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3.00 #05 FEB ’12


In this issue:



Goods for Good Living, our 10 favorite tools for change. P.08




Catapult Design fournder Tyler Valiquette discusses.. P.10

Tree pruning and grafting with our resident expert. P.14

ISSUE #5 / JAN/FEB 2012


BOARD OF DIRECTORS CONTENTS MISSION Harry Helling The Ecology Center seeks to bring all Chairman, members of the community together in Crystal Cove Alliance a solutions-based educational setting to Jamie Welsh create a healthy and abundant future for Co-Chairman, 10% Solution all of Orange County.

Jan/Feb 2012 Issue #5

Dale Howe

03. 2  011 RECAP Evan Marks

04. T  OOLS FOR CHANGE Evan Marks

06. P  ROFIT WITH A PURPOSE Trisha Deshmukh

07. E  CO-LABS Evan Marks



12. T  UNING INTO HOME Christian Beamish

13. BOOK REVIEWS Christian Beamish

Treasurer, CPA VISION The Ecology Center is founded on the principle that people can make a difference. Individual actions can transform the community, elevating the health of our environment for future generations.

Cristina Cherpas Changing Lanes Kimberly Krantz

The Boeing Company CONTRIBUTORS

Evan Marks


Having worked extensively in California and abroad, Evan Marks learned firsthand that that people have the ability to directly impact the environment by taking matters into their own hands. Inspired to instigate change in his community, Marks created The Ecology Center in 2008 to serve as a community hub for a solutions-based ecological educational setting.

Christian Beamish WRITER / EDITOR

Former Associate Editor of The Surfer's Journal and author of the upcoming book The Voyage of the Cormorant (Summer 2012, Patagonia Books), is also a naturalist, a surfboard shaper, and a follower of John Muir's nature philosophy.


Trisha Deshmukh


Trisha Deshmukh has worked for nonprofits in New York and California, writing grants and managing programs. She has a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and an MPA specializing in nonprofit management from New York University.


David Rager


David Rager lives and works in Paris, France where he solves problems using design as a tool. When he’s not at his desk he’s likely to be found out and about trying to perfect the art of a beautiful daily life.

Scott Sporleder PHOTOGRAPHER

Since graduating from San Diego State University, Scott has dedicated 3 months a year to travel and photographing the world's unique cultures. While not on the road, you can visit Scott every summer at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. You can can also view his travel photography at ScottSporleder.com.


Maxwell Isles Secretary, Transition Laguna Beach

Shaheen Sadeghi Lab Holding Evan Marks Executive Director FOUNDING MEMBERS

Kris Linn & David Bronner Mary Cook & Jerry Elliott The Joseph Hoyt Foundation Donna & Ken Friess Marjorie Lesovsky Sylvia Marks Vicki & David Marks Jan & Warren Siegel Sambazon The Segerstrom Foundation Quiksilver Foundation Volcom VISIONARY

Hurley Anonymous The Boeing Company SDG&E Ford Motor Company Pacific Life Foundation New Belgium Brewing Swayne Family Foundation Roger & Helen Abramson Carl & Dotty Hagmier John Paul Anton & Jennifer Segerstrom GUARDIAN

Chuck & Terri Benson Cox Communications Cristina Cherpas Brian Dunn Dale & Rita Howe Thelma Machlin Bruce & Barbara Matsui Marcy Pattinson Kate & Buz Roberts Steve & Celina Stratton Jamie Welsh SUSTAINER

Anne Bowlus Kirsten Horning Killer Dana Norm & Theola Kirschenbaum Andrew Malone Six Degrees LA The Winkler Family


Brad & Joanne Allen John & Donna Amette Lora Allison Christopher Blank Mike & Debbie Bosse Barry Campbell Phil & Alisa Chacon George & Ines Cuzakis Andrea Drexelius Marty Enniss Marissa Floyd Sheryl Gillett Tom & Nancy Hawkins Harry & Kathy Helling Douglas Hibbard Evette Jaeger Jeff & Jennifer Kirschenbaum Mark & Vicki Khrumin Lindsey Koob & Therry Vargas Larry & Christine Kramer Kimberly Krantz Jeanne Congdon Leonard Francoise Levine Barbara Lorenz Greg & Barbara MacGillivray Shaun & Katie MacGillivray Gail Massoll & Roger Mangrum Manuella Melchert Jon & Danielle Morris Christiana Nibbe & Richard Rook John Nikelsky & Jeannie Blilie Lisa & Russell Parks Isobel Pelham Amy Rasmussen Ken Ravitz Vicki & Robert Redding Olivia Remijio Shaheen & Linda Sadeghi Joe Sands Dani Sellers Stuart & Cheryl Shapiro Andrew Sieger & Lori Marmolejo Elisa Slee Graham & Bahara Stapelberg Kathy Tanaka Dylan & Kimberly Taylor Jessica & Drew Watkins Dee White Jean Wilson Dolores & Gary Wright Kelley & Heidi York ADVOCATE

John K. Adams Kate Bartholomew Brian Black Anne Caringella Corrainne Carroll Sandy Cestari Colleen Cowell Vipe and Kim Desai Daniel & Elizabeth Evans Heidi Figge Brett Flaherty Andrea Gates Tammy Glossip Dick & Nancy Gray

Craig & Teresa Heberer Becky Heinzen Teresa Howe Sue Jackson Bridget Lanigan Betty Lou Kelly Joyce Kiel Nia Kiel Charles Lenz Christine Maclean Brad Marshall Sean Mastler Janet Miscione Cristie Montgomery Carlene Myers Leslie Nelson Mayra Noveron Jeanette Orel Debbee & Steve Pezman Dick & Shar Pulice Pamela Quigley Laila & Nessa Raiza Debby Rightmire Lisa Rosen Arne Rosencrantz Jane Ryan Pat Ryan Derek & Sibley Sabori Tirzah Schmaltz Alice Schreiner Scott Sporleder Tupper Spring Hannah Day Sullivan Tracie Sullivan Marianne Susong Linda S. Thomas Janice Turner Judy Tyler Jenny Vidal Laura Waite Gary Zegley COMMUNITY

Alex Balazs Marilyn Egler Victoria Foley Robert Hagstrom Idelis Herrera & Kyle Thordarson Elise Higley Matthew Honey Hannelore Inman Andrew Klimkowski Robert Layton Anna Lodder Scott McGregor Samantha McIntosh Jody Pike Erica Rubin Tom William Sue Winterhoff




2011 RECAP:


The Ecology Center believes that thoughtful design, modeled after nature, can create communities that are not only sustainable, but sustaining.

About Evolve I’m happy to introduce the first issue of the new Evolve, a quarterly journal dedicated to sustainable culture. What you’ll find in this and future issues are voices from the ecological movement and notes from our perspective, The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Each issue will celebrate a particular theme, and this winter we’re celebrating Tools for Change. Tools for Change Tools for Change means a few things for us. First, it’s The Center’s new interactive exhibit that highlights the products and day-to-day behaviors that promote sustainability. In this issue of Evolve, though, we’re digging deeper into what Tools for Change means beyond the four walls of the exhibit. We’re exploring the ideas, products, individuals, and organizations working to improve the health and integrity of communities all over the world. We’re looking at “tools” in a bigger context: through rebuilding communities, sharing skills, and connecting resources to make the most meaningful impact. At The Ecology Center, we believe that each of us, in our own special way, has the ability to become a conduit of change. 2011 has been our greatest yet. This past October marked the third anniversary of The Ecology Center. Three years ago, I threw out an idea to a small group of friends who shared my dedication to the environment. The idea was simple: to create a regional hub for sustainability. I wanted to create a place where people could go to learn, ask questions, and meet others who cared about living sustainably. But having lived abroad for almost ten years, I wasn’t sure if Orange County was ready to make an honest effort to improve our communities

