Land Institute President Wes Jackson announced as new Post Carbon Institute Fellow

Land Institute President Wes Jackson announced as new Post Carbon Institute Fellow

Published Mon, 09/28/2009 – 07:00
by Energy Bulletin (

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From the Post Carton Institute website:
Wes Jackson is one of the foremost figures in the international sustainable agriculture movement.

Founder and president of The Land Institute in Salinas, Kansas, he has pioneered reserach in Natural Systems Agriculture — including perennial grains, perennial polycultures, and intercropping — for over 30 years. He was a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan and later established the Environmental Studies program at California State University, Sacramento, where he became a tenured full professor. He is the author of several books including Becoming Native to This Place (1994), Altars of Unhewn Stone (1987), and New Roots for Agriculture (1980).

The work of the Land Institute has been featured extensively in the popular media, including The Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, and All Things Considered. Life magazine predicted Wes Jackson will be among the 100 “most important Americans of the 20th century.” He is a recipient of the Pew Conservation Scholars award and a MacArthur Fellowship, and has been listed as one of Smithsonian’s 35 Who Made a Difference.” Wes has an M.A. in botany from University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. in genetics from North Carolina State University.

Future Farming: The Call for a 50-Year Perspective on Agriculture

Robert Jenson, dissident voice
As everyone scrambles for a solution to the crises in the nation’s economy, Wes Jackson suggests we look to nature’s economy for some of the answers. With everyone focused on a stimulus package in the short term, he counsels that we pay more attention to the soil over the long haul.

“We live off of what comes out of the soil, not what’s in the bank,” said Jackson, president of The Land Institute. “If we squander the ecological capital of the soil, the capital on paper won’t much matter.”

Jackson doesn’t minimize the threat of the current financial problems but argues that the new administration should consider a “50-year farm bill,” which he and the writer/farmer Wendell Berry proposed in a New York Times op/ed earlier this month.

Central to such a bill would be soil. A plan for sustainable agriculture capable of producing healthful food has to come to solve the twin problems of soil erosion and contamination, said Jackson, who co-founded the research center in 1976 after leaving his job as an environmental studies professor at California State University-Sacramento.

Jackson believes that a key part of the solution is in approaches to growing food that mimic nature instead of trying to subdue it. While Jackson and his fellow researchers at The Land Institute continue their work on Natural Systems Agriculture, he also ponders how to turn the possibilities into policy. He spoke with me from his office in Salina, Kansas…
(29 January 2009)

A 50-Year Farm Bill

Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry, The New York Times
THE extraordinary rainstorms last June caused catastrophic soil erosion in the grain lands of Iowa, where there were gullies 200 feet wide. But even worse damage is done over the long term under normal rainfall — by the little rills and sheets of erosion on incompletely covered or denuded cropland, and by various degradations resulting from industrial procedures and technologies alien to both agriculture and nature.

Soil that is used and abused in this way is as nonrenewable as (and far more valuable than) oil. Unlike oil, it has no technological substitute — and no powerful friends in the halls of government.

Agriculture has too often involved an insupportable abuse and waste of soil, ever since the first farmers took away the soil-saving cover and roots of perennial plants. Civilizations have destroyed themselves by destroying their farmland. This irremediable loss, never enough noticed, has been made worse by the huge monocultures and continuous soil-exposure of the agriculture we now practice.

To the problem of soil loss, the industrialization of agriculture has added pollution by toxic chemicals, now universally present in our farmlands and streams. Some of this toxicity is associated with the widely acclaimed method of minimum tillage. We should not poison our soils to save them.

Industrial agricultural has made our food supply entirely dependent on fossil fuels and, by substituting technological “solutions” for human work and care, has virtually destroyed the cultures of husbandry (imperfect as they may have been) once indigenous to family farms and farming neighborhoods…
(4 January 2009)

Q&A: Wes Jackson

Jesse Finfrock, Mother Jones
Mother Jones: You’ve spent decades researching plant genetics. Can you explain for people who may not be familiar with the topic why we should transition our agriculture away from annual crops toward perennial crops?

