Dale's Books

Books on Biodiversity


As Canadians, we are faced with a choice: do we continue to allow communities to merely survive or can we help them to thrive? Dr. Ann Dale has dedicated her life to studying Canadian communities and how they can transition towards more sustainable development paths. Since publishing her book At the Edge over fifteen years ago, her new book chronicles the various options that Canadians have to leap forward and actively implement sustainable community development practices. But what factors are stopping Canadian communities? How can a single ‘story’ dominate our development? What are the barriers and drivers and how do we reconcile competing agendas, and vested interests against changing the single story?

Once again, Dr. Dale draws upon both the personal and the professional to discuss her own journey in reconciliation, reconnection and the power of relationships and ultimately love and compassion as one of the most important pathways for transforming human development. With 10-years of new research backed by many social innovations and progress in implementing sustainable community development, Dr. Dale concludes that there is hope but there is much more to do. As a country, we’re only edging forward when we need to be leaping forward.

 “Throughout this story is embedded the importance of storytelling, how a story’s frame can either empower or disempower us in our belief that we can make a difference in our own lives, in our communities, to become more sustainable.”
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What is everyone else is saying?

A remarkable book about the power of stories, love, human innovation and the critical need for the world to leap forward in a post-truth era. Dale offers tools and solutions for transformational change, to build resilient communities that will allow us all to live in a climate-safe world while preserving what's left of that which truly interconnects us all: the earth's wondrous biodiversity. 
Rebecca Foon, Urban Planner, Co-Founder of Pathway to Paris and internationally acclaimed cellist, winner of the 2014 Juno award for her band Esmerine
"Storytelling is powerful – a first step to understanding the other. Whether drawn from childhood fables or alarming current affairs and a broad professional network of sociologists, ecologists and economists this collection informs and thoughtfully exposes the patterns of relationships that can guide positive societal change. What courage it took for Ann Dale to share an intensely personal journey. It teaches us much about resilience and empathy."
Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
"A wonderful book that is most simply stated but unbelievably complex. It is no small feat to articulate such interrelated themes—story, science, and the personal."
Dr. Mary Bernard, Associate Vice-President Research, Royal Roads University
"Ann Dale's new book Edging Forward is both brave and bold. She bravely faces the loss of her beloved son, with great struggle to courageously create a Plan B based on love and hope. Ann also boldly, though lucid and clear storytelling, calls for a leap forward to develop a sustainability ethos, protect and enhance biodiversity, and deal with climate change and global warming."
The Honourable Mike Harcourt, Former premier of British Columbia, mayor of Vancouver
"In this thought-provoking book, Dr. Ann Dale builds on her more than 30 years of experience in government and academia to advocate awareness and adoption of sustainable practices. Ann frames her message of engagement in familiar stories from childhood, and brings in voices from the Indigenous and displaced as well as her own research in sustainable communities. This book is both information rich and a joy to read."
Dr. Valerie Behan-Pelletier, Co-author Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas Research Associate, Canadian National Collection

Chapter 1: The Loss of the Dragons

"This beginning chapter is about how the loss of magic and mystery in our stories, the “soft stuff,” has influenced our capacity to change. It is hard for a pointy-headed academic, particularly in the social sciences, to discuss emotions. We so often have to defend ourselves from the rigour and the supposed greater validity (read certainty and proof) of the natural sciences versus the social sciences, the hard sciences over the soft. It is this kind of polarizing story that keeps us mired in repeating the same old, same old. Regardless, I believe that the chief engine of change is understanding how the stories that inform our conversations and our culture have a profound influence on our future and the future of the planet. Cultural meanings are transmitted through our stories; therefore, listening to multiple stories amplified across diverse media and advertising platforms is key to leaping rather than edging forward toward the transformative changes we now need in Canada and the world."

Chapter 2: Going Down the Wrong Rabbit Hole

"What lessons can we learn from this long-term denial of evidence to avoid staying down wrong rabbit holes too long in the future? There are complex vested interests in favour of maintaining the status quo, despite the scientific evidence, the augmenting consensus from civil society that we need to change, and the increasing sophistication of our use of Internet communication technologies (ICTs). These technologies are capable of accelerating the speed of knowledge take-up, of connecting diverse groups of people in novel ways and passing information on complex social issues more rapidly. What are some of the barriers that prevent us from quickly leaving dysfunctional rabbit holes? How can we accelerate the speed of the tipping points we are now seeing on climate change?"

Chapter 3: Beauty and the Beast

"Because all of our current growth has been at the expense of persistent and continual ecological decline, the bigger we “grow,” the less space we leave for other creatures. Habitats become more fragmented, giving other species less and less freedom. And the bigger we “grow” through industrial globalization with economic systems no longer connected to place, to communities, the more homogenized our societies are becoming."

Chapter 4: Three Little Pigs

"The way we design our neighbourhoods and our cities shapes our habits, affects our health, and our relationships to one another and to our sense of place. If you don’t know a place, you can’t love it, and you won’t save it. This applies equally to biodiversity; if you have no opportunity to see flora and fauna, to experience wilderness, to feel the wind rustling through the trees, the sun on your face, or watch creatures in a stream. We can redesign our built environment to reintegrate nature and biodiversity into our lived urban experiences."

Chapter 5: Charlotte’s Web

"For me, a web pictorially shows the meaning of community, but more importantly, the meaning of being in community. Isn’t a community simply about relationships, not just with our own, but also with other species? They are about connections, both place-based and virtual. Since we humans are biologically driven to seek connection and have needs for bonding and social capital connections, the design and redesign of the physical space of our neighbourhoods and our cities is vital for enabling diverse relationships to occur. And if we value and wish to continue to share our space with other species, we need to take into account their needs for space and place, as well as our own."

Chapter 6: The Three Trolls under the Bridge

"The definition of human well-being is at the heart of the matter. The relevance of economic performance is that it must be viewed as a means to an end and that the market is an imperfect allocation mechanism. That end is neither the consumption of beef burgers, nor the accumulation of television sets, nor the control of inflation rates, but rather the welfare of human societies. Some argue that economic performance matters only insofar as it makes people happier. A broader concept of wellbeing requires a more complex and nuanced analysis, provided through a recent burst of research into what factors support happiness and how this relates to economic growth, as well as broadened mainstream measures of what constitutes progress beyond the GDP."

Chapter 7: The Knights of the Round Table

"A more engaged, connected Canadian government that’s smarter about what it does, connected and communicating with its citizens through diverse channels, using big data to enhance civic literacy, is a better alternative to the use of referenda, competing trends toward authoritarianism, illiteracy, neglect of facts and evidence, and growing public distrust. Let’s start with a House of Commons transformed to lead experiential and conversational public spaces, reintroducing civil discourse and literacy. We all need to learn our paths forward as we collectively continue to search for solutions to climate-change adaptation and mitigation, a carbon-neutral economy, and become a world leader in sustainable community development—sustainability for all, not some."

Chapter 8: The Wizard of Oz

"Throughout this story is embedded the importance of storytelling, how a story’s frame can either empower or disempower us in our belief that we can make a difference in our own lives, in our communities, to become more sustainable. We are biologically driven social animals, and storytelling is a social act in and of itself through which we share cultural meaning and purpose."

Other Ann Dale Books