Antioch University Santa Barbara’s Undergraduate Studies Department co-hosted a two-day community event on campus, in partnership with the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network. Millions of acres of land have been contaminated by pesticides, improperly handled chemicals, dirty energy projects, toxic waste, and other pollutants in the United States and Canada.
Leila Darwish and Tom Duncan shared their international work and expertise with ecological restoration using bio-remediation, a process of detoxifying and restoring the land and water by working with plants, fungi, and micro-organisms.
The event began with a presentation and discussion Friday evening with a panel moderated by Paul Relis, author of Out of the Wasteland, a memoir of his journey through the environmental frontier. The panel was comprised of community members including Leila Darwish, author of Earth Repair, A Grassroots Guide to Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes, and Tom Duncan, an expert in restoring polluted waterways with wetlands.
Saturday’s first workshop was Bioremediation 101: Empowering Communities to Deal with the Legacy of Our Toxic World, led by Leila Darwis. With a mission to empower citizens and communities to organize, scale-up, and respond effectively to all kinds of industrial disasters where dangerous chemicals are released into the air, water, and soil, Darwish embarked on a career as a grassroots bioremediation educator and consultant. She wants all citizens, especially those in the most vulnerable communities, to have the knowledge and skills needed to protect their families and homes from exposure to harmful toxins.
Saturday afternoon’s workshop was Restoring Polluted Waterways with Floating Wetlands, lead by Tom Duncan. His bioremediation work takes the form of man-made constructed floating islands and wetlands. An entrepreneur devoted to the health of the planet, Duncan created the AquaBiofilterTM Floating Wetlands & island technology, to clean up polluted lakes, water bodies, rivers, and estuaries. In addition to cleaning the water, floating islands optimize habitat for wildlife, and provide additional areas for food production for growing populations.
The event was part of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Civics 101 for Climate Change Series and jointly sponsored by the Community Environmental Council (CEC), Blue Sky Biochar, & the Santa Barbara Independent. It was offered at no cost to all Antioch students.