Wes Jackson: If you look at nature’s ecosystems, almost anywhere across the planet, nature features perennials in mixtures. This is pretty easily understood if one reflects on the fact that of the almost 30 elements that you see on the periodic chart that go into organisms—they’re in the upper third of the chart that you see in the classroom—only four of those are in the atmospheric commons: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen. The rest of them are at the earth’s surface and below. And they all happen to be hydrophilic, i.e. at home in water. So therefore, one can imagine nature’s ecosystems evolving an elegant diversity of root architectures to manage, in millimeters and minutes, very efficiently, the stuff that life forms are made of. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re a redwood or a human or a Holstein or a corn plant: It’s what we’re all made of, these elements. We land animals, we deep-air animals, if you wish, we have been dependent primarily on nature’s efficient perennial land plants. Agriculture reversed that, though, starting 10 to 12 thousand years ago, by featuring annuals instead of perennials and monocultures instead of polycultures. So that’s where we took the wrong turn. Yes, it allowed us to exploit the soil resource, but it also then meant that we have to tear the ground up every year, leaving it subject to the forces of wind and rain. We do this for all of our high-yielding crops, those that really sustain us. The No. 1 crop of the world is rice. No. 2 is wheat. No. 3 is corn, and then potato, but then soybeans. And you take those four crops, corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, that’s close to two-thirds of the agricultural land and calories of humanity. We’re primarily grass-feed eaters, and secondarily legume-seed eaters. If we’re to solve the 10,000-year-old problem of agriculture, we’re going to have to perennialize the major crops and put them in mixtures so that we can bring the processes of the wild to the farm….
(29 October 2008)

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International Day of Climate Action

Join us October 24th, Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, 1288 West River Road, 10 am to 11:45 am.


Connect with others in our community and thousands of communities across the planet
who are building a movement to lift public awareness about Global Warming. Let’s show
the world what Tucson is doing to make policymakers aware of the scientific evidence that
says the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide must be lowered to 350 ppm if we are
going to avoid a catastrophic ecological tipping point.

Attendees are urged to arrive at the Center by bus, bicycle or in car pools. The Tucson
Chinese Cultural Center is on SunTran Bus Route 10. To get the clearest representation of
the “350” in the human sculpture, it will be helpful for participants to wear light- colored
(white or yellow) head gear, especially iconic cowboy hats or sombreros.

Join with friends and neighbors to show Tucson’s support of successful Climate Change
talks in Copenhagen in December and give support for climate action at the local level by
signing petitions that will be presented to City, County, and State officials.

Sustainable Tucson General Meeting

Sustainable Tucson’s General Meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 10th at the Joel Valdez Main Library Downtown, 101 N. Stone Avenue. Doors will open at 5:30 pm.

Under the direction of the Sustainable Tucson Data & Analysis Working Group (DAG), we’ll take a look at the use of scenarios, GIS and mapping resources. Dr. Mohammed Mahmoud, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona’s Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, will talk about “Scenario Development and Planning for Natural Resources Sustainability. Chris McNamara, Director of Income Strategies for the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, will talk about the analytical and collaborative uses of web-based GIS and decision-making technology.

There should be a little something for everyone at this important meeting. Come prepared to engage with the issues, ideas, and opportunities we plan to provide.

Critical Perspective on Climate Activism

Here’s a rather impressive bit of reflection by Adam Sacks on “the fallacy of climate activism”

He says: “in the 20 years since we climate activists began our work in earnest, the state of the climate has become dramatically worse, and the change is accelerating–this despite all of our best efforts. Clearly something is deeply wrong with this picture. What is it that we do not yet know? What do we have to think and do differently to arrive at urgently different outcomes? The answers lie not with science, but with culture.”

Sustainable Tucson General Meeting

The General Meeting of Sustainable Tucson will be held in the Joel Valdez Main Library, Downtown, 101 N. Stone Ave.

The meeting will profile three local and sustainable cooperatives, with a theme of “Co-operating for Sustainability.”  The Watershed Management Group, the Green Retrofit Co-op and the Gardening Co-op at the Food Bank’s Community Food Resource Center will be featured.  Representatives of each group will present information on their programs and be available to answer your questions.  The general public is welcome.

There should be a little something for everyone at this important meeting. Come prepared to engage with the issues, ideas, and opportunities we plan to provide.

Premiere of WaveLengths:Sustainability

What kind of innovative approaches are scientists taking to help mankind protect the planet and live more sustainably? WaveLengths: Sustainability — the season premiere of the science program from Arizona Public Media – explores some of the cutting edge research scientists are using to look for solutions for more responsible use of the planet’s natural resources.

The fifth installment of “WaveLengths” explores scientific innovations in the areas of biofuel production, local urban agriculture, solar energy and responsible waste management… approaches to help meet present food and energy needs without compromising the well being of future generations.

WaveLengths: Sustainability” is produced by Pam White and hosted by BIO5 Institute member Dr. Vicki Chandler. It premieres on Thursday, September 24 at 8:30 p.m. on PBS-HD channel 6. An encore broadcast is scheduled for Sunday, September 27 at 6:30 p.m. on PBS-HD channel 6.

More information can be found on the Originals page of the Arizona Public Media website at

Fall Tucson Area Farm & Ranch Tours

Join us for a true local food producer experience!

Did you see the films Fresh or Food Inc. this summer?