and environments. Three years later, though, I am proud to say that what started as an idea has become a reality--a breathing, palpable reality with legs and a heart of its own. Three years old, and we’ve made a ton of progress. Since 2008, we have welcomed over 15,000 visitors to our facility at special events, educational programs and interactive exhibitions. Many have committed to joining us in building a healthy environment, one solution at a time. Over 3,000 have attended our hands-on programs, implementing sustainability in their own lives. With incredibly generous support from our corporate partners, Hurley, The Boeing Company, and SDG&E, our school-based programs have flourished as well. Over 1,500 children have visited The Ecology Center’s Eco-Labs through guided field-trips and our summer EcoCamps. Our plan for 2012 is to nurture and grow. We’re proud of the strides we’ve made; yet we know there’s still much work to do! This is just the beginning of our journey, and we hope you’ll join us. We need your support! One important way you can support our work is by becoming a member of The Ecology Center. Your membership supports our public programming such as Backyard Skills DIY workshops, the Basic Needs summer speaker series, and school-based programs such as Gardens for Life and Eco-Labs field trips. With your help we can build a truly healthy community.

Evan Marks Executive Director 3


Tools for Change In this issue of Evolve, we’re exploring all the different meanings Tools for Change has for us at The Ecology Center: from the unparalleled ideas and the inspiring people who execute them, to the innovative organizations doing the tireless work that’s transforming communities. Tools for Change promotes healthy homes and a sustainable community by connecting people, products, ideas, and resources in five areas of daily life: water, food, waste, energy, and household maintenance. CONNECT THE DROPS

This exhibit demonstrates how water conservation and water recycling at home helps protect our local watersheds and ensures an abundant future supply.




Whether you grow your own food or shop from local farmers, there are many ways to feed your family in a way that’s healthy for them, good for the environment, and economical. WASTE FREE

Reduce waste, recycle, and repurpose to achieve a household that is truly modeled after nature. GOOD ENERGY

Consider simple retrofits to harness renewable energy and efficient technologies. HEALTHY HOME

Ways to create a haven that’s safe and clean for the people who live in it, furnished by sustainably made goods and products, and maintained with practices that are ecologically sound.


01. T  errariums and Terrarium Kits available at Tools for Change 02. T  he Seed Bank offers organic, heirloom seeds in bulk 03. Learn to Grow your Own 04. Connect the Drops 05. Homemade Terrariums 06. Pledge to Grow your Own 07. P  reserving the harvest with homemade pickles and jams 08. C  ommunity pledges to make a difference 09. Our community 10. Building a Healthy Home 04



Tools for Change


The Kids’ Zone is a play area and learning space for young people that encourages creativity, curiosity and ecological awareness. The space features a robust library of children’s books, videos, and other educational resources that celebrate sustainability and impart simple things kids can do to make a difference. 06

Pledge. Do. Share. We believe that real change happens little by little--in the backyards and kitchens of people who care about the environment. Tools for Change is a highly interactive experience that offers opportunities for anyone to make a difference, big or small. The exhibition challenges visitors to:


· p  ledge to make simple, positive changes in daily tasks and choices, · d  o what they promise by implementing or adopting their pledge, and · s hare their new skills and knowledge with friends and neighbors. 07


Mission-driven Spending Every time we consume, we are making a choice that affects the environment in some way. All the things we buy have a story. Tools for Change is designed to encourage visitors to consider where products come from, how they’re made, and essentially, their potential impact on our home and the environment. In addition to being interactive and educational, Tools for Change is a self-sustaining social enterprise venture. The sales of featured household tools, products, and books will directly benefit The Center’s expansive portfolio of unique ecoeducational programming.

Tools For Change is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 AM – 3PM, and by reservation for school groups Mon. through Fri. 10



Profit with a Purpose

Social enterprise can refer to the entire model of an organization, or just one part of its operating structure. Social enterprises can be for-profit businesses or not-forprofit entities that directly address an issue through the products it sells, the services it offers, or the employees themselves. Tools for Change, for instance, educates visitors in ecologically sound living and sustainable consumerism directly through its retail offerings, which in turn fund The Ecology Center’s slate of environmental programs. And while The Center is funded largely by foundations, corporations, and members, the profits from Tools for Change represent one segment--a growing one at that--of its revenue mix. Who says nonprofits need to be nonprofit? Nonprofit is actually a misnomer. A more accurate way to describe charitable organizations like The Ecology Center is not-for-profit. The IRS defines not-for-profit organizations as those that exist to 6



What is Social Enterprise? Social enterprise is a venture designed to achieve a social or environmental mission using business methods. Unlike the conventional nonprofit model, where an organization is largely funded by philanthropic grants and donations, social enterprise is an innovative way for a nonprofit organization to generate the revenue it needs to advance its programs, keep the lights on, and pay its staff.


Tools For Change may look like a gift shop. But it’s so much more —it’s a new way to educate, operate, and achieve a mission.

VALUES serve a charitable purpose—in our case, environmental education. So long as profits do not benefit an individual, but benefit the advancement of the organization’s mission, then social enterprise is a wonderful way for not-for-profits to sustainably generate their own resources and diversify their income stream. Snapshots: Examples of Social Enterprises Goodwill Industries, widely known for their chain of secondhand stores, is a nonprofit organization that provides job training and workforce development, using proceeds from its stores to support programming that serves people with specialized needs, such as people with disabilities, seniors, and people with criminal backgrounds.

Crystal Cove Alliance is a nonprofit partner of the California State Park System and is dedicated to supporting scientific research, restoring and preserving the Crystal Cove Historic District, and presenting public education programs. The Alliance generates nearly 40% of its total operating expenses from rentals of the historic cottages, which are often booked up to 6 months in advance. At a time when the economy is in dire straits, and the state of California’s budget is recovering from epic imbalance, Crystal Cove Alliance’s social enterprise ventures are a truly inspiring model for innovative ways for nonprofits to sustain their own needs.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP Practitioners often differentiate social enterprise from social entrepreneurship, a broader term that includes the diverse individuavproaches to addressing the large-scale social issues that the public and business sectors haven’t adequately addressed--such as poverty, educational inequality, and health care. Rather than adopting a business model to achieve a social mission, social entrepreneurs set out to change the very system in which these problems are fundamentally entangled. Social entrepreneurs include For-Benefit organizations, B Corp companies, and even the Corporate Citizenship and Triple Bottom Line efforts of large companies. Some of the amenities and ways of life we enjoy today can be accredited to history’s most influential social entrepreneurs, including: · John Muir: a naturalist and preservationist who established the National Park System and founded the Sierra Club · Susan B. Anthony: a social activist who fought for women’s suffrage · Florence Nightingale: the founder of modern nursing who established the first nursing school and led efforts to reform hospital conditions

Eco-Lab Launch We believe that children are conduits for change. If you are a teacher or student who would like to visit our Eco-Labs or schedule a trip with The Water Shed, we are excited to host you. (The Eco-Labs are the capstone of The Ecology Center’s learning facilities. Each of the five labs focus on one area of sustainability— food, water, waste, energy, and shelter. Designed to be experienced sequentially, each Eco-Lab station promotes participatory learning, systems thinking, experimentation, and observation.

Our goal this year is to engage 2,500 students through our programs, both on and offsite. Thanks to generous contributions by The Boeing Company, SDG&E, and Hurley, we’re producing Eco-Labs toolkits, bringing interactive ecological programming into classrooms around Orange County. Want to help us reach even more kids? Consider sponsoring a class today.



Goods for Good Living The Ecology Center staff picks their 10 favorite tools for change. All are available for purchase at The Ecology Center 03.

The Ecology Center Klean Kanteen These high-quality, handcrafted bottles are made from food-grade stainless steel with BPA-free bottle caps. We tote ours around and refill all day, everyday. Between the manufacturing and transport of bottled water, it takes nearly seven times the amount of water inside the bottle to make the plastic bottle itself.


Worm Bin With this simple plastic bin, a little newspaper, and a few worms, you can turn trash into treasure. Composting reduces landfill waste while creating nutritious fertilizer for your garden. 02.

d.light solar LED lantern: The d.light was designed to replace kerosene lamps, widely used in households without reliable sources of electricity. It provides up to 8 hours of 360-degree space lighting on a full battery, and can be used at home, workplace, or while traveling. It also serves as a task lamp for studying, working, or cooking.



Sun Oven Solar Oven This solar oven bakes, boils, and steams using a renewable source of energy. It’s easy to use and easy to transport, making it ideal for picnics, camping, or even in the event of a power outage.

Goods for Good Living 05.

Echo Park Pottery + Eco Center mugs When we approached local art icon Peter Shire about carrying his famous Echo Park Pottery mugs in our Tools for Change exhibition, he invited us to make them ourselves! Over 2 days we cut, rolled, shaped, glazed and fired these limited edition EXP + The Ecology Center mugs. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!



In India, tiffin refers to a packed lunch carried to work or school. These stainless steel tiffin carriers are lightweight, easy to clean, easy to carry, and have a lid that doubles as a plate. Best of all, they’re infinitely reusable, helping mitigate tons of plastic and paper waste from the landfill.

We’ve been using Tub Trugs for everything around The Ecology Center, from hauling laundry to organizing our pantry. But our favorite, is how much water it conserves in the kitchen: keeping a tub in the kitchen sink to capture excess water from washing dishes, fruits, and vegetables, and carry the tub to the garden.

Tiffin Carrier

Tub Trug


Beeswax candles Beeswax makes for perfect candles, burning longer and cleaner than ordinary paraffin wax candles, and they produce a warmer glow. 09.

Full Circle natural cleaning set This set, which includes 2 spray bottles, a mixing container, 2 juicers, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a recipe guide, and reusable labels, makes it so easy to make your own household cleaning products. Eliminate toxic chemicals from your home, reduce excessive plastic packaging, and save money!


Garden trowel If you have only one garden tool, it should be a trowel. This one, by Brook & Hunter, is made from the highest quality, hand crafted red oak and stainless steel alloy with a multi-layer polished blade. Its uses are almost inexhaustible--it breaks, stirs, and moves soil, digs out weeds, and excavates and transfers delicate saplings. 9


Tyler Valiquette



If Catapult was immensely successful, we would eventually no longer be needed.. CHRISTIAN:

Your long-term business plan is to go out of business!

We present Tools for Change as an idea that encompasses not only well-designed products, but also individuals from our immediate community and from further afield, whose work and vision act as the very mechanisms for the change we would like to see in the world. Heather Fleming and Tyler Valiquette met in 2007 as volunteers for Engineers Without Borders in San Francisco. Over the following two-years they came to see that a professional outlet for their skills would fill a niche market, and together they started Catapult Design in 2009 —a firm dedicated to developing and implementing human-centered products to serve populations that lack access to life’s basic needs. I spoke with Tyler Valiquette about how providing products and services to traditionally under-served communities can become a viable model for doing business.

Tyler Valiquette was part of our 2011 Basic Needs summer speaker series. We caught up with him to get insights on his work and outlook to development of tools for change.

Christian Beamish: I find it very intriguing that you [at Catapult Design] use engineering to approach the problems facing the developing world—you’re actually building things, whether it’s carts for villagers in Rwanda, or solar panels to run clinics. You use the phrase “an empathetic design approach.” Can you talk about that? Tyler Valiquette: The majority of our efforts are focused on industrial and product design more so than physical engineering. Engineering is very much focused on the “nuts and bolts,” technical aspects of a product, whereas industrial design/product design is much more focused on the end-user and their needs and lives and developing appropriate product solutions to meet those needs. The industrial design side is the more human side, and the engineering is the more technical side, but you have to marry the two if you’re going to have really innovative and meaningful products. So when we talk about having an “empathic approach to design,” we’re really taking a page from the industrial design/ product design schools.



Tyler Valiquette of Catapult Design





01. Handcart prototype with Anza Technologies - Matala, Tanzania 02. A low-cost, durable handcart in action - Matala, Tanzania 03. Bicycles are typically used for transporting water - Matala, Tanzania 04. Basket making - Rwanda 05. Cooking over fire - Rwanda

How does this play out in the actual work you do? We do everything we can to get as good an understanding of the people we’re designing for as possible. We go to the country where they are, spend time with them, visit their homes, visit their work, follow them around, conduct interviews—a whole suite of tools that can be used to try and gain an understanding and a relationship with these people. That’s where we’re really talking about building “empathy.” It’s only through an understanding of what their lives are like, that we can create products that integrate in a meaningful and accessible way to people’s lives. Instead of a purely technical challenge, the challenge is focusing on the people who will be using the product, and how you design something that they want, that they will use, and ultimately pay for. Although you are a non-profit, you seem to operate more like a traditional business. We are a non-profit, but we operate very much like a business. We’re in this gray realm of social entrepreneurship, where we’re taking innovative approaches to addressing these problems we see in the world. We raise revenue from both our non-profit fundraising work as well as from the fees for the services that we provide as a consulting organization. If Catapult was immensely successful, we would eventually no longer be needed, because there would no longer be this issue of people in the developing world who have been under-served by companies and other organizations developing products and providing services. Your long-range vision is to go out of business! But it will be a long time in coming. While we run a lot like a business, we’re also a missiondriven organization. We work with a range of clients from start-ups—social-enterprises, a lot of innovative, very young organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, that are working to

develop products and services for under-served populations around the world—to small nonprofits that have been around for awhile that are looking for a technology focus. We are also looking to work with larger non-governmentalorganizations as well as larger corporations that are looking to develop products for emerging markets. As long as the work matches our mission, which is to develop products for people in the lower-income brackets in the world, then we’re pretty excited about doing that. Catapult charges our clients for our services. We see that as a very important aspect of the work we’re doing. What we’ve seen as volunteers is that when you get that “buy-in” from clients by requiring money for your services, they take the work that you’re doing a lot more seriously. It carries over to the products we’re developing as well. If people receive things for free, they don’t value them as much as if they had to cough-up money for them. Do you have much focus on poverty in the U.S.? We started looking at Navajo issues because they are among the most impoverished populations in the United States. Going into 2012 we have a new emphasis on domestic projects. We’re actively looking for projects in the U.S., whether in remote regions or in our own backyard here in San Francisco. Our office is near the SOMA District—one of the more rough areas of the city. We want to think more innovatively about poverty here in the U.S. Looking at the services that are provided to people is a really exciting area to explore.

RELEVANT: Catapult Design: catapultdesign.org Tyler Valiquette was part of our 2011 Basic Needs summer speaker series, you can see video of the conversation on our you tube page at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheEcologyCenterSJC.



Tuning Into Home Jim Riley and Paul Nagel are two individuals who are committed to being the change they want to see in their communities. While Riley works on native plant restoration in the backcountry, Nagel brings low-cost, healthy and sustainable transportation (a.k.a. the bicycle) to whoever needs one in central Orange County. We highlight their efforts here in celebration of finding the good and building upon it wherever one happens to live.

