For the past two years, my day job has been working on a book series called Innovators in Regenerative Agriculture for Chelsea Green Publishing. I just turned in a second manuscript in February. It is tentatively titled Fibershed: Local Fiber, Local Dye, Local Labor – Building Regional and Textile Cultures and Economies and will be published next fall.
Its author is Rebecca Burgess, the founder and Executive Director of Fibershed, an exciting and growing nonprofit organization in northern California. As Rebecca describes it, a local fibershed is a geographical region, like a watershed or a foodshed, that sets a definite boundary for the resources we use in our clothes – in her case a 150-mile radius from her front door. In 2010, she challenged herself to dress 100% from locally grown fibers, natural dyes, and labor for one year. It was a process that brought her into direct relationships with well-managed farms, ranches, and skilled textile artisans. It was a deliberate and eye-opening contrast to the industrial model of clothes production, almost all of which takes place overseas at steep environmental and social costs. The book taps into a broader cultural shift taking place that pushes back against our increasingly destructive behavior. “The question for our time,” Rebecca writes, “is how we can transform contemporary systems to benefit all life and promote regeneration without falling into the trap of unintended consequences that force the hand of another set of technological solutions.” To do this, we must tune into the fundamentals of the carbon, water, and nutrient cycles, developing deeper knowledge about the earth’s true ecological carrying capacity.
She writes: “It is within our deepest human know-how to answer the question how will we care for, protect, and moderately utilize what the earth provides in a manner that leaves the land and water more diverse and productive than when we found it. The challenge to create a functioning fibershed is steeped in the process of answering this question.”
The goal of the Innovators book series is to assist innovative farmers, ranchers, scientists and nonprofit directors in the field of regenerative agriculture get their words into print with the support of a professional writer (me). While many leaders in regenerative agriculture have participated in a variety of educational outreach activities over the years, including public speaking, workshops, and articles, few have written books – an important and enduring forum to convey deep knowledge and experience, communicate more detailed information than other platforms accommodate, and create frameworks for promising new approaches. For many, the obstacle to writing a book is a lack of time and experience not a lack of desire or things to say. Working with a writer can resolve this challenge. Prior to Rebecca’s book, I worked on Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture, authored by Gabe Brown, a progressive rancher in North Dakota.
I am honored to work with these innovators and help get their important stories into print.