The idea for Eco-Pioneers came to Steve Lerner while he was attending the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Although he was moved by the vision of sustainable development evoked by citizens and officials at the summit, as a reporter he felt a need to put a human face on the rhetoric and find out what sustainable development actually looks like in the United States. He spent the next four years searching out what he came to call "eco-pioneers"―the modern pathfinders who are working in the American pragmatic tradition to reduce the pace of environmental degradation. These practical visionaries are people who are willing to push the limits of whatever tools they can find for dealing with ecological problems. Lerner provides case studies of eco-pioneers who are exploring sustainable ways to log forests, grow food, save plant species, run cattle, build houses, clean up cities, redesign rural communities, generate power, conserve water, protect rivers and wildlife, treat hazardous waste, reuse materials, and reduce both waste and consumption. Some of those profiled run businesses, some address environmental practices within their immediate community, and some combine their environmental concerns with social goals such as the creation of inner-city jobs. Together they are creating ways of living and working that many analysts believe to be essential to an ecologically sustainable future.