Empowering Decisions at the Soil Surface


Photo by Hugh Donovan

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Many of us have engaged in correspondence and discussions about learning the practice of Holistic Management over the years. This blog will take our discussions to another level so we can get more holistic decision making on the ground, where we find meaningful leverage.

Finding Leverage for Life
Think about it. All life on our planet (as we know it) comes from the ecosystem processes. Improving the function of these processes will make life more resilient . Water begins to absorb, at the soil surface. Plants begin to germinate and grow, at the soil surface. Plants begin to decompose and build soil, at the soil surface. Tools effecting ecosystem function engage at the soil surface. The greatest marginal reaction and leverage point for improvement of life on our planet lies at the soil surface.

Empowering Decisions at the Soil Surface
This blog will explore how we can better develop markets, policy, investment, knowledge, and skill that will empower those making decisions at the soil surface.

Blog overview

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The Best Day of Your Life - Understanding Your Core Values

Reading Holistic Management theory can be pretty boring. Boring means we yawn and don’t engage. Maybe that is why so few people that have gone through the Holistic Management courses actually practice Holistic Management. If we don’t get past the theory and bring it alive and meaningful to our life, it just doesn’t work.

How can we make our quality of life statement meaningful? I spent one of the best days of my life with my Uncle Tom. He provided the reality check in a way only a rebel could. Here is that story…


Bullies with Guns vs. Nurturing the Desire to Aspire

We have two more mass killings fading into history without any meaningful action. Shootings are extreme symptoms of some imbalance. The root cause of that imbalance costs our communities more than we know.

It seems commonsensical that prudent background checks and access to military assault weapons need to be addressed. Beyond that, what is amiss in our community?

I think being more conscious of guiding those experiencing typical growing pains could better support our next generations to make empowered decisions at the soil surface. That begins with having an intolerance for bullies and nurturing the desire to aspire.

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We have Data. Where’s Yours

Daily blatant lying has become the norm. Letting lies lie can be dangerous if left to become a false reality. This can be particularly damaging when making decisions at the soil surface.

My neighbor in Wyoming pointed out this tendency to me years ago. Clyde told me that when something happens, it seems so significant that we can’t imagine ever forgetting. Yet, time has a tendency to warp our memory to shade the event in more dramatic or rosy hues. Monitoring can clear the lens of our perception.

After my first Holistic Management training, I came home with a new awareness of ecosystem function. I became certain that our water cycle was dragging down our ranch’s land health. After establishing permanent trend and condition transects, it became obvious that the mineral cycle was the most dysfunctional part of our landscape.

As old-time holistic manager, Greg Simonds famously said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” This seems obvious but more importantly we need data to interrupt confirmation bias, develop a line of discussion for the uninformed, prepare a check and balance for the mis-informed, and establish a line of defense for the bullies. These characters may even be us.

A changing planet brings more scrutiny to land managers’ results. Many complex indicators weave an ecosystems tapestry beneath our feet and we cannot expect to make solid management decisions without knowing a site’s stability and/or trend. The question is not whether we should monitor our ecosystem health but how best to establish a baseline and monitor our context over time.

We have data, where’s yours?

Read on…