Featured Keynote Speakers:

Nicole Foss 

Limits of Growth 


Nicole Foss is Senior Editor of The Automatic Earth, a big-picture website. Since January 2008, she and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going global credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and geopolitics in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it. 

Nicole is also an international speaker on energy and global finance. She has lectured in hundreds of locations across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and has made many media appearances in a variety of countries. In addition, she has been involved in teaching permaculture design certificate courses in Central America, Europe and Australia. 

Prior to the establishment of The Automatic Earth, Nicole was Editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and financial crisis. She also ran the Agri-Energy Producers' Association of Ontario, where she focused on farm-based biogas projects, grid connections for renewable energy and Feed-In Tariff policy development. While living in the UK she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where she specialised in nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and conducted research into electricity policy at the EU level. She also has significant previous experience practicing as an environmental consultant.

Her academic qualifications include a BSc in Biology from Carleton University in Canada (where she focused primarily on neuroscience and psychology), a post-graduate diploma in air and water pollution control, the common professional examination in law and a Masters degree in international law in development from the University of Warwick in the UK.

Jim Merkel

The One-Hundred Year Plan


Jim Merkel became dedicated to world peace and sustainable living after an ethical hemorrhage while designing and marketing top-secret military electronics.  Following the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, Jim quit work to begin an experiment in simplicity, limiting his earning, spending and impact. He traveled to Kerala. India in 1993 to study their sustainability achievements and returned to found the Global Living Project where five teams of researchers attempted life as global citizens. Jim has traveled, often by bicycle, searching for sustainable societies and documented his findings in Radical Simplicity – Small Footprints on a Finite Earth.

In an exciting new collaboration, Jim is joining forces to create a film with The Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions who will serve as producer with Susan Jennings and Eric Johnson contributing to the film’s production. Award-winning filmmakers Deborah Shaffer and Robert Maraist of Fulcrum Films are contributing their creativity and skilled cinematography work to create the documentary film, The One-Hundred-Year Plan.

        Featured Speakers:

Peter Bane

Global Cooling Through Soil Restoration 


Peter Bane the author of The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country will discuss the possibilities of carbon sequestration in the soil as a strategy to combat the warming effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 



Richard Heinberg

Our Renewable Future

Richard will be appearing via Skype to participate in the Energy Democracy Panel


Richard Heinberg is the author of thirteen books including:

  • Our Renewable Future (June 2016)
  • Afterburn (2015)
  • Snake Oil (2013)
  • The End of Growth ( 2011)
  • Peak Everything (2007) 
  • The Party's Over (2005)

Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow of Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost advocates for a shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels. He has written for Nature, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Christian Science Monitor among other publications, and has delivered hundreds of lectures on energy and climate issues to audiences around the world.

Rev. Ann Fox

Seeds of Peace


The Reverend Ann Fox is minister emerita of Unitarian Memorial

Careers in education, technical writing, and ministry all provided opportunities for The Reverend Ann Fox to participate in social justice causes. She embraced programs for the educationally disadvantaged, protested for peace in the Vietnam era and more modern conflicts, rallied for women’s rights, advocated for wildlife and flora greenbelts between towns in California, worked for marriage equality and transgender rights, and supported individuals and groups who worked for environmental causes. The Unitarian Universalist congregation Ann served for 13 years in Fairhaven (a town of 16,000 residents), Massachusetts, became champions of environmental justice. In 2007, they attained Certified Green Congregation status. They were instrumental in establishing in the town of Fairhaven a farmer’s market, an enhanced curbside recycling program, an environmental technology fair, and the establishment of community gardens on the church campus and in local elementary schools. Ann began to see that working for peace in the world and peace within the self is the psychological component of creating more wholesome and sustainable community. As an exemplar, Ann turned to the experience of the woman who walked 25,000 miles for peace in the 1970s and 1980s and called herself Peace Pilgrim. She has found that the teachings of Peace Pilgrim and those of the new age author and medical doctor, Deepak Chopra can guide us to develop peace within and peaceful action in the world, including in our interpersonal relationships. Ann will include in her talk the need for a Department of Peace in our country, perhaps in every country.

The Reverend Ann C. Fox, a former native of the UK, is Minister Emerita of Unitarian Memorial Church, Fairhaven, MA. She holds a Master of English Education from the City University of New York and a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. She has two adult children in California and the Netherlands and two grandchildren. She lives with her husband in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Tina Fields 2 (Color).jpg

Tina Fields

Fostering Nature Connections

Stones as Mentors: Spiritual Ecotherapy


Tina R. Fields, Ph.D., has taught about the cultural, psychological, & spiritual sides of environmental issues since 1999, including five years living and guiding outdoors with the field-based Audubon Expedition Institute at Lesley University, and four years training sustainability activists at the M.A. level with New College. She is a dynamic speaker (and singer) who has served as keynote for such organizations as the European Ecopsychology Society, Napa-Solano Audubon Society, and the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.

