Chemistry is a fact of Earth Life, not a problem in itself. The increasingly persistent hitch is with the thousands of synthetic chemicals routinely used in making clothing, cosmetics, household products, electronic devices - even children's toys - and the toxic chemical soup in which we are all increasingly steeped.
Ken Geiser's new book, Chemicals Without Harm - Policies for a Sustainable World (2015, MIT Press), details issues associated with today's largely unregulated chemical use in all areas of manufacturing, especially in the U.S. More importantly, he lays out examples of policies and practices by which the chemical industry itself is moving toward a 21st Century "green chemistry" ethic. Emphasis: the power of consumer awareness and purchasing choices to drive policy and practice changes!
Ken Geiser speaks and writes from depth of experience, as Professor Emeritus of Work Environment at the University of Massachusettes Lowell, founder of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, and as a Fellow of the U S Green Building Council, addressing Healthy Materials. He describes needed shifts in strategy, away from merely trying to control levels of exposure through regulation, and toward developing and adopting alternatives to hazardous chemicals, by applying sustainable values and design.
Consumer-awareness resources cited in this podcast include:
The Good Guide - Provides reviews of over 250,000 consumer products, based on scientific ratings; includes app for evaluating product choices on the go! Catch Earthworms' October 2014 conversation with Good Guide's chief scientist Bill Pease.
Skin Deep - Cosmetics database evaluated by Environmental Working Group.
Women's Voices for the Earth - Non-profit research and advocacy group, specifically focused on products affecting women's health.
The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan - Consumer education, local services, advocacy addressing public health and safety policy.
Silent Spring Institute - Partnership of scientists and citizens concerned about environmental links to breast cancer.
Music: Cadillac Desert by William Tyler, recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis
Canadian biologist Jessica Ernst worked in the oil and gas industry. When her well water became a flammable stew, she embarked on a fact-finding and legal campaign, now into a second decade, that's about to go to the Supreme Court. Her opponents: corporate fossil fuel giant Encana, the agency Alberta Environment, and the Energy Resources Conservation Board. At issue: just oversight of public resources (water!) and the accountability of both government and industry.
Earthworms podcast guest Andrew Nikiforuk tells this complex story in his new book Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider's Stand Against the World's Most Powerful Industry (2015, Greystone Books, published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation). Nikiforuk, a Canadian journalist, is a recipient of the prestigious Rachel Carson Environmental Book Award. He weaves a compelling report of Jessica Ernst's research and extraordinary citizen activism with the science of fracking and its wake of human and environmental repercussions.
The book is a page-turner. This conversation is an intelligent, compelling must-hear.
Music: Public Enemy Number One, recorded at KDHX by the Godfathers.
If we recognize Nature as most expert designer, how do our human designs compare?
Maybe not that well for overall health and sustainable benefits, given that our species lives in boxes and dumps our waste in our water supplies. But the legacy of an "evolutionary" like R. Buckminster Fuller is one force that continues to call forth the kinds of human design ideas needed to nudge us into real accord with our zillion kinds of neighbors on (as Bucky called it) Spaceship Earth.
Earthworms' Jean Ponzi talks today with J.P. Harpignies, a senior reviewer of ideas proposed to the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, regarded as socially responsible design's highest award. The 2015 Challenge prize recently went to "Green Wave," the swimmingly intricate project of Nova Scotia fisherman Bren Smith, whose vision transforms a livelihood drowning from overfishing into a new kind of 3-D vertical underwater farming, conservation and restoration culture. The Challenge is the centerpiece of principles and work of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, the Brooklyn NY-based non-profit continuing the brilliant arc of its namesake's ideals.
Special thanks to Elizabeth Thompson, BFI Executive Director, and Megan Ahearn, Communications Coordinator, for arranging this conversation.
Music: Abdiel by Dave Black - recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis.
With the huge enviro-problems facing us today, wouldn't the best solutions be whoppers as well? Courtney White says smaller is working, WELL and NOW.
