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Project 9: Creating Change

This week's Horses for Future podcast

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In this week in which we are marking the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, I invited Susan Schneider to join me for an afternoon's conversation. 


Susan is a tireless and very thorough researcher.  She presents us with a wealth of information, resources and ideas across a wide range of subjects.  She has provided us with her annotated book list on sustainability and climate change:

Episode 21 and 22: Feed Thy Neighbor - Suzanne Kernek

These two episodes take a very practical, down to earth turn.  I mean literally down to earth - I am talking with Suzanne Kernek about vegetable gardens.

This was a subject that I always knew was on the list of things I wanted to explore through the Horses for Future podcasts.  What can horse people do to help with the climate change crisis?  We have land and we have horse manure.   So we can grow food.  We can grow food for ourselves, and we can also grow food to share.

The corona virus is highlighting how important this is.  We don’t know what the summer will bring.  Will our farmers markets be able to open?  Will there be disruptions in the fresh vegetable supplies at the grocery store? Certainly however fast or not the economy reopens, there are going to be many families feeling the stress of lost income.

So this year I am planting a vegetable garden.  I’m sure I am not alone in thinking that this is a good thing to be doing.  One huge advantage I have over my suburban neighbors is I have a ready source of well composted horse manure.  Here’s yet another way horse people can make a difference - we can grow our own food.

I’ve been a gardener all of my life, but flowers, not veggies, so I invited Suzanne Kernek to join me in a podcast conversation about vegetable gardens.  Normally with Suzanne we would be talking about training, but not this time.  Our subject was vegetable gardens - how to prepare a garden, and what to grow.

There are so many great gardeners out there, why Suzanne?  First, she’s been an organic gardener since the 1980’s.  Suzanne’s current garden is in Washington State, but she has lived all over the country, in Virginia, Vermont, Montana, California, and now Washington, so she is familiar with many different growing zones.  

Last summer Suzanne set up a farm stand for the first time.  Here’s how she describes it:

“Feed Thy Neighbor Farm Stand is neighborhood farm stand that offers vegetables and bouquets picked from my garden that day. It is an honor-system process with no prices. I encourage people to take what they need if they cannot afford anything. I have a dream of starting a program where neighbors collect their excess produce from their gardens and offer it collectively to the neighborhood, with all proceeds going to a different non-profit every week.”

That’s a great dream.  It’s a great way in which horse people can indeed make a difference.  


Here's a great book list Suzanne has shared with us.

Books and Resources:
State extension offices
Master Gardner Programs
Native Plant Societies
Farmers Markets and Coops

Books: There seem to always be a good book in each localized area on growing food for that region.
Here are some of the books I always have on my shelf:
Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades - Steve Solomon
Maritime Northwest Gardening Guide - Seattle Tilth

Bay Area:
Golden Gate Gardening - Pam Pierce
Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates SF Bay Area -East Bay Municipal Utility District

How to Grow More Vegetables - John Jeavons (my bible for years)
How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method - J.L. Rondale (my hymnal)

Cold Climate Gardening - Lewis Hill
Western Garden Book - Sunset

Mixing food production with ornamental landscaping:
Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally -Robert Kourik
Edible Landscaping - Rosaland Creasy

Companion Planting:
Roses Love Garlic - Louise Riotte
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte

From Seed to Bloom - Eileen Powell (essential for starting flowers from seed)
Cut Flower Garden (Floret Farms) - Erin Benzakein

Happy gardening!


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Episode 23: Manda Scott: What Are The Questions?

I feel so unbelievably privileged that every few weeks I get to share with you a conversation with Manda Scott.  

Especially in these uncertain times, it’s so easy to get busy, to get worried, to get pulled in different directions by the demands of the here and now.  Manda reminds us to listen, to feel, to imagine, to simply ask questions.

This is a complex conversation that begins with the corona virus but takes us to so much more.  You’re about to have a lesson in economics, but it’s a view of economics which is very different from anything I was presented with at school.

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Episode 24: Sam Bingham Pt 1: Better Pasture Management

Episode 25: Sam Bingham Pt 2 Better Pasture Management


In February a chance conversation at the Art and Science of Animal Training conference led me to this week’s guest, Sam Bingham.  Sam is a journalist and author.  He collaborated with Allan Savory in writing “Holistic Management Handbook”.  

February seems like such a long time ago.  In March the corona virus took over our lives, consumed every news cycle, and pushed concerns about climate change to the back burner.  It seemed more important to talk about degrees of freedom with Joe Layng that it was to think about pasture management.

But that doesn’t mean that the grass wasn’t growing.  I’m still trying to figure out the best way to manage my pastures, so this seemed like a good time to share this conversation.

In the podcast Sam refers several times to the podcast we did with Jane Myers.  Jane helped us get these podcasts started.  Her interview is Episode 1 and 2.  Her equicentral system is definitely worth looking at.

