Didi Pershouse: The Ecology of Care

THU, OCT 22, 2020

Didi Pershouse is the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine and has developed a practice and theoretical framework for systems-based ecological medicine—restoring health to people as well as the social and ecological systems around them. In her work she connects the dots between soil health and public health, and the role of beneficial microorganisms in maintaining a healthy climate both inside and outside the body.

This talk about her work will be moderated by Katharine Zywert, who researches social-ecological systems change and health at the University of Waterloo in Canada and is the co-editor of a new book, Health in the Anthropocene.

This talk is part of the Life Saves the Planet lecture series. More info: https://bio4climate.org/

+ BIO: Katharine Zywert

Katharine Zywert works at the intersection of social-ecological systems change and health. She is a PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo, where her dissertation focuses on the long- term prospects for human health and wellbeing on a planet in ecological crisis. She is also Strategic Implementation Lead at Openly, where she supports changemakers across diverse fields to shift systems toward greater equity, health, and sustainability. Katharine holds a master’s degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Oxford and a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation from the University of Waterloo.

+ BIO: Didi Pershouse

Didi Pershouse is the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine as well as the Land and Leadership Initiative, an online school. She is the author of two books: The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities, and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She grew up in a family of high-tech medical pioneers working in radiation and brain surgery. Seeing the often destructive effects of their work first-hand led Pershouse to pioneering work of her own: she developed a practice and theoretical framework for systems-based ecological medicine—restoring health to people as well as the social and ecological systems around them.

Her sliding-scale practice included community acupuncture, nutrient-dense diets, and resiliency counseling. When the Ecology of Care was published in 2016, her practice became a model for others, as she connected the dots between soil health and public health, and the role of beneficial microorganisms in maintaining a healthy climate both inside and outside the body.

Her work turned increasingly towards engaging patients and the public in conversations about the relationships between soil health, shifting weather patterns, capitalism, and human health.

In 2017 she published a facilitator’s manual that has been used in over 40 countries, and was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day.

After 22 years of clinical work with patients, Pershouse now travels widely, leading participatory workshops on the soil sponge: the living matrix that makes life on land possible. Her teaching and facilitation engages farmers and ranchers, schools, policy makers, investors, and environmentalists in building multi-stakeholder working groups to reduce flooding and drought, improve local economies, and improve soil health, public health, and climate resiliency through changes in land management. She is the board chair/president of the Soil Carbon Coalition.

In the spring of 2018, she helped launch the “Can we Rehydrate California?” and “Soil Sponge” initiatives with a series of workshops throughout the United States.

She also leads retreats that develop and support resilient leadership in the environmental movement. She bases her work on three fundamental principles borrowed from the Benedictines: on one end is stability/commitment, in the center is deep listening, and on the other end is flexibility in thought and action.

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Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
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