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David W. Orr is Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and senior adviser to the president of Oberlin College. He is a founding editor of the journal Solutions, and serves as the executive director of the Oberlin Project, a collaborative effort of the city of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and private and institutional partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of Oberlin. Orr is the author of seven books, including Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (Oxford, 2009) and coeditor of three others. He has authored nearly 200 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications.In the past 25 years, he has served as a board member or advisor to eight foundations and on the boards of many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Currently he is a trustee of the Bioneers, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and the Worldwatch Institute. He has been awarded seven honorary degrees and a dozen other awards including a Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and a Visionary Leadership Award from Second Nature. Orr is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.While at Oberlin, he spearheaded the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past 30 years,” and as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the twentieth century” by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Direct Download: http://traffic.libsyn.com/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_292.mp3

Please send questions and comments to jhkunstler@mac.com.

Bonus podcast S-Town and the JHK Connection. 


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     In this bonus episode, James Howard Kunstler reunites with former KunstlerCast host/producer Duncan Crary for a behind-the-scenes discussion of JHK’s personal connection to the wildly popular S-Town podcast, a This American Life spinoff program. Back around 2010-2013, John B. McLemore, the tragic figure at the center of the series began an email correspondence with JHK. John B was a real person, referred to by various people in the series as “brilliant,” “a genius,” “a real character,” and he was for sure. He was also a fan of Jim’s books, and, after getting Jim’s phone number off his website, took to calling him on the phone. The two probably had a dozen long phone conversations. It is well-known now that he called his home of Woodstock, Alabama, “Shit-town.” He regaled JHK with many a sordid tale of the home-folk, and even of himself. To Jim, the place sounded like “Hieronymus Bosch meets Dogpatch.” Since John B seemed so unhappy under his mask of hilarity and mirth, Jim tried to encourage him to consider moving to another part of the country. John B always had an excuse for not doing that, but clearly John B and the neighbors he disdained, fought with, looked for love with, had a synergistic thing going. They needed each other to play out their never-ending crazy scripts of cracker mischief, vengeance, and failure. After a while, John B went dark. Jim thought he had just gotten tired of being advised to move somewhere else. As it turns out, what happened to John B would become the subject of an audio documentary that has broken all the records in podcasting and stirred up a bit of controversy. Because so many of the concepts McLemore espouses in the series are inspired by JHK’s blogs and writings (sometimes John B uses Jim’s exact phraseology), Duncan suggests the early KunstlerCast years are a bit like a “prequel” to S-Town. (Note: You can listen to all the previous episodes on the KunstlerCast feed for free, and you can purchase a book of based transcripts from the first five years.)

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

16 Responses to “KunstlerCast 292 — Conversation With Author and Ecologist David Orr… Plus Extra Bonus Podcast! JHK and the S-Town Podcast”

  1. malthuss May 31, 2017 at 11:19 pm #

    Oberlin College. Is that where a sheet shuts the place down?


    “…Sub-Saharan African gene flow into Egypt occurred within the last 1,500 years,”


  2. Elrond Hubbard June 1, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    Hey Jim, I know he’s passed on and all, but I think it’s still inadvisable to publish Mr. McLemore’s unredacted phone number and address. If nothing else, someone else has probably been assigned that number by now. Maybe blur out the last four digits?

  3. Ken S June 2, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    Great interview, brilliantly balanced, even with the now socially obligatory Trump bashing. Yet, when the weeds show up, it’s not the garden; it’s the gardener. Within our body politic, Liberals have done more to humanize the ‘garden’ than any other recognizable political element. The Clinton, Obama years have slowly eroded the effectiveness of the Democratic platform.

    In Permaculture weeds serve a useful purpose. DT has charged into the ideological void, erodeding the Republican, Democratic and mainstream media stranglehold with equal verve. Admittedly there is a big downside to all this; and an opportunity, larger than any in recent history, if it can be recognized as such.

    If Donald Trump is as bad as universally asserted (in public at least), then 2020 should be a cakewalk. The Russian influence meme was a step in the wrong direction, a sign of increasing cognitive derangement rather than a constructive response. Focused wrath on the DNC would make more sense.

    Bottom line, no one likes a phony. And it’s not unfair to hold the Left to a higher ideological standard; this is the gift they bestow on the body politic. Otherwise, expect the body politic to keep voting for any a-hole, who at least knows how to read a financial statement and change a light bulb. It’s an easier sell until something more authentic comes along.

    Please keep up the great work. Both of you are taking a giant steps in the right direction. Thank you!

