When Nature Says 'Enough!': The River That Appeared Overnight in Argentina

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Originally posted on theguardian.com

Written by Uki Goni

After a night of heavy rainfall, Ana Risatti woke to an ominous roar outside her home. Mistaking the noise for a continuation of the night’s downpour, she stepped outside to look.

“I nearly fainted when I saw what it really was,” said Risatti, 71. Instead of falling from the sky, the water she heard was rushing down a deep gully it had carved overnight just beyond the wire fence around her home.

The sudden appearance of a network of new rivers in Argentina’s central province of San Luis has puzzled scientists, worried environmentalists and disheartened farmers. It has also raised urgent questions over the environmental cost of Argentina’s dependence on soya beans, its main export crop.


Trump’s Border Wall Would Condemn US Jaguars to Extinction


Originally posted on motherboard.vice.com

Written by Stephen Leahy

The biggest single threat to reestablishing a US jaguar population is Trump’s border wall, wildlife advocates say. In recent years, two, or possibly three lonely males have been documented in the desert mountains southeast of Tucson, Arizona. The multi-billion dollar border wall envisioned by President Trump would cut them off from the females in a population of 125 to 150 jaguars, some 80 miles south in the northern Sonora region of Mexico.

“A viable jaguar population could be reestablished in the US, but not if the wall is built,” said Howard Quigley, a jaguar expert at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation nonprofit.


Wonderful Help For a Beautiful Space

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The staff of Community Solutions shared an inspiring work day with our partners, the Yellow Springs Children's Montessori Cooperative (YSCMC), on Monday, April 9. Parents and staff of the Montessori school joined with our staff and community members in what turned out to be a formidable crew. Our object—to clear a huge volume of invasive honeysuckle and dead ash trees from a 6,000 square-foot piece of Agraria chosen to host YSCMC’s summer program for children aged 3-6, beginning in June. We didn’t know what the work day turnout might be, given that we had to reschedule the event three times for the especially capricious Ohio spring weather.

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It was around 40 and had snowed all morning, though it melted before our scheduled start at 3pm. The work began, and the parents and other volunteers showed up in terrific numbers—we wound up with a crew of around 20 amazing brush haulers! We had not anticipated that the whole area could be cleared in one afternoon, but the wood seemed to fly off the ground as the crew felt a collective energy and excitement. Agraria Property Manager Gabby Amrhein wielded a precise chainsaw wherever necessary. Incredibly, before the day was done, every branch and log had been carted or carried off! The sense of gratitude and accomplishment was palpable. For more photos, see our online gallery.

This beautiful area is now ready to be cleared of stumps, carpeted with wood chips, and outfitted with work and play equipment for visiting children. These next steps will require continued volunteer help and community funding. We welcome your support—you can watch our events calendar or subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming volunteer days, and support Community Solutions financially by donating. To find out more about YSCMC, email ys.cmco@gmail.com or call (937) 769-5084.

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Sustainability is not enough: we need regenerative cultures

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Originally posted on medium.com

Written by Daniel C. Wahl

Sustainability alone is not an adequate goal. The word sustainability itself is inadequate, as it does not tell us what we are actually trying to sustain. In 2005, after spending two years working on my doctoral thesis on design for sustainability, I began to realize that what we are actually trying to sustain is the underlying pattern of health, resilience and adaptability that maintain this planet in a condition where life as a whole can flourish. Design for sustainability is, ultimately, design for human and planetary health (Wahl, 2006b).

A regenerative human culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable; it cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all of humanity. The concept of resilience is closely related to health, as it describes the ability to recover basic vital functions and bounce back from any kind of temporary breakdown or crisis. When we aim for sustainability from a systemic perspective, we are trying to sustain the pattern that connects and strengthens the whole system. Sustainability is first and foremost about systemic health and resilience at different scales, from local, to regional and global.


Regenerative Agriculture Works on Large Farms!

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Biological Farming: Customizing Methods for Large-Scale Operations

Originally posted on ecofarmingdaily.com

Written by David Yarrow

Biological farming is not just limited to small plots. Take the story of one Missouri farmer, who through holistic approaches to farming, managed to improve his yields and the size of corn on the stalk.

At the end of 2015, I talked to Missouri boot-heel farmer David “JR” Bollinger about his experiences growing corn, soybeans and milo using carbon-smart farming principles and practices. In his first year fully committed to biological agriculture, Bollinger cut conventional fertilizers by 50 percent and applied blends of biocarbons, minerals and microbes. Soils, plants and yields are all showing positive results.


Save Ohio's Only National Forest


Originally posted on biologicaldiversity.org

A few weeks ago the U.S. Forest Service announced that it will rewrite the Wayne National Forest's land management plan. This new plan will guide decisions for a decade or more. But we need to make sure it fully protects the Wayne's forests, watersheds and biodiversity from destructive mining, logging and fracking.

Using the Center for Biodiversity's website, tell the Forest Service to protect Ohio's only national forest by maximizing protections for the Wayne.

Read more and submit a form...

Free Antique Barn Wood Available

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As part of our ongoing barn restoration and renovation, Community Solutions is offering free antique barn wood for pickup at Agraria! We have quite a lot of wood to offer, including pine from a 1918 granary, and large whole pieces of more recent plywood. To make an appointment for viewing and pickup, please email gabeamrhein@gmail.com or call 937-767-2161. 

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A Once-Thriving Coal Town Has Turned Toxic, and Citizens Are Desperate for Help


Originally posted on thinkprogress.org

Written by Mark Hand

Percy Edward “Eddie” Fruit has lived in Minden, West Virginia his entire life. But without funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he cannot afford to move away from his hometown, contaminated by industrial chemicals over the past 40 years. Fruit wouldn’t be able to get anything from the sale of his house because no one would want to buy property in a toxic town.

“That’s the bad part about Minden,” said Fruit, who worked in the coal mines for eight years before becoming a pipefitter who installed sprinkler systems in schools and hotels. “There’s no one here anymore. Most people have died off or got away from the problem, or moved to find work.”


Grow Native Plants for Bees


Originally posted on ecofarmingdaily.com

Written by Dr. Leo Sharashkin

From their knowledge of every corner of their kingdom comes bees’ great strength and, in our times, their great vulnerability. You see a few foragers dying in convulsions at the hive entrance and become concerned: did they visit some poisonous plant (of which there are a small number), or perhaps the neighbor sprayed something on his fields? Will this honey be safe for my children to eat? What can we do to help the bees? I keep hearing this question over and over again. It is heartwarming that so many people are concerned about the welfare of bees and other pollinators.

Fortunately, there is a good answer, and it is very important, because by helping the bees we can also help ourselves.


Recognizing the Importance of SNAP in Rural America


Originally posted on cfra.org

Written by Jordan Rasmussen

In the nation’s rural communities, where the food that feeds the world is grown, food insecurity is endured by millions of children, seniors, and hardworking Americans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps stave off hunger in one in six rural households.   

Yet, the president’s budget for 2019 outlines a nearly $214 billion budget cut to SNAP over the next decade. A cut of this magnitude would undoubtedly impact rural Americans.


Community Solutions Seeks Americorps Summer Associate

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Community Solutions seeks a passionate, committed individual to join our team as an Americorps Summer Associate supporting local farmers markets, maintaining community gardens, and supporting efforts to increase food security and soil health in a three-county area. Job responsibilities will include coordinating a farm stand, managing the EBT transactions at local farmers markets, developing marketing materials for the use of EBT machines, and assisting a farm manager in Springfield to maintain community and school gardens. The EBT machine allows customers to use their government benefits at farmers markets. Applicants must be 18 years of age and hold a high school diploma or GED.

Read more and apply...

Two Permaculture Institutes to Co-Sponsor Soil Carbon Sponge Workshop at Agraria

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Two institutes for the study of permaculture--the Great Rivers and Lakes Permaculture Institute (GRLCI) and the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) --have agreed to co-sponsor the Soil Carbon Sponge Workshop, to be hosted May 4th and 5th by Community Solutions at Agraria. The workshop, with Australian soil microbiologist and climate scientist Walter Jehne, will explore how we can restore the living, water-holding, cooling, soil carbon sponge that used to cover most of the land around us. Walter will be joined by Permaculture Activist Peter Bane in a participatory discussion about how we can work with other species to regenerate the underground infrastructure that drives our climates and makes life on land possible. 

GRLCI is a professional development organization for permaculture practitioners across many fields, and serves as a regional hub for PINA. PINA is a professional association working across North America and Hawaii to:

  • Promote permaculture pathways to professional development
  • Grant diplomas
  • Preserve the integrity and quality of the Permaculture Design Course
  • Facilitate networking among permaculturists

Community Solutions is very grateful for the co-sponsorship of these organizations. As a prelude to the workshop, a public discussion will take place on the Soil Carbon Sponge on Wednesday evening, May 3rd at 7 pm at Agraria. To learn more about the workshop and to register, please see our registration page.

USDA Ignores Public Will, Kills The Organic Animal Welfare Rule


Originally posted on blacklistednews.com

Written by ASPCA

On Monday, March 12, 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially withdrew the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP), killing these groundbreaking protections for animals raised on Organic farms. The ASPCA condemns this decision in the strongest terms possible.

“The USDA’s withdrawal of the OLPP is a violation of the public trust that reverses the nearly two decades of collaboration and feedback from farmers and consumers that led to this groundbreaking rule,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA’s abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards.” 


Farmland Could Be Used to Sustainably Offset America’s Entire Carbon Footprint—If the Will Exists

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Originally posted by Quartz Media

Written by Dr. Louis Verchot

Amid the roaring debate on how to curb climate change in Bonn last year, an impasse was finally broken on agriculture. Both a cause and casualty of climate change, our food system accounts for up to 24% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet hit by soaring temperatures and more frequent extreme weather, farming is becoming more difficult, as demand continues to increase.

