Host Jean Ponzi presents information, education and conversation with activists and experts on environmental issues and all things "green." Produced in the studios of KDHX Community Media in St. Louis, MO.
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Conversations in Green: host Jean Ponzi presents information, education and conversation with activists and experts on environmental issues and all things green.

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Apr 13, 2016

Head south in St. Louis to Cherokee Street for a new celebration of Earth Day at The Blue Pearl. Owner Julie Sommers and friends are gathering music - speakers - poetry - great food and drink, and Green activities for kids to celebrate our Blue Planet! Festivities start at 3 p.m. on Friday April 22 - EARTH DAY! 

One special speaker is Earthworms guest Tabitha Tripp, a life-long tree lover, dirt worshipper and resident of Southern Illinois. Tabitha reports on issues - and the beauty of her part of her state - from the Heartwood Forest Council and SAFE, Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment. She shares some original, personal poetry from her activist experience. In her spare time, Tabitha is a mom, a poet and painter and one hellacious cook. 

Other Blue Pearl Earth Day speakers will address Pop-Up Prairies, Cool Roofs, Energy and Nuclear Waste issues - and much more. Music will jam up all spaces!

Cherokee is one of the liveliest, oldest, most diverse street scenes in town. This year Earth lovers will flock there - and rock there! Hope to see you there too!

Music: Butter II recorded at KDHX by Ian Ethan Case

Apr 13, 2016

Earthworms' KDHX listening area is rich in water, surrounded by rivers, blessed with (thankfully) abundant rainfall - yet do we SEE these priceless resources around us? Artists Libby Reuter and Sun Smith-Foret are about to open our eyes.

Libby and Joshua Rowan continue to join their sculptural and photographic forces in the eloquent project Watershed Cairns, water marked with art.  Libby's glass sculptures are created to be photographed by Josh in sensitive or damaged or simply glorious watershed locales. This multi-year creative flow has built a stunning body of work, seen in St. Louis and other cities. 

Sun Smith-Foret's new Riverwork Project incorporates river images by 60 regional artists in a regional, multi-racial collaboration that has produced a 300-foot long pieced, layered, painted and embroidered textile. Riverwork is also designed to pack up and travel - upstream, downriver and into the minds and hearts of viewers.

See Water will be exhibited at the St. Louis Artist Guild - 12 North Jackson in Clayton, Missouri - opening reception 5-8 pm on Friday April 22 - EARTH DAY! - and on view through May 12. Join a Walkabout with the artists on Wednesday May 4, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

How will you See Water after seeing this work - and hearing this Earthworms conversation?

Music: Butter II recorded live at KDHX by Ian Ethan Case

Apr 6, 2016

Artist Sarah Loynd creates around sustainable themes - and wears her messages, boldly. Her media ranges from an invasive plant to villages in Greece abandoned as bauxite mining takes over, to humane concerns for both cows and children. She doesn't flinch from tough topics as she fashions (literally) head-turning pieces

About to earn a BFA from Maryville University, Loynd's work in the Studio Art 2016 Senior Show will be on view April 11 - May 12 in May Foundation Gallery on the Maryville campus in Chesterfield, with an opening reception on April 14, 5-7 p.m. "Creative Eradication," her bush honeysuckle gown, was recently on view at the Missouri Botanical Garden. 

Music: Abdiel - performed live at KDHX by Dave Black.

Related Earthworms Conversations: Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat (March 2, 2016)


Mar 30, 2016

The Missouri Prairie Foundation is celebrating 50 years of studying, growing, restoring and promoting one of the most productive  - and dwindling - ecosystems on Earth. MPF Director, Carol Davit talks with Earthworms' Jean Ponzi about these "seas of grass" and their importance to both repairing and supporting human interaction with nature. Jon Wingo also joins this conversation, adding his considerable experience as Board past-President of MPF and President of DJM Ecological Services, a landscaping firm that specializes in work with native plants (enjoy Jon's and DJM's work on any St. Louis roam around the wilder areas of Forest Park).

MPF now manages Grow Native! one of the nation's most outstanding and prolifically engaging native plant promotional programs. The twofold purpose of Grow Native! is to increase supply and increase demand, working with native plants. Look for the purple tags or display areas in almost any locally-owned garden center and you'll see living evidence of Grow Native! achievements  - plus you'll be strongly tempted to try some natives on your own grounds.

MPF events this spring will include plant sales, Bioblitz on an original remnant prairie near Mt. Vernon MO, a regional celebration of National Prairie Day (June 4), Grow Native! workshops - and more. Membership in MPF brings you the quarterly Missouri Prairie Journal, a delightful hybrid of public information and scholarly research.  

Music:  Limehouse Blues - recorded live at KDHX by Del McCoury Band

Related Earthworms Conversations: 

Wes Jackson, Founder of The Land Institute: Growing Our Food in Prairies (9-2-15)


Mar 22, 2016

It's April 22 on the calendar - it's much more around Earthworms' town, thanks to the year-round Earth-tacular efforts of our local non-profit St. Louis Earth Day

Today's guests are SLED Executive Director Jen Meyerscough and Bob Henkel (Champion of Compost), who heads up event Greening spring through fall by Recycling On The Go, and helps coordinate special SLED events.

Details on the Recycling Extravaganza - this year on Sunday April 3, 10 am to 2 p.m. - include just some of the 20+ businesses and service organizations who'll be on hand to accept and properly deal with all kinds of hard-to-recycle (or reuse) items, from prescription drugs to carpeting to Mardi Gras beads. Check out the lineup online and pack your bike, car or buggy to dole out your items as you work your way around the St. Louis Community College - Forest Park campus parking lot. You - and your basement - will be glad you recycled at REX! 

And Earthworms looks ahead to the best Earth Day Festival in the USA, put on by folks who know their stuff and packed with good learning, Green eating, groovy music, unparalleled people-watching - and FUN. On Sunday April 24, 10 am to 6 p.m., join your fellow Earthlings on The Muny grounds in Forest Park for a planet party that produces almost Zero waste.

Earthworms will see you there - starting at twilight on Saturday April 23, for SLED's big-fun fundraiser Earth Day Eve.

Thanks to engineer Haley Hudson.

Music: Mayor Harrison's Fedora, performed live at KDHX by Kevin Buckley and Ian Walsh. 

Mar 15, 2016

Permaculture is a design discipline that strives to work with nature, pointing us to the solution that's found in the problem. Permaculture practitioner, teacher and advocate Tao Orion has drawn on her work in Oregon's Willamette Valley to research and write "Beyond the WAR on Invasive Species" (2015, Chelsea Green). She presents long-view ecological perspectives on the kinds of eco-problems exemplified by invasive species - and how we humans can change our thinking, our processes, our questions into accord with Earth's systems. From edible landscapes to herbicide use, this conversation challenges easy-answer thinking.

This show follows up on resources shared (March 1) by St. Louis leaders of the Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habit, an effort to tackle one our region's most problematic invasive species 

Earthworms values good questions - with thanks to you for listening and considering!

Music: Magic 9 performed live at KDHX studios by Infamous Stringdusters.

Related Earthworms interviews: Growing our food crops as prairies? - with Wes Jackson of The Land Institute (9- 2- 2015)

Missouri's Pioneer Forest exemplifies ecological stewardship - from A Tribute to Leo Drey (6-2-2015)


Mar 9, 2016

Move over, motors. In 2015, St. Louis ranked 5th among the 50 largest US cities where bike commuting is growing fast. Ranks of two-wheeled regular travelers here have swelled 270% since 2000. Cycling is a real commuter option, plus being anytime FUN.

Taylor March takes this Earthworms podcast on a try-cycling tour. He rides to work as Education and Encouragement Manager for Trailnet, STL's long-serving active living non-profit org. You'll be encouraged to get around Greener by Taylor's perspectives on cycling safety, confident commuting, and how this region is truly transforming travel routes to support low-carbon, high-health alternative transportation.

