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So this guy has a canoe for sale. It’s a good thing too, because the river is flooding. The water is rising fast and you’re going to need to navigate it. You need a good boat. You go to check out the canoe, and it’s clear that it’s something special. They spent years refining their design – for speed, weight, stability, practicality, aesthetics. Searched far and wide for the strongest, lightest, wood, to painstakingly mill and shape and sand. Researched the finest adhesives and resins that modern technology has to offer, to bind it together and seal it. This is a boat that could last a lifetime, with proper care. It’s versatile, powerful, and durable. It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful. Just as you are getting ready to shake hands and seal the deal, the guy says: “And if that’s not enough, buddy, get this – the canoe can fly.” Debates […]

The Parable of the Canoe or, Why Debates ...

I give talks and lead workshops. Interested in hosting one? I’ve updated the Education page with a bit about what I do (and where I’ve done it).    

Talks and Workshops

I’ve been stingy (read: lazy) with making my conference presentations available to the public. I’ve been working on that, and you can now access most of them through links on the Publications/CV page right here (or via the drop-down menu under Publications up top). I’m archiving conference papers, posters, presentation slides, et al., on – so you may need to open a free account to download. RG does a good job tracking readers, downloads, sharing, etc., so thanks for putting up with registering if you weren’t otherwise inclined to do so.

Backlog of articles and presentations becoming available…

In the heart-poundingly dramatic realm of website improvements, I… …finally started consolidating links to interviews and talks I’ve done to a Media page. …updated my Contact page to encourage the kinds of emails I’m really excited about, while steering common questions toward a Resources page. …even fulfilled a minor life-goal of creating a page with helpful suggestions for those who are about to engage in Asking Busy Strangers for Help on the Internet. As my old adviser John Todd liked likes to say, “Onward and upward!”  

Media, Resources, and Contacts

Robert Wallace is an evolutionary biologist and social epidemiologist, and co-author of the mindblowing Farming Human Pathogens (2009). I had the pleasure of meeting him at a recent symposium in honor of the great ecologist, systems thinker, and activist, Richard Levins (on the occasion of his 85th birthday). In a recent blog post, Wallace addresses the recent – and ongoing – outbreak of avian influenza in the US. In this short essay he dissects the public discussion and institutional response to the outbreak, and lays bare the economic and ecological issues surrounding them. Wallace make a very compelling case that industry and government are responding in ways that serves industry first – and the public not at all. Originally posted June 10, 2015 on Farming Pathogens: Made in Minnesota Industrial turkey and chicken in Minnesota, and other states Midwest and South, have been hit by a highly pathogenic strain of […]

Avian Influences: The Politics of the Mid-West Bird Flu Outbreak

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This was originally a FB post. It resonated with some people and generated some good discussion, so I’m bringing it over here to the blog. It’s not as developed as what I usually post – but this way it won’t get lost in the misty depths of my FB wall. (Also, maybe if I let myself post shorter/rawer stuff, I’ll post more?!)   I worry about statements like these. It’s tempting to console ourselves with all kinds of individualism (and small-groupism) when we live in a culture where the fabric of reciprocity and solidarity has been most comprehensively unwoven. But we’re getting duped if we believe we face the question of individuals (or small groups) versus movements for making change – let’s ask instead how we as individuals come alive in groups and communities that are embedded, with scores of others, in movements as vast as the problems we face. […]

The Problem with Small Groups or, Mead and ...

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For the last several years, Eric Toensmeier and I have been working (ever so slowly) on a scientific review of global perennial staple crops. Last year we received an invitation to present our work at the annual American Society of Agronomy conference, in a session that was otherwise composed of perennial grains researchers. This was an exciting opportunity (as well as a deadline to light a fire under our slow progress). Eric and I decided that he would attend and present. He had never had a chance to present at a scientific conference – and more importantly, he has done the vast bulk of the work feeding into this project. He’s been painstakingly combing through scientific and technical literature over the past five years, and assembling a formidable database of 100s of perennial crops. My role in the project has been to help frame that tremendous work in terms of contemporary scientific frameworks, act […]

Perennial Agriculture Now! Our presentation at American Society for Agronomy.

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          UPDATE: This course has been postponed. With Eric Toensmeier, Rafter Sass Ferguson, and Elizabeth Ü October 18-23, 2014 at Shannon Farm Community In Afton, VA Cost: Sliding Scale $595-$895 to register or for more information or contact Scaling up ecological agriculture is one of the critical challenges we face in addressing climate change and the global food crisis. Integrated perennial farm businesses are a key part of the solution when planned and managed effectively; join us to learn and practice how! This 6-day course integrates time-tested farm business planning tools with the holistic landscape planning of permaculture and cutting-edge creative financing strategies. Experienced leaders will guide participants through an intensive planning/design process, from initial visioning, through successional enterprise budgeting, to design of the farm landscape. In this dynamic course, participants will design in teams working on a shared project, with structured time for participants to […]

This October in VA: Regenerative Farm Enterprise Planning

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If I haven’t attended to the website in ages – and I haven’t – it’s because my scarce extracurricular writing time has gone into articles that I couldn’t share until now. I’m very excited to have two articles in the current issue of Permaculture Activist (Autumn 2014, No. 93). The theme of this issue is “Experimentation – Science in Permaculture” and it looks to be a tremendous one all around. Other authors include some dear friends: my long-time co-teacher Steve Gabriel of Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, and the excellent forest gardener and human being we know as Jonathan Bates. I’m also happy to appear alongside newer friends and colleagues I’ve connected with over the past few years: Abbie Conrad (writing on  her tremendous work on permaculture among smallholder farmers in Malawi), Chris Warburton-Brown from the UK Permaculture Research Brigade, and Christopher Kelly-Bisson (of the new permaculture e-journal The Rhizome). Plus, bonus people I […]

Toward 21st Century Permaculture: new articles

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I made minor contributions to this very interesting poster presentation at the Radical Emission Reduction Conference held by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the Royal Society in London on December 10-11 2013. My hat is off to Ed Sears (of the Earth Systems Science Research Group at Exeter), the main mover behind the project, as well as to the other co-authors Chris Warburton-Brown (UK Permaculture Research Initiative) and Tomas Remiarz (UK Permaculture Association).

Permaculture as evolutionary social learning organization