New Leonard Media

Ryan Buck (00:26):

Hello, good people, and welcome to the pursuit of podcast where it’s truly not us. It’s you? I’m Ryan Buck, artist development. New intermediate with me is the boss. Mark Wilson, president New Leonard Media. How are you? Hey, Ryan, I’m doing

Mark L. Wilson (00:39):

Well. I hit 195 pounds for three reps on a power clean today!

Ryan Buck (00:42):

That’s okay. We’re done with that. Our guests today are Sarna Salzman, executive director and Ed Smith board member for seeds. How are

Sarna Salzman (00:52):

You? Thanks for having us

Ryan Buck (00:54):

Nice to have you. I’m glad to be here. So I think this is our first episode with two guests. It is the mix at the table. Yeah. So this has been fascinating, but when you look at seeds, the first thing that comes to mind is the name it’s really appropriately named. Is there a history to that? Is there a reason for that?

Sarna Salzman (01:19):

Uh, well, thanks for liking it. Yes. There is a little bit of a history. Our founder, Pete Munoz, who’s still on our board of directors, he and a couple other folks. They came up with this acronym, seeking ecology and education design solutions, which is why our name is in all caps. Although we rarely use the acronym. And in fact, we’ve decided to go forth with our name, her full name, being CZ college and education center. So it brings the spirit of the acronym out and, um, spells it out a little more articulately for your new, you know, somebody who’s new to the organization. Sure.

Ryan Buck (01:57):

Well, we talked about this off Mike ahead of time, but when you look at an organization like seeds, you do so much. And was there a process initially of like putting that elevator pitch together and did seed start off doing all that you do?

Sarna Salzman (02:13):

No. I mean, we were just a figment of imaginations. Uh, that’s how we started. And it was a, the burning desire to address global issues held by relatively young graduate school students who all wanted to spend their careers working towards positive solutions and not do that as a side gig or as a hobby. And so it was started by two engineers and the architect. So that’s where the design ethic comes from in the organization, really thinking about the built environment and how to be more intentional with that space and work with nature designs that work with nature rather than working against nature. So the ideas were always big and lofty and the intersection of ecology and social justice issues. We’re always at the heart of the organization’s desires, but what we were doing, we were all just volunteering in our spare time. And Pete helped a local farm build a timber frame extension to their barn. And me and my roommate, we built a urban agricultural space in the parking lot of our apartment building in downtown traverse city. So we just were scrapping it together to do good, do things to do good with that global perspective in mind,

Ryan Buck (03:31):

It was an organization. So you returned to Michigan after college and seeds had already been started by friends of yours, right. Did you communicate with them through college during those few years? Was this something you knew you wanted to do when you came back?

Sarna Salzman (03:45):

I know. So I was in grad school in California studying community development, and then I realized I got really homesick for Michigan and the Sweetwaters and the forests and autumn. So I was trying to figure out how to get home and the jobs that seemed kind of too good to be true popped up in traverse city, Michigan, where two of the seeds co-founders also were, oh, who I did know we were in touch in grad school and they actually put me on the first board of directors of the organization. Right. So I was like, well, if three of us live in one town, maybe we can see what happens from there. So that’s how I ended up back in Traverse City.

Ed Smith (04:24):

What excited me in finding seeds and calling Sarna last summer during COVID I’d spotted a editorial in the record Eagle, and I’d seen signs about seeds all around town. I’ve lived here 10 years now, uh, having come from California, but I wasn’t really sure what seeds was all about, but education was part of it. And that’s part of my background. So I said, okay, Sarna, tell me more front porch, talk some more. And here I am a year later and I’m involved with the board.

Ryan Buck (05:02):

And so you have a BA in anthropology and sociology and a master’s in community development for the university of California. Like you said, it seems like this job was tailor made for you. Would you look back and say, this was my perfect job, even in college?

Sarna Salzman (05:18):

Sure. In retrospect, everything looks like it makes a ton of sense, but yeah, my background does suit what this job has become, but that’s also because I’ve been here busy inventing this job as we go to. So

Ryan Buck (05:32):

Inventing. Yeah. That’s cool. Very entrepreneurial.

Sarna Salzman (05:36):

Yeah. The organization has always had sort of an entrepreneurial bent to,

Ryan Buck (05:40):

But back then, did you, did you, you know, looking at your college years, did you think this was something that I could do in a place that I love to live?

Sarna Salzman (05:47):

I, I loved Michigan and I wanted to be working towards building community intentionally. I’ve always said I wanted to at, um, co-creating the community that I would feel comfortable and confident retiring into. So I’m still working on that. So,

Ryan Buck (06:06):

So going back to your schooling, anthropology, sociology, they’re kind of related subjects. Would you say you need awareness of both to succeed in the field that you’re in?

Sarna Salzman (06:17):

I mean, anthropology and sociology really are both just awareness of social structures and the human condition. So I think we’re all born into that to some degree,

Ryan Buck (06:26):

Like, you know, warranted the past and

Sarna Salzman (06:30):

Nope, they’re very similar and I think they’re merging more, although probably academics would disagree with me, but anthropology is the study of the human condition and human cultures and really going to a culture which could be in a remote area of the world, or it could be in the offices of Facebook and just sitting back and taking a look at what are the norms of this place? What are their taboos? What is their relationship structure? How is that structured? And really just with no judgment, trying to understand how that culture operates, what are the rules of engagement?

Ed Smith (07:08):

Right. Well, you just hit a word that means a lot to me. So when you talk about culture, one of the words in seeds is eco eco seeds. And that word means a lot to me. So caring for appreciating, relating in a sustainable way to your environment is what that’s all about. So when you think about anthropology and you think about sociology and other sciences, there’s a lot to that. And what I liked in my first discussions with Sarna, with a behavioral science and organizational behavior background myself, is putting a hard edge on things because I didn’t want to just become a volunteer with an organization that was more touchy feely. I want to really get something where there’s employment

Ryan Buck (07:53):

And your ad, your educational background seems really tailored for the career that you’re in, you’re in consulting for a long time, but your focus on innovative learning is interesting because is it tougher to incorporate that into corporate America over the years? Innovative learning?

Ed Smith (08:11):

Well, the good news about the corporate America side is that they have more money. And when I, when I decided after business school to go on, I taught seventh and eighth grade as a substitute teacher before I really got my career going and that ignited a spark. And I said, education is something I care about. So I went on and got two graduate degrees in education in learning technology. And part of that has to do with the systematic way of introducing technology, into learning. Right. And it could, you could do that in public education, private education, corporate. And I just ended up choosing to go the corporate route. Right.

Ryan Buck (08:52):

And you know, you, you specialize in education and change specialization, right. Is that helpful to you and your role on the board here?

Ed Smith (09:01):

Well, it’s, it’s becoming more and more relevant, I think. And this is part of what excites me about having moved to Northern Michigan, which is different. I grew up on one coast, lived for 27 years on the west coast and then my wife is a Michigander. So I’ve moved here and this is where I’m retired

Ryan Buck (09:21):

Is that you’re tied to Michigan, your wife. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah.

Ed Smith (09:24):

And what I really looked forward to is being able to apply some of what I’ve come to do and learn in my life with an organization that’s ready to take it to a new level. Right. And I felt after talking with Sarna and meeting other board members, that there’s a willingness and a readiness, including Pete Munoz, you know, the founder, um, to stretch a little bit.

Ryan Buck (09:49):

So I was thinking about that. You’re retired, you live in an amazing place. You can learn the violin, learn how to paint. If you don’t know how to paint. And there’s a lot of different ways that you can serve here. What was it really about seeds that pulled you in

Ed Smith (10:05):

Number one, I’ve worked with other volunteer efforts since I retired here and I have to have a good relationship with both the executive director and the board, and I’ve got to feel a good connection there. And I did from the first day when Sarna and I met on my front porch and we talked about stuff. I felt that, uh, we could have an open, no blink your eye conversation, and we can be truthful and open and honest with each other. And it’s been that way ever since.

Mark L. Wilson (10:38):

Yeah. I learned a new saying every time I sit down with ed, so knew we weren’t going to use 25 cent words. Uh, there was another one, but

Ryan Buck (10:48):

Your website states that your mission is to implement local solutions to global issues at the intersection of ecology, education and design, where those three areas of focus from the beginning. And can you talk specifically to the design and you talked about that a little bit earlier.

Sarna Salzman (11:04):

Yeah. So our name was originally an acronym seeking ecology and education design solutions. So ecology, education, and design, those are middle names. And we think about design. It started from this built environment perspective, but the design of educational curricula is just as important as the design of a stormwater drain. And the fact that we’re very intersectional, I think that was really part of the overarching narrative of the organization. And that’s been something that’s made sense to everyone who’s worked and encountered the organization, although sometimes it’s difficult to talk about and articulate well. Um, but now that we can talk about intersectionality where ecology and education come together is like in a space where kids are coming outside and really getting comfortable outside in a forest land and getting interested in bugs and getting entrusted in soil. And it’s really important for the intersections to start to play a bigger role.

Sarna Salzman (12:04):

We’ve had a long stint as a culture of siloing knowledge and really specializing in knowledge, which has done some amazing, magical things. I mean, just look at the medical miracles we have, but we’ve lost the interplay, the dialogue. And you can see the breakdown in dialogue between us and the environment, right? Whether we have global climate change in fires that are raging out of control, uh, every year now, but you can also see that same breakdown happen with people, right? We have a polarized political framework in this country right now that really is not in dialogue. And I think the things are very related.

Ed Smith (12:42):

W w one of the things that excites me about working with Sarna with the board with seeds is what their secret sauce is. I remember sitting in a living room of another board member with Sarna, and I said, so Sarna, what’s your secret sauce? What what’s special? What’s unique about seeds? What are you most proud of? And she said two things. One is we have the most amazing staff right now that we’ve had in my time with the organization. And number two people trust us when we sign up to do something, when we’re asked to show up to do something, we get it done. And we get it done in a way that delivers multiple levels of benefit. When she said those two things I said, I’m in,

Ryan Buck (13:27):

And those are real things you’re doing. Th these are tangible things you’re educating, you’re building. So this may be a heady question, and I’m sorry, but what are the biggest threats to Michigan lands as of today? And how has that changed in the last 10 years? I think

Sarna Salzman (13:45):

Over the last 10 years longer, the threat is also the solution. It’s us, you know, homosapiens have transformed this

Ryan Buck (13:52):

Mental problem tire

Sarna Salzman (13:54):

Planet, and we’re the only ones that can do something about it too. So, I mean, that’s my short answer to your headache.

Ryan Buck (14:02):

That’s a really good answer to that question. Biodomes I guess if we want to go into that, but so can you elaborate in as much detail as you want to on the historic Barnes park?

Sarna Salzman (14:16):

Yeah. That’s a really exciting location for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a municipal government owned park. The layers of relationship over there are very complicated, but that makes it really special, like an ecosystem. So you’ve got two units of government there. You’ve got seeds. Is there the Botanic garden society is there and the Traverse City community gardens are all there. And that’s just within this 50 acres where we’ve got a variety of native and climate appropriate gardens going on a labyrinth the Botanic gardens had put in, but we also are growing food for personal use, but also food for donated use. And there’s still a lot of it that is for passive recreation is just kind of food. Um, well, seeds has a farm plot. We have a couple acres under cultivation over there, and one of our partners over there, his father Fred foundation. Absolutely. Yeah. And so this just started during the pandemic actually, you know, some staff from father Fred came to us and said, Hey, we want our volunteers just to grow some food. Can we have a patch of land over there? Like, absolutely because we’re not,

Ryan Buck (15:29):

Was that an easy thing to do you just like, yep. Fine. Or was it

Sarna Salzman (15:33):

Not? It was

Ryan Buck (15:37):

Because you talked about a lot of, you know, a lot of complications, but something like that

Sarna Salzman (15:41):

Because our land management agreements are so defined in that complicated legalistic formula, when they said, can we have a patch of land on your property that you manage? We had the authority to be able to say yes, easily. Yeah. And so this year they doubled the amount of area that we’re cultivating their volunteers and our volunteers are cultivating it together. And all the produce that comes off of that is going to father Fred, in addition to Brennan, uh, as poesis has been the resident farmer on this property for a number of years now, and his motivation for farming there is to grow seed of heirloom varieties and also create a bunch of produce and cut flowers to donate to, um, father Fred and the pavilions gets the cauliflower donations. So that’s been a really great, that’s incredible

Ed Smith (16:36):

One thing in this last part that excites me a lot is the different network of relationships that we hear about that I hear I’m learning more every week about these relationships and this, I think my management consulting experience was all about driving large scale systemic change. That’s what I did for 25 years. Right? So there’s a lot of opportunity to achieve that in the ecosystem realm of rural, Northern Michigan, or really around the whole country, but coming up with the right collaborative structure and the right set of key partners is really what we’re looking to do even better at, with seeds right now. So really looking at those strategic relationships carefully and very intentionally so that we can move needles in the directions. We all want them moved.

Ryan Buck (17:31):

So for you as a board member, is it a diverse board? Do you enjoy interacting with your other board?

Ed Smith (17:38):

Absolutely. It’s a great group of board members, and I think it’s wonderful also that we have what I would call legacy board members from our founder, you know, from founding days and newer board members plus our, the chairman of our board, John Taylor has been in that chair for a period of time. So he’s seen some ups and downs in the business cycle and he can be helpful in steering us well as the head of our,

Ryan Buck (18:04):

Yeah. So are there a fair amount of paid positions and volunteer positions or is it mostly volunteer?

Sarna Salzman (18:11):

I think payroll was 77 employees last period. Wow. Um, so over a couple dozen of those are full-time regular staff and then a whole handful are seasonal or temporary staff, our eco core program, which is a career exploration program. Those are all seasonal employees.

Ryan Buck (18:31):

So I was going to note that on your website, you know, you have a lot of people photographed and some tremendous beards. Um,

Sarna Salzman (18:41):

Like I said, we’ve got the most fantastic staff we’ve ever had in our history.

Ryan Buck (18:45):

It’s just beard based really tremendous. So the eco core crew, that’s a resource that you provide to others, correct. How does that?

Sarna Salzman (18:53):

Yeah, so our eco core program is in that civilian conservation Corps tradition because there’s hundreds of cores across the country. And our core is focused on green collar career exploration. So we think of green collar as any kind of business company activity that is good for the bottom line, but also good for people and for planet at the same time. So these are the kinds of career opportunities we really want to open people’s eyes to, and we want the marketplace to grow these types of opportunities

Ryan Buck (19:25):

To place, to gain awareness of that.

Sarna Salzman (19:27):

I mean, it really depends on the angle that you’re interested in. So

Ryan Buck (19:31):

A lot of different

Sarna Salzman (19:32):

Things, there’s a lot of different things. In fact, any, any avenue can be greened up, right? Like there’s one thing to build a house, a stick-built house and use kind of classic materials that maybe don’t have the best insulation or the most efficient heating and cooling system. And maybe your materials were inexpensive and they’re off gassing for a period of time in their lifespan. But a green built house is going to be tight. Well-insulated super efficient appliances and is going to have healthy indoor air quality. So green building versus building, you can go green from any of the building trades. You can go green from any of any career path. That’s my belief. Any career path can go green. So let’s just all go. Okay.

Ryan Buck (20:23):

So you have a lot of partnerships with schools. That’s very critical, I think, to what you do, how do you do that? How do you maintain those relationships is that you

Sarna Salzman (20:34):

It’s takes a village, right?

Ryan Buck (20:37):

Sounds like you’re being modest.

Sarna Salzman (20:39):

Well, no, it really does take a lot of people. The biggest part of our current business model right now is our programs, which I think is a lot of what you’re referring to in the 11 schools in the region that were formally partnered with both of us receiving state education, funding dollars to provide afterschool enrichment activities for the entire populations worth of kids. Now we can’t serve all the kids every day, although we try at rapid city, for example, but yeah, these relationships are five-year contracts, Congress willing knock on wood. And so the renewable grants, and we’re there doing afterschool services four days a week, the entire school year, and then at least six weeks of camp every summer. So that’s what we’re in the middle of right now. And what mark went out on a field trip today.

Mark L. Wilson (21:30):

You did. Yeah, this was fun. It was, it was great. Actually, a lot of well-spoken passionate young crew members speaking highly of the program.

Ryan Buck (21:42):

We talk about this a lot on the podcast, but there’s a, I think a misconception of a non-profit being a nonprofit and, you know, not needing revenue and raising money. Can you talk a little bit about funding grants have to be secured and it’s, it’s not an easy process. It takes a lot of time to do what you do. Can you speak to that a little bit? Yes.

Sarna Salzman (22:07):

So gosh, I think about 60% of our income are the state education grants and that’s, uh, I mean, government grants are their own beast and each department has its own way that it likes to speak and the forms it likes to use and the databases that will allow you to communicate through. And then we have another, our second biggest chunk of money are probably they swap roles, but private foundation grants like rotary charities or family foundations, like the Olsen foundation, they’ve been really supportive of Austin, our mission and our projects. And then also we do fee for service work, which our eco core does a lot of fee for service.

Ryan Buck (22:50):

Right? Yeah. That’s kinda what I was getting too, because that’s a neat, uh, really cool.

Sarna Salzman (22:55):

You can just hire us to come fix up your garden at your house. Yeah. And municipalities hire us to work on their trails and Parkland improvements so we can get hired by any number of places. We can also do that work through grant funded sources with them.

Mark L. Wilson (23:11):

I also heard about partnerships with other nonprofits doing good work in our community. For example, homestretch non-profit housing, which is friends of ours have been on the podcast. I heard about the work that seeds did before.

Sarna Salzman (23:27):

It was the old housing. That’s about to open up here on eighth street, a little bit of landscaping work there. What’s really exciting. So full disclosure, I’m on the board of home stretch, which you guys did a show on. So anyone who’s curious about that affordable housing developers should go look at pursuit of podcasts

Sarna Salzman (23:47):

To hear about that, that interview. And so as a nonprofit housing developer, you know, I’m passionate about making housing available to folks and passionate about greening of our housing infrastructure, but the executive director there, John Stimson, and I have had a lot of conversations about how to leverage these types of affordable housing projects into talent pipeline development. So developing the pipeline of trades talent that is moving through our system in this region. And so the grand Travers band gave a 2% grant to homestretch for the honor project where they’re building eight homes in the village of honor broke ground

Ryan Buck (24:30):

Yesterday, which drove around yesterday

Sarna Salzman (24:33):

And seeds is written into that grant. So that’s where an example of a grant funded work opportunity where we’re going to provide our ego Corps member, crew members to support that construction project. And they’re going to get to work under very experienced trades contractors.

Ed Smith (24:53):

Well, and along this line with the green jobs, the green economy, what is one thing that excited me in coming to seeds and joining the board is the whole notion of the talent pipeline and these 11 communities where we have these after-school programs are funded through the federal and state budgets to help lift up their outcomes, to help the students succeed at elementary, middle, and high school levels. And these are future workforce green workforce for our region. So whatever we can do, not only within the four corners of these grants, but also in these communities who trust us and where we have embedded staff full-time and part-time, this is one of the things that as a board, we’re looking at very strategically right now, what can we do to deepen our roots, so to speak in these communities and offer some of these other services to go greener and to reduce the carbon emissions and so on.

Sarna Salzman (25:57):

He’ll an ecosystem you connect more of itself to itself. And I think that’s how we approach our programming. We’re very place-based and we want to find if we’re rooted in middle school education programming, how can we take the adjacent step and encourage those middle-schoolers to get excited about joining the eco core? Yes.

Ryan Buck (26:19):

Is it tough to get them engaged? Are there, you know, cause I’m going to ask you a question later about a quote, uh, in an article I read. Oh

Sarna Salzman (26:28):

No, no, no.

Ryan Buck (26:29):

But are you finding it difficult to engage that particular age group in this? Are there other things that are more exciting to them? Sports? What have you, I mean, are they taking away from this kind of thing? Are you finding it’s kind of an easy sell for middle scores?

Sarna Salzman (26:46):

Both it’s hard and easy. Um, yes, there are things we, we have to compete for attention with including sports. There’s also access issues, right? We can’t provide transportation for everybody all the time. Okay. That said, we hire talented staff who want to do nothing more than hanging out with middle schoolers and middle schoolers. No, they feel that excitement and they want to do something more interesting than play on their phones and watch TV after school. They know they can come after school and get a meal and healthy snacks as part of the program that sometimes is enough, but we offer some really dynamic programming in addition to helping you with your homework, which maybe you have trouble with. And we’re there to just help you through that. We’re doing science experiments, we’re going outside for walks and learning about nature and biology. We have a whole bunch of really cool eco stem lesson plans that we focus on. So we’re, we’re doing science, technology, engineering and math, but we’re trying to bring the ecosystem to have the largest voice in that science and technology space, tapping maple

Ed Smith (27:54):

Trees. Yeah.

Sarna Salzman (27:56):

Forest area,

Ryan Buck (27:56):

Middle school, Joe Crider

Sarna Salzman (27:59):

Brought us an idea. And he said, this school used to have a sugaring shack and the school would love to have it back. And he even had a couple of places to get some of the funding. We were able to match that funding with more funding and, and rebuild the sugar shack for that school. Joe gets to use it in the after-school program, but now the whole school gets to use it for any teacher that wants to utilize it. And we have community gardens at a lot of the schools. Like it’s very, again place-based so the site coordinators who are in charge of recruiting the students, you is what you asked about like their job is to go find out what will be of interest to these students. Trout unlimited. Yeah. Marion Erin, um, started a program connected with the trout, unlimited volunteers down there in that chapter. And they came out and were delighted to show kids how to fly fish. And the kids were delighted to either expand their skills cause they already knew a little bit or learn something new that they hadn’t been exposed to before

Ed Smith (28:58):

Interacting with adults. See, this is part of the whole learning model that is covered under this 21st century learning center program is interacting with adults as well as your peers. And you know,

Ryan Buck (29:11):

That’s good for these children to be involved in. I think it’s amazing when Sarna in a 2013 article, I read you were quoted as saying, and again, maybe a heavier question, but ecology and social justice move hand in hand. Can you elaborate on that a little bit? Because I was really affected by that statement and I think it’s a great one.

Sarna Salzman (29:33):

I heard van Jones speak at Bioneers conference in 2000. I don’t know what, and he very, I don’t know if you know who he is, but um, he’s very, Google-able uh, very articulate fellow and he outlined why the environmental movement was failing and why the social justice movements were failing because they weren’t working together. And that it was at the crossroads where there was hope. And that gave me

Ryan Buck (30:05):

More reasons why they were failing.

Sarna Salzman (30:08):

They just didn’t have a big enough coalition to get everything that needs to be done done. We’re talking about systemic change here, right? And it’s not enough to just care about polar bears to get people to green their lifestyles. And it’s not enough to just say kids need to be fed to make sure that our food system is not destroying the planet

Ryan Buck (30:31):

And the right ways.

Sarna Salzman (30:32):

Yeah. I mean our food system, if you take the whole thing is the number one contributor of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. So together we start building regenerative, agricultural systems that feed nutritious food to children, and those children grow up strong and resilient and become the kind of leaders that we need that we’re desperate for to really be able to use their voice, to make the world in a new,

Ed Smith (31:02):

I think there’s another important aspect of this too, that that ties in to tribal practices. And one thing and moving to Northern Michigan, where I grew up in New Jersey was part of letting [inaudible] Indian tribes. You know, my son lived and worked in Northern California and on tribal lands, he went to Humboldt state university and you talk about seven generations. So when you think about paying it forward and you think about ecology and you think about the existential challenges as a planet we’re facing right now, but we need to bring everything to bear to achieve sustainability. Right. And education is one piece of that practices in the environment for ecology, for the common good is also

Ryan Buck (31:47):

An important one planet to live on that’s. Right, right.

Mark L. Wilson (31:50):

And it makes me feel really good to hear you say that ad to, and to know that seeds is kind of contributing to that because once upon a time tribal citizens, children were taken from their homes in order to be educated and assimilated into the new colonial way. And here we have organizations like seeds, almost doing the opposite, teaching the kids exactly what tribal nations have known for thousands of years, as far as reciprocation with the land and the relationship that we have to the land. Exactly.

Sarna Salzman (32:23):

We need to re indigenize ourselves. I think as a global community

Ryan Buck (32:29):

Way to put that, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term before re indigenized, but that’s extraordinary.

Sarna Salzman (32:35):

The people from an anthropological lens who have taken care of places, I mean you to take care of people, you have to take care of the place that feeds and, you know, shelters, the people, right? And so it’s the people who live in place for a long time who grow in dialogue with that place that end up making like amazing gardens basically to co-exist in

Ed Smith (33:01):

One of my personal goals, as part of the seeds board is to work in a more integrative and inclusive way. And mark helped me understand recently what Tek is all about traditional ecological knowledge, which is all over the world. It’s not unique to north America, right? And you talk about the link to anthropology and you think about ecological practice and it’s beyond just the Western science part, it’s all of the traditions and the cultural aspects. And if we can integrate at the curriculum level, better lessons learned and proven ways and means of achieving sustainability smartly on a local or regional level, because one size doesn’t fit all around the planet. Nevada is very different. You know, Santa Fe New Mexico is very different than Northern Michigan.

Sarna Salzman (33:58):

And if we can get that into the young people, then maybe we can get that into the echelon of governance,

Ryan Buck (34:05):

Because this was not taught to me when I was growing up. Right. You know, and this was not a thing ecology or respect for the environment was not told. And I think it’s amazing what you’re doing, educating the young, but you’re also quoted in the same article is saying quote, I dream of the day when it’s true that every child finds that learning how to eat from the garden to the table is as natural as playing a video game, you also liken a fungus as a biological metaphor for a social network, which thank you. I didn’t know what my Celia was before now. I know, but what place does technology have with seeds? No.

Sarna Salzman (34:45):

I mean, technology is a miracle. It’s a tool, right? Humans are tool users. So whether a tool is used for good or for ill is really again, up to us. So yeah. Technology is critical. We’re recording right now using a bunch of cool

Ryan Buck (35:01):

Magic knowledge sharing right now with the world. Yeah.

Ed Smith (35:05):

Well, w w podcasting, I, I have a point of view on this one thing. And after my college degrees is instructional systems technology. That’s the degree of specialty I have. And the word technology is a systematic way of solving a problem. It isn’t necessarily something you plug into the wall, it’s how you systematically solve a problem. Right. Right. You know, and showing students demonstrating, having them, hands-on tap a tree, a maple tree to create, and then boy, that’s a techno it’s a

Ryan Buck (35:37):

Different way of framing technology. That’s right. It’s not just a computer. It’s like technology is a broader term. This bottle is the technology know.

Mark L. Wilson (35:48):

Right. That, that is real good because too often, do we focus on the negative by-product of our technologies, right?

Ryan Buck (35:55):

Yeah. Tapping a tree.

Sarna Salzman (35:58):

Well, and when you think about it, I mean, biomimicry, is that a word your from Miller with

Ryan Buck (36:03):

I am now, I’m really glad about it can be fun

Sarna Salzman (36:06):

To look.

Sarna Salzman (36:08):

Wow. I mean, any challenge that us mere humans are facing currently is something that has happened over and over in the 4 billion years of history that earth has existed. And nature has solved all of the problems we face over and over again, with any number of technologies you want strong 10 Sile fiber look to a spider. You want echo location in dark environments, look to the bat. You want built environments that stay cool in the desert, check out what termites are doing. So I think that opening up a technological dialogue with the natural world is one of the smartest things that we could decide to do. Right.

Mark L. Wilson (36:50):

You’re right. Because you brought up fungus and, uh, we’ll have to look it up offline, but there was a Ted talk about data storage in fungus. Yeah.

Sarna Salzman (37:00):

Okay. So check this out about, so if you look at a map of my psyllium, which is the miles and miles

Ryan Buck (37:07):

And get started on my psyllium, my son is all about myself

Sarna Salzman (37:12):

And just any square foot of soil could have like seven miles of my C-level strands woven through it. And the mushroom is the fruiting body that that was my psyllium sometimes produce. But if you look at a map of the mycelium network in a piece of soil, and then you look at the map of brain neural patterns, and you look at the map of the internet and you look at the map of dark matter, it’s all the same pattern. And if you talked like another binder, speaker was Paul Stamus, he’s a Maven of mushrooms and he’s on my college list. And just a brilliant visionary. You can find him on the internet saying this like mushrooms are trying to help us save the planet. They’re trying to give us

Ryan Buck (37:57):

The tools. We need more

Mark L. Wilson (37:59):

For pop culture to understand it is like if you think of the movie avatar and on that planet, all of their history is recorded in this tree. And the data storage then helps you. Yeah. Helps you make that like mental leap into how,

Sarna Salzman (38:16):

But the avatar example is really interesting because of the new research that’s coming out, like the scientific journal based peer reviewed research on trees, it’s blowing socks off of people, finding out that trees communicate with each other, through their root systems. They share nutrients back and forth between their root systems. The old trees apparent the young trees and trees are communicating and sharing resources with trees of other species. And all of that is facilitated with mushrooms,

Ryan Buck (38:50):

Maybe a, a Pixar movie about this. We could do an animated movie,

Mark L. Wilson (38:55):

But then it would also show how sometimes they also go to war, but then it also explains issues of man-made force and why it doesn’t work out as well for decades because they’re not staggered. And there’s

Ryan Buck (39:11):

So Sarna. I have to ask assistant cook, Antarctic support services, McMurdo station Antarctica. Yes, sir. What is that?

