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Finding New Ground in Soil Health Legislation

How to use listening, consensus, and Holistic Management to create policy that people agree on.

Enroll now.

Financial assistance is available to those who cannot otherwise afford to take this class. If this is you, please email Didi at ecologyofcare@gmail.com.

“Jeff is a careful, sensitive, and thorough teacher in how to change beliefs and group dynamics. What I have learned from his sessions is that by setting up a different environment, listening is facilitated and people can move in directions that are different from our previous habits." --Peter Donovan, Soil Carbon Coalition.

What if all new policy was written using a whole-systems decision-making process, and started with consensus based deep listening, so that everyone's needs were taken into account, now and into the future? This is exactly what just happened in New Mexico, and it can happen in your region as well.

“Consensus building seems to be a skill and art you can’t do without nowadays. It is so uplifting and empowering to find common ground with those who seem to have so little in common with us, and move forward from such a great place in our minds and heart. Jeff Goebel’s teachings have been of great value to me personally and professionally. They have shown me effective ways to become a better listener and observer and to direct the way I think and act to let go of fears and achieve the best possible outcomes of all situations.” – Daniela Howell, Educator and Rancher, Colorado, USA

In these four highly interactive weekly sessions, we will focus on creating policies that are holistically sound (addressing social/cultural, economic, and ecological needs) with a broad base of favorable support. This methodology will be based on recent successful processes that have enabled healthy soil legislation to pass in New Mexico this winter.

Last year, Jeff Goebel and three others formed a small team that was instrumental in the recent success of the Healthy Soils Act in New Mexico. They used Holistic decision making in the policy-writing process, and kept the language and intent focused on (optional, not forced) adoption of soil health principles (rather than specific practices) at its core. The aim was to bring the bill into the state legislative process using a consensus-based approach. So they and many other people engaged in deep listening to understand the viewpoint and needs of all groups who would be affected by the bill. The language of the bill was redrafted many times to reflect what they learned. Because of this design, in March, just six months after the project began, the bill passed both the House and the Senate with a landslide of bipartisan support: the last round of votes being 100% in agreement. We know this approach can be used around the country to build policies that meet everyone's needs (even earthworms--which were included in the bill's language!)
  • Session One (Monday May 6) will focus on the importance of defining the scope of your policy and the desired outcome.
  • Session Two (Monday, May 13) will focus on a flowchart of policy analysis questions to help shape effective whole-systems policy that will benefit social, economic, and environmental systems now in the future.
  • Session Three (Monday, May 20) participants will work together to write, analyze, and test the potential outcomes of new policies.
  • Session Four (TUESDAY May 28) will explore the dynamics of consensus building in the policy analysis process and examine what we did in New Mexico to facilitate positive change.

The course material is based on Jeff's own experience in the field of Holistic decision making and consensus building, and also draws heavily on the wisdom found in these three influential books:

  • Robert Fritz: The Path of Least Resistance.
  • Bob Chadwick's Finding New Ground
  • Allan Savory and Jody Butterfield's Holistic Management
Course time and dates: (three Mondays and a Tuesday.)

Each class will last for two hours. There will be easy homework assignments between sessions to reinforce learning. This course will run for four weeks, from 11am to 1pm EST (Eastern Time Zone, New York, USA), and will convene on Zoom video conferencing.

Monday, May 6
Monday, May 13
Monday, May 20
TUESDAY, May 28 (after Memorial Day Weekend)


More praise for Jeff's work:

"The Colville people are survivors. Most Indigenous cultures suffer from a historical unresolved grief. I have spoke of this many times. That is a grief that is accumulated over generations of trauma. I think there has been a spiritual and ethnic death here. Step for step my people have been denied the basis for a collective identity formation. Until Jeff came to work for the Colville Tribe, there was no basin to capture and store my people’s integrity, a place to dip into and quench the parched ache of not being acknowledged. The lesson is, one must get to the heart of the whole. Our own people must talk about change, the path ahead, the options, and how we will make a better future for our children. Jeff worked diligently and patiently here and the holistic goal that still hangs in our Council Chambers as well as myself and others that worked along side him are the evidence. Jeff listened to this community’s many voices.He met the challenge of transformation, and we brought out Sinklipt-Coyote (our teacher) in him. You see in our teachings, there exists a great optimism for the potential to make positive change, change will come. As always it is just a matter of who determines what that change will be.This is the example I learned from Jeff that I carry with me each day to help me be successful.”

– Lois Trevino, past Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Center for Holistic Management and Colville Tribal member, Nespelem, WA

About the Facilitators:

Jeff Goebel is a leading expert in consensus building, conflict resolution, and regenerative solutions--helping individuals and communities attain their goals and remove the obstacles that lie in the way, with over thirty years of national and international successes. As an award-winning consultant in private practice, he has worked on catalyzing positive change from non-profits to government agencies, multi-national corporations to small family ranchers.

He has developed a highly effective program of respectful listening, visioning, and planning that attains long-range and long-lasting change through 100% consensus and engaged commitment of all parties. Jeff introduced a soil health resolution to the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts that passed unanimously in 2018. In the fall of 2018, Jeff worked with a small team to design a Healthy Soils bill and to bring the bill into the state legislative process with a consensus-based approach as an outcome.The bill passed both the House and the Senate with the last votes being 100% agreement in support.

His articles and studies have been published in professional journals, anthologies, and on his blog. He authored a children’s book entitled: One Thing You Can Do To Save the Earth, an “every person’s” guide to reversing the catastrophic deterioration of ecosystems, which draws on his extensive research and experience in soil health, land management, and human dynamics. He models his work on his small New Mexican farm and surrounding region.

His clients/projects include:

  • the National Geographic Society
  • federal and state agencies
  • various tribes across the United States
  • a northern California biodynamic coastal community
  • California's Rancher to Rancher project
  • parent-teacher partnerships in public and private schools
  • complex eco-restoration and socio-economic renewal programs in Molokai
  • Navajo healthy soil restoration
  • and the restoration of the pastoral way of life for the Maasai in Kenya.

In his volunteer work, Jeff offers his services and training workshops to a long list of individuals, businesses and organizations, from struggling communities to troubled families and schools. He is a founding board member of the Soil Carbon Coalition. You can learn more about his work at https://www.aboutlistening.com.

Didi Pershouse (assistant) is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She teaches participatory workshops both in person and online, helping to connect the dots between soil health, human health, water, and climate resiliency. She is the board chair of the Soil Carbon Coalition, the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine and the Land and Leadership Initiative, and a co-founder of the "Can we Rehydrate California?" Initiative. She was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day in 2017. You can learn more about her work at www.didipershouse.com



Your Instructor


Jeff Goebel
Jeff Goebel

Jeff Goebel is a leading expert in consensus building, conflict resolution, and regenerative solutions--helping individuals and communities attain their goals and remove the obstacles that lie in the way, with over thirty years of national and international successes.

As an award-winning consultant in private practice, he has worked on catalyzing positive change from non-profits to government agencies, multi-national corporations to small family ranchers. He has developed a highly effective program of respectful listening, visioning, and planning that attains long-range and long-lasting change through 100% consensus and engaged commitment of all parties.

Jeff introduced a soil health resolution to the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts that passed unanimously in 2018. In the fall of 2018, Jeff worked with a small team to design a Healthy Soils bill and to bring the bill into the state legislative process with a consensus-based approach as an outcome.The bill passed both the House and the Senate with the last votes being 100% agreement in support.

His articles and studies have been published in professional journals, anthologies, and on his blog. He authored a children’s book entitled: One Thing You Can Do To Save the Earth, an “every person’s” guide to reversing the catastrophic deterioration of ecosystems, which draws on his extensive research and experience in soil health, land management, and human dynamics. He models his work on his small New Mexican farm and surrounding region.

His clients/projects include:

  • the National Geographic Society
  • federal and state agencies
  • various tribes across the United States
  • a northern California biodynamic coastal community
  • California's Rancher to Rancher project
  • parent-teacher partnerships in public and private schools
  • complex eco-restoration and socio-economic renewal programs in Molokai
  • Navajo healthy soil restoration
  • and the restoration of the pastoral way of life for the Maasai in Kenya.

In his volunteer work, Jeff offers his services and training workshops to a long list of individuals, businesses and organizations, from struggling communities to troubled families and schools. He is a board member of the Soil Carbon Coalition.


We are looking forward to having you in our group!

Get started now!