A small town looks to its assets

WASHTUCNA, WASHINGTON--Several years ago Waste Management, Inc., one of the world's largest companies with 68,000 employees and $12 billion in sales, optioned a property and proposed a large landfill near this eastern Washington town of 280 people. The resulting controversy, says rancher and school board member Dick Coon, Sr., "split families down the middle, and some of them haven't gotten back together."

Teaching the water cycle with plastic jugs

by Peter Donovan

In September 1997 I attended Allan Savory's biological course at the Regional Training Centre of the Africa Centre for Holistic Management, at Dibangombe in Zimbabwe. Allan shared the following design from Gero Diekmann of Namibia. This simple and elegant apparatus poses questions that are not widely understood. How does the water cycle function on the land? What causes floods and droughts?

drawing of Gero Diekmann's apparatus

Wilke team designs a no-till future

DAVENPORT, WASHINGTON--Just east of this wheat farming town sits a half section of gently rolling deep silt loam. Beulah Wilson Wilke (pronounced Will-key) donated this parcel to Washington State University for research purposes in 1987, and stipulated that the farm be operated at a profit.

Dennis Wobeser: from feedyard to grass farming

In 1999, Dennis and Jean Wobeser, of Hi-Gain Ranching, in Lloydminster, Alberta, won the Emerald Award in the small-business category. This is the major Canadian environmental award, and this is the first time it has been won by an agricultural operation. In the words of the press release that accompanied the award:

Doing the impossible

by Peter Donovan, 1995

Inside his tiny office on a fluorescent-lit corridor of Washington State University's huge animal science complex, Jeff Goebel has posted Gandhi's injunction: "Be the change you expect." Goebel is a guiding force behind a change so fundamental that most people aren't aware that it is possible. In order to address the underlying cause of biodiversity loss and conflict, he is helping people change the way they make decisions.

Four years ago, Goebel went to work as a natural resources planner for north central Washington's Colville Confederated Tribes. The Colvilles face the same problems the rest of the world faces: the increasing difficulty of sustaining ways of life on a deteriorating resource base, and the resulting conflict.

Like most people and organizations, the Colvilles have been acting on expert opinion, problems and opportunities, multiple and conflicting goals, availability of funding, and compromise. After decades of forest and range management by outside experts, year-round springs and streams have been drying up on tribal lands, and traditional food and medicine plants have been disappearing. Many Colvilles regard the decline in traditional languages, cultural identity, family values, and health as inseparable from the deterioration of land and water. Says planner Lois Trevino, "We have lost so much. We have a lot of anger and grief over what has been taken away."

Seeking transformation: better decision making in Washington state

by Peter Donovan


PULLMAN, WASHINGTON--In January of 1995, a four-year training project began in the state of Washington. The purpose of the project, which is funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, is to enable the 158 participating people to develop sustainable agricultural/natural resource systems, become more effective decision makers and leaders, and improve collaborative relationships within the state of Washington through the use of holistic management and the consensus process.


The participants--mainly crop/livestock producers, natural resource managers, agency personnel, university faculty, extension agents, environmentalists, and tribal members--are taking ten courses over four years. The training courses are based on the work of Allan Savory, Stephen Covey, and Bob Chadwick.

Washington's Holistic Management project holds first statewide meeting

YAKIMA--Last week the Washington State University/W. K. Kellogg Foundation Holistic Management Project had its first statewide meeting. This four-year project is training 160 people across the state in the leadership skills developed by Stephen Covey, in a consensus-building approach developed by Bob Chadwick, and in the concepts and practical decision making known as holistic management that was developed by Allan Savory.

Managed grazing helps river basin resist drought

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe -- By running all livestock in one herd and using holistic planned grazing, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management is healing what was desertifying land.

The Centre's property lies alongside more seriously desertifying communal lands on which many thousands of people and their livestock eke out a living. The following pictures were taken on the same day in the same area, with the same soils and rainfall.

A visit with Joe Morris

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, CALIFORNIA -- Joe Morris had a conflict in his life. "I worked on ranches in Nevada, such as the Spanish Ranch. I couldn't square my love of land and horses and cowboying with building a just society."

Wilma Keppel
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