Find Trailnet on Facebook for special events, from get-togethers like Bikes & Brews to regional amenities on Bike To Work Day (May 20, 2016), which generates miles of data to make the case for civic investing in cycling infrastructure. Memberships support Trailnet's advocacy, work that's cranking' vitality for St. Louis bicycling culture. 

See you in the bike lanes!

Music: Hunter's Permit by Mr. Sun, recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis.

Related Earthworms Conversations: Elizabeth Simons of Great Rivers Greenway previewed STL potentials for BikeShare, a program working in cities like Portland OR and Washington DC (May 14, 2014). We're not quite there yet, but the upticks in cycling Trailnet supports are laying foundations for this urban amenity. 

Mar 2, 2016

Ah, that first refreshing flush of Green! Enlivening our yards and roadways. Aaahhh, so lovely . . . . NOT! The earliest leaf-er in our area is one of our most Invasive Species: Lonicera maackii, Bush Honeysuckle. The Kudzu of Missouri. AAARRRRGGGHHHH!

What's a person with a honeysuckle "privacy hedge" to do? 

Theodore Smith of Forest Park Forever explains why this plant is such a problem - and how to remove it, safely and effectively. Artisan and woodworker Dale Dufer invites you to consider this too-abundant plant matter as a creative resource. His project Think About Tables is inspiring adults and youth to make something useful and beautiful from a plant that really grows quite elegantly (except too much, here). And Meg Hoester of the Missouri Botanical Garden invites you to participate in this region's first-ever Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat, coming up March 5-13. Environmental groups all around St. Louis are teaming up - before tick and chigger season - to lead volunteers in bush honeysuckle removal, learn why this plant is such a problem, and get introduced to Native Plants as healthy habitat replacements, when you get rid of your bush honeysuckle. 

Lace up your sturdy boots, grab a clipper and give Bush Honeysuckle a pull! 

Music: Balkan Twirl - Sandy Weltman and the Carolbeth Trio, recorded at KDHX.

Related Earthworms Conversations:

Rebecca Girresch on Maryville University's Goat Project, a cloven-hooved experiment in bush honeysuckle remediation. (April 15, 2014)

Dr. Kyra Krakos on Maryville University's Bauhaus Botany bush honeysuckle art exhibition (October 14, 2014)

Horticulturist Bill Davit (one of Missouri's Living Treasures!) on growing prairies, ecosystems where Native Plants are splendid. (September 11, 2014)

Remembering Edgar Dennison, the illustrious early advocate of gardening with Native Plants and author of the classic "Missouri Wildflowers." With Missouri Botanical Garden's Dr. George Yatskievych and Scott Woodbury. (April, 2014)


Feb 24, 2016

You know the feeling: stuck in traffic, creeping along, ticking off the minutes and getting just ticked. And maybe you've felt that choke in the air, when vehicle pollutants heat up in the summer, and air quality veers off into a ditch.

RideFinders is driving a change to these scenes. Using federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds applied toward achieving Clean Air Act goals, this local agency is charged with getting some vehicles off the road, by grouping commuters into Carpools and Vanpools. SJ Morrison, RideFinders' Director of Marketing and Planning, tells Earthworms how these services can save you money, cut your stress and clean up the air our region breathes. 

Cost to you, the commuter? Free. Including the service "Guaranteed Ride Home" that covers a cab ride (up to 4x a year) if an emergency arises on your Carpool day. RideFinders maintains a database of over 12,000 St. Louis area commuters, to help anyone in a 12-county region match up with a convenient ride. Even a couple of days a week, carpooling contributes to cleaner air.

RideFinders tracks all results of these investments - and works with employers to get the word out as efficiently and broadly as possible. Could RideFinders work for you?

RideFinders is operated by Madison County Transit, serving the St. Louis region since 1994.

Music: Lime House Blues, recorded at KDHX studios by Del McCoury - and picked just for you SJ, with thanks for being a KDHX fan!

Feb 10, 2016

The St. Louis region is crisscrossed, surrounded and blessed with rivers and streams. Thanks to this week's guest group, Great Rivers Greenway, these natural features are increasingly connected by a network of trails and greenways, a vibrant invitation to folks of all ages to explore our area, and enjoy more of our lives outside!

Elizabeth Simons, GRG's Community Programs Manager, and Conservation Programs Manager Angie Weber talk about their organization's history, purpose, projects and plans, including the call this month for the public to advise the next five years of GRG's work. Efforts of the past 15 years to purchase and lease land, build trails and connect natural features are now being enhanced by ecological restoration, native planting, and water-conserving greenway elements. This is 21st century, habitat-hip get-around-Green great stuff!

Open House events on February 17 at the Bridgeton Trails Branch Library and on February 23 at the Missouri History Museum will showcase GRG achievements and solicit community input. 

A significant fact about GRG is that residents of St. Louis City and County and St. Charles County have twice voted to support these resources with our tax dollars (2000, 2013). Tax support on the Illinois side of the KDHX listening area sustains more inter-connective open spaces. GRG circulates an eNewsletter, including volunteer opportunities, fun events and progress reports.

Multiple reasons to learn more - and add your perspective to the public comment mix, by electronic survey if you can't make it to an Open House. Check out these active-living, nature-loving resources!

Music: Extremist Stomp, recorded live at KDHX by Pokey LaFarge and Ryan Spearman.

Feb 3, 2016

Today's Earthworms guest is one of the planet's most respected honeybee behaviorists, certainly a researcher and author whose bee-buzz is FUN (and useful!) to read. Dr. Thomas Dyer Seeley is Cornell University's Horace White Professor in Biology, in this biology powerhouse institution's Department of Neurology and Behavior. In more common terms, Tom Seeley is a scientist who loves honeybees and has learned deeply from bee colonies, domestic and wild. 

What is honeybee society? Is it "Democracy," really? What enables a Queen Bee to support the entire colony that she alone mothers? And what-all goes on with bees that, in turn, keep the colony going around the year, when nectar is flowing and when plants, water and earth are frozen . . . 

What's different about wild and domestic bee colonies? And what can today's avid amateur beekeepers (hundreds in St. Louis alone!) learn from wild honeybee populations, and potentially adapt to help domestic bee survival?

BeeSpeakSTL, our regional beekeeping speaker series, will host Tom Seeley here on Saturday February 27, 11 am - 3 pm at the Missouri Botanical Garden. May this Earthworms conversation pique your interest in hearing this Super Bee Guy's talks. Maybe you'll even step out and try the Apis melifera - Homo sapiens dance.

Our species share "Democracy" - yes, at least more or less - and Dancing, and for sure a taste for Sweetness. 

Thanks to Isabee's and for coordinating this interview.
Thanks to Haley and Andy for engineering.

Music: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 by J.S. Bach (a notable "B") performed by Kevin MacLeod.

Jan 27, 2016

The pope says Climate Change is real - so it must be true! Seriously: he calls humankind, in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, to change our ways and protect "our common home."

In Earthworms' home St. Louis, the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help are hosting learning sessions to dig into this message and its personal meaning for everyday life. Sr. Rosalie Wisniewski and Sr. Cheryl Kemner join Jean Ponzi in this podcast's mini-exploration of the landmark papal call to environmental awareness and action. 

The Sisters' winter discussion series is part of their ministry since 2007, Franciscans For Earth. Activity includes their organic farm in DeSoto, MO, monthly screenings and discussions of local, national and international films on a wide range of enviro-topics - and luscious heirloom tomatoes grown with love and shared each summer at local farmers' markets.

Related Earthworms conversations:

Dr. Peter Raven, senior advisor to the Papal Academy of Science, talked about the climate encyclical - and his experience as it was crafted - just after its release (6-22-15).