  4. Slava B June 5, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    Sounded like a reasonable guy… right up until the 33-minute mark. Afterwards, it was a bit hard-going, but I think I made it as far as 33:35. That’s not too bad, right?

  5. vitaly2030 June 7, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

    I didn’t care for David Orr that much. He was a regressive leftist trying to masquerade as a classic liberal. I thought it was very interesting when Jim brought up the problems on colleges and he totally dismissed it. Then managed to blame Fox news and Fraternity Republican Congress Critters. Then managed to blame gerrymandering, but is completely clueless that both parties use the tactic.

    The icing on the cake was when Jim brought up the Citizens United decision and Obama’s decision not to address it with the Democrat super majority. The guy totally deflected and filibustered.

    To be credible, one has call BS on your team and the other team. Otherwise you are just a cheerleader.

    This guy has spent to much time in the ivory tower. I think he needs a Holiday in Cambodia.

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  6. routersurfer June 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

    Great show I hope you have him back again. I am not ready to discontinue a Russia influence in our elections. We, I am sure have done the same to them. Want some more info on this? Check out a former guests site Eric Garland–Competitive Futures. Time to bring Eric back Jim? RT is an influence by its self. I enjoy watching it. I make my own judgment to RT’s agenda. Same for FOX.

  7. routersurfer June 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    Sad that John left us. Thanks for that podcast.

  8. shanec102 June 15, 2017 at 10:19 pm #

    S Town
    Do you want the red or blue pill.
    Everybody says they want to see the real world but from my experience most can not handle it. They deny it imediatly. John delt with it in a morbid way.
    The poor guy probably had some mental problems mixed with social hardships and obsessed about these tuff issues. He painted himself into a corner.


    Orr interview
    As a Trump voter I found the interview hard to listen to. He consistently attacked Trump without any examples to explain why he felt that way. He put Trump in the same category as your mainstream conservative politician. He talked about trump and fox news as if they went together. Fox, in general, did everything to throw trump under the bus, as all major news sources did.
    He also said that one of the problems is that politicians have to raise so much money. That was the appealing part of Trump. He ran with very little money and raised almost none.
    I agree with one of your interviews earlier in the year. Trump was a vote to “vote the bums out.”
    I could go on and on with contradictions in the interview…

    • ffkling July 16, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

      Vote the bums out? The very forces Trump railed against are firmly established in his administration. The Trump true believers saw him as the ultimate mastermind. They perceived the man’s every move, every word uttered, every breath taken as a masterful move to crush his opponents and implement a plan well beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. The master 4-D chess player, hell 12-D chess player.
      Nowadays, the bright bulbs of this collection of idiots have just shut up, hoping nobody else remembers their Trump boot licking. However, some idiots are still too stupid to see they were duped by a hustler, or they will do the idiot thing of doing anything to save face. These folks will be the loyal indentured servants of those with two brain cells to rub together.

  9. General Kluster June 19, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    Rest in peace, John…

    And good podcasts, guys. It was nice to hear Duncan again as well as with Jim the way I got used to when first tuning in around 2011.
    I especially liked when they went outside and recorded their experiences that included interactions with the people they met in their forays.

    As for the first main podcast, I think that anarchism needs to be looked at and spoken about in the contexts of any and all meaningful social changes.

  10. sethinthebox June 27, 2017 at 3:04 pm #

    Thanks for posting John’s old address, can’t wait to get down to Dixie to dig me up some of that confederate gold!

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  11. JackStraw July 5, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    This podcast was extremely difficult to listen to, as Orr is just another typical, ultra-leftist college professor from one of the most leftist colleges in the country.

    He never answered Jim’s questions in what could even be called a direct response, but rather in a weird deflective babble that only displayed his surprising naivete and lack of education in politics and the world.

    Like another commenter said, he needs to step out of the ivory tower and actually find out what is going on in the world.

    • Caine September 7, 2018 at 2:27 pm #

      Exactly right. I don’t want to talk about left or right…oh YES I do. Ha.

  12. ffkling July 16, 2017 at 6:57 pm #

    Outstanding David Orr interview. Seeing the Trump true believers with their panties all in a wad tells me Orr spoke many inconvenient truths the disciples of Trump would rather not acknowledge.

  13. Caine September 7, 2018 at 2:25 pm #

    If this guy wants to know why there are no cooperation and solutions, he should take a good look at himself.

    How many times did he say he didn’t want to talk about “left” and “right”, then did. Hilarious.

    • Caine September 7, 2018 at 2:28 pm #

      I did however like his comment about measuring someone’s intelligence by looking at the wake they leave behind.