Introducing Dago: NHSPN’s Network Coordinator and Climate Optimist

Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 by Dago Driggs
Dago pictured fifth from the left at the NHSPN meeting in November 2022

As someone who has been preoccupied for nearly half of my life with the converging ecological crises facing our species, I’m so grateful to have found a role with the “solutionary” organization that is CalCAN. I’m honored to be joining the team as the Network Coordinator of the National Healthy Soils Policy Network, and am eager to help scale out soil-based, farmer-centric climate justice solutions across the country. I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.

Embracing the Role of a Climate Optimist

I consider myself a climate optimist. I feel that I have a grasp of the scale of the challenges facing us, AND I know that I’m alive in this time to be a part of “The Great Turning” – a process described by eco-philosopher Joanna Macy as the radical transformation of our society toward one centered on ecological and cultural regeneration. 

“I consider myself a climate optimist.”

– Dago Driggs, National Health Soils Policy Network Coordinator

As a youth climate activist, I worked on direct action and bank divestment campaigns to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. I traveled the country as an “eco-carnie” with an Oakland-based popular education project called “The Sustainable Living Roadshow.” During my travels I realized that the way we grow, prepare and eat our food is so central to our culture, and our food system intersects with so many challenges and potential solutions to the climate crisis. I later found an opportunity to coordinate the Massachusetts GMO Labeling campaign and found my niche in food and agriculture policy organizing, serving for six years as Policy Director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA/Mass). 

2018 NHSPN Incubator group photo - Dago pictured back row, right side.
2018 NHSPN Incubator group photo – Dago pictured back row, right side.

In my time at NOFA/Mass, I coordinated a healthy soils coalition consisting of about 40 climate, agriculture and water conservation groups, along with numerous farms and businesses and worked with legislative offices to create the Massachusetts Healthy Soils Program. I advised on the creation of the recently-released Massachusetts Healthy Soils Action Plan (January 2023) which will guide the development of the Healthy Soils Program to scale out conservation practices for all land use types in the state. 

Joining the National Healthy Soils Policy Network: A New Chapter Begins

Robust networks provide the fuel for lasting societal change: nexuses for the exchange of ideas and resources mediated by human relationships. As full time support staff for the National Healthy Soils Policy Network, I’m eager to organize to increase the connectivity, depth and reach of this solutions-oriented network. 

We will bring on more members across the country and build stronger relationships between them: connecting experience, resources and insights to accelerate the movement for healthy soils. 

We will increase our network capacity to direct the historic funding for soil conservation and climate smart grants coming through the Inflation Reduction Act. 

And as we bring on more insights and experience through our members, we will refine the narrative which we will tell together. We will refine the story of how organic and regenerative, biodiverse, small and medium-sized farmers and ranchers are leading the way toward climate-resilient and socially just soil solutions to the climate crisis.

I look forward to refining and scaling out soil solutions with my allies in the National Network and to have these ideas informed by my interactions with the more-than-human beings which I interact with on a daily basis: the creatures which crawl, swim and grow in the wilder hills and waterways of Western Massachusetts that I call home. When I’m not behind a screen, I’m running barefoot or swimming, tending to the land and the multitude of projects, playing with the kids, making medicine or celebrating – helping my immediate community resource itself for the work ahead of us. May we all find our ways to recharge, reconnect and stay inspired. 

To learn more about the National Healthy Soils Policy Network, visit the Network website.

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