Here’s the link to Allan Savory’s TED Talk:

I also reference a program that aired on Living on Earth - Water Ranching in Mexico.   Here’s the link:

And you can learn more about my Stay At Home clinics at

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Episode 26: Sarah Nickels Part 1: Permaculture and Horse Pastures

Horses for Future explores the question: what can horse people do to help in the climate change crisis?  I don’t have the answer, just the desire to be part of the solution.  In this week’s podcast we’re traveling to Australia to meet Sarah Nickels.   When I wrote on my Click that teaches Facebook group that I was going to giving Stay At Home virtual clinics, Sarah emailed me to ask if I would do a clinic for Australians.   The answer to that was maybe.  I wasn’t sure how it would work with the time difference.  I would have to think about it.

But in the meantime would she like to do a Horses for Future podcast for me?  I know that wasn’t the answer she was expecting, but in her email Sarah mentioned her “day job”. She’s a social scientist in the environmental field.  Her work focuses on biodiversity and behavior change.  That perked my ears forward.  In the next line when she talked about permaculture design, I knew we needed to meet via the internet.  Permaculture is a term that keeps coming up as I explore regenerative agriculture.  Here was a great opportunity to learn more about it. 


In Part One we begin with permaculture.  In Part Two Sarah answers the question: what can we do to make a difference.  Her answer: pick one thing.  She explains what that means and how doable that is for each of us.  Pick one thing to learn about.  It might be something related to a product you buy in the grocery store, or the way you manage your pasture.  Become a micro-expert in a micro area. Sarah explains how the ripples from that can spread around the planet to create meaningful, positive change.


Sarah Nickels Bio
July 2020
Sarah has over 24 years horse riding and handling instructing experience, having taught at Riding Schools, Pony Clubs, Adult Riders clubs and privately. Sarah’s instructing interests have been in improving the line of communication a rider and handler has with their horse and on teaching the theoretical and practical side of horse-keeping.

A freak accident with her horse in 2008 saw Sarah air-lifted to hospital with life threatening injuries.  This did not deter her from continuing to work with horses, nor the horse in question, however it has made her more determined to find better ways to work with horses well to create a safer environment (and prevent others needing a helicopter ride and life-saving surgery).

After 4 years undertaking the School of Legerete Instructor Training, Sarah withdrew from the course, shifting her focus to deepen her understanding of the impact of the riders and handlers’ body on the horse, particularly working horses with physical challenges. Sarah has since been learning with Dr Helen Davies, Associate Professor of Veterinary Science who specializes in Functional Anatomy of the horse and rider who has also been an instructor and dressage judge for many years.
Five years ago, Sarah began her journey into training with positive reinforcement and now looks to how using positive reinforcement, we can improve the relationship of the rider and handler with their horse and improve the horses physicality.

In her ‘day job’, Sarah is a Social Scientist in the Environment field with over 18 years working in community engagement, behaviour change, education, project management and event coordination in both the public and private sector. After many years in the waste industry, Sarah is now working with a focus on biodiversity – looking at how we best communicate work in the biodiversity field to the general public.

Sarah is passionate about horses and horse keeping, the natural environment, permaculture, photography and working with people.

Along with her partner Benn, Sarah has recently launched ‘Abbey’s Run Equestrian’ an educational business to help connect horse people to quality information and experts along with sharing their own knowledge. Their aim is to help horse people be the most amazing horse people they can be for their horses. You can find more information on their Facebook page, Abbey’s Run Equestrian.


Recommended Reading (and watching):

‘Managing Horses on Small Properties’ - Jane Myers

‘Permaculture – Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability’ - David Holmgren

‘Retrosuburbia – The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future’ – David Holmgren

‘Dark Emu’ and/or ‘Young Dark Emu – A Truer History’ – Bruce Pascoe

Bruce Pascoe’s Ted Talk (12:33 minutes) - ‘A real history of Aboriginal Australians, the first agriculturalists’ – Bruce Pascoe – Tedx Sydney

‘Back from the Brink – How Australian’s landscape can be saved’ – Peter Andrews

‘Call of the Reed Warbler – A New Agriculture, A New Earth’ – Charles Massy

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Episode 28: Josephine Lock: Cybernetics and Hedgehogs

This week’s episode was prompted by an email exchange about hedgehogs.  Those enchanting little creatures are about to take us down a garden path that leads to cybernetics, home grown national parks, reframing values and a memory jog back to our childhood for some inspiration.  

I’m in conversation with Josephine Lock.  Josephine did post graduate research with Professor Stafford Beer, the founder of Management Cybernetics and the author of “Beyond Dispute”.  She began in one field and landed literally in another when she shifted her focus from the business and academic world to the training of dogs for conservation work.

This conversation is filled with ways in which we can all make a difference.  I hope this isn’t a podcast you listen to just for entertainmentand then forget about.  Jo reminds us that the purpose of a system, is what it does.  That’s a great quote.  What does this podcast do?  I hope it helps us all to send out ripples that make a difference.

“Our obsession with the growth of our wallets needs to shift to the growth of our minds.”  That’s another great statement.

Here’s another quote Jo shared with us:

“The greatest task is to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”  Aldo Leopold  

Why isn’t that a measure of success?

Plant a butterfly garden and you can begin to influence value systems.

You can spark conversations in a non-confrontational way.  You can model alternatives.

