Soil Not Oil International Conference

Gray Area invites you to the Grand Theater for the 4th Soil Not Oil Conference, an event which emphasizes agro-ecological practices and presents alternatives to the industrial food system. This year the Soil Not Oil Conference will focus on community-powered methods to drawdown carbon levels in the atmosphere and recognize the problems associated to inequity and lack of education in all levels. It will feature creative solutions from leaders in the global south to adapt and prevent the ecological and social impacts of climate change. This conference is highly recommended for students, educators, activists, farmers, scientists, investors, policy makers, health providers, families, urban planners and everyone else concerned with life on earth.

Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva trained as a Physicist at the University of Punjab, and completed her Ph.D. on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’ from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India In 1982, she founded an independent institute – the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun – dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, working in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades, Navdanya has worked with local communities and organisations, serving more than 500,000 men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in the conservation of more than 3000 rice varieties from across India, and the organisation has established 60 seed banks in 16 states across the country. In 2004, Dr. Shiva started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in Doon Valley in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.

Miguel A. Altieri

Miguel A . Altieri received a BS in Agronomy from the University of Chile and a Ph.D in Entomology from the University of Florida. He has been a Professor of Agroecology at UC Berkeley since 1981 in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management ( and Dr. Altieri served as a Scientific Advisor to the Latin American Consortium on Agroecology and Development (CLADES) Chile an NGO network promoting agroecology as a strategy for small farm sustainable development in the region. He also served for 4 years as the General Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme’s Sustainable Agriculture Networking and Extension Programme which aimed at capacity building on agroecology among NGOs and the scaling-up of successful local sustainable agricultural initiatives in Africa, Latin America and Asia In addition he was the chairman of the NGO committee of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research whose mission was to make sure that the research agenda of the 15 International Agricultural Research Centers benefited the poor farmers of the. He also was Director of the US-Brasil Consortium on Agroecology and Sustainable Rural Development (CASRD) an academic-research exchange program involving students and faculty of UC Berkeley, University of Nebraska, UNICAMP and Universidad Federal de Santa Catarina. He is advisor to the FAO-GIAHS program ( Globally Ingenious Agricultural a program devoted at identifying and dynamically conserving traditional farming systems in the developing world. He also served for 6 years as the President of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology . He is the author of more than 250 publications, and numerous books including Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture and Biodiversity, Pest Management in Agroecosystems and Agroecology and the Search for a Truly Sustainable Agriculture. In 2015 he received a Doctor Honoris Causa from The Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

Tom Goldtooth

Tom is the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Tom has been awarded with recognition of his achievements throughout the past 38 years as an activist for social change within the Indigenous and environmental and climate justice movements. From the strength of his community organizing and leadership experience he has brought the local issues of environmental, economic, energy, climate, water and food justice and the rights of Indigenous peoples to the national and international levels. Tom is a recipient of the 2015 Gandhi Award and in 2016 presented Sierra Club’s the John Muir award.

Wenonah Hauter

Wenonah Hauter is an activist, author and progressive policy advocate. She is the founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch, an organization that, under her leadership, has fundamentally transformed the national debate about hydraulic fracturing (fracking), energy and the environment. Wenonah has three decades of experience campaigning and writing on food, water, energy and environmental issues. She has played leading roles in successful campaigns to ban fracking in New York, label genetically modified foods, protect public water systems from privatization and promote renewable energy. She has trained and mentored hundreds of organizers and activists across the country and worked at the national, state and local levels to develop policy positions and legislative and field strategies to secure real wins for communities and the environment. Wenonah’s career was inspired by childhood experiences that ingrained in her an appreciation for the environment and a passion for justice. When she was 11, her father bought a hardscrabble farm in the Bull Run Mountains of Virginia. There, she developed an appreciation for what it really means to grow food, she picked potato bugs, plucked chickens and chopped kindling. In high school, she organized her female classmates to wear pants in defiance of an outdated dress code and participated in a sit-in over a civil rights issue. After she received her undergraduate degree, she worked on poverty and aging issues in Virginia. In the early 1990s, Wenonah worked at the Union of Concerned Scientists as a senior organizer, where she coordinated broad-based, grassroots sustainable energy campaigns in the Midwest. In a foundation-funded network of energy activists, she became an early opponent of electric utility deregulation, to the chagrin of energy funders. She then became environmental policy director for Citizen Action, where she worked with the organizations 30 state-based groups on electric utility issues and pesticide use. From 1997 to 2005, she served as director of Public Citizen’s energy and environment program, which focused on reforming energy policies, stopping water privatization domestically and internationally, and regulating dangerous food technologies. While at Public Citizen, Wenonah saw the need for an organization that directly involved people all over the country to stand up for policies that put people before corporate profits. She founded Food & Water Watch to lead campaigns that aspired to ask for what we need, rather than settle for what we can get, and to excite people with the vision that we can move forward to a progressive future. At Food & Water Watch, the first national advocacy organization to call for a ban on fracking, Wenonah has helped provide strategic guidance for national and international campaigns to halt the practice. Her current book, Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment, exposes how more than 100 years of political influence peddling facilitated the control of our energy system by a handful of corporations and financial institutions, and looks at the growing movement to ban fracking and keep fossil fuels in the ground. Her previous book, Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America (2012), examines the corporate consolidation and control over our food system and what it means for farmers and consumers. Publisher’s Weekly calls Foodopoly a meticulously researched tour de force. Wenonah holds an M.S. degree in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland.


Starhawk is an American writer, teacher and activist. She is known as a theorist of feminist Neopaganism and ecofeminism. She is a columnist for and for On Faith, the Newsweek and Washington Post online forum on religion. Starhawk's book The Spiral Dance (1979) was one of the main inspirations behind the Goddess movement. In 2012, she was listed in Watkins' Mind Body Spirit magazine as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.

John Dennis Liu

John Dennis Liu (born 1953 in Nashville, Tennessee) is a Chinese American film-maker and ecologist. He is also a researcher at several institutions. In January 2015 John was named Visiting Fellow at Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. John is also Ecosystem Ambassador for the Commonland Foundation based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Soil Not Oil Coalition

The Soil Not Oil Coalition is a group of scientists, environmental organizations and citizens who share concerns over the decline in soil health, which is the result of the use of fossil fuels and synthetic products during the last 60 years. We believe that restructuring land management practices is key to combating climate change, restoring water cycles, reducing global environmental pollution, stopping ocean acidification, re-establishing biodiversity, improving food production and revitalizing local economies across the planet. The corporate agricultural practice of using more chemicals, more often at higher concentrations with high transportation costs, is not sustainable and deteriorates soil health and productivity, while only benefiting corporate financial interests. Furthermore, we recognize that rapidly accelerating human-caused climate change is a current threat to food security and requires urgent action to halt the reckless and expanding fossil fuel industry. The Soil Not Oil Coalition promotes research and further understanding to optimize soil carbon sequestration and sustainability, to aid in the development of adequate food production for future generations and to help reverse the effects of global warming.