—Joshua Spodek's adventures in stewardship—

(Formerly Leadership and the Environment)

Community, support, vision, stories, role Models, experience.

Leadership turns feeling alone and complacent into action.

We bring leaders to the environment to share what works. Less facts, figures, and gloom. More stories, reflection, self-awareness, connection, support, and community.

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490: Karen Shragg, part 2: Reducing birth rate and raising tomatoes

July 30, 2021
Karen is a lifelong environmentalist, naturalist, educator, poet, author and overpopulation activist. She received her doctorate from the University of St. Thomas in 2002, following two other degrees in education. She retired as a long-time naturalist and nature center director to start the LLC, Move Upstream Environmental Consulting (MUSEC). As a member of the advisory board of the non-profit “Earth Overshoot”, she has become increasingly alarmed by the lack of discourse surrounding the overpopulation crisis. In 2015, her book Move Upstream, A Call for Overpopulation, was published by Freethought House Press. Her newest book moves the discussion further upstream, Change Our Stories Change our World. Karen is a new board member of SEPS, (Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization). She was on the advisory board of World Population Balance (1992-2021). She writes children’s books, the most well known of which is the Nature’s Yucky series, co-written by Lee Ann Landstrom by Mountain Press. Her books for adults are Grieving Outside the Box, Stories of Hope and Resilience and The Wolf Within, Poems to Awaken and Inspire in Times Like these and Organic Dreams and Pickled Nightmares, a Pocketful of Political Poems for the Resistance. She also conducts lectures on topics ranging from, “How to Write Children’s Books,” to “Vegetarian Wild Edible Cooking.” Karen has had op-ed pieces published in papers from all over the country. She lectures about her books to groups around the Twin Cities and has accepted invitations to speak in China and England.
Karen Shragg, E.D.D.

490: Karen Shragg, part 2: Reducing birth rate and raising tomatoes

Don't you feel gypped that some of the most amazing potential parts of our lives were stripped away by people overindulging in polluting behavior? Or by automation that removed working the land from consideration as noble action?

Karen and I talk about overpopulation that will soon return to mainstream and the values of wholesomeness of activities connected to the cycles of life. Besides sharing observations from a life of conservation, she shares her big success growing tomatoes, spending quality time with her family.

Here are some early results of her planting tomatoes, which she's since reported have grown beyond her expectations, leading her to see things she had been mission, connecting with family, and otherwise engaging with the world.

Karen Shragg's gardening

Stewardship isn't deprivation

Karen's stories of her experience will remind you that life without craving and always wanting more brings reflection, connection, calm, and more reward.

Karen's stories of her experience will remind you that life without craving and always wanting more brings reflection, connection, calm, and more reward. Whatever you're doing now, acting more in stewardship and sustainability will lead you to wish you had acted more, earlier.

489: Martin Puris, part 2: All big ideas begin in the mind of one person thinking creatively

July 26, 2021

Martin and I continued our conversation about America, its problems, and what we can do about it. I misread him that he had a specific plan, but that didn't stop him from clarifying and continuing more of what we spoke about last time.

We talked about education, arts, voting, government, the future, the past, competition, and more.

Listen for reflections from a master communicator who has worked with people at the forefront of American business for decades.

I mentioned before that I was prompted to reconnect with Martin after almost two decades while seeing him give a webinar online. I took the liberty of capturing the screen when he showed this slide. I hope you can tell why it made me connect. Creativity is up there with curiosity for me.

Martin Puris all big ideas Here's the conversation:

488: Maxine Bédat, part 1: Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Fashion's Sustainability (or lack thereof)

July 21, 2021

Maxine's book, Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment, traces how a pair of jeans comes into existence from it's raw beginnings and where it ends up at the end of its life. The book has been covered in the top levels of fashion media, for example

In our conversation, she shares the story behind the book: her history and motivation to write it, the story of her visiting people and places actually doing the work, the shocking sights the industry doesn't want us to know about. As she puts it, "the chemical industry is the fashion industry. The oil industry is the fashion industry."

You might think, "I don't want to learn these things. I just want to enjoy my clothes without thinking about them." You'll feel the opposite when you hear. You'll wish you'd learned earlier. You'll want to tell people what you learn. You'll shop and dress differently, more mindfully.

487: Karen Shragg E.D.D., part 1: At last, simple, reasonably talk on (over)population

July 17, 2021

We can dance around our environmental problems all we want. Understand them enough and we eventually reach overconsumption and overpopulation. These overshoots contribute to everything.

We at least talk about overconsumption, even if few are acting. Decades ago, the public talked about population, but didn't act. Today we don't talk about it. All the numbers I see suggest the Earth can sustain two or three billion people with roughly western European consumption levels. I'd love to live in a world with two billion people, like what produced Mozart and Einstein.

