News and Notes

Places and Voices of America the Beautiful: Reflections of Faith on 30X30

E.O. Wilson once shared, “I express the belief that science and religion joined in an alliance…can save Creation, that is, life in the natural world. On behalf of Science, I will be so bold, to offer the hand of friendship.”

In a special episode of Places and Voices of America the Beautiful: Reflections of Faith on 30×30, moderated by Paula J. Ehrlich, CEO & President of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, and Co-Founder of the Half-Earth Project, we honor the birthday of the late E.O. Wilson (1929 – 2021) with an exploration of the voices of conservationists engaging from their faith, and indigenous knowledge and native wisdom, informing ecological restoration and species protection in the US. Watch the episode now.

Faith-based communities have long held a connection and reverence for the natural world. Today, the species extinction crisis provides a platform to elevate actions taken to restore and protect habitat framed not only by science, but a religiosity based in individual faith. The Laudauto Si’ of the Catholic faith, Quaker Earthcare Witness and the Transition Movement reveal intersections with community and governmental goals of protecting biodiversity. Their voices make a key contribution to the success of 30×30 and create a rich pathway for the next installment in the Places and Voices discussion series.

Against the backdrop of the current push for 30×30 as initiated by the Biden-Harris America the Beautiful Plan, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation is convening ambassadors of faith-based ecological restoration and resilience for a conversation on opportunities and challenges as we seek to identify and protect 30% of US land and seas. This talk will be the fourth in a series focused on areas of great biodiversity and the pathways and people essential to protecting them.

  • Gary Nabhan, PhD, Ethnobotanist, Author
  • James Lockman, Senior Restoration Ecologist, Tierra Data
  • Ruah Swennerfelt, The Transition Movement, Quaker EarthCare Witness


Gary Paul Nabhan, ethnobotanist, author, MacArthur Fellow

Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD is an Agricultural Ecologist, Ethnobotanist, Ecumenical Franciscan Brother, and author whose work has focused primarily on the interaction of biodiversity and cultural diversity of the arid binational Southwest. He is considered a pioneer in the local food movement and the heirloom seed saving movement.

Nabhan’s work offers important insights into the relationship between culture and land, especially with respect to the constraints of limited, natural resources that all societies eventually face.  In 1983, Nabhan co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit organization working to preserve native Southwestern crops.  He has studied native agricultural traditions of the Southwest, and has led a multicultural research team to inventory the endangered, useful plants of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.  His work has led directly to conservation of the genetic and cultural heritage of the region. Nabhan is the director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University and a professor in the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies and the Center for Environmental Sciences and Education.  He is the author of several books, including The Desert Smells Like Rain (1982), Gathering the Desert (1985), Enduring Seeds (1989), The Geography of Childhood (1994), Desert Legends (1995), The Forgotten Pollinators (1996), Coming Home to Eat (2001), and Singing the Turtles to the Sea (2003).

Nabhan received a B.A. (1973) from Prescott College in Arizona, and an M.S. (1978) and a Ph.D. (1983) from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Ruah Swennerfelt, The Transition Movement, Quaker EarthCare Witness

Ruah Swennerfelt is an activist, homesteader, and author. She served as General Secretary for Quaker Earthcare Witness for 17 years and then became seriously involved in the work of the International Transition Movement, and authored the book Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith. She is a founding member of Sustainable Charlotte Vermont which is a Transition Initiative, and a member of Middlebury Friends Meeting (Quakers).

Ruah serves on the Transition US and Sustainable Charlotte boards. She is also active in the Charlotte Grange and the Middlebury Friends’ Earthcare Committee. She has given many presentations, workshops, and keynote talks across North America and in England. She has written numerous articles for BeFriending Creation, Friends Journal, and Quaker Life, and authored and co-authored chapters in several books. She blogs at

She and her husband, Louis Cox, live in rural Vermont where they grow most of their vegetables and fruits, make their own electricity and heat their water from the sun, attempting to live lives that are simple, rich, and meaningful.

James Lockman, Senior Restoration Ecologist, Franciscan Brother

Brother James Lockman, ofm, is a horticulturalist and currently works as a Senior Vegetation and Restoration Ecologist for a company that restores natural habitats around California, Tierra Data. James received his masters in Environmental Horticulture from University of California, Davis in 1997. He served as the Executive Director of California’s largest Franciscan Mission, Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside California from 2006 – 2010,  where he promoted sustainable agriculture and locally grown and consumed food.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,