It’s time to know where your food comes from. This is an opportunity to see our local food at the source.

Are you ready for a great tour of three locations led by the farmers and ranchers who produce local grass-fed beef, roasting chickens, farm fresh eggs, and seasonal local heirloom produce right here in the Tucson area?

Take a walking tour of a farm or ranch with the local producers as your guide. Sample products from these popular local food producers.

Join us on one or all three tours! Tours are free. Sign up now!

Space is limited. To join a tour, contact Torey Ligon at the Co-op at 624-4821, or Judith Mattson at

Note: You are responsible for your own transportation; car pooling is encouraged. Maps and directions will be sent out when you make your reservation for one or more of the tours.

Double Check Ranch, hosted by Paul Schwennesen and Jim McManus. Sunday, September 20th,10 AM-12 Noon, Walking J Farm, Amado, AZ. Sunday, September 27th, 3-5PM, Double Check Ranch, Dudleyville, AZ.

The Double Check Ranch provides an opportunity for a look into the world of grass fed beef — bred and grown on the Schwennesen ranch in eastern Arizona and finished on irrigated pasture in Dudleyville and Amado before processing at the Double Check Ranch on-site packing house at the Dudleyville location.

Sleeping Frog Farms, hosted by Adam Valdivia and C J Marks, Saturday, October 3, 4-6PM, Sleeping Frog Farms, North Tucson, AZ.

Sleeping Frog Farms is a familiar supplier of seasonal heirloom fruit and vegetables to the Food Conspiracy Co-op, St Philips Sunday farmers market and several area restaurants.It is an intensive small-scale farm nestled in the Canada del Oro flood plain, founded on permaculture design and biodynamic growing principles. Their laying hens, dairy goats,honey bees, and earthworms are integral to pollination, soil-building, and recycling crop waste into food and fertilizer.

Food & Agriculture Work Group meeting

The Sustainable Tucson Working Group on Food & Agriculture will meet for our regular monthly meeting on September 16, from 5:45 – 8 pm at the Woods Memorial Library on 1st Ave, south of Prince.

Special presentation by Vanessa Bechtol, Executive Director, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, on local and heritage foods. Followed by regular business meeting. Come and join us.

Van Jones’s Ousting: A Wake-Up Call for Green Economy Advocates

Van Jones’s Ousting: A Wake-Up Call for Green Economy Advocates

Published 09/07/2009 on Energy Bulletin (

by Aaron G. Lehmer

A dear friend of the earth, a staunch defender of justice, and a bold champion for a solar-powered America has just been forced out of the Obama Administration through a clever campaign of deceit, malice, and fear. FOX News’ right-wing attack dog, Glenn Beck, and his supporters cherry picked statements from Van Jones’ past, mercilessly branded him a “communist”, and wrapped up their bogey-man caricature in a bow with dire warnings of plans to destroy the “America we all grew up in.”

Having worked closely with Jones at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, I can attest to his steadfast commitment to working within the system – harnessing the promise of our much-heralded free market and democratic institutions – to build a “green economy that lifts all boats.” Far from some lefty ideological plot, our Green-Collar Jobs Campaign brought together a broad range of established players in the local economy – businesses, educators, environmentalists, job trainers, unions, and yes, even some of those pesky community organizers – to launch the Oakland Green Jobs Corps.

Thanks to the incredible work of Green For All, the Apollo Alliance, and others, this model has spread like wildfire across the nation, inspiring dozens of states and cities to launch their own efforts putting the unemployed and underemployed back to work retrofitting our buildings, installing solar and wind systems, and greenscaping our urban centers. It’s no exaggeration to say that Van’s vision of fighting poverty and pollution simultaneously through green-collar jobs has catalyzed a movement – and earned him the admiration of people across the political spectrum. Indeed, his hard-won federal Green Jobs Act, committing $500 million toward green job training, was initially signed in to law by none other than the leftist radical President George W. Bush.

But all of these political smear tactics are really just a cover for the real reason Jones was targeted: his vision of a truly inclusive green economy is catching on, and it actually is a threat to business as usual. One of FOX’s commentators, Phil Kerpen, misplaced the threat at the doorstep of creeping Soviet-style socialism, asserting that Van’s “‘green jobs’ concept was merely a new face on the old ideology of central economic planning and control, an alternative and a threat to free market capitalism.” Fear-mongering knows no bounds.

Given the scores of decidedly pro-market corporations, trade groups, and financial services firms partnering with the Jones-affiliated Apollo Alliance (see full list here), Kerpen’s claim is laughable on its face. On a deeper level, however, Jones’ vision of an inclusive green economy is profound in that it forces Americans to acknowledge their segregationist past and to take a stand for an ecologically sound future in which all of us can thrive. Now that’s radical. It’s also vital if we’re to make it as one nation through the increasingly troubled waters of climate instability, the twilight years of cheap oil, and what’s likely to be a protracted period of economic decline.

