Environmentalism can be such a bummer, a breeding ground for despair.

There's the logging of the Amazon, the thawing of the tundra, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Sixth Mass Extinction—each with its statistics both depressing and condemning.  For instance, the American Midwest has lost 99.9% of its original prairies—even more of its oak savannas—replaced by farmlands, which lose 5 tons of topsoil per acre per year[1], washed away, muddying the Mississippi and forming dead zones in the Gulf. All to grow more corn to raise more beef to clog more arteries. Overgrazing and climate change turns 40,000 hectares into desert each year in Australia alone.[2] 

Then perhaps ignorance is bliss, since awareness seems so agonizing.  

But there's a third path—a positive one.  The solution is simply a change in mindset, because the problem, afterall, is a matter of perspective.

From the perspective of ecology, destructive events are commondiseases, fires, floods.  It may seem like senseless carnage.  But in the bigger picture such "disturbances" are forces of rejuvenation, catalysts for a new cycle of life.

The hardy, fast-growing species arrive first, fixing nutrients, holding water and building soil.  While we may condemn them as "weeds," as worthless lifeforms that impede progress (like we condemned environmentalists in the 70's), these species are in fact the first stage of restoring damaged ecosystems and making them livable for those that follow.  They are the pioneers.  And they lead the way into the next succession.

The Mission
To find the pioneers restoring our planet; to study their positive work and share their positive message.   I'll be visiting sites related to two general fields:

1. Restoration Ecology – Returning ecosystems to their prior range of health and function, prior to destruction or degradation (i.e. European settlement). Also known as land reclamation, remediation, reforestation, desert greening, or any other practice applies scientific knowledge to healing damaged land.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise - Aldo Leopold's "Land Ethic"

Vanes at Conococheague Stream Restoration
Bison at Fermilabs Prairie Restoration
Reforesting longleaf pines at the Big Thicket

See page of Restoration Sites>>

2. Regenerative Agriculture – Providing for human needs while not only sustaining, but regenerating ecosystem health.  Permaculture, agroecology, restoration agriculture, regrarianism, natural farming.  Call it what you want.  There's a new succession of farmers working to reverse their predecessors' destructive legacy, working with nature rather than against it.

If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork - Masanobu Fukuoka

Cover cropping at Bountiful Hope Farm
Rotational grazing at Fossil Ridge Farm
Planting terraces in Minca, Colombia

See page on Farms>>

The Website
Comments are open to anyone, including the anonymous. If you have any info to contribute please post it and I'll add it to the article with due credit. I'd also appreciate any critiques or suggestions.

Photos are all taken by yours truly, unless otherwise specified. Please feel free to use them for any educational or artistic purposes (not for profit). A link to the source would be nice.

A migratory bird and black locust branch.

Contact me via e-mail at seandixonsul@gmail.com

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If the day and night are such that you great them with joy... that is your success.  All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.
 -Henry David Thoreau

What is ecological succession?  Learn more at the Indiana Dunes.

[1] Stephan Gliessman, Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems
[2] Bill Mollison, Permaculture Designers Manual


  1. I worked for the US Government on a riparian project that sought to alter the effects of overgrazing. Possibly a good subject that you can cover in your blog. I like your writing style and your blog topic and will be back regularly. I followed you on twitter so if you want to find me I am @TrafficXchanger. Keep up the good work and don't give up on your new blog. The topic and your writing style are excellent. I look forward to more interesting posts. Thanks.

    1. Hey Jeffrey. Thanks a ton for the support! That project sounds right up my alley... Just shoot me a name or some keywords and I'll add it to my itinerary. Followed you on Twitter. Thanks again. Cheers.