After finishing college in 1973, Jim and his wife enlisted in the Peace Corps. They were stationed in Iran, where they lived until 1975. Jim worked for the state planning office in Masshad, designing small parks and doing city planning for small cities with populations below 30,000.
In this interview, Jim discusses how his work brought him back and forth between these small towns and the large city of Masshad, where he was captivated and surprised by the quality of the street trees that he encountered, which were thriving with seemingly little effort, in the dry, desert soil. Upon closer inspection, he learned that these prosperous trees were flourishing because of an ancient irrigation system that uses Qanats, which was developed in Iran (Persia) 3,000 years ago.