At Naropa, Dr. Fields teaches courses in Ecopsychology, Psychology of Wilderness Experience (8 days outdoors, including a fasting solo), three intensive residential courses in Transpersonal Psychology and in Ecopsychology, Ecopsychology in Context, and Transpersonal Service Learning.  

Her current work ties together ecopsychology, spiritual beliefs and practices, applied bioregional understanding, reskilling, and storytelling (including the history of thought, family ecological identity, and myths) to help environmental behavior change shift from a perceived burden to a chosen joy.  Tina is listed in numerous editions of Who’s Who. She is an ACISTE certified Spiritual Guidance Counselor specializing in non-clinical ecotherapy and spiritual emergence, a scholar/practitioner of shamanism and Druidry (pre-Christian Celtic earth-based spirituality), interfaith celebrant, and an accomplished visual and performance artist whose creative work helps build community and remind industrialized people of our animistic connection to the living world.

MaryEllen Etienne

Incorporating Reduce and Reuse Strategies


While recycling is an important part of the sustainability journey many municipalities and businesses that have reduced wasteful processes and implemented reuse systems first have realized the greatest savings. Join us to understand how to save money, reduce your environmental footprint, and make the best use of available resources with the first two R’s: "Reduce and Reuse". Learn how reuse can serve as the foundation for successful business ventures from a variety of local and national professionals with hands on experience. The session will cover reuse issues such as deconstruction, repair, creative reuse and the sharing economy.
Following this presentation, participants will be able to...
1) Understand the concepts of waste prevention and reuse.
2) Understand the triple bottom line benefits of reuse.
3) Understand how reuse factors into zero waste, green procurement and overall sustainability.

Sellus Wilder

Synopsis of The End of the Line


Sellus Wilder is a farmer, a father, a filmmaker, a former Frankfort City Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem.

Wilder's film End of the Line follows the grassroots effort to fight the Bluegrass Pipeline. When two major energy companies teamed up to ship hazardous liquids to the gulf coast, they didn't count on the resistance the Bluegrass Pipeline would encounter in Kentucky. A diverse coalition of farmers, activists and religious orders won against all odds after joining forces to resist a threat to their land, liberty, and lives. 

Matt Stannard

Enacting Commonomics: Law, Policy, and Cooperative Culture


Saving the planet means changing our everyday material practices. These changes must be encoded not only in our interpersonal and collective culture, but also in law and policy. Matt Stannard will discuss the process of materially empathetic construction of local ordinances and organic economic practices in the service of building a cooperative economy.  

Matt Stannard is policy director for Commonomics USA and a longtime economic justice advocate, on the board of directors of the Public Banking Institute, and has provided economic and legal advocacy support for victims of violence and economic insecurity in the U.S. and abroad. He has spoken and written on worker-owned cooperatives, basic income, public banks, and the intersection of economic oppression and interpersonal violence. His education includes a JD from the University of Wyoming's College of Law. 

Bob Brecha 

Energy Democracy Panel

Dr. Robert Brecha was born and raised in Ohio and attended Wilmington High School and then Wright State University, graduatingwith a B.S. in physics in 1983. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990. From October 1990 until November 1992 he was a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Munich, Germany. Upon returning to the US, he took a position at the University of Dayton, where he has been since August 1993. He is now a Professor of Physics and teaches in the Renewable and Clean EnergyGraduate Program and coordinates the Sustainability, Energy and the Environment (SEE) Minor and other SEE initiatives.  Since 2006 he has been working periodically as a visiting scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.


Erik Lindberg

Erik Lindberg earned his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature in 1998, began his career as a carpenter, and now owns and runs a company called Community Building and Restoration, which specializes in historic restoration. In 2008 he installed a rooftop farm on the building that housed his shop and warehouse, and within a year was operating what may have been the world’s first rooftop CSA.  This project launched him into a world of sustainability activism about which he had been previously unaware.  In 2009 he helped start The Victory Garden Initiative and serve as board president, and was part of the inaugural steering committee of Transition Milwaukee. He has been a frequent contributor to "Resilience." In 2011 his wife gave birth to their twin sons, Evjen and Isak; his writing and activism has, since then, become less frequent but all the more meaningful.

