Scituate Reads Together: Let's Talk About Climate Change

Community Discussion September 29 @ 7 p.m. via Zoom
Register for the Zoom link:

How do we talk to our friends and family about climate change? What are our greatest hopes and fears when we consider the impacts? Who will be most impacted here in Scituate and across the globe? What can we do to feel empowered, prepared, and resilient?Book Jacket with Pulitzer Prize Finalist emblem

Join the Scituate Town Library as we discuss excerpts from the book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush

Rush's highly readable and lyrical prose explores topics of climate justice, resilience, and acceptance of uncertainty by centering the voices of communities already feeling significant impacts of sea level rise. Rush's vignettes are crafted with relatable science and much-needed empathy.

The Library will make available numerous copies of the book through generous grant funding from the American Library Association's Focus on Small and Rural Libraries program. Copies of the book are available now, and electronic copies are available through Libby and Hoopla. 

More about the book:
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Fiction and top pick of 2018 books by The Guardian, NPR and Science Friday,  Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Publisher's Weekly.

From the publisher's website: 

"Hailed as 'deeply felt' (New York Times), 'a revelation' (Pacific Standard), and 'the book on climate change and sea levels that was missing' (Chicago Tribune), Rising is both a highly original work of lyric reportage and a haunting meditation on how to let go of the places we love.

With every passing day, and every record-breaking hurricane, it grows clearer that climate change is neither imagined nor distant—and that rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways. In Rising, Elizabeth Rush guides readers through some of the places where this change has been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami, and from New York City to the Bay Area. For many of the plants, animals, and humans in these places, the options are stark: retreat or perish in place.

Weaving firsthand testimonials from those facing this choice—a Staten Islander who lost her father during Sandy, the remaining holdouts of a Native American community on a drowning Isle de Jean Charles, a neighborhood in Pensacola settled by escaped slaves hundreds of years ago—with profiles of wildlife biologists, activists, and other members of these vulnerable communities, Rising privileges the voices of those too often kept at the margins."

Suggested chapters to read:

  • The Password
  • Persimmons
  • Pulse
  • Divining Rod
  • On Vulnerability
  • Risk
  • Goodbye Cloud Reflections in the Bay 
  • On Restoration

Many thanks to Scituate residents, Dr. Sarah Das of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Sarah Murdock of The Nature Conservancy, for their considerable assistance in selecting this title for this Scituate Reads Together program.

Additional Resources

Resilient MA

Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool 

•MA Clean Energy & Climate Plan 

•Scituate Coastal Vision Report   

•Scituate Harbor Master Plan 

•Building a Resilient Scituate 

Program update

On September 29th, approximately 45 individuals came together around a shared text to explore issues of sea-level rise, climate change, and climate resiliency. 

We were thrilled that our attendees included approximately 20 environmental studies students from Scituate High School, who had each read a chapter of the book. Our attendees also included: Representative Kearney’s aide, Kathleen Baxter; Representative Joan Meschino; Senator Patrick O’Connor; and members of the Board of Trustees of the Library, Elizabeth Holthaus and Kevin Carleton.  We were also fortunate to have two local climate experts who were willing to join us and lend their expertise on the connection between the stories of climate impacts conveyed in the book to that which we are experiencing here on the South Shore. Sarah Das of Woods Hole and Sarah Murdock of the Nature Conservancy spoke about their own work and the role of stories and emotions in effecting change. We discussed what individuals can do to make a difference in how we respond to climate change at the local level.

One suggestion to come out of our discussion was to find a way to collect our local climate change stories—how we are impacted during each storm, how our fears translate to action, and how we can keep informed.  Other concerns included what to do about climate refugees (of which the world will see a marked increase sooner rather than later), and how to acknowledge that often those most impacted by environmental damage are those who are least likely to have the funding or resources to respond.

Another suggestion that came from our follow-up survey is for the Library to keep climate change on people’s minds, or as Representative Meschino put it: “socialize and normalize climate discussions."  Toward that end, we will feature books, articles, and documentaries in our newsletter and will put together resource lists for patron use. 

This program was made possible through a generous grant from the American Library Association. With our funding, we have been able to augment our existing collection on climate change, sustainability, and environmentalism.  Keep your eye out for an upcoming display of new materials! In the meantime, Scituate Town Library staff recommend as our climate pick of the month: Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Thich Nhat Hanh. 

If you have an idea for a program on the topic of sustainability, climate change, or sea-level rise, or if you're an organization that would like to partner with the Library on these issues, please email Ann Lattinville at

Massachusetts Library System members have been partnering with Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW) by offering programs during Climate Preparedness Week. Climate Preparedness Week prepares our communities for extreme weather events through educational events that increase emergency preparedness and also understanding of intersection of climate change and social justice. Climate Prep Week is held each year from Sept 24th - 30th.

Climate Prep Week Logo

drawing contestKids and teens can participate by reading right along with you! While you read Rising, you can stop into the Children's and Teen rooms to select a book on weather or climate change just right for your kids! Choose from one of the many great books we have on display. Your kids can also participate in the Climate Preparedness Week drawing contest too! Supplies (paper, etc.) available in the Children's and Teen Rooms!

What should the drawing be about? Show us: How does your family prepare for weather events like blizzards or thunderstorms? Do you use candles? Do you dress warmly? Show us in drawing form. The prize is a free virtual art lesson from ArtCamp504!

To enter the drawing contest:  tag a pic of your art @bluemarblelibrarians on Facebook or Instagram!



The books and supporting materials for this community book discussion have been purchased with a generous grant from the American Library Association.

Scituate Town Library has been selected as one of 300 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities.

The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library purchase multiple copies of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush for a One Community Read project. Funds will also be used to augment the Library’s existing climate change and resiliency collection.

As part of the grant, Scituate Town Library staff will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Staff will then host a conversation with residents about climate change using a shared text for discussion.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

“Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).”

Libraries Transform Communities Logo