About Us

Engaging local residents – instigating ecological projects – building regenerative systems

Social Ecologies creates durational projects that aim to build healthy habitat and interaction through direct engagement of place with those who dwell there. Social Ecologies seeks to encourage holistic, systematic thinking through varying levels and degrees of project participation. Projects are typically birthed and supported for several years for substantial research, learning and dialogue to develop and ideas to emerge and become embodied in continued action.

— Nance Klehm Social Ecologies Founder and Director of Operations

About Nance Klehm
Nance Klehm has been an ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, and permacultural grower for more than two decades. Her approach is centered on instigating change by activating already existent communities, and her work demonstrates her lifelong commitment to redefining the way human populations coexist with plant and animal systems on this planet.

A consultant, speaker, and teacher, Nance is internationally respected for her work on land politics and soil heath. Her work has received extensive national and international media coverage and mentioned in many books, including Leila Darwish’s Earth Repair and Sandor Katz’s The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. She won the 2012 Utne Visionary Prize and has been a two-time finalist for the Curry-Stone Design Prize. In addition, she has lectured broadly in museum and university settings as well as for countless community groups worldwide. Most recently, she was the subject of the independent documentary Weedeater.

She currently splits her time between Little Village, a densely packed, diverse urban neighborhood in the heart of Chicago, and fifty acres of land in the Driftless Region of northwest Illinois, where she cultivates and forages medicinal and edible plants, keeps bees and a fruit orchard, raises chickens and quail, and grows for a seed bank. Her house and land offer daily practice in permaculture and urban living.

Nancy’s Social Ecologies organization acts as an umbrella for a variety of ongoing ecological and system-regenerating projects. Her most recent undertaking, Its most recent undertaking, The Ground Rules, is a unique community- and earth-building initiative that gathers organic waste from Chicago businesses and processes it in partnership with neighborhood-based Soil Centers. The Ground Rules offers soil and compost assessments, soil testing, consultations in bioremediation strategies, hands-on workshops in soil health and fertility, and compost system buildouts. Contact Nance for info at socialecologies dot net or check out the Social Ecologies list of services.

Heather Sewell, Architect

Heather Sewell is an architect,
practicing professionally for 14 years. She has held an architectural license
in the State of Illinois since 2005. Recently relocated to the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan, she has worked in Chicago, Seattle and Mexico over the years –
working on large buildings and small ones, conventional construction, green
building and natural building; gaining practical hands-on knowledge
while physically doing both types of construction herself at times along the
way. Her focus of the last several years has been on two highly customized
residences: one in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the other in Jalisco
Mexico — thus she is versatile in approach and able to work with a variety of
construction methods and styles. Her principles are simple: Ecological
Sensitivity, Efficient Collaboration, Appropriate Quality, Compositional
Significance. www.heathersewell.com