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Viewing posts by Peter Donovan

Why learning networks?

Posted by Peter Donovan 5 months, 2 weeks ago in policy and framing /

I've spent a dozen years reporting on ranchers, farmers, and groups in North America, and another dozen years measuring soil carbon change on 100+ ranches and farms. My experience is that:

Commodifying and financializing nature

Posted by Peter Donovan 10 months ago in policy and framing /

The rush continues to commodify soil carbon or other "ecosystem services" and trade these on some kind of markets. Are we asking the wrong questions? These two excellent videos suggest that we are.

Online presentation and discussion on

Posted by Peter Donovan 1 year ago in Events /

The recording of the session announced below is now available here.

What is nature, how does it work, and why? The physicist Werner Heisenberg, one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics, wrote: "What we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."

So our questions are key to the understandings we construct. Much ecological monitoring has and continues to be surveillance: categorizing species and practices in terms of compliance with rule-based systems of policy and regulation, resulting in one-way information pipelines. Since I began the Soil Carbon Challenge in 2010, I wanted to ask different questions: when, where, and with whom are the opportunities for slowing carbon and water cycling?

A shift is possible, from surveillance and compliance monitoring toward a participatory, evidence-based, localized, shared understanding of carbon cycling, water cycling, and even local economics—if we can ask better questions, and engage more people in asking and answering. This calls for a different design, with implications for diversity and power.

I will be doing an online showcase and discussion of The session is on Wednesday, January 20 (7 am U.S. Pacific time, UTC-8) and you can sign up here. If you are engaged in a local or regional effort of regeneration or restoration, this app has been designed to support your work, customizable to your local needs.

Andhra Pradesh successes

Posted by Peter Donovan 1 year, 1 month ago

Vijay Kumar, Didi Pershouse, Walter Jehne, and others participated in a recent inspiring 3-hour webinar on the successes of farmers in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. This presentation highlights local successes built on 1) the empowerment of women and small farmers, 2) Zero Budget Natural Farming or similar strategies, and 3) the recently adopted practice of pre-monsoon drought seeding, which enables a standing crop canopy, even a small one, to capture atmospheric water in the form of dew, particularly at night. The combination here has resulted in some farmers achieving yearlong green cover even in fairly arid regions, and in some cases a doubling of farmer's income.

Judy Schwartz: The Reindeer Chronicles

Posted by Peter Donovan 1 year, 4 months ago

YES! magazine recently published a review of Judy Schwartz's new book plus some interview excerpts: