The Innovation Section, with keynote and panelists, will wrap up the day’s events at The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Business, Jobs and Communities. The cultivation of southern Illinois’ rich natural resources and waste streams  are literally innovation opportunities waiting to happen. Our panel is going to cover Climate Economy Innovation ideas for the region that can provide jobs and purpose, economic growth, and nurture the environment. They will discuss new ways of looking at things that can work to build community resilience. Visit the link above to register. Main discussion points include:

  1. How did you (panelists) first get involved in your areas and what advice can you give people just starting out?
  2. What are the biggest challenges with bringing forward Climate Economy innovations (that are good for the environment, the economy and humanity), and how do you overcome them?
  3. In your areas of expertise, what are important trends that people can take advantage of? Where are things going in the future?

Albert Bates – Keynote and Panelist

From “Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth”: Albert Bates is one of the founders of the intentional community and ecovillage movements. A lawyer, scientist, and teacher, he has taught village design, appropriate technology, and permaculture to students from more than sixty countries. His books include Climate in Crisis (1990); The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (2006); The Biochar Solution (2010); and The Paris Agreement (2015).

Albert’s Keynote Summary

More than 450 years ago, explorers arriving in the Americas witnessed a completely different style of agriculture than they had known in Europe. Using carbon as a building block, it transformed infertile soils into prosperous gardens, encouraged streams to fill with trout and salmon, and established forests teeming with wild game. In the latter half of the last century, we deciphered the magic ingredient in that system—-something scientists called “biochar.” Now, in this century, we learned that indeed biochar can do all of that, but much, much more. A single crystal can cascade from one use to many. It can sequence from water purification to mine reclamation to metal refining to cathodes in fuel cells. It can transform waste materials and nuisances like municipal sewage, plastic trash, and seaweed or algae fouling beaches and waterways into pothole free highways and more durable bridges, tunnels, ports, high-rise buildings, and airports. It can even build passenger jetliners, improve their electronic avionics, and assist their transition to biofuels. National governments have been bedeviled by carbon taxes and credit trading systems but biochar can make all that obsolete by simply offering a profit motive to make reversing climate change the best thing to happen to any economy since the invention of money.

Kelly Pearson – Panelist

Kelly Pearson is a native of southern Illinois.  She has worked for the U. S. Forest Service/Shawnee National Forest for 28 years focusing on recreation, trails, wilderness and volunteers. In 2005 Kelly created the Shawnee Volunteer Corps program for the Shawnee National.  The Shawnee Volunteer Corps experiential service program has grown exponentially over the years from it humble beginnings.  In 2018, three hundred and sixty volunteers provided 12,323 hours of stewardship service to the Shawnee National Forest. Kelly also manages the seven designated wilderness areas on the Shawnee National Forest which comprises approximately twenty thousand acres or 10% of the national Forest. Managing volunteers and stewarding the wilderness is a monumental task for one person so over the years Kelly has been quietly building partnerships with other agencies, national and regional volunteer organizations and local non-profit organizations to connect others to their wild lands and special places and to accomplish the important work of stewardship on the national forest. As a member of the River to River Trail Summit organization, a public private partnership, Kelly is part of a grass roots effort to support local businesses and promote responsible eco-tourism in southern Illinois.

Kelly’s Topic Highlights

    • Refreshing the outdoor recreation infrastructure- Rejuvenating the River to River Trail
    • Collaboration- River to River Summit Team members, goals
    • Accomplishments- Successful grant submissions, implementing projects
    • Looking to the future – the River to River Trail and beyond
    • Important Topics
      • Building trust
      • Maintaining credibility

Adena Rivas – Panelist

Adena Rivas is the Programs Coordinator for the City of Springfield: Public Works Department. In this role she oversees the Division of Waste & Recycling as well as helps develop and manage the activities and/or staff of several other community outreach and/or educational programming related to Public Works. The Division of Waste & Recycling is directly responsible for developing and overseeing programs such as electronic recycling, large item pickup, yard waste collection, branch collection, hazardous waste collection, residential Room-to-Room guide, adopt-a-street programming, city recycling bins, and various educational outreach programs- including the City’s annual Earth Day celebration.

Before working with the City, Adena worked as an organizer for an NGO called Elevate Energy in Springfield, IL and downstate based out of Olney, IL. In this role she managed and implemented community-based strategies for educating and engaging individuals on alternative energy and energy efficiency. Prior to joining Elevate, Adena worked as an instructor at Oakland City University in Indiana as well as an instructor and Director of Night Studies at Olney Central Community College in Illinois. In 2014, she completed an internship at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland, CA, where she helped maintain a 12-acre demonstration facility dedicated to sustainability and trained as a solar technician with an NGO called Grid Alternatives. Before focusing on environmental work, Adena worked for many years as an organizer with the United Mine Workers in Princeton, IN and the United Steel Workers in Pittsburgh, PA. She holds two Bachelors- one in science and the other in art- as well as a Masters in Environmental Studies from the University of Illinois Springfield.

Adena’s Talking Points:

  • Making use of current policies and projecting future trends
  • Understanding the big picture: the impact of plastics
  • Importance of education
  • What is the main issue or set of issues with plastics that consumers should be aware of?
  • Rather than recycling plastic, what other solutions or alternatives not previously mentioned are available to consumers?

Kofi Akamani, PhD – Panelist

Dr. Kofi Akamani is an Assistant Professor of Forest Recreation and Conservation Social Science in the Department of Forestry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). He received his Ph.D. in Natural Resources with specialization in conservation social science from the University of Idaho. Prior to that, Kofi received his MPhil. in Culture, Environment, and Sustainability from the University of Oslo, and his BSc. degree in Planning from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. His research involves the integration of concepts from social-ecological systems research and rural sociology among other fields with the aim of gaining a theoretical understanding of human-environment interactions across multiple scales and informing policies that promote human well-being and ecosystem health across the rural urban continuum. Since joining SIUC, Kofi has collaborated with colleagues and graduate students on various research projects aimed at understanding and enhancing the resilience of resource-dependent communities and the adaptive governance of forests, water resources and agricultural landscapes in Ghana, the US and elsewhere.

Kofi’s Talking Points/Areas of Interest

  • Transitions toward ecosystem-based management of forest resources
  • Evolving approaches to sustaining forest-dependent communities
  • Factors influencing community resilience and vulnerability
  • Barriers and opportunities for building the resilience of forest-dependent communities

Paul S. Anderson, PhD – Panelist

Since his retirement in 2003 from teaching geography at Illinois State University, Paul Anderson has been instrumental in the innovations and advancement of pyrolytic gasification, which includes the creation of charcoal while generating combustible gases (woodgas) for a separate purpose (such as heat for a cookstove).  Paul Anderson has lived over 20 adult years outside of the USA (Peru, Vietnam, Colombia, Australia (6), Brazil (5), Mozambique (2), and shorter stays elsewhere).  He has a uniquely international perspective, and is highly concerned about climate change and the future of America (as shown in two recent books:  Nehemiah Papers (14 essays) and A Capitalist Carol (novella) – see – both are free as eBooks).

Paul’s Talking Points:

Paul will introduce the following bolded topics (his “Talking Points”) and will be available to discuss each in further detail.   He is also assisting Albert Bates on the Thursday session on Biochar.

  • Carefully designed for economy and residential scale, Woodgas TLUD cookstoves are recognized for clean combustion, fuel efficiency, and several additional, important benefits for households in impoverished areas.  Following on from earlier successes of pilot projects, a new project in West Bengal, India continues to demonstrate these benefits, as well as revealing the difficulties of finding funds for scaling the disbursement of stoves to meet local and regional demand.
  • This has led to the development of a comprehensive, blockchain-enabled web application, CharTrac, an end-to-end carbon accounting system.  Acquiring and managing data from carbon offset-generating projects, CharTrac provides a registry of voluntary emission reduction data in the form of Woodgas Emission Reduction (WER™) units. These are carbon offsets (each representing 1 t CO2e per year) that can be used to reduce one’s carbon footprint.  (The average American carbon footprint is 16 t CO2e per year, not counting airline travel.)
  • To conduct the above items, Paul has founded and leads the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Juntos Energy Solutions NFP.
  • Paul’s work with pyrolysis at cookstove scale has led to recent innovations for farm and field scale production of biochar (soilchar).  These are commercial efforts that could involve others.

To read more about the event and to register visit The Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Business, Jobs and Communities.