Dr. Michael Gaines

Community Organizing Panel

Dr. Michael Gaines is a fanatic about service and supporting the community.  His passion has led him to active roles in the community and to seek positions that would allow the maximum amount of interaction with people.

As a servant leader, he has over 20 years in positions serving the community.  Michael joined Central State University as the new Director of the Dayton location (formerly CSU-West) in 2015.   Prior to this, he held various positions in the Dayton and Cincinnati area. These positions include a stint at Sinclair Community College as Senior Director of the School and Community Partnerships Division. As the Director of Youth and Young Adult Services for The Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency he lead the development of The Blueprint for Success construction program. While working with Cincinnati Public Schools he managed the Adult Education, Charter Schools and Homeschool initiatives. He brings with him a passion for education and for the community and has a proven track record of developing programming for youth, young adults, and adults.

Michael has over 25 years of experience in public speaking, having presented at national conferences, and at churches and non-profit organizations throughout the Midwest.  He is an aspiring author with his first book, Fail Into Success, scheduled for release in 2016.  He has served on a number of Dayton community boards including Parity Inc., Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Mound Street Academy.  His awards are varied including the Dayton Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award and Parity’s Top 10 African American Male award.

He holds a Bachelors of Arts from Morehead State University, a Masters of Arts in Adult and Higher Education from Morehead State University, and his Doctorate in Urban Education and Leadership from the University of Cincinnati.

Linda Wigington

Linda Wigington was the 2002 recipient of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's Champion of Energy Efficiency Award. Linda Wigington is a residential energy consultant and founder of the Affordable Comfort conference. Through ACI, she worked under contract to PG&E to support projects that aimed to achieve deep energy reductions (70% or more) as part of the Thousand Home Challenge. She has direct knowledge of many residential energy projects that are delving beyond business as usual to achieve 70% and greater reductions in site energy use.

Visit her website!

Eric Smith

Community Organizing Panel Member

Since 2010, Eric Smith has been serving with Think Tank Inc. and the Springfield Promise Neighborhood initiative to pilot and scale promising practices related to the achievement gap that exists between poor youth in low-income neighborhoods and their better off peers. Prior to Think Tank, Eric served in Africa with an international development organization, and on a workforce development program with a local community action agency.

Eric received his BA from Taylor University with a double-major in History and International Studies. He will complete in 2015 his MA in Community Development from North Dakota State University. Eric holds professional certifications in such areas as Asset Based Community Development. Currently, Eric teaches a Building Leaders to Build Communities class through Clark State Community College.

Eric’s experience and education have helped to strengthen his natural interests, abilities, and skills in everything from community, program, and organizational development to workshop facilitation and curriculum writing. For sixteen years Eric has been using his skill set in one way or another to build communities where ALL people can thrive regardless of socioeconomic background.

David Brandt

While David and Kendra Brandt like what they see from the soil health system they’re using on their central Ohio farm, everything they do still has to pass muster through the combine’s yield monitor.

They’ve used no-till on their corn, wheat, and soybean operation since 1971, but when David saw a drop in corn yields in 1978, he added hairy vetch and winter peas to the system to get more nitrogen.

“We were using commercial nitrogen then, and I wasn’t really thinking about the health of the soil,” Brandt says. “We saw some improvement in water infiltration at the time, but we didn’t reduce nitrogen inputs until we learned our soils were changing and we didn’t really need it,” he says.


Nicole Manieri

Getting to Know our Wild Weeds: Teachers of Resilience


Nicole is a student of Herbalism, a singer/songwriter, and dedicates her life to community-based healing work in various forms. She has spent the last nine years  in attentive practice in the art and science of building compassionate, accountable relationship with herself, her family, her community circles, and her local habitat - believing that personal transformation, and how it plays out in relationship,  is the root of cultural transformation.  With her husband and son, she lives a life close to the earth with the intention to reclaim the dignity and restorative wisdom of the Wild in our inner and outer landscapes.


Kristen Barker

Kristen Barker is a social entrepreneur and the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative (CUCI). CUCI creates jobs that are accountable to workers and our communities by developing worker owned businesses based on the Mondragon-United Steelworkers union co-op model. CUCI has launched three co-ops, one non-profit and has three projects in various stages of feasibility/business planning. Prior to working full for the union co-op movement with Mondragon North America/MAPA, she spent 12 years at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center fostering faith, labor & community partnerships. She is the mother of a resilient daughter with special needs. She is a lifelong Cincinnati resident (except 2 years in El Salvador) and a Xavier graduate.