Permaculture School​ advisor Pandora Thomas works to reconnect communities of color to the earth

Pandora Thomas is a passionate global citizen who works as a teacher, writer, designer and speaker. Her writing includes “Shades of Green” for individuals wanting to teach green building to youth. Pandora co-founded Earthseed Consulting LLC, a holistic consulting firm whose work expands the opportunities for sustainable living for diverse communities. Her current projects include the Black Permaculture NetworkPathways to Resilience – a permaculture and social entrepreneur training program for men returning home after incarceration – and working with Toyota to design the Toyota Green Initiative, which supports African Americans in understanding the benefits of adopting sustainable lifestyles.

Watch Pandora’s inspiring video, here:

52,845 Utahns Weigh in on “Your Utah, Your Future” Survey

In 2014, Envision Utah conducted a values study to understand Utahns’ priorities and attitudes, to identify the factors related to quality of life that matter most to residents, and to determine why those factors are important to Utahns. Over a two-month period, 52,845 Utahns shared their voice through the Your Utah, Your Future survey. The survey asked what Utahns wanted to see in the future regarding 11 different topics, and then asked them to choose an overall scenario for 2050. The survey results were cross-checked against a random-sample survey to ensure it represented the desires and opinions of Utahns. The survey engaged a broad cross section of Utahns in terms of location, age, income, gender, and ethnicity.

For the future of air quality, the number one request by Utahn’s was to reduce emissions as quickly as possible so that all parts of Utah are well within federal health standards for air quality year-round. The number one request for energy is to diversify our energy sources. Regarding the future of recreation, the number one pick was to provide access to outdoor recreation near people’s homes through a network of parks, trails, and open space. See these, and many other results to this extensive, insightful survey of what Utahns want for their future, here:


Outdoor industry leaders and athletes petition to curb Utah coal emissions

Image by: Matt Law/Black Diamond

From the Standard Examiner: One day after the Governor held a meeting on air quality and growing the energy industry in Utah, the outdoors industry came forward with a petition to curb state coal emissions.

The Governor’s Office of Energy Development moderated a symposium Tuesday exploring ways to improve Utah’s air quality while boosting the energy industry. Much of discussion focused on perceived economic barriers from federal rules, like more restrictive ozone pollution standards and a plan for reduced emissions from power plants.

But a coalition including outdoor business leaders, athletes, park advocates and environmental groups gathered 30,000 signatures for a petition asking for stronger restrictions on coal power plant pollution.

The coalition is particularly concerned about visibility issues at Utah’s famous national parks.

“Utahns deserve the same protections from damaging coal pollution that other states afford to their residents,” said Peter Metcalf, CEO of outdoor equipment brand Black Diamond, in a statement. “Protecting our national parks is about protecting our economy and the communities that depend on them.” Read More

USU Wins National Bike Challenge University Division

From USU’s’ Utah State Today:

Utah State University won first place in the college/university division of the National Bike Challenge, logging more miles from more cyclists than any other school. The 220 USU students and employees registered for the competition rode 76,157 miles, burned more than four million calories, averted 28,604 pounds of carbon dioxide and saved $17,957.

Utah State University Sustainability Council, Aggie Blue Bikes and Employee Wellness Program collaborated on the event to encourage more students and employees to try cycling as a healthy, low carbon transportation option. Read More

Vivint Solar’s Bright Future in Utah: Expansion will create over 3,000 jobs

SALT LAKE CITY, UTVivint Solar, Inc. (NYSE:VSLR), along with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), recently announced that the solar energy company will continue to expand its operations in Utah, with the anticipation that over the next 10 years it will generate more than 3,000 jobs in conjunction with an estimated $91 million in additional capital investment within the state.

“It’s always exciting to see a homegrown company become so successful,” said Val Hale, executive director of GOED. “GOED’s mission is not only to recruit new businesses to the state but to also promote the expansion of Utah businesses. We are pleased with Vivint Solar’s contributions to the state’s energy industry.”

Read More

SolarCity Powers Utah’s Economy with up to 4,000 Jobs

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—Together with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY) announced this summer that it will open a regional corporate headquarters in Utah, resulting in up to 4,000 jobs and $94 million in capital investment over the next 10 years.

“SolarCity’s choice of Utah for its regional headquarters is a reflection of the vibrant growth of alternative energy companies in the state,” said Val Hale, executive director of GOED. “The creation of thousands of jobs over the coming decade is likely only a beginning.”

Read More

What Percentage of People in Your County Believe Global Warming is Happening?

UTGlobalWarmingOpinionThe Yale Project on Climate Communication recently released updated Climate Opinion Maps. Public opinion about global warming is an important influence on decision making about policies to reduce global warming or prepare for the impacts. This type of polling is generally done at the national level, because local level polling is very costly and time intensive. The Yale team of scientists, however, has developed a geographic and statistical model to downscale national public opinion results to the county, congressional district, and state levels.

Users can now estimate and visualize differences in opinion across the county and a clearer picture of the diversity of Americans’ beliefs, attitudes, and support for policy comes into focus. For instance, nationally, 64% of Americans think global warming is happening. But the model shows that only 44% of people in Spencer county, Indiana agree. Meanwhile we estimate that 60% in the nearby Vanderburgh county, Indiana believe global warming is happening.

Explore the maps by clicking on your state, congressional district, or county and compare the results across questions and with other geographic areas. Beneath each map are bar charts displaying the results for every question at whichever geographic scale is currently selected. See the methods page for more information about error estimates.

This research and website are funded by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, and the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation. For further questions about these maps or what they mean, please see the Yale Project on Climate Change Frequently Asked Questions page.

EPA Launches Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool

In order to better meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s responsibilities related to the protection of public health and the environment, the Agency has developed a new environmental justice (EJ) mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN.


EJSCREEN is an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators. EJSCREEN users choose a geographic area; the tool then provides demographic and environmental information for that area. All of the EJSCREEN indicators are publicly-available data. EJSCREEN simply provides a way to display this information and includes a method for combining environmental and demographic indicators into EJ indexes.

EJSCREEN includes:

Each EJ index combines demographic indicators with a single environmental indicator. This tool uses provides a number of capabilities including:

  • Color coded mapping
  • The ability to generate a standard report for a selected area
  • Comparisons showing how a selected area compares to the state, EPA region or the nation

You can access this new tool, here.

USU Extension Unveils Water Impacts Website

UntitledIn line with Utah State University’s (USU) 2015 theme, “year of water,” USU Extension recently unveiled a Water Impacts website. This website features resources including water quality, the center for water efficient landscaping, irrigation, water maps, climate, and more information about the year of water.

The Water Impacts team includes Danny Barandiaran (Biometeorology Ph.D. student0, Joanna Endter-Wada (Associate Professor in Environment and Society), Kelly Kopp (Water Conservation and Turfgrass Specialist), Larry Rupp (Professor in Ornamental Horticulture), Nancy Mesner (Water Quality Specialist).

A new educational video also features many of our top university specialists in water use.

Can Mushrooms Play an Essential Role in Healing our Planet?

Fungi Perfecti founder and president Paul Stamets has been a dedicated mycologist for over 40 years. Over this time, he has discovered and coauthored several new species of mushrooms, and pioneered countless techniques in the field of mushroom cultivation. – See more at: In this TedTalk video, Paul Stamets lists 6 ways the mycelium fungus can help save the planet: cleaning polluted soil, making insecticides, treating smallpox and even flu viruses.