In January 2003 my husband, Martin Palmer, came home to the little cottage we lived in in the Peak District, and said that as part of the World Bank funding of some projects with his charity he had to write a book about what it was all about. They were going to publish it later that year.
He showed me the first draft of his history of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), the charity he had set up with HRH Prince Philip eight years before.
It was nice, I said, and obviously it was amazing for the short amount of time he had available. ”But if the World Bank is going to publish it, couldn’t we write a better book, an engaging one, full of stories that people would actually enjoy reading?”
And he smiled, as if that was what he was hoping I’d say, and asked me if I’d put a bit of time into improving it. “And maybe rewriting,” he said hopefully.
By the end it was completely different. And apparently it was actually a bestseller for the World Bank. It was terrific for the charity: the work of religions on the environment is quite a complicated idea to explain and yet the stories about it are brilliant, and hopefully inspiring. It was also nice to hear from people working at NGOs or the UN or new colleagues, or just people who somehow discovered it, that they had “stayed up all night” reading it. That was probably a bit of an exaggeration, but anyway, it was great to hear!
This month we’ve made it into a pretty pdf as an informal reissue. Originally it had lots of background information, but we’ve taken that out, so it’s just the five main chapters. It’s available in .epub (which I can’t quite work out how to load onto this website), or as a pdf. And remember, the bedbug story is mine.
Here’s an extract from the original blurb:
This book, arising from over 20 years experience of working with the world’s major faiths, draws extensively upon joint World Bank and ARC/WWF projects world wide. It shows, through stories, land management, myths, investment policies, legends, advocacy and celebration, the role the major faiths have, do and can play in making the world a better place. The major faiths are the oldest institutions in the world and have survived essentially because they are constantly evolving and changing. There is much to be learnt by newer institutions such as the World Bank and the multitudes of NGOs about how to remain true to what you believe but change and grow as you develop. The book explores issues of climate change, forestry, asset management, education and biodiversity protection and does so using the techniques of the great faiths – storytelling, example and celebration. It reveals a variety of world views and it asks us to see that our personal view may be just one amongst many.”