Date: May 8, 2019
Contact: Amy McMorrow Hunter, 618 713 2896,

Conference and Workshop Coming to Carbondale June 12-13: The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs and Communities

Education and resources about clean energy, new and emerging industries, and changing business models for a vibrant sustainable economy that works for all

Carbondale, Illinois – Southern Illinoisans get a unique opportunity this June 12-13 to get a first-hand look at the changing economy, from energy to economic development to innovation. The event is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days at the Carbondale Civic Center. This two-day event brings in experts to discuss opportunities specific to southern Illinois, our special advantages, environment and challenges, and also to get new businesses going in new areas like biochar, clean energy, ecotourism and recycling. Biochar expert and author Albert Bates hosts a full-day workshop on the second day of the event, where people can get insight into how to use biochar to make plentiful organic waste into a beneficial soil amendment as well as other high-demand products and services.

The first-day conference and forum is free and open to the public, with lunch provided for registered attendees. The second-day biochar workshop is $25 and includes lunch and workshop materials. Sponsorship opportunities are available to businesses that want to table at the event, and to organizations that want to sponsor travel and workshop fees for community members and groups. The aim of the event is to get as many people as possible with an interest in a prosperous and sustainable southern Illinois the information and connections they need to succeed in new endeavors. Complete event information, including agenda and registration, is available online at or by calling 618 713 2896.

The event is sponsored by the Just Transition Fund (, a hybrid foundation that provides both direct grants and technical assistance to diversify economies in communities that are affected by the downturn in the coal industry. As the country transitions to clean energy, coal communities cope with fewer jobs, a loss in tax revenue and cleanup challenges. The Just Transition Fund helps advance economic solutions that are equitable, inclusive,  and low-carbon. The Fund helps to boost investment in local economic activity, provide expertise and resources, and to advance key state and federal transition policies. Cindy Winland, Senior Fellow at the Just Transition Fund, describes the opportunities in southern Illinois.  “We’re excited to be part of this early effort to look at new industries that can help diversify the southern Illinois energy economy. We encourage communities to plan early for the changing energy landscape that will have an impact on their tax base, jobs, and economy.  This event is a great start.”

The event is hosted locally by LLC, a web and marketing platform for local business, and The Climate Economy, a non-profit organization providing education and resources about the climate economy. The climate economy focuses on new business models that are required in the face of climate change, where businesses can work to the benefit of the environment, the economy and humanity. Organizer Amy McMorrow Hunter explains, “In the climate economy we’re thinking about reducing our carbon footprint, not only because it can save money and the environment but also because it’s the right thing to do. Younger generations are demanding it. It’s an exciting time because there are basically limitless opportunities to make things work better by throwing out our old ideas about how things are ‘supposed’ to work.”

Day 1, Wednesday, June 12: Conference and Forum

The first day of the event, Wednesday June 12, is a conference and community forum. It includes three sections.

Energy Section

Keynote: Seth Feaster, Data Analyst and Researcher, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis: Energy Industry Trends

Panelists: Seth Feaster; Amanda Pankau, Prairie River Network (Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act); Aur Beck, AES Solar (solar energy, rebates, living off-grid); Tim Michaels, Energy Resources Group (energy management, efficiency, retrofits); Karen Schauwecker, SIU Sustainability Office (Saluki Energy Focus Group, resources)

Economic Development Section

Keynote: Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus U. of Missouri and Author, Sustainable Agriculture and Economic Sustainability

Panelists: Dr. John Ikerd; Cindy Winland, Senior Fellow, Just Transition Fund; Kim Watson, Senior Account Manager at Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity; Lisa C. Merrifield, Community and Economic Development Specialist, University of Illinois Extension

Innovation Section

Keynote: Albert Bates, Founder and President of Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology, Chief Permaculture Officer, eCO2, for Cool Design, and Co-Author of BURN: Using Fire to Cool the Earth

Panelists: Albert Bates; Scott Settelmyer, Co-founder and Managing Director, TerraCarbon LLC (carbon credits, environmental entrepreneurship); Adena Rivas, Community Programs Coordinator, City of Springfield (new directions for plastics recycling); Kelly Pearson, Shawnee National Forest (ecotourism partnerships)

Day 2, Thursday, June 13: Biochar Masterclass with Albert Bates

The second day of the event is the Biochar Masterclass with Albert Bates, who recently co-authored the book “Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth.” The premise of the book is the profound potential of biochar as a soil amendment, holding in nutrients and water, but also as a mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from natural decay of organic waste including agriculture and forestry waste. Biomass is “carbonized” and turned into biochar through the process of pyrolysis. The book paints a broad canvas of the potential innovations:

We seek to share the growing number of ways that carbon can be used above the ground to improve health, rebuild infrastructure, provide or boost renewable-energy production, rebalance atmosphere and ocean equilibrium, and offer a host of other benefits. Practitioners from around the world are demonstrating that carbonizing biomass can help urban and rural areas become more sustainable and regenerative by reducing waste, restoring ecosystems, closing nutrient cycles, and slashing emissions.

Bates, Albert K., and Kathleen Draper. Burn: Using fire to cool the earth, 2019.

Topics of the workshop include:

Introduction to the subject
–History of Biochar
–History of Terra Preta
–History of Retorts
–Advances in Soil Science
–Advances in Materials Science
–Bottleneck in sources and sinks
–BURN breaks that bottlenecks
Biochar burn
Biochar quench
Biochar wet grind
Charging Char
Compost teas
Cements, grouts and plasters
Earthbag, Cob, Adobe
Novel applications
–Bio-oil and Wood Vinegar
–Carbon Fiber & 3D Printing

About the Just Transition Fund

The Just Transition Fund (JTF) was established in 2015 by the Rockefeller Family Fund and partners in response to President Obama’s POWER Initiative, which provided the first-ever federal funding to help communities impacted by the changing coal economy and power sector. The JTF’s direct investments are improving the effectiveness of the field and accelerating communities’ ability to respond to the energy transition. In addition, direct technical assistance is helping high-level stakeholder groups create innovative funding streams for transition projects and helping communities understand core transition strategies. To date, JTF grants have helped inject nearly $19 million in federal funds to support and scale community-driven transition projects. Based on input from partners and stakeholders, the Fund expanded its mission and scope to more broadly address the coal community transition movement. More information is available online at

About LLC provides a proven web platform to showcases the many products and services provided by local businesses. It also aims to showcase the vitality and diversity of the region, and to help build it into a sustainable, entrepreneurial business community. Visit for more information.

About The Climate Economy

The Climate Economy is a non-profit organization established to help guide students and entrepreneurs towards the new business models of The Climate Economy. New business models including clean energy, natural conservation and circular flows are necessary to mitigate and adapt to climate change and are profitable through efficiency improvements, waste reductions and goodwill. Visit for more information.