The Franciscans' January film was "From the Pipeline" by St. Louis filmmaker Caitlin Zera whose documentary covers tar sands pipeline issues (1-6-16).

 Music: Hunter's Permit performed live at KDHX by Mr. Sun (3-13-14)


Jan 20, 2016

How much time do you spend in buildings? At work, at home, in places where we learn, play and pray:  experts figure we Americans are typically in buildings over 90% of our lives, not counting being inside vehicles!

The U.S. Green Building Council works toward a "built environment" that maintains our personal health, while also safeguarding water and air, minimizing waste of all kinds and using energy as efficiently as possible.  In St. Louis, USGBC's Missouri Gateway Chapter has been actively advancing these goals for 15 years. Earthworms congratulates USGBC MO Gateway, talking with Executive Director Emily Andrews and chapter leader Nick Bristow, a senior associate engineer with Forum Studios.

What effects has this green building work had in our area - economically, environmentally and for professionals involved in the green building movement? Hear all about it in this Earthworms podcast - and check out one (or more) of our USGBC chapter's regular programs in their anniversary year. Topics will range from "benchmarking" for energy efficiency (February), to wellness in buildings (March) to a "Sweet Sustainability" program in July spotlighting the green headquarters of the Mars Candy Company.

Music: The Exotic Future of Money by The Kinetics, recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis.

Jan 13, 2016


Humans and honeybees work together - as both hobby and livelihood!

As the Eastern Missouri Beekeeping Association (EMBA) prepares to host their 9th Annual Beekeeping Workshop on February 9th, Earthworms welcomes Bee advocates to the KDHX studios to talk about this hugely popular activity that also happens to sustain a lot of the food crops we enjoy. Guests are Scott Jackson, a St. Louis beekeeper and EMBA board member, and Mark Dykes, chief of the Apiary Inspection Service for the State of Texas and guest instructor for the upcoming EMBA workshop. 

The honeybee, Apis melifera, is not a U.S. native (Europeans brought their bees and hives to North America as early as the 1400s), but these fascinating insects and their complex society have established a super-productive niche here: pollinating one-third of our crops (dramatized in a Whole Foods produce section) and annually contributing to over $14 billion in crop production. But bee health issues -  including virroa mite infestations, Colony Collapse Disorder, pesticide use and habitat loss - are threatening this productivity.

Hobby beekeepers are truly helping to sustain honeybee vitality, while contributing to research aimed at sustainably protecting honeybees and their habitat. Could this BEE the year you join forces with these beneficial bugs? Hundreds of St. Louis area beekeepers will welcome you and help you build skills!

Music: "Remington Ride" performed by Western Satellites live at KDHX 1/15/11

Jan 6, 2016

Check the prices at gas pumps. Do we NEED to extract Tar Sands, the dirtiest, hardest-to-refine, lowest value, Carbon-belching petroleum squeezin' on the planet?

But we are, and St. Louis filmmaker Caitlin Zera has documented issues with transporting it, across Missouri on the 593 mile route called the Flanagan South Pipeline. It's run by Canadian fossil fuel delivery giant Enbridge, the folks behind a 2010 oil dump into the Kalamazoo River. Zera and her crew traveled the Flanagan Pipeline's route through Missouri, interviewing landowners, small-town civic officials, and environmental advocates about the process and permitting (or lax of it) associated with this pipeline - which typify tar sands pipelines anywhere. One of her goals in making this film is raising public awareness about tar sands pipelines and what actions we can take in the face of this petroleum-based bum deal.

From the Pipeline will be featured in five free local January screenings with Q & A, January 12 through 26, as part of the ongoing STL Eco Film Festival, a collaborative of local faith-based environmental groups. Find details and view a segment of the film at

Zera returns to Earthworms tonight with this major film focus. We had the pleasure of talking with her in 2013 about her short feature End of Linea quirkly, loving portrait of two men and their devotion to typewriters. She works now (when not directing and producing) at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, coordinating membership and events for this regional enviro-advocate organization. Thanks, Caitlin, for your perceptive, articulate, diligent efforts!

