Lukas Martinelli


What were you doing before ELI and what brought you to the program?

I found the ELI program while working towards my bachelor’s degree. I was inspired by regenerative design and pioneers within permaculture, but found myself unclear on how to integrate these techniques into a professional path. The separation between profession and passion was a disservice to both efforts thus I joined the immersion program and was able to safely phase out and pursue projects while having a support network providing wisdom from direct experience along the way.

What are you doing now and what excites you about it? What led you to this line of work?
Soil biogeochemistry has been a fascination and passion of mine since I came to understand the importance of soil in our everyday lives. I work as a research scientist throughout the Bay Area on projects involving conservation agriculture, soil microbial diversity, local grain production, and bioremediation.

Collaboration is seemingly endless as ecological and scientific literacy is being approached in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary fashion that would make Buckminster Fuller proud.

What would you share with someone considering the ELI program? What did you gain that you didn’t expect going into the program? How did ELI changed how you see the world?

The program’s framework gradually progressed into a tangible adhesive that is successful in linking together one’s ideas and aspirations into a professional toolkit. The curriculum refines the vast solutions of permaculture into an applicable, empowering medium. I feel grateful to be a part of this network; the guidance I’ve received from classmates and instructors alike has led me to be exponentially more confident in my abilities. The course has brought clarity and support to what was previously a disconnected, blurry vision. The think tank aspect of ELI specializes in transforming concepts into reality.

What gives you hope for the future?

The United Nations declared 2015 as The International Year of Soils and this highlights a greater shift in our food, fuel, and fiber systems to invest in soil health, the invaluable role of ecosystem services, and the recognition of humanity’s partnership with soil organisms that allow terrestrial life to exist in such great diversity. Building a better future is highly correlated to building soil.