Believers by Lisa Wells | Black Inc.

Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World


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About the author

Lisa Wells

Lisa Wells is a poet and writer of nonfiction from Portland, Oregon. Her debut collection of poetry, The Fix, won the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have been widely published, including in The New York Times and Harper’s …

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Praise for Believers

‘You know that beautiful moment when you are walking with someone, you put out your hand and without even looking, the other person takes it? Reading Believers is like that. Brave, fascinating and honest, Lisa Wells not only documents a generation on the precipice of climate change and all the necessary truth-telling that comes with understanding such destruction, but she has done so with warmth and intimacy, as if to say, “Whatever happens, let’s face it together.”’ —Anna Krien, author Night Games and Act of Grace

‘We are living in an extreme moment, and one where it’s very hard to know what effective action looks like against crises of a scale we’ve not before encountered. These accounts of people trying to grapple with that reality are sometimes inspiring and often cautionary, and always a spur to thinking about how the rest of us might accomplish the most we can.’ —Bill McKibben, author Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

‘Lisa Wells invites us into an astonishingly rich traverse through the back-blocks of an empire in decay. Populated by an unforgettable cast of loners, losers, visionaries and people just doing their best, Wells is somehow able to capture the immensity of the moment in the smallest of details. Believers sandblasts back the surface layers of superficial western “environmentalism” to reveal lineages of protection and defiance hundreds of generations deep. Real change never comes from the sensible centre, but from the raggedy edge; on these broken terrains, Wells is the best guide we could have hoped for. Wry, fierce and scathingly honest: for anyone who needs a shot of hope in these sideways times, take a road trip in the company of genuine Believers.’ —Scott Ludlam, author of Full Circle, former Senator and Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens

Believers is meticulously researched and reasoned and lays out a vast and sophisticated vision like no other writer since Charles Bowden … If some measure of a book’s importance is the noise it makes when it falls in the forest, this project reminds me of The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, for the conversations that will surely follow. An essential document of our time.’ —Charles D’Ambrosio, author of Loitering

‘Landscape is often merely an aesthetic, a pleasant or foreboding backdrop, but the historical human relationship to land itself defines cultures and has told us who we are.  When humans betray that relationship, as we have, the culture suffers. The desire to repair the bond between humans and the landscape has led to all manner of sympathetic and idealistic efforts, and also leads to one premise of this adventurous and outlandish book. But Believers goes much farther and asks us to imagine a relationship to the land that precedes human memory; an act that requires us to shed our idealism in favor of a more radical leap of faith. In that wild leap this book transcends its tragic-comic eccentricities and its rich narrative to arrive, miraculously, a few steps down the path to wisdom.  In such a journey the sacred and the profane cannot part company – instead they walk side by side.’ —Maurice Manning, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author of Railsplitter

‘Idealism and egos clash horns in Lisa Wells’ fascinating odyssey into the hidden worlds of fringe-dwelling environmentalists. Equally adept at detailing the ferocity and fervor of her human subjects as the botanical beauty of the land itself, Wells is a trustworthy guide into this wilderness.’ —Jenny Valentish, author of Woman of Substances and Everything Harder Than Everyone Else