Claire Thompson

Claire Thompson used to be Grist's editorial assistant. After disappearing into the wild for a while, she is now attempting to reenter society.

Sustainable Farming

Incredible shrinking farmland

Photo: Alicia Guy Joel Huesby comes from a long line of conventional farmers, but in 1994, he had what he calls an epiphany that led him to switch to organic farming. He’s of the mind that we’ll drive ourselves to extinction if we drive our farmlands that way first. “Conventional commodity agriculture, to my way of looking at it, is standing in the boots of a dead man with toothpicks holding his eyes open,” he said. “It looks alive but it’s not. I don’t see that as the future.” Through years of trial and error, Huesby and his family found …

Animals

Why prison inmates make great conservationists

Kelli Bush, project manager for Washington state’s Sustainable Prisons Project, works with an unlikely group of conservationists: prison inmates. In collaboration with scientists, students, community groups, and prison staff, inmates at four Washington correctional facilities play an integral part in habitat and species restoration efforts. They raise Oregon spotted frogs (endangered in Washington), Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, and native prairie plants, rebuilding not only local ecosystems, but their own job skills and confidence at the same time. Founded in 2008, the project includes an education component — science and sustainability lectures, workshops, and green jobs training — and it promotes sustainable …

Living

What can trick-or-treaters tell you about the health of your neighborhood?

When my brother and I were little, around this time of year we loved to watch The Halloween Tree, an animated feature based on a Ray Bradbury book of the same name. The movie opens with Bradbury himself narrating: It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state. There wasn’t so much wilderness around that you couldn’t see the town. On the other hand, there wasn’t so much town around that you couldn’t see and feel and touch the wilderness. The town was full of fences to …

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