Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics, by Heather Lende {ends 7/7}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Some people can create a conflict out of anything. During the public hearing on an otherwise popular proposal to ban plastic shopping bags that I had sponsored at the request of the sixth grade class and Haines Friends of Recycling, one newer assembly member exploded. (There are annual elections for two of the six assembly seats; some members have remained and some have left during my three-year term.) The self-proclaimed progressive said that the ordinance did not go far enough and that all single-use plastic items in Haines should be banned or taxed so high that no one would use them, ever! Then another assembly member argued against the exemption for plastic bags that hold fish, meat, or bulk items like rice and candy. The ordinance was saved when we all took an imaginary trip to the store with our cloth bag, and pictured ourselves dropping in a piece of chicken, a bunch of grapes, and a scoop of rice, until everyone broke into fits of laughter and the original bag measure passed. And, yes, we all agreed that there was much more work to do to eliminate plastics from the environment but at least we had begun. Right here in Haines.

Heather Lende, the author, has been a resident of Haines, a small town in Alaska, for most of her adult life. She’s written a few books about her life there.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics, by Heather Lende {ends 7/7}
The writer whom the Los Angeles Times calls “part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott” now brings us her quirky and compassionate account of holding local office.

Heather Lende was one of the thousands of women inspired to take a more active role in politics during the past few years. Though her entire campaign for assembly member in Haines, Alaska, cost less than $1,000, she won! But tiny, breathtakingly beautiful Haines—a place accessible from the nearest city, Juneau, only by boat or plane—isn’t the sleepy town that it appears to be: from a bitter debate about the expansion of the fishing boat harbor to the matter of how to stop bears from rifling through garbage on Main Street to the recall campaign that targeted three assembly members, including Lende, we witness the nitty-gritty of passing legislation, the lofty ideals of our republic, and how the polarizing national politics of our era play out in one small town.

With an entertaining cast of offbeat but relatable characters, Of Bears and Ballots is an inspirational tale about what living in a community really means, and what we owe one another.

Lende knew what she was getting into when she ran for a position as an assembly member. Her husband had been an assembly member years earlier, and she had friends who were assembly members. Her book wasn’t so much about being an assembly member as it was about her perspective. She speculates that the climate of politics has gotten nastier as poor behavior has become more acceptable at higher levels. While observing this, she doesn’t want the negativity to outweigh all her positive relationships with other citizens of Haines who may not share political viewpoints, but still have to share their small town.

The best part about this book was Lende’s positive, yet realistic outlook. She shared some of the notes she made to herself for dealing with opposition in the assembly meetings. ‘Think, wait, and be quiet.’ She learned quickly that things she said that felt totally right would be taken differently by someone with a different perspective. The way she told it all made patience and grace sound like something that could help everyone.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to find a better view of the world through new eyes.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mom and reader. She also talks about playing the flute and doing counted cross-stitch. Both of those activities are more talk than action. Read more posts about her life at SweetlyBSquared.com.


Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of Of Bears and Ballots!

Enter to win via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, July 7th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Of Bears and Ballots, by Heather Lende


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