Couple to receive award from Santa Barbara Permaculture Network.
John and Nancy Jack Todd, pioneers in the ecological design movement, are recipients of the Eco Hero Award by the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network.
They will be honored from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. A reception will follow in the Lobero courtyard.
Tickets, which are $10, $20, $40 and $100 for Friends of Eco Hero, are available at the Lobero ticket office, 805-963-0761, or www.lobero.com.
The award honors individuals who have committed themselves to work in service of the planet and its inhabitants for more than 30 years with actual solutions and concrete ways forward that benefit many, often on a global scale, while demonstrating pathways forward for future generations.
The audience will learn what inspired the Todds, how they made their projects happen and what challenges they faced along the way with time for attendees to ask questions, especially encouraging youth to interact. Since the late 1960s, this amazingly productive husband-and-wife team has shared a partnership journey for more than five decades, committed to the emerging field of ecological design.
That field uses human ingenuity to design a future in balance with nature, while healing broken ecosystems damaged historically and by modern industrial society.
Youthful founders of the New Alchemy Institute in 1969, Dr. and Mrs. Todd began their journey on a 12-acre site in Cape Cod, Mass., with the intention of “scientifically exploring strategies that could have evolutionary value to humanity and the planet’s future.”
The New Alchemy Institute had an enthusiastic and talented young staff of scientists and innovators who pioneered, among other things, Eco-Machines, living machines designed for biological waste water treatment using solar energy and living organisms. This team also led the way with the newly evolving organic agriculture and aquaculture movement. They were also the design of bioshelters — dwellings that provide their inhabitants with energy, food & shelter — with minimal reliance on fossil fuels.
With lessons learned from the New Alchemy Institute, they embarked on the Ark for Prince Edward Island, an ambitious project with support of the Canadian government, while in the midst of an energy crisis being felt around the world.
The Ark was a bioshelter that generated its own electricity with wind generators and used solar energy for space and water heating, tested purposely in Prince Edward Island’s cold northern climate. Despite the wintery weather with limited daylight, the Ark’s gardens and fruit trees provided food all winter long for its inhabitants.
Today, the couple operate Ocean Arks International, a nonprofit research and outreach organization founded in 1982. Ocean Ark’s mission is “to create planetary healing through promoting ecological literacy and the dissemination of vital eco-technologies,” with projects focused on the restoration of the world’s oceans and fresh waters, using the tools of nature to heal toxic waste sites, oil spills, leaking landfills and severely damaged waterways.
In order to provide consultancy services to communities and businesses, John Todd Ecological Design was formed with projects around the globe. Through the years, Mrs. Todd has been the chronicler of all their work, masterfully describing the scope of what they were attempting, while at times even predicting the revolutionary direction they were going.
The Todds have partnered with many other ecological design pioneers, including William McLarney, Bill McKibben, Amory Lovins, Janine Benyus, Stewart Brand, John D. Liu, Paul Hawkens, and in their earliest days, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, who strongly influenced their work.
Recently, the Todds have joined forces with the Greening the Sinai project, along with John D. Liu, Santa Barbara Permaculture Network’s 2019 Eco Hero Award recipient.
Headed up by the Weather Makers, a group of international engineers and scientists, this project proposes altering the climate cycle in one of the hottest, driest places on the planet to a cooler, moister one as was successfully done in a similar historically desertified region, the Loess Plateau in China.
Since fresh clean water is a precious and limited resource in the Sinai, Dr. Todd’s Eco-Machine is an especially valuable tool as a natural system for treating industrial and human wastewater, while remediating existing degraded bodies of water.
Mrs. Todd is an author, former dancer, editor of numerous publications, who has been involved in international environmental affairs for more than 40 years. A co-author of many books with her husband, she is the sole author of “A Safe and Sustainable World” (that has been likened to Rachel Carson’s “The Sea Around Us”), and “The Village as Solar Ecology.”
Among the numerous honors she has shared with her husband are the Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award, Bioneers Lifetime Achievement Award, Friends of the United Nations Award and the Swiss Threshold Award for contributions to human knowledge.
Dr. Todd is a biologist and ecologist, who graduated from McGill University in Canada with degrees in agriculture, parasitology and tropical medicine and with a doctorate from the University of Michigan in Marine Biology. He is a professor emeritus and distinguished lecturer at the University of Vermont and fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics also at the University of Vermont.
His many awards include the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award (2008) for the best idea and concept to help save the planet and humanity; Top Visionary award (2007) by Resurgence and Ecologist magazine and was profiled as one of top 35 figures in “Inventing Modern America” in the Genius issue of Esquire magazine. He was named Hero of the Earth by Time magazine in 1999.
His most recent book is “Healing Earth: An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship.”
Books co-authored by Dr. and Mrs. Todd include “Tomorrow Is Our Permanent Address,” “The Book of the New Alchemists,” “From Eco-Cities to Living Machines — Principles of Ecological Designs” and “Bioshelters, Ocean Arks, City Farming: Ecology as the Basis of Design.”
Past recipients of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Eco Hero Award include John D. Liu, Paul Stamets and Louie Schwartzberg.