Book Review: ‘Finding Earth, Finding Soul’ by Tim Macartney

I enjoyed finishing this book the other day, which I had started a few months back then discontinued. I was inspired to synchronise my reading of the second half with an escalation in my efforts to launch my blog and further, a fledgeling business inspired by the blog (coming very soon). To add to the synchronicity, I saw my good friend Jenny, who lent me the book; I don’t see her often these days. She told me of her time at Embercombe -the house and gardens in Devon, not far from me, that were bestowed on ‘Mac’ (the book author) as a thank you to him and his company ‘Pathways’ for helping businesses work with more integrity and connection to Nature.

The essence of the synchronicity is that I am striving to launch a business in a way that is deeply respectful of, even repairing of, the environment, as well as inspiring social justice for disadvantaged groups in society. I am striving to use all the entrepreneurial savvy available to me, but in an ethical way. Similarly, Tim ‘Mac’ Macartney, with Pathways, attempted to bridge the gaps between the corporate world, and eco-spiritual integrity; authentic and ethical leadership. I personally am scathing of corporatism and wonder whether Mac was wasting his time with these big actors complicit in the global destruction of the environment. For me, the end of corporatism is necessary if we are to move on, constructively and healthily as a species. I do think there are exceptions: ‘Transition Corporations’ that would have obsolescence designed into them; special rafts to carry us from here to there, using the power of capitalism to transform or even end capitalism.

Nevertheless in ‘Finding Earth…’ with his very poetic and Nature-inspired language, and his revelation that he started his ‘invisible path of authentic leadership’ as an anti-corporate gardener in a business development centre, Mac has shown me that, underdog though I may be, I am capable of mixing in a variety of different circles, including corporate if necessary, to help make the changes that I see need to be made. My poetry and deep connection to Nature can be a help -actually must be at the core of my directed action- even in the most capitalist of contexts. But I need to find some courage!

I was also impressed in the book by the willingness of Mac and his Pathways business team to take risks on a human rather than purely financial basis. There is the incredible story of Dorota, a Polish woman in her 20’s with no business experience. Based on her heartfelt longings for purpose and her belief in Pathways, Mac took a massive risk in supporting her wish to develop ‘Pathways Poland’, which then happened (after a bit of a shaky start).

I also take as a timely warning Mac’s early idealism. He had ‘plenty of dreams, plans and ambitions’, he writes, but it came to a point where he realised he needed to act. Ideals can drive us and guide us, but if they are not grounded in what can be done in the here-and-now, then they can be counterproductive -an escape. I know this only too well, but I’m working on it.

There are a few other moments in the book which really stood out for me. Some are autobiographical incidents -including one very dramatic life-focusing event- and others are more points of wisdom and philosophy, along with the standard call to heroic action that is the feature of any environmentally aware book written in the past decade or so.

I was also pleased to read about Mac’s awareness of feminist issues, although he could have gone deeper.

Essentially, Mac seems to agree with the basic tenets of The Evidence section of Epic Tomorrows; he says that we are in ‘crisis’ as a species due to our degrading of our planet home, and quotes politicians who agree. He includes climate change and biodiversity loss in his assessment. But this was back in 2007. Things have gotten worse since then.


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