White is an Activist-turned Rancher-turned Green Idea Grower Supreme. He harvests 50 current success stories into his new book "Two Percent for the Planet: 50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech, Nature-Based Practices for Combatting Hunger, Drought and Climate Change" (2015, Chelsea Green). These inspiring pieces report on Ranching, Farming, Technology, Restoration and Wildness. Links in each section invite us to learn more and full-color photos illustrate each example of human partnership with nature.
This fun read expands on White's 2014 personal experience, also featured on Earthworms, in the book "Grass, Soil, Hope - A Journey Through Carbon Country" From the rancher whose "flerds" of sheep and cattle are restoring soil health and plant communities to San Francisco's use of human poop (aka "Night Soil") as healthy fertilizer, every chapter affirms ways we humans are by nature problem-solvers, and CAN collaborate productively with the Earth.
Whopping good stuff!
Music: Rearview by Belle Starr, recorded live at KDHX.
How do you communicate about climate change, GMOs, ocean pollution and other such heavy stuff to move your fellow humans to notice, and even laugh at ourselves?
Joe Mohr does it in cartoons - and, for younger humans, in illustrated poems.
From his home in St. Louis, Joe's environmental cartoons have zinged out into such notable forums as YES! Magazine, The Progressive, Important Media, Cartoon Movement, and publications of Greenpeace and the Center for Media and Democracy.
His book of illustrated poems "Robot + Bike = Kitten" (2013 Treehouse Publishing) mobilizes surfer girls, fish, boogers, words with their vowels removed and much more to entertain, affirm and nudge kids and the grownups who read to them to act on Joe's "Minimum 29% Green Content."
This Earthworms conversation invites your mind's eyeball to check out the viewpoint of a whiz illustrator drawing on ideas about the planet he loves.
Music: Pokey LaFarge and Ryan Spearman - Extremist Stomp - recorded live at KDHX
In 2010, the Washington D.C. nonprofit Parks and People received a $2.7 million stimulus grant to generate a Green Corps of jobs by planting trees. The human stories from this effort are white and black, activist and unemployed, nature-promoting and nature-disconnected. The tree stories continue to grow around the community portrayed.
City of Trees film producer Lance Kramer describes successes and shortcomings of these "green jobs" interactions, and the social initiatives that seeded them. He cites a modern factoid: 75-80% of Americans today who see a tree each day are seeing this "nature" in a city. Together with his brother Brandon Kramer, City of Trees director, he relates the importance of even imperfect efforts to nurture both human and tree viability.
This 2015 documentary screens on Sunday 11-8-15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Washington University Brown School of Social Work - Free - as one of several environmental films featured in the 24th annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival.
Music: Giant Steps - Dave Stone Trio, recorded live at KDHX
Today's nuclear industry was born in secrecy during World War II. St. Louis pitched in, refining the massive amounts of uranium used by the Manhattan Project. We have the world's oldest nuclear waste scattered around this community.
St. Louis filmmaker Anthony West digs in and shows this complicated history, from workers (and the bosses) at the then-small Mallinckrodt Chemical Company, to federal agency officials, to today's on-edge residents living around radioactively contaminated West Lake Landfill that continues to make local to international news.
This cinematic story challenges our societal idea that there IS a "Safe Side of the Fence" and hopes to prompt viewers to engage with nuclear issues.
The film screens Weds 11-11-15, 7 p.m. at St. Louis University - FREE - in the 24th annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival. Sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, an environmental group working to keep both public and planet safe in relation to nukes and many other issues.
Music: The Exotic Future of Money - Kinetics - Recorded live at KDHX
When the City of Arnold, MO had to remove an 1890 farmhouse to build a new municipal facility, they called the intrepid non-profit Refab to safely, responsibly take the old home apart and make its fine vintage materials available to appreciative new users, through resale.
Eric Schwarz - a young guy with good tools, Green vision and business sense - launched Refab just three years ago. He is building on experience gained while earning a Fine Arts degree, teaching about sustainability around STL, and managing sales and deconstruction for the Habitat For Humanity St. Louis ReStore. He's providing steady, well-paying jobs for veterans who need a hand, in a partnership with St. Patrick Center. And he's leading efforts to keep over 1,000 tons of useful stuff a year in use, instead of going to landfills.
