The Industrial Forest was recently featured in The Oilman Magazine in the cover story on Jason Spiess.
Spiess is a volunteer with The Industrial Forest as well as a Sustainability Supervisor. Currently he is spearheading The North Dakota Industrial Forest which is scheduled for September 2022. The North Dakota Industrial Forest will consist of a 1-acre Education and Awareness Park within the state capital city limits of Bismarck, ND. as well as a 5-acre park in the country.
Mayor Steve Bakken has accepted the invitation to dig the first hole for the ceremonial tree during The Industrial Forest's Planting Party & BBQ. The Planting Party & BBQ will combine the elements of a traditional oil and gas BBQ with a community planting party.
Here is an excerpt from The Oilman Magazine:
..."What he and his team have tried to do with The Crude Life is allow people to have their stories told from a social standpoint, which is why they interview industry outsiders – café owners and truckers and nonprofit executives. “We want people to have a complete understanding of an oil and gas community because, as I mentioned before with the paradigm shift, the agriculture industry has gone through this, too, and what the ag industry found out was that the grocery store replaced the farmer and, right now, the light switch has replaced the oil and gas worker. The average person has no idea where their energy comes from.”
“I saw it firsthand in the agriculture industry. My whole family comes from farming; we are not from energy or from oil and gas. I’m new to the industry, coming in just 10 years ago, and I’m very upfront with oil and gas people about that because the oil and gas industry, whether it’s good or bad, is a very family-oriented, legacy business. I think the agriculture analogy is a really important one for the industry to look at, too, from the PR side of things. No matter what the farmers did, you knew they were feeding the world. They were getting up at 5 a.m. every day making sure that things were running [properly] – a lot like oil and gas workers – and the grocery store just took them out.”
More than once, Spiess expresses his concern that the energy industry might become subsidized like agriculture has been, with the government telling businesses what and where they can farm – or drill. “I’d hate to see the oil and gas industry go that way because what I saw was an industry full of opportunity. If you built a better mousetrap, they would reward you for it.”
He wants that entrepreneurial spirit to continue to thrive as the industry moves forward with the energy transition...Spiess is an unlikely ambassador for the oil and gas industry. A self-described “hippie,” he says, “I’m an environmentalist first and foremost and have been for over 20 years.” He found a way to merge his passion for the industry with his sense of environmental justice in 2017 by creating The Industrial Forest, with a goal of planting 1,000 trees in each of the 50 states over a 10-year period, which will eventually consume 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.
The Forest is more than just a tree planting initiative; Spiess calls it an industrial “ecolution,” that will contribute to helping solve the climate crisis. Through the process of photosynthesis, a mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year; this is nature’s own carbon capture technology at work. Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and senior author of the 2019 “The global tree restoration potential report” published in Science, says, “Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today.”
But, as the venture’s slogan says, “It takes an industry to build a forest,” and Spiess is still attempting to get industry onboard with the idea. “We spent a year and drove over 10,000 miles and didn’t get [the support of] one energy company in North Dakota.” Ever the entrepreneur, he says, “We’re still going to move ahead with it but we’re going to do it differently,” and, instead of focusing solely on garnering support from the energy industry, The Forest will partner with other interested industries.