Bill is a fifth generation Idahoan who has worked as a field archaeologist and cultural anthropologist in both North Idaho and Panama. During his time in Panama he did research among the Emberá people in eastern Panama and subsequently earned his MA in Anthropology from the University of Oregon where he specialized in the ecology and cosmology of tropical lowland, indigenous cultures of the new world.
From 1986-2000 he worked for the Department of Defense, US Southern Command, specialized in technology, training and geospatial applications in defense and intelligence. He was also a program manager for a large, national mapping project of land use and forest cover with the United Nations REDD (Reduction in Emissions, Degradation and Deforestation) program in collaboration with the Panamanian Ministry of the Environment. He served as a Commissioner with the Panamanian Ministry of Tourism for sustainable heritage and eco-tourism.
From 2004-2011 he worked at Esri (www.esri.com) where he became the Defense and Intelligence Industry Manager. For the last three plus years, Bill worked as the Director, Technology for Bonner County Government (Emeritus). He also writes popular articles on science and technology for the Sandpoint Reader weekly newpaper and serves as a Commissioner for Historic Preservation for the City of Sandpoint. Bill and his wife Susan, also an archeologist, journalist, editor and anthropologist, alternate between their country homesteads in Coclé, Panama and Sagle, Idaho where they maintain subsistence gardens and orchards.
In Latin America a number of cultures still practice traditional subsistence horticulture. The Emberá of eastern Panama are one of these small-scale, egalitarian, lowland tropical rain forest cultures that not only practice traditional horticulture but speak their native language, hunt, gather and fish from the rain forest and still practice their traditional beliefs in spirits and practice associated rituals. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and an extensive ethnobotany that includes the use of entheogenic plants.
Many of their subsistence agricultural concepts are in congruence with the ideas of Permaculture. This talk explores this convergence and how a traditional belief system or cosmology may inspire our understanding and relationship to our natural, cultural, geological and geographical landscapes. This understanding manifests itself as an integrated systems of complex, interacting relationships that build on the knowledge, practice and spirit of traditional cultures. This undeniable heritage energizes our commitment to sustainable living, energy efficiency and belief in the resilience and intentionality of the spirit of living systems.