Refab sells what they deconstruct: flooring, beadboard, and de-nailed lumber of all kinds; vintage plumbing and lighting fixtures, cabinets (carefully removed) - and more. Resale store prices make these items a great bargain for designers and builders of restaurants, new homes, and businesses with sustainable tastes.
This month Refab celebrates a big move to a new 30,000 ft2 warehouse at 3130 Gravois in St. Louis, recycling the former Union Brewery into working and sales space. Join the celebration on October 30 - and shop Refab's material treasures every Friday-Sunday, 9 am-5 pm. Your business supports this intrepid non-profit, giving new life to amazing stuff and jobs to guys who've served our country. And you get the goods and deals!
Music this podcast: Measure Once, recorded at KDHX 2011 by Matthew Van Doren. This is a woodworking musical pun for you, Eric - JP
With a river basin flowing through 31 states, the Mississippi drains Earth's fourth largest watershed, some say it's #3! A recent study of its revenue-generating power reported $405 billion bucks a year, supporting 1.3 million human jobs. It also supports phenomenal fish, plant and animal life - and millions of living creatures, including us, are drinking it every day.
It should get our attention, therefore, that a recent river Report Card brought home just a D+ average grade. Some bright spots for sure, but plenty of room for improvement. Mayors all along the river are taking notice - and taking action!
Colin Wellenkamp, this Earthworms podcast guest, is Executive Director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. He works with mayors of river towns from the Minnesota headwaters to the delta in New Orleans, and cities across the Mississippi Basin from the Rockies to the Alleghenies. Mayors are calling for a "River Basin" approach to understanding and addressing the issues behind that funky grade. They're speaking with one voice about the Mississippi's issues, and seeking cooperative ways to rebuild river infrastructure, protect river biodiversity and health - and promote enjoyment of a U.S. resource more popular with visitors from around the world than the Grand Canyon.
In this podcast you'll hear stunning facts about the Mississippi River's value and power - and ways you can join a rising tide of appreciation and support for this planetary treasure.
Music: Balkan Twirl
Sorry about you, little pale bulbs in the grocery store package! Slow Food St. Louis aims to get a bunch of the SIX HUNDRED varieties of heirloom garlic growing and thriving and feeding us here by "Crop-Sourcing" Project Garlic.
Brian DeSmet, Slow Food St. Louis board member and GardenWorks Manager for Schlafly Brewing, tells all - OK, a LOT - about this super-food, a plant that's super-easy to grow, a part of human eating pleasure for more than 7,000 years!
Launching its second year this month, Project Garlic is recruiting dozens of home gardeners, local farmers and foodies willing to dig in the dirt. Slow Food has purchased heirloom garlic varieties from Baker Creek Seeds and Filaree Garlic Farm. They're giving bulbs to growers, who'll return bulb stock from next summer's harvest. Result? This plant's amazing variety of subtle flavors blooms with biodiversity here through Farmers' Markets, CSAs . . . maybe even into those grocery store aisles.
Hardneck, Softneck - Allium bulb - Stripey, Turbaned, Rocambole - Join the Garlic growing club!
Music: Cookie Mouth by The Provels
Water is our most valuable resource, essential to everything we do in life, for every living thing. Yet the systems - the infrastructure that delivers and cleans our water, and the natural systems that provide it - are invisible to most of us. Water is life - water is FUN! Let's turn on some water-savvy stewardship and good ole' water sense.
Radhika Fox, CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance and Director of the Value of Water Coalition, is leading a national education effort called "Imagine a Day Without Water" to irrigate everyone's power to protect our water supplies. Ms. Fox talks with jean Ponzi about water supply challenges our nation must address, and ways that our communities are innovating water system protection and conservation measures.
Want to learn more? Download a "What's the Value of Water Toolkit" for your school, faith community, business or home.