Karen has been working on helping society face our problem of too many people being alive at once longer than I have. I've only been able to talk about it since learning from (TSL guest) Alan Weisman's Countdown about (TSL guest) Mechai Viravaidya helping solve the problem. She's been treating it a lot longer. She also knows I think all the podcast guests I talked to about population. She also knows many environmentalists who never acted on population.

Karen shares her decades of working on (over)population. The U.S. doesn't talk about it publicly these days, but Karen shows how to talk about it. As I recognized that our overpopulation contributes to every environmental problems, I realized we had at least to talk about it. Karen does this.

486: General Kip Ward, part 2: Not flying by choice, and smiling about it

July 15, 2021

A retired General doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to. What he does, he's going to do for his reasons, not for trends or as a dilettante.

Kip committed to a challenge many consider unreasonable and impossible (I know because they tell me): avoiding flying. As a General, he's held the fates of a nation and hundreds of thousands of troops in his hands. When he speaks about his experience, I hear him speaking at a life level.

He spoke about his many opportunities to fly for business and pleasure, but not taking them. He could have. Besides his choice based on his motivation, he could have flown.

He didn't. Yet he shares the opposite of complaints or feeling left out. How is that possible?

He describes handling the commitment with his wife, his conferences, what he learned from the pandemic, how it connected to his legacy with the future, and how he made it work.


He speaks about service and helping your team and teammates achieving more than they would. Is helping our communities not what we want to do regarding our shared environment?

If we do our best and enable our peers to outperform their best, isn't that our best way to achieve the best results we can? We can't change the past, but we can do our best and help others do their best.

Systemic change begins with personal transformation.

485: Jonathan Hardesty, part 4: How to Lead Someone to Stewardship: The Spodek Method

July 9, 2021

Jonathan and I continue practicing how to lead oneself and others to love acting in stewardship. Everyone thinks sustainability means deprivation and sacrifice.

We started this conversation for him to review how his first time doing The Spodek Method with his kids. You'll hear that he did it slightly differently and didn't get the results. Very educational! Few people master challenging things the first time.

We switched to restarting The Spodek Method with him and the value of practicing by the book before improvising.

This episode will teach you how to lead someone to love and enjoy acting in stewardship.

484: John Sargent, part 2: Fun Transforming MacMillan, a Big 5 Publisher

July 8, 2021

Everyone treat changing corporate culture like a horror show, but John did it. How? Through making it fun.

The way most people talk about it, only dictators can change cultures, I'll trust his experience over their speculation. This episode begins with his reviewing some of how he implemented that change. My biggest takeaway was his focus on people before technology, what they want, and what makes them tick. The result is their engaged participation.

He also shares the result of his commitment. As usual with experienced leaders, if things don't go perfectly, they don't pretend. They share what didn't work too, I believe from experience finding that exposing vulnerabilities doesn't make them weak. It connects people.

If you want to change yourself and your organization, you'll learn from John how to achieve more by having fun, listening, and caring over analyzing forever, coercion, and such.

483: Jane O'Sullivan: Debunking the "Aging Problem" Scam

July 5, 2021

What happens when populations age?

Can you envision a world with a sustainable population, well below Earth's capacity, therefore living resiliently in abundance per person? I can.

Governments and media are petrified at populations shrinking and aging. It turns out they are motivated by reasons that sound plausible.

Jane looked at the numbers and found the fears unfounded. She also found industries seeding and promoting the fears, making them scams. Allowing the scams to affect us exacerbates the risk of a collapse in Earth's ability to sustain life and society.

She treats more unfounded fears about population size that lead people to baselessly fear what seems to me one of the top elements of retaining Earth's ability to sustain life---lowering our birth rate through the peaceful, voluntary, and fun methods that worked in Thailand, Costa Rica, and many other nations.

Listen to Jane's conversation and read her paper to feel more confident in promoting smaller families. The evidence I see suggests Earth can support about two billion people living at Western European polluting levels, which means Americans will have to reduce consumption and every culture will have to reduce birth rates.

481: Joe Collins, part 1: From a gang to Congress?

July 1, 2021

I met Joe when we spoke together on an online panel hosted by Magamedia.org. I knew he was running for office and anticipated conservative politics, but on the panel, I couldn't tell, despite the conservative context. I was curious so looked him up more and found an intriguing background and passion.

Joe emerged from youth involving gangs to join the Navy, now running for office. He considers the incumbent insensitive to his district's needs, but he grew up there. He knows its problems. You'll hear in our conversation a passion as great as his frustration with the situation he wants to change.

Environment factors in some to his campaign and platform, but not its top priority. Still, he shares his caring with us and takes on a challenge to act on those values. He's conservative, which many associate with insensitivity or denial of our environmental problems, but I hear him caring as much as anyone. Listen to hear his values and commitment to act on them.

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