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Soil, Water, and Hope: Seeing, monitoring, and mapping landscape function

If you want to make small changes, change how you do things.
But if you want to make big changes, change how you see things.
Don Campbell

Place-based citizen science on the most powerful planetary forces: carbon and water cycling

Join Peter Donovan and Didi Pershouse of the Soil Carbon Coalition in this participatory workshop as we explore the deep relationship between carbon and water in the soil pore and in the atmosphere, and learn how photosynthesis and microbes create the natural infrastructure and land functions that our farms and communities depend on. We will work together as a group on how we can enlist the power and creative forces of those relationships in our land management to create healthy people, resilient communities, productive land and clean water.

Expected outcomes of this workshop include a deeper understanding of carbon cycling and water cycling on farmland, of human opportunities to make a difference, how to measure and monitor water-holding carbon in your soil, track changes in soil productivity and health, and the formation of a strategy that participants can take to foster positive change.

This workshop welcomes farmers, teachers, scientists, climate activists, climate skeptics, land managers, conservationists and any other interested people.

Our multi-trillion dollar focus on symptoms camouflages the most powerful planetary force.

  • Why is sunlight the most powerful force in creating the structure and function of land?
  • How does soil organic matter influence water storage and filtration?
  • How might landowners, land managers, communities take effective responsibility for soil health, productivity, and watershed function?
  • How could monitoring and mapping change over time in photosynthesis, soil health, and water infiltration strengthen local economies and have a positive influence on agricultural policy?
  • Which leads to more successful innovation: teaching soil health principles, or defining best practices?
  • How can you clearly and directly show people the connections between soil health and climate resiliency?

PETER DONOVAN has a background in livestock herding, holistic management, asset-based community development, and reporting and writing on systems/holistic thinkers and doers. In 2008 he founded the Soil Carbon Coalition. He regularly leads workshops on the carbon cycle, which cuts across all disciplines of knowledge and is contributing to a transformation of science in the areas of leadership, trust, participation, and power. Since 2011 he has lived and traveled in a converted schoolbus, establishing 300 baseline plots for soil carbon change across North America, and is now resampling many of them.

DIDI PERSHOUSE is a cross-pollinator, helping to connect the dots between soil health and human health. She is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine. After 22 years of clinical work with patients, she is now working with the Soil Carbon Coalition on a large-scale citizen-science program that engages schools, conservation districts, farmers, and the public in understanding the intersections between soil, water, public health, and climate resiliency. She develops curriculum on soil health principles and whole systems landscape function, and facilitates workshops that empower communities through mutual listening.

Contact Peter (details at the bottom of the page) to discuss or arrange a workshop or monitoring. Some of it is participatory, using the talking circle format, and some may be outdoors on the land.