Thanks to you, H20 - Cheers!
Music: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 - J.S. Bach
A Pawpaw looks like a mango, tastes like banana custard, grows across the broad range of 26 U.S. states, shows up in fossil records from 56 million years ago! Gardener and writer Andrew Moore's new book dishes the amazing story of this versatile fruit and the handsome tree that produces it.
What happened in recent history to drop the Pawpaw off our cultural menu, when it had been so well loved (and spooned up) by Native Americans, enslaved Africans - even 20th century opponents of Prohibition? And what potentials is the Pawpaw offering today for local food economies, cocktail wizards and even cancer researchers?
Hear this great story - and consider a couple of Pawpaw trees to plant some tasty biodiversity where you live. Forgotten fruit? Earthworms is thinking that's history!
Clif Bar wrappers, shampoo tubes, chip bags - even cigarette butts? TerraCycle accepts and recycles them all! At the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, the in-house Green Team makes this sustainability service available to employees and volunteers.
Hear how from Joyce Gorrell, Sustainability Events Coordinator for the Garden's EarthWays Center. But be forewarned: you may catch the TerraCycling bug for your school, business, church or institution. If you do, tell 'em Earthworms sent you!
And - hear the intrepid story of Terracycle direct from its founder, Tom Szaky in Earthworms exclusive conversation with this Recycling Rock Star!
As a Princeton student in 2001, Tom Szaky packaged and sold the liquified worm poop he produced to super-feed special plants. From those beginnings (including selling to the "world's largest retailer" in reused plastic bottles purchased from school kids) Tom founded Terracycle, a powerhouse non-profit where "up-cycling" resourcefulness is Eliminating the Idea of Waste®.
Innovator, entrepreneur, media figure Tom Szaky is an Environmental Rock Star! He spoke in September 2015 to the Missouri Recycling Association Conference - and to Earthworms host Jean Ponzi in this extended one-on-one conversation. Don't miss it!
Tom talks about the "why" and impressive impacts of Terracycle's unique material collection and repurposing systems. Jean also talks with Joyce Gorrell, her colleague at the Missouri Botanical Garden, who serves on the Garden's Green Team and manages an extensive internal Terracycle practice for Garden employees.
TerraCycle works with more than 100 major brands in the U.S. and 22 countries overseas to collect used packaging and products that would otherwise be destined for landfills. It repurposes that waste into new, innovative materials and products that are available online and through major retailers. Thousands of school, business and community organizations TerraCycle, around the world.
What if the grains we eat could be grown in a biodiverse ecosystem - like a prairie - instead of fossil fuel and chemical-intensive row-cropping? The Land Institute, a research non-profit in Salina, Kansas, has been working wth plants to achive this goal for nearly 40 years.
As TLI's founder and president Wes Jackson explains, humankind's decision (10,000 years ago!) to eat annual, instead of perennial, plants has spawned an agriculture that rips up the Earth and overwhelms natural communities. But his team's work is showing the way to reverse these consequences, by crossing our grain mainstays with their wild perennial relatives.
It's a ground-restoring body of work!
Wes and Joan Jackson welcome Jean Ponzi for a tour and interview.
This conversation, recorded on Earthworms' Summer Vacation, is a very special one-on-one with one of the environmental greats of our time, biologist Wes Jackson.
Learn more - and contribute your perspective at The Land Institute's annual Prairie Festival in Salina, KS - September 25-17, 2015
What's in those cleaning products under your sink - and in your school, workplace or church closet? Chemicals of all kinds. Many beneficial, many more harmful to human and environmental health. The U.S. EPA has a new evaluation and labeling program to help Americans make a Safer Choice. This label on a product tells you at a glance that a host of significant science-based factors have been documented to earn the right to market as a Safer Choice.
Marcus Rivas, environmental engineer with the U.S. EPA's Region VII office (Earthworms host Jean Ponzi's and longtime esteemed colleague/Green Pal) tells the why, how, what and more about kind of products used around us every day - and how Safer Choice can help individuals and businesses safeguard health. Our tax dollars at work!
Can your business use a Pollution Prevention Intern? EPA's Pollution Prevention (P2) program also works with universities nation-wide to support professional training for students and sustainability implementation and documentation for businesses.
Music: "Washboard Suzie" by Zydeco Crawdaddies - from "KDHX Music Sampler Vol. 1" (1999)
Millennials are truly a Global generation. Lifetime traveler Amy Mank is building a business on her demographic's values of making a difference while making a profit - and having FUN!
Amy's blog TrekkingGreen.com features travel fashion, well-being tips for any journey and Eco-Tourism outpost reviews, seasoned with her thoughful philosophy. This Earthworms conversation bridges Boomer and Millennial viewpoints, as Amy shares how human travel is evolving, sustainably.
Music: Balkan Twirl by Sandy Weltman and the Carolbeth Trio - from "KDHX Music Sampler Vol. 1" (1999)
Plus - your IN-vitation to support the creativity KDHX powers in St. Louis, and around the listening world! INdependent, INvested, IN your heart, mind, ears. All IN for KDHX!
Please go to KDHX.org/support to show you're ALL IN - and tell 'em Earthworms Podcast sent you! THANKS!
Run a radio station on volunteer people-power?
KCMJ is in the earliest stages of this community-building effort. Dave Gardener, KCMJ's volunteer Station Manager, took a leave from his lucrative industrial film-making career to jump-start this "Center for Media Justice" on the Rocky Mountain front range. Licensed by the FCC for a startup 100 watts, KCMJ is still limited to streaming live their 24-7 programming - while they fundraise to earn transmitter space!
KDHX has been doing it for 27+ years, with Earthworms producer/host Jean Ponzi involved for all but the first of them. We're supremely fortunate to broadcast at 42,000 watts in a major media market. And we've worked, struggled and squeaked through a lot of the same issues facing KCMJ now.
This candid conversation bounces questions and perspectives about what works, what didn't, what might, and who cares about it all between two broadcast media veterans. Why is people-powered radio still important in the digital media marketplace? Can it still influence community health? And can it succeed?
Dave and Jean's visit in the KCMJ studio (housed in a room at Rocky Mountain Public Television) pretty much say YES - with a lot to consider along the way.
Is KDHX important to YOU? Make a contribution today at www.kdhx.org/support - and note that you're an Earthworms Podcast listener! THANK YOU!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) lets eaters put our money where our forks are, right up front. Subscribers share both risks and harvests. At Earthworms, Crystal Stevens (and her husband Eric) are our farmers!
This week's conversation highlights weeds and weather, the demands and rewards of a near-to-city farm wife's life, and the blessings of connecting community to farm. Specifically the farm at LaVista, on the bluffs of Godfrey, Illinois.
Are CSA meals a workable option? For sure, the fridge bulges with greens some weeks, but then we turn on the stove and KDHX and cook up something organic, local, healthy and delicious. And it's worth every bit of chopping and planning to support as well as eat from land that's worked with love.
LaVista CSA Farm has a limited batch of mid-season, pro-rated subscriptions available now, just in time for summer tomatoes. Tell 'em Earthworms sent you.
Walter (Stormy) Crawford was one of Earth's colorful and influential denizens. He parlayed his love of wild creatures into work that's known and respected world-wide, as founder and longtime director of the World Bird Sanctuary. His unexpected death on July 17, 2015 at age 70 opens a vast space in the fabric of environmental education and conservation action, in St. Louis and beyond.
This interview with Walter Crawford from the Earthworms Archives was broadcast live on KDHX on July 26, 2010.
Roger Holloway, World Bird's longime Director of Operations, joins Jean Ponzi to introduce this tribute. Walter Crawford's colleagues - staff, volunteers and friends - wil continue this work, healing and returning to the wild injured birds of prey, and teaming human-bird resources to educate all ages.
