Skip to content



This calendar intended to help our community stay up to date on progressive events and opportunities along the Central Coast.

Only events that meet our mission will be added. Please allow us up to 4 business days to approve or modify submissions.
To inquire about event sponsorship support, please contact [email protected].
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

3rd Eco Hero Award John & Nancy Jack Todd, Ecological Design Pioneers Come & Be Inspired by a life of Innovation!

March 17, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm


Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Eco Hero Award
An Evening with John & Nancy Jack Todd, Ecological Design Pioneers
Come & Be Inspired by a life of Innovation!

Friday, March 17, 6:30-9pm, 2023
TICKETS $10, $20, $40, & Friends of Eco Hero $100
Location: Lobero Theatre
33 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Tickets on Sale Now: Lobero Ticket Office

Ecological design goes way beyond any other field of design. It taps deep into Nature’s operating instructions, organizing knowledge & ecosystems to serve human needs without despoiling the planet. John Todd
Please join Santa Barbara Permaculture Network as we celebrate our third annual Eco Hero Award honoring John & Nancy Jack Todd, pioneers in the ecological design movement.
Beginning in the late 1960’s this unique and amazingly productive husband and wife team has shared a partnership journey over five decades, committed to the emerging field of ecological design, that uses human ingenuity to design a future in balance with nature, while healing broken ecosystems damaged historically, and by modern industrial society.
Youthful founders of the New Alchemy Institute, in 1969 John and Nancy Todd began their journey on a twelve acre site in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with the intention of “scientifically exploring strategies that could have evolutionary value to humanity and the planet’s future”. The New Alchemy Institute had an enthusiastic and talented young staff of scientists and innovators who pioneered among other things, Eco-Machines®, living machines designed for biological waste water treatment using solar energy & living organisms. This team also led the way with newly evolving organic agriculture & aquaculture practices; also the design of bioshelters, dwellings that provide their inhabitants with energy, food & shelter, with minimal reliance on fossil fuels.
With lessons learned from the New Alchemy Institute, they embarked on the Ark for Prince Edward Island, an ambitious project with support of the Canadian government, while in the midst of an energy crisis being felt around the world. The Ark was a bioshelter that generated its own electricity with wind generators, and used solar energy for space and water heating, tested purposely in Prince Edward Island’s cold northern climate. Despite the wintery weather with limited daylight, the Ark’s gardens and fruit trees provided food all winter long for its inhabitants.

Today John & Nancy operate Ocean Arks International, a nonprofit research and outreach organization founded in 1982. Ocean Ark’s stated mission is “to create planetary healing through promoting ecological literacy and the dissemination of vital eco-technologies”, with projects focused on the restoration of the world’s oceans and fresh waters, using the tools of nature to heal toxic waste sites, oil spills, leaking landfills and severely damaged waterways. In order to provide consultancy services to communities and businesses John Todd Ecological Design was also formed with projects around the globe. Through the years, Nancy Jack Todd has been the chronicler of all their work, masterfully describing the scope of what they were attempting, while at times even predicting the revolutionary direction they were going. These publications remain potently relevant today. They have collaborated & partnered with many other ecological design pioneers, including William McLarney, Bill McKibben, Amory Lovins, Janine Benyus, Stewart Brand, John D. Liu, Paul Hawkens, and in their earliest days the anthropologist Margaret Mead who strongly influenced their work.

Recently the Todd’s have joined forces with the ambitious Greening the Sinai project, along with John D. Liu, Santa Barbara Permaculture Network’s 2019 Eco Hero Award recipient. Headed up by the Weather Makers, a widespread group of international engineers and scientists, this project proposes altering the climate cycle in one of the hottest, driest places on the planet—to a cooler, moister one—as was successfully done in a similar historically desertified region, the Loess Plateau in China. Since fresh clean water is a precious and limited resource in the Sinai, Dr. John Todd’s Eco-Machine® is an especially valuable tool as a natural system for treating industrial and human wastewater, while remediating existing degraded bodies of water.
The Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Eco Hero Award honors those individuals who have committed themselves to work in service of the planet and its inhabitants for more than thirty years, with actual solutions and concrete ways forward that benefit many, often on a global scale, while demonstrating pathways forward for future generations. Audiences will learn what inspired John & Nancy, how they made their projects happen, and what challenges they faced along the way—with time for the audience to ask questions, especially encouraging youth attending to interact.