Music: Hunter's Permit by Mr. Sun - recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis

Dec 29, 2015

Sure, we gotta eat - but how we get the food we need needs big reforms. Our health and Earth's is directly linked to where food comes from and how it's grown. Food Policy is a tool to sustainably hoe all these necessary rows:

  • a living wage for farmers 
  • agriculture that protects and restores natural resources
  • healthy and affordable food for folks at every income level

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment now steps into this niche, coordinating a new St. Louis  regional Food Policy Coalition, thanks to a multi-year grant from the Missouri Foundation For Health. Melissa Vatterott - MCE's Food & Farm Coordinator - talks with Earthworms' host Jean Ponzi about the issues and opportunities she and her growing circle of partners are digging into, around the St. Louis Regional "Foodshed."

Food is the one environmental "issue" that can touch every human heart, engaging us in needed awareness and changes through stuff we all ENJOY and LOVE. 

Food Policy? Fork it over! And stay tuned to learn more, as these efforts grow.

Music: Magic 9 by Infamous Stringdusters - recorded live at KDHX-St. Louis

Recent Related Earthworms Conversations:

Dec 22, 2015

Global media of all stripes ably covered the recent COP21 Climate Summit in Paris. Earthworms contributes our part with this conversation with Dr. Jan Salick, Senior Curator at the Missouri Botanical Garden, who was invited by UNESCO to present at Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, a pre-conference event in association with the Climate Summit.

Jan Salick has studied and learned from indigenous peoples for decades, in her work as an ethnobotanist for the Garden. Her focus is the cultural relationships between plants and human beings. She hosted the first international symposium on indigenous people and climate change, in 2007, at the Environmental Change Institute of Oxford University. Her knowledge and, most importantly, her perspective is deeply rooted.

From her years climbing around the Himalayas, and her current work on flatter ground on Cape Cod, Jan Salick is an articulate voice for the delicate balance both plants and indigenous people must maintain to survive the human-generated impacts on Earth's climate. As you can hear, a week or so after Jan's "life-changing experiences" in Paris during the climate events, she remains optimistic that people - like plants - can adapt, and that our species can make changes, to reduce our collective impacts.

Personal, hopeful, and informed by experience: this report amid many from the landmark meeting of 196 nations, that actually reached an agreement needed to guide our species' work - of which there is no bloomin' lack!

Music: Mayor Harrison's Fedora, performed at KDHX by Kevin Barkley and Ian Walsh

Dec 15, 2015

St. Louisan David Henry was fed up, back in 2013, with public indifference to climate change, and denial of the science defining climate issues. He wanted to shake his fellow humans by the scruff of the neck or, as he says, "at least figure out how they became such idiots."

David is a gentle, calm, thoughtful guy; really not a scruff-shaker. But he does care passionately about dealing with this key problem of our time. So he embarked on a one-man climate action: walking - over 1,000 miles - and having conversations with people he met, about climate change. A vivid feature of this trip was the cart he rigged to carry his stuff. It looked, inadvertently, like a giant white mailbox, with his identity emblazoned on the side. This climate messenger had no trouble starting conversations!

David Walker

David Henry reported on his trip, fresh off the road, in a 2013 Earthworms conversation. Today, he shares the perspective he's gained in writing this tale, along with stories from his new book, David and the Giant Mailbox - Walking 1,000 Miles to Talk About Climate Change (2015, Good Boots Press)

David's climate of frustration has turned into a hopeful perspective, a resource we can sure use. And his determination to get us climate-dependent humans to ACT has not changed. 

Music: Audrey's Bounce, performed by Western Satellites in the studios of KDHX.



Dec 8, 2015

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



Dec 2, 2015

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.

Nov 25, 2015

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.

Nov 18, 2015

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.

Nov 10, 2015


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

Nov 4, 2015

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

Nov 4, 2015

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

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