Soil Sponge Workshop

Regenerating the Soil Sponge
for Flood, Drought, and Wildfire Resilience

Scheduling and Delivery

  • This is a five-part live discussion course offered either as a single 5-day week (2.5 hours per day), or once a week for five weeks.
  • The first workshop shall be a 5-week event (once per week for 5 weeks) and is scheduled for the following 5 dates: June 6, 13, 20, 27, and July 11, 2022. There will be 2 sessions per day, to suit people in different time zones. The morning session will run from 10:00-12:30 and the afternoon session will run from 17:00-19:30 Eastern time. Students can only attend one session per day.
  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session you can get caught-up.
  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration.

Workshop Overview

Get ready! This workshop on whole systems landscape function will give you an entirely new view of climate, soils, water, and economics. You will meet people from around the world, and come away feeling inspired by a new understanding of how we can address many of our major challenges through simple changes in land management. You will learn why the living matrix of a healthy “soil sponge” is fundamental infrastructure that makes life on land possible, and how the work of other species creates our climate and weather, and underlies all successful economies.

If you sign up, be prepared to get into deep discussions with other participants, and to reflect on your own lived experience. The class includes small group discussions, large group discussions, journaling, the use of living systems frameworks, as well as short informational lectures and powerpoints.

Completion of the course also serves to fulfill the prerequisite requirement for those who want to join the international Land and Leadership Development Community.

The regeneration of a deep soil sponge can provide interrelated benefits such as:

  • Healthier crops, animals, and people
  • Abundant clean water
  • Cooler regional temperatures
  • Reduction of wildfire risk
  • Resilience to flood and drought
  • Reduced erosion, dredging, and road repairs
  • Higher farm profitability
  • Prevention of algae blooms and dead zones
  • Cleaner air
  • Increased biodiversity
  • Reduced conflicts over resources
  • Improved local economies
  • Putting atmospheric carbon to work creating landscapes that support all of life.

This isn’t about using heavy equipment to move soil around. This isn’t about buying products to spray. This is about understanding the work of other species and how we can collaborate with that work to create a better future. In addition to many stories from the diverse experiences within the group, we will look at successes of innovative land managers who are providing real value to their communities, reducing damages from storms and crop diseases, and restoring the dignity and profitability of farming.

Participants will gain:

  • a working knowledge of whole systems landscape function
  • an increased ability to evaluate land management decisions, practices, and policies
  • a clearer picture of soil’s central role in addressing current economic, social, and environmental needs

Workshop Topics

Landscapes that Work for All Life

A living soil sponge can soak up rain, store and filter water, and provide health, resilience, and thriving economies for the communities that grow from it.  What is the soil sponge and why is it essential infrastructure for life on land? How does biology slow and sink water on a total landscape scale? How does nature grow a soil sponge, and how can we participate? How does a healthy soil sponge provide resilience to flooding, drought, and wildfires?

Collaborating with the Essential Workforce of Other Species 

What is the essential work of other species, and what are the job descriptions in a functional landscape? How does biological work regulate local and global temperatures, create rain, and drive the water and carbon cycles? What currencies does this natural workforce use in its economy, and how can we participate in a larger economy (without money) that enfolds our own? What are the principles of land management that this natural workforce uses, and how can we apply those principles to farming and ranching? 

Measuring Change for Long Term Success 

How do you know if your soil’s  structure and function is improving? What tests are useful and affordable? What apps can you use to save your data? Should you share your data or keep it private? When should a project use monitoring, and when is it safe to trust in computer-simulated models of landscape function? 

Money, Life, and Land 

How can we deepen our understanding of the relationship between the soil sponge and functioning ecosystems and economies? Where will the money for regeneration come from? What are the costs of degraded land, and who is paying those costs? Can we redirect those funds toward land regeneration? Are the emerging markets for soil carbon, water, and ecosystem services actually working from a living systems perspective? If not, how can we improve them? 

Choosing Effective Intervention Points 

Why are some regenerative land projects gaining enormous momentum while others are stalling? What role do human relationships play in effective projects? When do “experts” and research studies help make change, and when do they disempower people from taking action? How do we design projects and policies that grow human and ecological capability and engage people for the long haul? 

(Note: these topics may change somewhat based on our discussions, but this gives an idea of where we likely will go.)

About your Instructor
Didi Pershouse

Didi’s teaching style is specifically geared toward creating long-term working groups of diverse people with common aims: clean water and abundant food for all of life; healthy, safe, and resilient communities; thriving ecosystems and economies; and purposeful lives.
Didi Pershouse is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She teaches participatory workshops both in person and online, helping to show the nested relationships between soil health, human health, water cycles, and climate resiliency. She is the founder of the Land and Leadership Initiative and the Center for Sustainable Medicine, and a co-founder of the “Can we Rehydrate California?” Initiative. She is an independent trainer and curriculum developer for the UN-FAO Farmer Field School Program and the Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming Initiative in India. She was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day in 2017.

FAQs

Is this course completely online?

Yes. The workshop is held on Zoom. You will need to download Zoom to your computer if you don’t already have it. Please do this ahead of time so you don’t miss the start of the first session.

Is this course self paced?

No. This is a five-part, live discussion course.

  • The first workshop is a 5-week event (once per week for 5 weeks). Sessions last ~2.5 hours and will be held once a week for five weeks.

 

  • Sessions are scheduled for the following 5 dates: June 6, 13, 20, 27, and July 11, 2022.

 

  • There will be 2 sessions per day, to suit people in different time zones. The morning session will run from 10:00-12:30 and the afternoon session will run from 17:00-19:30 Eastern time. Students can only attend one session per day.

 

  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration.

 

  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session you can get caught-up.

When can I start?

This is a  five-part, live discussion course. 

  • The first workshop is a 5-week event (once per week for 5 weeks). Sessions last ~2.5 hours and will be held once a week for five weeks. 
  • Sessions are scheduled for the following 5 dates: June 6, 13, 20, 27, and July 11, 2022
  • There will be 2 sessions per day, to suit people in different time zones. The morning session will run from 10:00-12:30 and the afternoon session will run from 17:00-19:30 Eastern time. Students can only attend one session per day.
  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration.  
  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session you can get caught-up.

What will I learn?

Whether you are a farmer, a policymaker, a journalist, or an investor trying to make a change in the world, after taking this course you will see the potential of simple strategic land-management decisions to create the conditions for land to naturally regenerate its water-absorbing sponge-like structure and function. Click here to download a full class description.

How many sessions are in the Soil Sponge Workshop?

There are 5 sessions, each 2.5 hours long.

How much does it cost?

The workshop costs $300USD

How long will it take me to complete it?

  • The workshop is a 5-week event (once per week for 5 weeks) and is scheduled for the following 5 dates:
    • June 6, 13, 20, 27, and July 11, 2022
  • There will be 2 sessions per day, to suit people in different time zones. The morning session will run from 10:00-12:30 and the afternoon session will run from 17:00-19:30 Eastern time. Students can only attend one session per day.
  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session you can get caught-up.
  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration. 

Do I need any qualifications to start the course?

The courses are designed for people with no background in the field.

What will I take away from this course?

Whether you are a farmer, a policymaker, a journalist, or an investor trying to make a change in the world, after taking this course you will see the potential of simple strategic land-management decisions to create the conditions for land to naturally regenerate its water-absorbing sponge-like structure and function.