Past recipients of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Eco Hero Award include John D. Liu, Paul Stamets, and Louie Schwartzberg. We are honored to have John & Nancy Jack Todd join us in person as recipients for the 2023 Eco Hero Award. A reception follows in the Lobero courtyard for all ticket holders.
The event takes place at the Lobero Theatre on Friday, March 17, from 6:30 pm – 9 pm, tickets on sale at Lobero Tickets (fees apply), 805-963-0761; For more information,
A Community Event Hosted by Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
Cosponsors: Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, Blue Sky Biochar, Bamboo DNA, Teeccino, AH Juice, Community Environmental Council, Antioch University, SBCC Environmental Horticulture, Explore Ecology, Regenerative Landscape Alliance, Sweetwater Collaborative; Island Seed & Feed, Orella Ranch-Gaviota Givings, Santa Barbara Aquaponics, Sustainable World Radio, Santa Barbara Agriculture & Farm Foundation, Paradise Found, Quail Springs Permaculture, HourBooks, Mesa Harmony Garden, Wingnut Mushroom Farm, Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Ojai Center for Regenerative Agriculture (CRA), WonderMouse Studios, and the Santa Barbara Independent.
Learn More:
Nancy Jack Todd is an author, former dancer, editor of numerous publications, who has been involved in international environmental affairs for more than forty years. A co-author of many books with her husband John Todd (see below), she is the sole author of A Safe and Sustainable World (that has been likened to Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us), and The Village as Solar Ecology. Nancy Todd is the long-time editor of the Journal of the New Alchemist that chronicled the New Alchemy Institute as it evolved over time. She is currently the editor and publisher of the Annals of Earth, a publication of Ocean Arks International, and manages their outreach programs. Among the numerous honors she has shared with John Todd are the Charles and Ann Morrow Lindbergh Award, the Bioneers Lifetime Achievement Award, the Friends of the United Nations Award, and the Swiss Threshold Award for contributions to human knowledge.

John Todd is a biologist and ecologist, who graduated from McGill University in Canada with degrees in agriculture, parasitology & tropical medicine, with a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Marine Biology. Todd is a professor emeritus and distinguished lecturer at the University of Vermont, and fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics also at the University of Vermont. Todd has been an assistant scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic, and assistant professor at San Diego University. He is the co-founder of the New Alchemy Institute, founder and president of John Todd Ecological Design; and president of Ocean Arks International. Todd designed a facility size Eco-Machine® for the Omega Institute of Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, New York. A favorite speaker at the annual Bioneers Conference in the San Francisco Bay area, collaborating while there with other ecological design pioneers like Janine Benyus, Paul Hawkins, and Bill McKibben. His many awards include the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award (2008) for the best idea and concept to help save the planet and humanity; “Top Visionary” award (2007) by Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, and was profiled as one of top thirty-five figures “Inventing Modern America” in the “Genius” issue of Esquire magazine. Todd was named “Hero of the Earth” by Time magazine in 1999. His most recent book publication is Healing Earth: An Ecologist’s Journey of Innovation & Environmental Stewardship.

Books Co-authored by John & Nancy Jack Todd:
Tomorrow is Our Permanent Address
The Book of the New Alchemists
From Eco-Cities to Living Machines – Principles of Ecological Designs
Bioshelters, Ocean Arks, City Farming: Ecology as the Basis of Design.


Video: Why Design Now: Eco-Machine at the Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Video: Ecological Design & Living Machines

Video: Eco-Machines/Living Machine examples: El Monte Sagrado Resort Taos, New Mexico; Eco Hood in Prescott, AZ

Interview: John Todd on Sustainable World Radio, Episode 131

John Todd Ecological Design

Ocean Arks International

New Alchemy Institute & The Green Center

Kathe Seidel, German Botanist, first to incorporate vegetation into wastewater treatment wetlands in the 1950’s

Greening the Sinai: John D. Liu’s trip to the Sinai

John Todd and Nancy Jack-Todd Interview (2006)

Journal of the New Alchemists 1973-1981 7 Journals Download PDFs

The New Alchemist Documentary 1974 CBC Canada

The Weathermakers Greening the Sinai Project: John Todd, John D. Lui and the Weathermakers

John Todd Greening the Sinai ‘Our biggest challenge? Lack of imagination’: Scientists turning the desert green


March 17, 2023
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
View Organizer Website


Lobero Theatre
33 E. Canon Perdido St.
Santa Barbara, 93101
+ Google Map