Thirteen Paces by Four: Backyard Biophilia and the Emerging Earth Ethic



A lyrical mix of backyard naturalism, Do-It-Yourself rewilding, eco-philosophical exegeses, and reflections on “the storm of now,” Joe Gray’s work is a grounded meditation on how we can meet the present-day Earth calamity. Without a whiff of didacticism, Gray shows us how to listen, how to care, and how to discover the timeless joys of being Earth citizens. May humanity awaken to the love and awe that unassumingly flow from every page

Eileen Crist, author of Abundant Earth

Thirteen Paces by Four is a book at the intersection of the timeless and the timely, the global and the most intimately local. Gray’s prose powerfully illustrates how paying attention to the more-than-human world, especially in our most easily overlooked daily encounters with it, is entwined with cultivating an ethical relationship with that world. Written with an understated sophistication, the book’s portraits of the wild in even the most seemingly tame environs sketch valuable and edifying points of contact between ecological principle and practice.

Luke Philip Plotica, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Virginia Tech

With Thirteen Paces by Four, Joe Gray has written a new classic of ecological literature. I take my organic cotton hat off to him.

Patrick Curry, Author of Enchantment: Wonder in Modern Life

Title:Thirteen Paces by Four: Backyard Biophilia and the Emerging Earth Ethic

Author: Joe Gray

ISBN: 978-1-913680-06-0

Publishing Date: 28 December 2020

Price: £ 17,99 GBP

Purchase: Amazon – Book Depository

Triggered by the Covid-19 lockdown, the author, a passionate conservationist, finds himself drawing inspiration from goings-on in the small back garden of his terraced suburban house, an outdoor space that he has measured at thirteen paces long by four paces wide. Contemplating what a love of nature really means and implies, the author weaves a narrative of interlinked ideas that are integral to humanity’s positive cohabitation of Earth with the rest of life.


Joe Gray is a field naturalist who lives in the catchment of the River Colne on the island known as Great Britain. He has master’s degrees in Zoology from Cambridge and Forestry from Bangor and is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. Joe is also a Co-founder of The Ecological Citizen (a peer-reviewed, nature-centred journal), Chair of GENIE (the Global Ecocentric Network for Implementing Ecodemocracy), and a Knowledge Advisor on ecological ethics for the United Nations’ Harmony with Nature programme.

As volunteer Park Naturalist and a trustee at Highfield Park, his local charity-run green space, he runs courses for people of all ages on various aspects of natural history and reconnecting with nature. He is also an Associate Tutor on the Field Studies Council’s extensive programme of nature education. Other teaching activities in which he has been involved include the delivery of sessions to British and international secondary school students on the rights of nature.

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