Born in Philadelphia, I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, earned a B.A. from Reed College and attended UCLA’s graduate school in filmmaking. I worked as an archaeologist for Arizona State University and the National Park Service. I moved to Santa Fe, NM, in 1991 – the same year that Wallace Stegner wrote a Foreword to my photography project The Indelible West.
In 1997, I cofounded the Quivira Coalition, nonprofit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that works with progressive ranchers and farmers on regenerative agriculture, ecological restoration, and collaborative conservation in what we called the radical center. As Executive Director, I helped implement these practices as well as explain their hopefulness in numerous publications and speaking events. I left the organization at the end of 2015 to write full-time. My specialty is explaining complex topics via compelling stories.
In 2005, I was deeply honored when Wendell Berry included my essay The Working Wilderness in his collection titled The Way of Ignorance.
Ongoing Coauthor, The Great Regeneration: a Unified Vision of Soils, Silicon, and Public Science, by Dorn Cox; Chelsea Green (2022)
2021 Contributing Writer, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, by Paul Hawken; Penguin (September 2021)
2020 “Why Regenerative Agriculture?” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 79 (3), May 2020
2019 Coauthor, Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy by Rebecca Burgess; Chelsea Green.
2018 Contributor, Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture, by Gabe Brown; Chelsea Green.
2015 Two Percent Solutions for the Planet: 50 Low-Cost, Low-tech, Nature-based Practices for Combatting Hunger, Drought and Climate Change; Chelsea Green.
2015 The Age of Consequences: a Chronicle of Concern and Hope, with a Foreword by Wendell Berry; Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, CA.
2014 Grass, Soil, Hope: a Journey Through Carbon Country, with a Foreword by Michael Pollan; Chelsea Green.
2008 Revolution on the Range: the Rise of a New Ranch in the American West; Island Press.
2005 “The Working Wilderness: a Call for a Land Health Movement” published in The Way of Ignorance, by Wendell Berry; Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, CA.
Various Essays, published in Farming, Acres, Natural Resources Journal, Conservation Biology, Solutions, Quivira Coalition’s Resilience and others.
2012-2015 Creative Director, the Quivira Coalition.
1997-2012 Cofounder and Executive Director, the Quivira Coalition.
1995-2002 Executive Committee member, Santa Fe Group, Sierra Club; Chair, Conservation Committee (1995-1998), Santa Fe Group, Sierra Club.
Michael Pollan: “Hope in a book about the environmental challenges we face in the 21 st century is an audacious thing to promise, so I’m pleased to report that Courtney White delivers on it.”
Wendell Berry: “Courtney White’s experience with the Quivira Coalition has made him master of two indispensable truths: People of different and apparently opposing interests can work together in good will for their mutual good; and, granted their good will and good work, a similar reciprocity can be made, in use, between humans and their land.
“In a time when environmental reporting has become justifiably gloomy, this book is a refreshing breath of pragmatic optimism. White’s vision of stewardship, openness to new ideas, giving as well as taking, and flexibility will inspire anyone who loves humanity or the great outdoors.” – Publishers Weekly
“White strikes a refreshing tone that will resonate with readers turned off by the superior or condescending attitudes of some environmentalist writers… Throughout, he balances abstract questions and ideas with tangible life experiences… [R]eaders will be engaged by his frank and thoughtful discussion of our modern environment.” – Kirkus
“…[A] series of deeply personal essays that cogently examine pertinent issues from both grassroots and global perspectives. With a tone that is predominantly upbeat yet tempered by the intensely personal concerns of a parent, White offers specific examples of beneficial strategies that can mitigate present conditions and secure future successes.” – Booklist
“Courtney White employs a masterful blend of storytelling and science to communicate a most hopeful message: that building healthy soils – in some surprising and creative ways—can help solve our food, water, and climate challenges all at the same time. The carbon-capturing farmers, ranchers, and conservationists whose work White so elegantly describes form the vanguard of a new movement of regenerative production that deserves society’s attention and support. Inspiring, thought-provoking, energizing, and—at bottom—full of hope.” – Sandra Postel, Freshwater Fellow, National Geographic Society
“This book is Courtney White’s most important work. It is the best practical guide to how we can begin to address the significant, unavoidable challenges awaiting us in our not-too-distant future. Two Percent Solutions for the Planet inspires us to address these challenges creatively, especially with respect to our food and agriculture future, and to do it in cooperation with nature in ways that also heal the planet. The solutions Courtney describes are not just ideas but are demonstrated strategies already being implemented by creative farmers, ranchers, ecologists, and designers. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in practical ways to restore the planet’s health while experiencing a flourishing life.”
– Frederick Kirschenmann, author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience