Episode 21: Water Wisdom for Deserts, Forests and Cities (with Charles Upton)

Turning Season Podcast Episode 21 Water Wisdom for Deserts, Forests, and Cities with Charles Upton hosted by Leilani Navar turningseason.com

How much power do you think you have to affect rainfall, or to influence how vulnerable a landscape is to wildfire? Do we have any agency in our situation of “running out of water”? 

Until recently, I didn’t think those things were in our hands at all. I’ve been excited to learn from water experts devoted to regenerative practices that together, people can powerfully impact all of these things.

For this month’s Full Moon episode, I spoke with Charles Upton, a land restoration consultant with Oso Eco working to leverage natural systems to rehydrate watersheds, regenerate soil, and ensure the long term vitality of human communities. He became fascinated by water while climbing in the Middle East, and then spent years studying water in a master’s degree program, and on the ground, learning the traditional water wisdom of indigenous desert peoples. He continues to put theory into action, in California, Colombia, and beyond.

Click Play above now to hear us talk about:

  • how working with water empowers you to do something good, right now, right where you are
  • how we’ve dehydrated our landscapes, and how we can fix that (plus, how this impacts rainfall, and vulnerability to catastrophic fires)
  • Charles’ biggest takeaway from his time spent with local people in desert landscapes like Rajasthan, India and the Arabian Peninsula
  • new ways to approach land management in California, in relationship with indigenous peoples and traditional ecological knowledge
  • how cities in deserts, even with big populations, could be more self-sufficient with water
  • some of the practical ways to regenerate soil, and to slow water flow, sink it into the ground, and spread it
  • and the importance of human relationships, in cultivating a better relationship with water

This is truly an on-the-ground example of The Great Turning in action. To connect and learn more:

Click here to connect with Charles Upton and Oso Eco

Click here to listen to Joe Brewer talk about water systems in Barichara (or find Earth Regenerators Podcast, Episode 1 on your favorite podcast platform)

Click here to check out my upcoming program, Healing Season, to help you find balance in your personal health, how you relate to your pain for the world, and your role in the Great Turning. This program draws from Chinese Medicine’s wisdom about how our emotions and physical health relate, and includes learning qigong and practicing the Work that Reconnects.

Learn more about the truly amazing regeneration projects Charles mentions in our conversation:

Al Bayda Project, Saudi Arabia: 


and https://www.permaculturenews.org/2011/01/14/permaculture-at-the-al-baydha-project-in-saudi-arabia-neal-spackman-video-1/

Greening the Desert, Jordan:


Brad Lancaster, Arizona:


Camp Hotlum Eco Restoration Camp, Mt Shasta: 


Earth Regenerators in Barichara, Colombia: 


Leilani Navar