Every Thursday in August, St. Louisans and visitors will thrill to the power of eagles, owls, hawks, and ravens as THEY participate in the World Bird Sanctuary summer evening concerts. Birds in Concert wil feature Walter's favorites on August 13. Every show features The Raptor Project, World Bird's high-flying house band. Concerts are free - come early, stroll the grounds.
Music: Wonderful Bird Song (by Joe Hoffman) from The Raptor Project first CD, Save The Future (Raptor Records, 2009) - used by permission, with Earthworms thanks.
Meet Mark H.X. Glenshaw: college library staffer by day, Owl Prowler by night, and self-styled Naturalist extraordinaire. For over 9 years, in all weathers, Mark has been observing a mated pair of Great Horned Owls (and their 26 owlets!) in this country's second largest urban park. He generously helps adults and kids to get out in nature too.
Charles and Sarah, as Mark calls these owls, invite you to meet their human student, fan and champion in this true tale of urban ecology.
Learn more at ForestParkOwls.blogspot.com.
Music: Divertimento - W.A. Mozart, via Kevin MacLeod
Studying food policy at NYU, Leanne Brown wanted to help SNAP recipents eat well on the "$4 a day" provided to over 46 million Americans. Her cookbook GOOD AND CHEAP steamed a 2014 Kickstarter campaign, getting 40,000 copies donated to non-profits or sold at cost. This month's new editon from Workman Publishing will distribute on a buy-one, give-one model. PDF version available too!
Leanne shares stories from cookbook recipients, favorite recipes and her ideas about food and social equity. From pulled pork to food systems, this conversation is a menu of Earthworms' specialty: Green Views You Can Use.
Music: Jamie by Yankee Racers, performed at KDHX 6-29-15
Architect-turned-farmer Mary Ostafi's dream of Growing Food Where People Live is bearing fruit - and chard, eggplant, tomatos and flowers - atop a storage-unit building in downtown St. Louis.
Mary's leadership has also harvested major $$ support, from crowd-funds to a Metropolitan Sewer District Project Clear grant. With veg in the "ground" and a biz-plan in hand, this city's first rooftop farm is growing connections between loft-living eaters, social service job programs, water conservation needs, and much more.
Food Roof features include raised beds, aeroponics, a drainage board that can contain 17,000 gallons of rainwater (which won't run off to overload storm sewers), bee hives and a Milkweeds for Monarchs pollinator garden. Living lunch from a flat-roof ecosystem!
This week's Earthworms podcast is a taste of what's evolving as the Urban Harvest Food Roof Farm - featured this week in the New York Times!
Music: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 - J.S. Bach (he liked turnips)
Peter Raven is St. Louis' own Hero of the Planet. Since 1990 he's been a Senior Science Advisor to the Pontifical Academy of Science, most recently one of the minds behind the letter from Pope Francis, released on June 18, framing climate change as a moral issue for all people of this Earth.
Dr. Raven, who is President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, talks with Earthworms host Jean Ponzi about the papal message, about this moment for humankind, and about the potential each one of us has to make the changes needed to heal and protect the Earth.
Read the climate change encyclical, Laudato Si' - and be assured that our individual efforts do matter in a world where "climate is a common good" and ". . . .nothing is indifferent to us."
Thanks to Earthworms engineer, Andy Coco.
Music: Artifact by Kevin MacLeod
This summer watch the streets of St. Louis for a unique rolling service: a grocery store in a Metro bus. Earthworms guest Jeremy Goss and his partners Colin Dowling and Tej Azad are medical students and an MBA about to launch some serious business.
The St. Louis Metro Market will address food access issues rooted in poverty and racial discrimination. It will run as a business, generating revenue through at-cost sales in low-income neighborhoods and market-rate sales on corporate campuses. Produce supplied by community gardens and sustainable farms will help nourish our Local Food sector, as the bus delivers healthy food to folks in need. Plus cooking demos - and SAMPLES! - will encourage customers to prepare healthy meals.
This inspiring conversation blooms with "good and great" responses to needs of people, the planet - and the process of making a decent living.
Follow Jeremy and the Metro bus grocery on Twitter @STLMetroMarket