Sustainability guru Michael Ben-Eli, GIS expert Dana Tomlin, landscape designer and conservationist Edwina von Gal, and sustainable agriculture expert Greg Watson have been appointed Master Teachers at the Conway School for the 2015-2016 academic year. “These four bring a tremendous depth of expertise and passion,” said Conway’s President Paul Cawood Hellmund, “We are looking forward to learning from and with them during the 2015-2016 year.”

Conway Master Teachers are experts with considerable experience relevant to ecological planning and design. They visit the school several times during the school year.

Dr. Michael Ben-Eli

Michael, who was a close associate of R. Buckminister Fuller, is founder of The Sustainability Laboratory, based in NYC. Previously he worked as an international management consultant, pioneering applications of systems thinking and cybernetics in management and organization. He has
worked in diverse institutional settings, ranging from small high technology firms to multinational enterprises, manufacturing companies, financial institutions health care and educational organizations, government agencies, NGOs, and international multilateral organizations.

His focus in recent years has primarily been on issues related to sustainability and sustainable development. He is author of the Five Core Sustainability Principles, and has worked with leaders in business, government, community, and youth to move toward a peaceful transition to a sustainable future.

He graduated from the Architectural Association in London and later received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Cybernetics at Brunel University, where he studied under Gordon Pask. With Buckminster Fuller he collaborated on research involving advanced structural systems, and issues related to the management of technology and world resources. For interviews with Michael, see here.

Dr. Dana Tomlin

Dana is a leader in the field of geographic information systems, originator of the Map Algebra language embodied in most of today’s raster (image-based) GIS software, and a member of the GIS Hall of Fame. He is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Tonlin_Dana_3Co-director of the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as Adjunct Professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Dana holds a BSLA from the University of Virginia, a MLA from Harvard and a PhD from Yale. His work focuses on the development and application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He was  designer of the Map Analysis Package GIS, author of GIS and Cartographic Modeling (ESRI Press 2012). He has been recognzed for his distinguished teaching.

Dana developed MAP (the Map Analysis Package), one of the most widely used programs of its kind. The open source GRASS application derives many of its raster analytical capabilities directly from MAP and was extensively used by federal agencies throughout the late 1980s. His work on MAP has also been directly inherited by a long list of other software packages, including, OSUMAP, MAP II, MapFactory, MFWorks, MacGIS, IDRISI, MapBox, pMap, MGE and IMGRID.

With funding provided by a corporate donor in 1990, Tomlin led the founding of the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory at Penn. The Lab conducts academic research and urban and social policy analysis using GIS and spatial research applications. Hear him speak here and at 57:25 here.

Ms. Edwina von Gal 

Edwina was the client for Conway’s first international project, in Panama. She has had her own design firm since 1984, creating landscapes with a focus on simplicity and sustainability, for private and public clients around the world. Based in East Hampton, N.Y., her work has been published in many vongal_Edwina2major publications and her book “Fresh Cuts” won the Quill and Trowel award for garden writing in 1998.

She went to Panama in 2002 to design the park for the Biomuseo, the Frank Gehry-designed museum of biodiversity in Panama City, bought some land and stayed on to found the Perfect Earth Project/Azuero, with which the Conway School collaborated. PEP/A is a “living laboratory” located on Panama’s Azuero Peninsula, focused on sustainable land use and on community outreach with science and fieldwork to create models that are scalable and replicable worldwide.

Edwina’s main work now is spreading a toxin-free message to the United States through Perfect Earth Project, which she launched in 2013 to promote toxin-free landscapes everywhere.

Hear her speak here (at 25:53) and here.

Mr. Greg Watson

Greg is Director of Policy and Systems Design at the Schumacher Center for New Economics. He is a public voice for sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, new monetary systems, equitable land tenure arrangements, neighborhood planning through democratic processes, government policies that Watson_Gregsupport human-scale development, cooperative structure, import replacement through citizen financing of new enterprises, and more.

Following up on a October 2014 trip to he made to Cuba, he is coordinating the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network, of which the Conway School is a member, to explore urban farming, sustainable agricultural, renewable energy, disaster preparedness, and social entrepreneurship.

Greg served as the Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture under Governors Patrick, Dukakis, and Weld. His major accomplishments as Commissioner during his first tenure included the promulgation of innovative groundwater protection regulations designed to prevent contamination of aquifer recharge areas; an outreach program for farmers to adopt integrated pest management techniques; efforts to make Massachusetts the first state to establish a dairy pricing system; and clarification of acceptable agriculture practices under the Wetlands Protection Act. During his current term of service he has worked to launch a statewide urban-agriculture grants program.

He was executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, making urban agriculture a major focus of the community’s revitalization plan, which featured community gardens, a farmers’ market, and a 10,000 square foot community greenhouse. In 2006 The Boston Globe Magazine, cited him as one of 11 “Bostonians Changing the World.”

Greg Watson served on President-elect Obama’s transition team for the U.S. Department of Energy. He was with the New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod, first as Education Director and later as Executive Director. He lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and serves on the boards of Ocean Arks International, Bioneers, and Remineralize The Earth. For talks, reports, and interviews, see here.