Sarna Salzman (39:22):

That was my quote, unquote real job after college.

Ryan Buck (39:26):

A lot of people decide to go different places, but this is the first I’ve ever seen. Anybody decided to go to Antarctica. There’s

Sarna Salzman (39:34):

That many people that make it there. It’s part of the attraction, my bucket

Ryan Buck (39:38):

List. I

Sarna Salzman (39:40):

Got there. I was trying to hit every, I’m still trying to hit every continent. That’s my bucket list. So I thought I’d get the tough one.

Mark L. Wilson (39:46):

That is good. So my uncle went and worked in the Antarctica about 30 years ago. And, uh, he says it like this. He says, you go once for the experience, you go twice for the money. And if you go a third time, it’s because you have nothing else in the world. Like you have no other life.

Sarna Salzman (40:06):

Is there were people there who were chronic or career seasonal workers. And they would go from Antarctica where it’s sunshine 24 hours a day while Sunshine’s kind of a stretch, but it was daylight 24 hours a day. And then they would go work in Alaska for more 24

Mark L. Wilson (40:27):

Hour days. Just never night, never night.

Sarna Salzman (40:30):

That really kind of,

Ryan Buck (40:32):

Yeah, but you cooked for up to 1100 people a day.

Sarna Salzman (40:36):

Good resume. But

Ryan Buck (40:37):

What was your specialty? Do you have, what’s your, what’s the best thing you cook? Oh, it

Sarna Salzman (40:42):

Wasn’t like that.

Ryan Buck (40:46):


Sarna Salzman (40:46):

I didn’t get to choose what we were making. Well, the contract was, it was subcontracted out to some, an ex Navy shop. And so we had clean kitchens, but the food was MAVA good.

Ryan Buck (41:04):

Well, it fed the people who needed to eat and that’s fascinating. So how can listeners support seeds? How can they donate? Are there what’s the best way to support this organization?

Sarna Salzman (41:18):

Yeah. I mean, you can learn [email protected] or eco seeds. TC is our handle on Twitter, or we’re not really on Twitter right now, but Facebook and Instagram, especially, um, that’s a great place to learn more and all the buttons for and volunteering and we’re hiring also. And that’s probably going to be true whenever you listen to this podcast. So please like if you’re interested in a career with us or part-time job with us, check out our web page, that way too.

Ryan Buck (41:46):

Eco Yup. As the website, is there anything else that you would like to share either of you with the listeners of our podcast

Ed Smith (41:55):

As a board member of seeds? One of our goals is to smooth some of our staffing all year long. So when we think about these eco core teams, they work more so in the summer months than in the winter months and their historic Barnes park is one of the places where we see opportunity to do more on a year round basis. So we think about where would your donation money go? We want to sort of get kickstart funding for some new program ideas that we’re still germinating and it has to do with sustainability outside of these grant programs. Yeah.

Sarna Salzman (42:35):

Yeah. We’d love to build out our vision as an eco learning center. And this is a vision that again, the grand Travers band is really helping us in invested in right now and in the past, but to build out an eco learning center at historic Barnes park, that includes hands-on workshops like a woodworking shop and a food production space so that we can do more of this work in the winter months, the indoor work in the winter months, and then it’s

Ryan Buck (43:01):

Possible to be done. I think it is.

Ed Smith (43:03):

And what’s great too, is the beta bus system travels, you know, in that circuit. So we have access to that location for people who can’t necessarily find private transportation to get there.

Ryan Buck (43:16):

Amazing eco is the website, Sarna and ed. Thank you so much for your pursuits into all of those who pursue along with you creating a healthy and positive ecosystem for all of us to enjoy and teaching the young, to be positive stewards of the environment and themselves into our listeners. Thank you so much for listening and for pursuing the positive.

Mark L. Wilson (43:40):

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, again, the episode is the pursuit of seeds, eco, E C O S E E D S. Want to thank our guests, Sarna, salesmen, and ed Smith for joining us. And we want to give a big shout out to our supporters, the tin lid hat company, tin lid, use promo code the pursuit of 40% off to our listeners. And for general inquiries, podcast, production, audio, video production, visual production, new and E w L E O N a R Check us out.