Positive agricultural interventions could achieve up to 6% of reduction emissions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goals—showing that this sector is not only part of the problem, but part of the solution to climate change.


Community Solutions Wins Community Impact Award

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The Yellow Springs Community Foundation has recognized Community Solutions for the work it has done over the past year with The 2018 Community Impact Award. The Foundation explains that "the award is given to a local organization that has made the most impact on the community through its initiatives and projects." Community Solutions is honored and humbled to receive this recognition.

The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation on Saturday, April 7.

When Twenty-Six Thousand Stinkbugs Invade Your Home


Originally posted on newyorker.com

Written by Kathryn Schultz

One October night a few years back, Pam Stone was downstairs watching television with her partner, Paul Zimmerman, when it struck her that their house was unusually cold. Stone and Zimmerman live just outside Landrum, South Carolina, in an A-frame cabin; upstairs in their bedroom, French doors lead out to a raised deck. That week, autumn had finally descended on the Carolinas, killing off the mosquitoes and sending nighttime temperatures plummeting, and the previous evening the couple had opened those doors a crack to take advantage of the cool air. Now, sitting in front of the TV, Stone suddenly realized that she’d left them open and went up to close them.

Zimmerman was still downstairs when he heard her scream. He sprinted up to join her, and the two of them stood in the doorway, aghast. Their bedroom walls were crawling with insects—not dozens of them but hundreds upon hundreds. Stone knew what they were, because she’d seen a few around the house earlier that year and eventually posted a picture of one on Facebook and asked what it was. That’s a stinkbug, a chorus of people had told her—specifically, a brown marmorated stinkbug. Huh, Stone had thought at the time. Never heard of them. Now they were covering every visible surface of her bedroom.


Barn Restoration/Transformation Underway

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Many visitors to Agraria are immediately captivated by its historic barn. While Community Solutions has been unable to accurately date it as yet, the craftsmanship and beauty of the original structure are apparent. The hardwood beams, which have been found structurally sound by inspectors, are joined by mortises and tenons and secured by hardwood pegs. However, some of the more modern additions did not match, and were not as durable.

Since barn restoration and renovation are among our first priorities, property manager Gabby Amrhein and super-volunteer Matthew Lawson recently set about some demolition work. In an amazing 10 days, they managed to completely remove a storage room, the entire steel-beamed loft, and more than half of the particle-board flooring with its somewhat deteriorated underfloor! For those visiting tonight for the potluck, the barn--and the area behind it--are closed during this part of the restoration due to safety concerns. We are posting this so that everyone can see the amazing transformation that is underway; watch our blog for more updates, and thanks for all your support!

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Clearing a Place for Children to Play and Work

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We are making a space for some of Yellow Springs' youngest students to learn at Agraria! Everyone at Community Solutions is looking forward to this summer, when the Yellow Springs Community Montessori Cooperative will host a work/play program for its energetic learners, ages 3-6. A design for their outdoor classroom/playground is underway, and when finished it will serve all the children who visit Agraria, not just the Montessori participants.

Not long ago, a few Community Solutions staff members were out in the chosen area--just behind the new offices, at the edge of a honeysuckle-infested woods. With some chainsaws, sunshine, and the vision of Antioch Miller Fellow Gabby Amrhein, the extensive clearing work got off to an enthusiastic start! If you'd like to help, come out and join us (and some terrific Montessori parents) on April 3. See the event page for more information, and thanks for all your support!  

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California Court Ruling Ends Decades of State Pesticide Spraying

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Originally posted on EcoWatch.com

Written by Center For Biological Diversity

A judge has ordered the California Department of Food and Agriculture to stop using chemical pesticides in its statewide program until the agency complies with state environmental laws.

The injunction, issued late last week, is a sweeping victory for 11 public-health, conservation, citizen and food-safety groups and the city of Berkeley. The coalition sued the state after unsuccessfully attempting for years to persuade the agency to shift to a sustainable approach to pest control that protects human health and the environment.


Magazine Focused on Community Race and Class Issues Is Available for Free Download


Originally posted on ic.org

Written by Christopher Kindig

In today’s world, it’s rare to find positive and engaging stories that simultaneously expose readers to sensitive topics like race, class, and social barriers and biases. The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), a nonprofit organization with offices based in Rutledge, Missouri and Louisa, Virginia, has produced Communities magazine for the past 25 years, exploring the joys and challenges of navigating such issues together in cooperative groups.

The Spring 2018 edition of Communities, released on March 7, focuses on “Class, Race, and Privilege,” and contains more than 20 articles which look unflinchingly at a major “elephant in the room”—the relative lack of racial and class diversity in most intentional communities, at least in North America—while suggesting ways of understanding and addressing it.