As a middle-class white activist, I have a choice: I can ignore the fact that every day, I’m held up by centuries of hard work by formerly enslaved Africans, along with better schooling and job opportunities thanks to decades of racial discrimination against their descendants by schools, banks, and corporations. Or I can acknowledge these advantages, and work to neutralize them as a way to fulfill America’s promise of equality for all under the law.

Building a truly inclusive green economy will demand a level playing field in education, job training, and hiring for those from low-income communities and among the historically underserved. We have the resources to do this, but will privileged Americans extend a hand of partnership across race and class to build the pathways out of poverty into green prosperity that Van has called for? Or will they succumb to bitter hatred, Glenn Beck-style?

Van’s effective and passionate calls for a clean energy economy must have worried America’s old energy CEOs, whose deep pockets typically leave no politician behind. Earlier this year, International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol warned that the world is headed for a catastrophic energy crunch by 2020, thanks to the plummeting output of the world’s oil fields. Given that oil is the lifeblood of industrial civilization, learning to make do with less and less of it while transitioning to renewable energy is now all the more urgent. If the green economy message gets too widely accepted, that could mean a shift in billions of investments and subsidies away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency, clean power, and alternative transportation systems. Heaven forbid!

So a green economy that lifts all boats may not be as easily accepted as we advocates have come to believe, at least not while vested interests are controlling the debate and scaring people from seeing its true promise. Van’s ousting is truly a wake-up call for deeper thinking about how to build a broad-based, resilient movement that can counter these challenges head-on, and to connect more deeply with Americans from all walks of life about how an inclusive green economy cannot only heal our troubled planet, but also heal our troubled past.

Despite this setback, Van will undoubtedly continue on as a powerful advocate for green-collar jobs. And our movement, against the odds, will surely grow by leaps and bounds. Fear cannot stop a potent vision such as this.


.            Green For All, a national organization Jones founded, has issued the following statement: “[Now] is the time to come together around the values our movement stands for: clean air, healthy communities, good jobs, and opportunity for all.” Please sign the Petition in support of the Green Jobs Movement.

.            An independent “I Stand With Van Jones” Facebook campaign has already attracted thousands of supporters within the first day of its launch. Take a moment to Stand With Van through Facebook.

Aaron G. Lehmer is the Co-founder and Network Development Director of Bay Localize, an Oakland-based nonprofit working to build a stronger, more self-reliant Bay Area. He was formerly the Policy Director for the Ella Baker Center’s Green-Collar Jobs Campaign

Energy Bulletin is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.

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Communications Workshop

Learn about Building Relationships:

New Communication Tools to Transform Your Group, Organization, and Community

Learn about powerful new processes for:

* Non-hierarchical organization

* Effective coalitions

* Inclusive communications

* Group decision making

* Productive meetings

Effective communication — the key to success. In stressful, swiftly changing times, it is more challenging and vital than ever.

Become familiar with a dozen powerful, non-hierarchical techniques that facilitate

communication, organization and decisions — from the grassroots to the enterprise –and when each is most effective.

Becoming practiced in forms of communication that are inclusive and nonhierarchical, and thus draw out the best in each individual, is difficult at best within a culture that values the opposite. The goal of communication and relationship building should be power with, not power over. Then everyone benefits. In an interconnected world, it’s the only way each has any possibility of actually reaching their full potential.

This will necessarily be part of the foundation of any sustainable future.

This half-day workshop provides:

* An overview of a dozen of the most powerful new non-hierarchical organization, communication, planning, and decision making tools that have emerged over the last few decades,

* Instruction on how and when you can most effectively employ these processes to serve the evolving purposes of your organization, plus

* Experiential activities. Come prepared to be outside for about an hour.

Facilitated by Allison and Dave Ewoldt of Natural Systems Solutions

There is a suggested registration fee of $25–$45

For more information and to register, please see

or contact Allison — e-mail: phone: 520-887-2502

Artisans’ Farm

Everyone is welcome to come enjoy the ever-growing display of Artisans! Taking place in the outer-space surrounding \’4th & 4th\’- right
in the Heart of Tucson. Hosting Musical/Performance Acts on our main-shaded porch. A variety of local arts and crafts vendors will be present, as well with their works up for purchase- a great place to gift shop, or find
something unique!

The Artisans’ Farm is FREE to the Public, taking place the 4th Saturday of each month.
Interested in participating as an Artisan vendor, or Performer? We\’re open to artists and crafters of all sorts. Farmers and Gardners, Food Vendors, and those who provide services. Contact us today: or
(520) 762-4947