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)
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
For 6 years (this month) an (amazing!) group of ordinary people have worked to keep a coal ash landfill out of the floodway of the Missouri River. Not saying "no landfill" or "close the coal plant." The Labadie Environmental Organization, LEO, marshals the resources of scientific, medical, legal and engineering experts who pitch in alongside farmers, parents, business owners - hundreds of engaged FOLKS - in efforts to get coal ash disposal sensibly and safely sited. Struggle? Yes. Crucial? LEO members and supporters believe so, and they are WORKING on this issue.
Guests: Petra Haynes and Patricia Schuba - LEO core organizers
Music: R. Roger Pryor - traditional instrumental performed 1997 at The Focal Point
Your engagement is welcome, needed and will be rewarding. Time-sensitive responses include June 11, 2015 Franklin County (MO) Commission testimony date and submission of email testimony. See LEO on Facebook for details.
Missouri's largest private landowner, Leo Drey grew a mighty forest of conservation impacts, cumulatively and literally, over his 98 years (1917 - 2015).
In this first edition of Earthworms' new podcast era, Jean Ponzi welcomes historians and fellow enviro-champions to honor a beloved colleague, leader and friend. Guests are:
Learn more about the life and work of Leo Drey - and explore conservation opportunities YOU can enjoy and support - from the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.
Jean talks with Pen Augustin, author of "Waves of Light: Messages From Nature to Heal Our Planet", about her work as an energy healing practitioner, and how humans can consciously use lessons from creatures in nature to improve themselves and the Earth.
Jean discusses the 26th annual St. Louis Earth Day with the event’s Marketing and Communication Coordinator, Jen Meyerscough. Jen tells us about what new features to expect this year, and what it takes to keep this event thriving and growing after a quarter-century.
Anne Milford, Communications Coordinator for Great Rivers Greenway, explains how advancements for bike lanes are calming traffic and benefitting the community. This month, Great Rivers Greenway is celebrating 135 miles of bike routes being established throughout St. Louis City and County, and Anne explains what’s next to help low-impact travelers get around and travel safely.
Serena Cochran, a farmer that runs Stuart Farm with her husband Fred, talks with Jean about raising meat chickens humanely and sustainably.
Patricia Schuba, Citizen Activist for the Labadie Environmental Organization, discusses an intensely debated proposal to build a coal ash landfill in close proximity to the Missouri River, the source of much of the St. Louis area’s drinking water.