You can change value systems in small ways that send the ripples out. And before you know it, that becomes the norm.

It becomes trendy.

Can we fix it?  Of course we can.  Begin by picking one thing where you can make a change, and then please visit this Horses for Future facebook page and share the ripples you are setting into motion.  Let’s inspire one another with our thoughtful action.


Josephine Lock: web site:


Hedgehogs were an important part of our conversation so Josephine has provided us with links to the references mentioned in the podcast:

The poet Pam Ayres and an audio recording of her reading her In Defence of Hedgehogs Poem (circa mid 1970s). This is a link to her latest book published 2 years ago - The Last Hedgehog. This is a recent brief interview about it extracted from a UK TV quiz show called Countdown that she was obviously a contestant on where she reads a small excerpt
Here are some images of Hedgehog highways and link to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and Henry the hedgehog detection dog.

Management Cybernetics
Professor Stafford Beer founder of Management Cybernetics wrote Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity in 1994.  Josephine wrote a chapter in Part 5 of the book entitled "Pliny the Later: Elective Selection"

Homegrown National Park

Douglas Tellamy:  Nature's best Hope. Here is a wonderful 1 hour long webinar he did recently.

The IN Nature FB group is a private group that now has 9.7K members!! Here is a link to the GAINLP website (there are 202 posts on IN Nature with the #GAINLP  hashtag (i.e. people vying to get their pictures in the database) so it is obviously reinforcing!
The quote from Aldo Leopold was "the oldest task in history is to live on a piece of land without spoiling it"
Finally here is a link to the scribbled mind-map I made on "how to combat resistance to climate change action" and the theme tune to Bob the Builder - "can we fix it, Yes we can!" ... and here is a US version ... but they changed the lyrics to   "can we build it .."


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Part 1
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Part 2

Episode 29: Kate Jackson Part 1: Forest Schools

Horses for Future Episode 29: Kate Jackson Pt 1: Forest Schools

Episode 30: Kate Jackson Part 2: Creative Activism

I have a number of friends who teach in public schools.  They’ve been describing the re-designs their classrooms have been going through.  The administration has told them desks have to be placed six feet apart - even if that means some students won’t be able to see the blackboards from their designated spot.  What a nightmare.  But is there an alternative?  Staying home isn’t sustainable.  Going to school may not be safe.

Here’s an alternative.  How about Forest schools.  Don’t laugh.  This really is a thing.  I first heard about Forest Schools many years ago from this week’s guest, Kate Jackson.  Kate is a teacher.  I think as you listen to this podcast, you’ll very quickly discover that she is the teacher you wish you could have had in grade school.  If you were very lucky you did indeed have someone very much like her.


Kate is also a climate activist and a horse owner.  I met her through the clicker training clinics.  In one of our many evening conversations, she talked about Forest Schools.  The conversation stayed with me.  When the corona virus closed schools, I started thinking more seriously about Forest Schools, especially when we started to hear that the risk of spreading the disease is lower outside.

So I have invited Kate to talk to us about Forest Schools - what are they, how do they work, where do they fit in a school program?  Lots of questions.  I’m sure, if you have children, you will have many more.  And I suspect quite a few of you will be googling Forest Schools after you listen to this podcast.

That's Part 1 of our conversation.  In Part 2 I ask Kate about what is has been like for her to participate in Extinction Rebellion protests in 2019.  Kate has come up with creative ways to bring an awareness of the climate change crisis to her local community. 

At a time when protests are so much in the news, it is a delight to hear about techniques that actually serve to draw people together.


Episode 31: Clean Up Your Room! A Conversation with Manda Scott

“Clean up your room!  CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM!  I don’t want to have to tell you again.  CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM!”

I’m sure during the corona virus lock down this was a familiar refrain in many households.  I’m imagining bedrooms clogged with mountains of discarded toys.  Where do you begin?  How do you tackle this mess?

Cleaning your room is a metaphor for finding a way to take action.  It comes to me via Dr. Susan Friedman.  In this interview with Manda Scott we find many ways to clean up our room, many ways for people to take action in the climate change crisis.
Manda is a veterinary, an author, a climate crisis activist, a shamanic teacher, the creator of the Accidental Gods podcast and web site, a regular contributor to the Horses for Future podcast, and a very good friend.

Manda and I were over due for a catch up.  Never mind all the heavy topics of the day, I wanted to hear about her new foal, Wren.  That was the launching point for our conversation.  Wren means that in spite of everything, Manda still believes in a future that includes horses.
How we succeed in creating that hopeful future became the focus of our conversation.  In this podcast we talk about Dr Doug Tallamy’s work.  Dr Tallamy is the author of “Nature’s Best Hope”, a book in which he shows us how to create “homegrown national parks”.  This is an idea that is wonderfully well suited to horse owners.  He gives us a course of action that really can make a difference.  

So we’ll begin with little Wren and then we’ll move on to weightier topics.  Yes, there’s some gloom and doom.  The news is pretty grim these days, but Manda offers an alternative vision.  People have been putting some amazing ideas into action.  Let this conversation spark your own ideas for how you can make a difference in the climate change crisis.


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