2861 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (Room 247) sustainablesystemsresearch@gmail.com 831.708.5836

Sustainability Now! on KSQD 90.7 FM & KSQD.ORG

Sustainability Now! is also available on these podcast sites.
Radio Public
Amazon Music

Clean Water as a Human Right

Radio Show #30, October 18, 2020. Did you know that Section 106.3 of the California Water Code states that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.” Host Ronnie Lipschutz talks with Mayra Hernandez, a community organizer at the Community Water Center in Watsonville, about safe water and the human right to it.  The Community Water Center works towards realizing the Human Right to Water for all communities in California through education, organizing, and advocacy. The Center has offices in Visalia, Sacramento and Watsonville.

Sustainability Now! is underwritten by the Sustainable Systems Research Foundation.

As long as grass grows: The indigenous fight for environmental justice

Radio Show, #29, October 4, 2020. Host Ronnie Lipschutz and guest Dina Gilio-Whitaker talk about indigenous environmental justice, environmental philosophy and the restoration of balance between humans and nature. Gilio-Whitaker is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes in the Pacific Northwest, a lecturer in American Indian Studies at California State University, San Marcos and Policy Director and Researcher at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. She is author of As long as grass grows: The indigenous fight for environmental justice, from colonization to Standing Rock (Beacon Press, 2019) and co-author, with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, of “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans (Beacon Press, 2016). Professor Whitaker has just received a journalism award from the Native American Journalist Association for an editorial she published in High Country News, on indigenizing the Green New Deal.

Radio Show #28, September 20, 2020, Healthy Eating and Economic Justice in the Pajaro Valley. Host Ronnie Lipschutz welcomes his guests, Mireya Gomez-Contreras and Ana Rasmussen, codirectors of Esperanza Community Farms.  Esperanza Community Farms is a system-changing, sustainable community agriculture project focused entirely and directly on increasing food security and good health among low-income families from under-resourced communities in the Pajaro Valley. ECF cultivates fresh, pesticide-free, culturally preferred vegetables and fruit varieties, then deliver bi-weekly boxes of produce directly to members’ homes via a subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. You can find out more about Esperanza Community Farms at: https://esperanzacommunityfarms.org/  and more about sustainable urban agriculture at https://sustainablesystemsfoundation.org/sustainable-urban-agriculture-initiative/

Radio Show #27, September 6, 2020 (First Anniversary Show!), Accessory Dwelling Units in our Backyards. Host Ronnie Lipschutz and his guest, Santa Cruz architect Mark Primack, talk about how we might address the California housing crisis through construction of accessory dwelling units.  Primack has lived and worked in Santa Cruz since the late 1970s, served on the City Council, written Divisible Cities: Acting Local in a Transient World and writes a regular column on local matters for The Santa Cruz Sentinel (for example, here and here). Additional resources on ADUs are available at SSRF’s “ADU Resources” page.

Radio Show #26, August 23, 2020, Sustainability & Politics after Annus Horriblis 2020. Join Host Ronnie Lipschutz and his guest Kim Stanley Robinson, for a wide-ranging conversation about sustainability, politics, 2020 and after, and how we might prepare for the future. Robinson is a science fiction author, California futurist and environmental optimist of the will. His recent work, such as New York 2140 (2017) has addressed environmental and climate issues. His forthcoming book, The Ministry for the Future, which imagines a new, global organization that advocates for the world’s future generations and protects all living creatures, present and future.

The show will be rebroadcast at 6 AM on Tuesday, August 25th.

Radio Show #25, August 9, 2020. Climate Change, Public Health & Birth Impacts, with Dr. Rupa Basu, Chief of the Air and Climate Epidemiology Section at California Office on Environmental Health Hazards in the California Environmental Protection Agency and a lecturer in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.  She is coauthor of a recently-published review article in JAMA Open Network about the effects of air pollution and climate change on birth outcomes and conducts research on the health effects of climate change. Dr. Basu received her PhD in Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology from The Johns Hopkins University and a Masters of Public Health from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Radio Show #24, July 26, 2020. Environmental Art in Built & Natural Landscapes. “Environmental artists seek to investigate our human relationship with the environment through embedding their artistic practice within it” (“The Art Story”). Learn about the practice of environmental art on Sustainability Now! on Sunday, July 26th, from 5-6 PM, when host Ronnie Lipschutz speaks with Marisha Farnsworth. She is an Oakland-based artist, whose large-scale public space interventions explore future ecosystems, infrastructural utopias and the social and ecological implications of materiality in the built environment.  Her work has been exhibited at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Venice Biennale and is in the collection of the Nevada Museum of Art. She was the lead artist for the 2017 Temple at Burning Man. You can find out more about her work here. The Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment has an extensive archive of ecological art projects.


