On siloes and de-siloing, inconvenient truths and gaps in carbon modeling, and building coalitions and connectivity

Christophe Jospe
Carbon A List
Published in
5 min readMar 1, 2024

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the February edition of the Carbon A List newsletter. Do you know someone who would enjoy our newsletter? Forward this email to them and they can subscribe here

On siloes and de-siloing

A silo is a tower or a pit on a farm, a place where you store missiles, and a system, process, or department, that operates in isolation from others. The phrase working in a silo means working in a bubble that is unaware of the value it holds and the benefits of di-siloing. Quite often, when tackling project based work, it is easy to find ourselves in silos, creating siloes, and uncovering siloes.

Perhaps one way to think about de-siloing is to consider what the different definitions of a silo might have in common. They store value that is a result of significant effort that can be exchanged. They can be explosive to alter a landscape. They create a container and an understood system to serve a purpose. When siloes work in harmony they do so because they are clearly able to find connectivity, common benefit and meaning. As a team that works on different projects, we are running into siloes all the time (by design and inadvertently). As a business that runs multiple projects with start and finish dates, our challenge is to not let projects turn into silos when they have systems, knowledge, and interconnectedness between them.

On inconvenient truths and gaps in carbon modeling

Related to siloes, or de-siloing, earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop in St. Louis hosted by Habiterre and the Danforth Plant Science Center. Around 30 industry experts came together and recognized gaps such as:

  • Sensitivity analysis with local observation data is to identify significant model input parameters for model calibration
  • Ignoring spatial variability and crop/geographic interaction.
  • Disconnection between soil depth and carbon models/corporate needs.

The group effort uncovered several opportunities to de-silo, including:

  • Encourage the private sector should drive field trials, data capture, and leverage research machinery.
  • Develop a foundation of knowledge on data, assumptions, benchmarking, validation, and communication.
  • Ensure transparency around the information to improve confidence
  • Share a common language understanding metrics and meaning of important terms

There is a lot of work to be done, and at the same time, exist perspectives out there that this entire field in the future may be obsolete. In my own effort to desilo I continued this discussion during one of the Trailpass Network Friday “Call of the Wild”, listen to this 1 minute thirty sound byte from one of the Trailpass members Ben Adolph Co-Founder of Merge Impact for his perspective on models.

On building coalitions and connectivity

Building community connectivity, access and balance are all core to CAL values. When put toward the goal of de-siloing, we’re able to plug in and create efficiency and scaling for agricultural sustainability and climate resilience. As we find patterns in our work, we see three initiatives related to de-siloing to highlight. Now in its second year, the Land Use Change Initiative (LUCI) project is focused on building consensus and harmonization in land use change assessment and programs. Our “Connecting Soil Health to Resilience” project is seeing the need to connect a broad set of stakeholders across insurance, to government agencies to the farm community. And Trailpass is evolving as a boot-strapped network; finding momentum from members from within to desilo impact quantification.

On a pattern level, we have found some tactics to work particularly well. These include:

  • Connect to principles, objectives, and purpose
  • Create the space for grounding
  • Value diverse perspectives, recognizing that different people will join initiatives for different reasons
  • Clearly define roles and expectations
  • Foster community to develop shared norms
  • Create an environment of curiosity
  • Finding a common vocabulary

What we’re working on

LUCI

  • Expert advisors to efficiently upskill and improve awareness of the issues or gaps
  • Multi-stakeholder workshopping to level set on the status of issues and action pathways
  • Shared development for stated objectives and action plans
  • Facilitated working group discussions with dedicated 1:1 connectivity to ensure all voices are heard and actions are taken to move toward stated objectives
  • Public awareness and communications to bridge awareness gaps for greater connectivity and de-siloing
  • Network leverage though volunteer champions to amplify connectivity and prioritization of the issues

We are thrilled to be running technical working groups and have a separate newsletter for this initiative. Please fill out this form if you are interested in getting updates or getting more actively involved.

Connecting Soil Health to Resilience

  • Deep research to understand the state of the science
  • Cross-sector project leadership to broaden expertise and network connectivity
  • Agile project leadership style, paired with discovery minded research approach to adjust based on improved knowledge
  • Webinar development and hosting for interactive sessions focused on level-setting and connecting across multiple, disconnected sectors
  • Phased development of workshopping to dive deep with experts and critical stakeholders
  • Synthesis to develop practical, insightful and impactful recommendations to drive the next actions

Are you looking for a thoughtful community tackling complex problems? Join the Trailpass community to get access to full recordings of all the calls the network has had so far, and engage with emerging knowledge hubs coming out of it.

The Transforming the Farmer to Consumer Supply Chain project is now going full steam ahead. We have open applications to eligible farmers for applying for climate smart manure management practices, and just released a webinar with more information about this incentive pool.

We have a growing team! We are thrilled to welcome back previous and new colleagues to join our active team. On the consulting side, Laurie Muzzy rejoins us, after spending two years as a soil scientist at the USDA. On our Transforming the Farmer to Consumer Supply Chain project, we’re thrilled to bring in Susie Lewis, who used to moonlight for us with the LUCI project is now joining us full time as Program Manager working along with Jacqueline Sussman, our communications coordinator. Please check out their bios on the Carbon A List website.

What I’m reading

  • The 2022 ag census, Natural Agricultural Statistics Center. It is an extremely useful trove of aggregated agricultural data. Perhaps no surprises, the total acres in farm, and number of farms continues to decline.
  • Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, Donella Meadows. This article is thought provoking in identifying 12 leverage points from the least to most effective ways to change a system.
  • Collaboration gets you farther than insults, Ben Long. This article has a great overview of how climate and conservation policies and change can work in the Intermountain West.

Can you help?

We just released two RFPs to support our HR and Accounting needs. Are you interested, or know anyone who would qualify?

Something Personal

I’m extremely grateful to live in a town that still has a local public radio station. They needed voice actors to read the aforementioned “Collaboration gets you farther the insults.” Here’s the six minute audio version to listen to me reading it. The content itself resonates with me on a deeply personal level as it relates to living in the west, in an agrarian community with challenging conditions, issues of gentrification, and ways to coexist with wildlife.

Signed,

Christophe

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Christophe Jospe
Carbon A List

Climate change entrepreneur and consultant. Recovering from carbon exuberance. I like to stir the pot.