Radio show #23, July 12, 2020, Sustainable Community Commons in Santa Cruz, with Len Beyea, addresses sustainable community planning in Santa Cruz and cities in general. Len is a semi-retired energy engineer and commissioning agent, former land-use planner, musician, Interfaith Minister, gardener, dancer, political and cultural commentator. He is host of the Wednesday broadcast of Talk of the Bay on KSQD and shares hosting of Border-Free Radio, which airs just before this time slot.

Len writes that “The modern city has grown up during the era of the automobile, resulting in sprawling land use, paving over of up to 60% of urban space, loss of productive farm and range lands, forests, and wetlands, destruction of riparian habitats, and increased runoff and erosion; while within the urban spaces offering a lack of walkable neighborhoods and real centers of social and civic engagements, financially unsustainable infrastructure, traffic jams, and almost total dependence on private motorized transportation for shopping, school, work and basic services.”

He addresses the current state of Santa Cruz County’s urbanized spaces and their unsustainable characteristics, principles of urban design for walkable neighborhoods and “new urbanism” that can bring our cities back into balance, visualization of a transition to more sustainable and inviting spaces for various local neighborhoods where we live, work, and engage socially, and exploration of the concrete and specific changes that can help get us there. You can read about attempts during the 1960s to turn Santa Cruz into an industrial city in “The plan to make Santa Cruz into Detroit and Los Angeles,” by Ross Eric Gibson in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Another interesting publication about sustainable planning is “Civic Commons: Reimagining Our Cities’ Public Assets,” 2016.

Additional Resources

Local groups working on Santa Cruz area planning issues:

And further information about New Urbanism, walkable cities, transit-oriented development, etc (and this is a very partial list):

Radio show #22, June 28, 2020, Climate Change and Black Lives Mattering on the California Coast, with Kalina Browne, 2019-20 RAY Diversity Fellow at the Ocean Conservancy to learn about Climate Change and Black Lives Mattering on the California Coast.  Browne grew up on the Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience from the University of Buffalo. She has worked with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center in Belize, the Garifuna Heritage Foundation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology for the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  She will be entering the Coastal Science and Policy Program at UCSC this Fall. You can find her recently coauthored brief on seabed minerals mining here.

Radio Show #21, June 13, 2020, Public Lands on Pacific’s Edge, with Jo Chamberlain, Executive Director of the Coastside Land Trust in Half Moon Bay. Jo is a graduate of College Eight (aka, Rachel Carson College) at UC Santa Cruz and was provost’s assistant there for several years during the past decade.  She has served on several non-profit boards, including the San Francisco Zoological Society and Friends of Westwind. The Coastside Land Trust is dedicated to the preservation, protection and enhancement of the open space environment, including the natural, scenic, recreational, cultural, historical, and agricultural resources of Half Moon Bay and the San Mateo County coast for present and future generations. You can find out more about California’s land trusts at the California Council of Land Trusts.

Radio Show #20, May 31, 2020, “The Wheels on the Bus” Getting ‘Round the City, with Rick Longinotti, a member of and spokesperson for the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation, a “group of volunteers dedicated to making Santa Cruz County a place where everyone in our diverse community can access their needs and activities in a way that is safe, affordable, convenient and sustainable for future generations.” You can learn more about transportation in Santa Cruz County at the Regional Transportation Commission website and the City of Santa Cruz Public Works website and from the work of Adam Millard-Ball, an environmental studies professor at UC Santa Cruz.

Radio Show #19, May 17, 2020, Struggling to Survive: Binational Farmworkers on the Central Coast, with Dr. Ann Lopez, Founder and Director of the Center for Farmworker Families in Watsonville, California.  Lopez is emerita professor at San Jose City College, and holds degrees in biology and a PhD in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz. The Center works with binational farmworkers and their families to promote their well being. She is author of The Farmworker’s Journey about the human side of the binational migration circuit from the subsistence and small producer farms of west central Mexico to employment in California’s corporate agribusiness. In 2019, Ann was chosen as Woman of the Year by the 29th Assembly District of California. Be sure to watch “A Migrant Farmworker’s Story,” a CFF video filmed during on of the Centers Farmworker Reality Tours.

Radio Show #18, May 3, 2020, Protecting Sacred Lands, with Valentin Lopez, Chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of the Costanoan/Ohlone Indians and President of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust.  The Amah Mutsun are descendants of the more than 20 politically distinct indigenous peoples of the territories ranging from Año Nuevo to the greater Monterey Bay area. We talked about the history of the Amah Mutsun, some of their research and relearning projects and plans for Juristac, a sacred tract of land near Gilroy.

Radio Show #17, April 19, 2020, By the Beautiful Sea, with Rachel Kippen, Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey and a columnist for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Rachel was previously Director of Programs at Save Our Shores. She has also worked as a marine science educator, a kayak guide and a whale tour naturalist. She holds two degrees in Environmental Studies. She grew up on two islands, one in the Puget Sound and the other in Hawai’i, so she spent her youth learning about the ocean by snorkeling, surfing, and paddling.  O’Neill Sea Odyssey is a Monterey Bay-based introduction to marine science for students in grades 4-6 aboard the 65-foot O’Neill Catamaran. 

Radio Show #16, April 5, 2020, Urchins in the Storm, with KSQD engineer Emily Donham, a 5th-year PhD candidate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UCSC.  Emily’s research focuses on how sea urchins, which graze on kelp forests, may be vulnerable to ocean acidication and global warming.  Emily is the producer of “Santa Cruz Naturalist,” which airs on Tuesdays at 7:54 AM, Wednesdays at 3:55 PM and Saturdays at 11:54 AM. at Her favorite crustacean is the horseshoe crab.

Radio Show #15, March 22, 2020, No Place Like Home, with UCSC Sociology Professor Steve McKay, director of the UCSC Center for Labor Studies and codirector, with Professor Miriam Greenberg, of “No Place Like Home,” a community-initiated, student-engaged research project on the affordable housing crisis in Santa Cruz County.

Radio Show #14, March 8, 2020, Auto-Free Live in Hayward? with Dr. Sherman Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Cal State East Bay, to talk about a proposal for Bayview Village, a car-free development in a disused quarry in Hayward and urban sustainability more generally.

Radio Show #13, February 23, 2020, Climate Justice in the Pajaro Valley, with Nancy Faulstich, Director of Regeneración, a non-profit focused on climate and social justice in Watsonville, California and the Pajaro Valley, Tamela Harkins, Pajaro Valley High School English Teacher, and three members– Itzel Sanchez, Luke Zamora and Reuben Garcia–of La Vida Verde, a student environmental club at the high school.

Radio Show #12, February 9, 2020, Caring for the Prairie, with Professor Jenny Reardon of the UCSC Sociology Department talks about “Caring for the Prairie,” a “project involving biking through the prairies and small towns of Kansas, designed to develop embodied knowledge of the land and to find out more about attitudes towards contemporary US politics from the denizens of the prairies.” You can hear a podcast about her experiences in Kansas here.

Radio Show #11 January 12, 2020, Is Bioethanol the Answer? David Blume, CEO & Director of Research and Development at Blume Distillation, and author of Alcohol Can be a Gas, to talk about his distillation & permaculture operation just outside of Watsonville. There are two versions of this show: a shorter, edited one of my interview with Blume (hyperlinked above); a longer one with 15 minutes of filler here.

Radio Show #10, January 26, 2020, A Conversation with Extinction Rebellion, with members of Extinction Rebellion in Monterey and Santa Cruz: Vanessa Mekarski, Dwight Mitchell, Jennifer Brugman and Magali Morales. Extinction Rebellion is a leaderless, decentralised, international and apolitical network using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. 

Radio Show #9, December 15, 2019, Can Solar Energy Provide a Basic Income for Everyone in the World? with Robert Stayton, author of Power Shift: From Fossil Energy to Dynamic Solar Power and Solar Dividends: How Solar Energy Can Generate a Basic Income for Everyone on Earth discusses his proposal to give everyone on Earth 10 kilowatts of solar PV panels. You can request a free e-book of Solar Dividends at: http://solardividends.org/free-ebook-by-request/

Radio Show #8, December 1, 2019, What Do You Do About a Problem Like PG&E?, with Professor Dustin Mulvaney, Environmental Studies at San Jose State University.

Radio Show #7, November 17, 2019, Down on the Farm in Santa Cruz, with Nina Vukecevic, Farm Manager at Common Roots Farm in Santa Cruz, which provides disabled adults with access to agriculture.

Radio Show #6, November 3, 2019, Zero Waste Living? with Liz McDade, who runs the “No Trace Shop,” an online business dedicated to providing customers with a “sustainable lifestyle.” 

Radio Show #5, October 20, 2019, Where are the Mountain Lions, with Professor Chris Wilmers, Department of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, talking about mountain lions.

Radio Show #4, October 6, 2019, History of UC Santa Cruz, with Professor Emeritus Jim Clifford, History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, talking about the University and its history.

Radio Show #3, September 22, 2019, Where Does Your Bottle Go?, with Tim Goncharoff, Zero Waste Programs Manager for Santa Cruz County discussing garbage.

Radio Show #2, September 8, 2019, Green Architectural Design, with Thomas Rettenwender, Principal Architect at Ecologic Design Lab in Carmel, California talking about green building.

Radio Show #1, August 25, 2019, Climate Action!, with Dr. Tiffany Wise-West, Sustainability & Climate Action Manager for the City of Santa Cruz. For more information, see the City’s Climate Action Program web site.