Paul Nagel The Bicycle Tree

While the coyotes and bobcats, gnatchatchers, verios, pocket mice, arroyo toads and the rest of the creatures of the canyons pursue their hidden lives in the San Mateo Watershed, a volunteer organization performs its work on the opposite side of the county. Led by another local man, 30-year-old Paul Nagel, The Bicycle Tree (www. thebicycletree.org) provides lowcost bike repair and maintenance in the cities of Orange, Santa Ana, and Fullerton, with a core group of about eight volunteers. Since 2005, The Bicycle Tree has set up workshops—at the Victor Manor in Anaheim, the Fullerton Train Station, the Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisans Market, and the East End Promenade in Santa Ana—serving anyone with a bicycle who needs help. “We’re speaking Spanish a lot, and English,” Nagel says by way of explaining the people who come to The Bicycle Tree workshops. Nagel says that he and his colleagues are “interested in directly helping people,” and The Bicycle Tree is a combination of a shared enthusiasm for bicycles as a means of transportation and an outgrowth of earlier volunteer efforts. “We were feeding the homeless,” Nagel says of himself and his colleagues, “prepping meals and bringing them to the park [in Santa Ana], 12

and that situation brought us together.” Through the direct action of weekly workshops, The Bicycle Tree becomes an advocacy group for bicycle awareness in Orange County. With certificates of recognition from the Santa Ana City Council as well as their local representative in the State Senate, The Bicycle Tree has become a welcome member of the community. Indeed, the officials who administer the Promenade in Santa Ana have waived the fees for the organization’s space. Looking forward, Nagel says he hopes the group can raise money for a permanent shop space. “It’s hard to be mobile,” he notes, perhaps understating the difficulty of bike-trailering the tools and parts necessary to run bike repair workshops. But with their own shop, The Bicycle Tree will be able to expand its operations. “We’ll be able to accept bicycle donations,” Nagel explains, “refurbish the bikes for profit and to give to halfway houses and women’s shelters.” A strong sense of social justice drives the group’s work, and its members have attended the Social Justice Summits at CSUF in 2006 and 2007, as well as many local events involving bikes, fitness, and arts and crafts, including (as of mid-December 2011) a workshop for 30 thirdgrade students at Whittier Elementary in Costa Mesa who received bicycles as part of an after-school fitness program in conjunction with the Newport Mesa YMCA, CHOC, and others. With sufficient funding—a portion of which

could come from a foundation and from individual donors—Nagel would like to run the Bicycle Tree full-time. Considering the potential for a meaningful, ongoing impact in the communities his group serves, one hopes that like Jim Riley and the support that the San Mateo Creek Conservancy enjoys from the California State Parks, some combination of agencies, businesses and individuals will coalesce to establish a permanent home for The Bicycle Tree in Orange County.

Jim Riley

San Mateo Creek Conservancy The gasoline and diesel-fueled roar of Southern California, overlaid with a ceaseless electronic thrum and all manner of human activity, is but one aspect of the life of this place. As the world “above” goes through its noisy machinations, a separate economy, entirely self-sustaining, functions in the San Mateo Watershed. From its origins in the Santa Ana Mountains, down to its shoreline terminus at Upper Trestles, a system of creeks and tributaries supports a dynamic community of plants and animals in the midst of one of the world’s most densely populated regions. Much of the Watershed is inaccessible to the general public as it travels between the privately held Rancho Mission Viejo and the Marine Corps base of Camp Pendleton. But one stretch of San Mateo Creek is open to the public (thanks to the California State Parks and the U.S. Marines), accessible from the southeastern-most corner of the city of San Clemente, at the end of Avenida La Pata, just beyond the municipal dog park. Here, a


network of trails laces rolling hills and arroyos and leads down to the San Mateo creek bed, where 50-foot sycamores reflect the changing seasons in the colors of their leaves. Walking here in the past year, one noticed that the upper plateau had been steadily cleared of tall weeds and pampas grass, and re-planted with native species like coyote brush and monkey flower. The effect was at once expansive—the land felt as though it had been “opened”— as well as cozier somehow in the variety of the native plants and the improved habitat they provide. One assumed, naturally, that this was State Parks work. But on a November morning in 2011, climbing the hill back from the creek bottom, a trail walker would have come across a fit-looking man in shorts, t-shirt, and sun visor, working alone, digging holes and planting native starts from one-gallon buckets with no badge or uniform of any sort. That man is Jim Riley, founder of the San Mateo Creek Conservancy (www.trestleswetlands.org), which, at this point, can claim distinction as perhaps the only one-person organization to spur the California State Parks into renewed restoration efforts. At first glance, the Mixed Chaparral Scrub habitat of these hills does not illicit the response that other, more spectacular natural areas of California might—areas like Yosemite, or Joshua Tree—yet the beauty and mystery of Southern California’s remaining coastal backcountry lies in its subtlety, and in the ways that its charms unfold only once one immerses oneself in the terrain: A bend in the creek reveals an open meadow, a red tail hawk surveying her hunting grounds from her perch on a fence post; the gnarled old trunk of a coast live oak tree; the heady smell of sage rising with the afternoon heat; the clear flow of the creek over its stony bottom. With extensive backpacking experience in North America and abroad (including trekking in the Himalayas), Riley mentioned that having grown up in Southern California, he had considered this area as having been lost to over-development. But he began to see the region differently when he explored the upper reaches of the watershed, including Cristianitos Creek, and re-discovered the unique qualities of Coastal Scrub habitat. His website hosts a number of short videos that he has made in the San Mateo Watershed, and they amount to visual poems with a voice-over narration that explains the species that inhabit this ecosystem. There are also detailed proposals of conservation work to be done, all of which is a remarkable undertaking for one man to have achieved. Clearly motivated by a place that has inspired him, Jim Riley is an advocate and a hands-on agent of change and rejuvenation for an area hemmed-in by development and hard-use. While the proposed 241 toll road, slated to run through the Watershed, has been put on hold by popular opposition, the Toll Road “Agency” (as the private corporation calls itself ) still lobbies with considerable assets to complete their project. Rancho Mission Viejo has development plans for the ridge area above Talega Creek (a tributary of San Mateo Creek), and if these proposals proceed, this last un-channeled, truly wild, wilderness corridor in Southern California will be forever altered. As Wallace Stegener wrote in his letter to Congress in 1969: Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed…and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence… We need wilderness preserved—as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds —because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it.

Four Books.

From living small to living well, here’s what we’ve been reading.

“Knowledge,” Sir Francis Bacon famously wrote, “is power.” As part of our gathering of “Tools for Change” in this issue of Evolve, we include four books that provide a homesteader’s understanding of the domestic arts for the more town-based among us!

New to The Ecology Center store: One title from Storey Publishing, and three from Blackdog and Leventhal Publishers form a neat series that not only foster dreams but also show the way to realizing them. The first, Compact Cabinsby Gerald Rowan, serves up 62 plans for cabins ranging from the “Micro Cabin With Outdoor Closet,” which, at 240 square feet, has “a roomy closet […] useful if you have a lot of fishing, hunting, boating, or other gear to store,” to “Jean’s Run Cabin” that sleeps six on a long weekend, with a loft “accessible by a narrow-profile ship’s ladder.” My soon-to-be-wife, Natasha Elliott, said such an arrangement would never work for her, as she would not like to descend and then climb a “ship’s ladder” in the night… such is the outlook for remote cabins in this family! At any rate, for the person in your life who could pull off the construction of a small, well-crafted cabin that blends with its surroundings and utilizes local materials as much as is practical, Compact Cabins may well be the book to kick start the process.

The books from Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers—Country Wisdom Almanac, Craft Wisdom and Know-How, and Survival Wisdom and Know-How—are worthy companion-titles to Mr. Rowan’s Cabins, with suggestions, and, in-places, detailed instruction in the art of country-living, grounded in an ethos of making-do with the materials at hand. From the Almanac (Tip # 66, of 373): “Grow Your Own Mulch—Don’t overlook the possibility of cutting a green manure crop and using it as mulch in another part of your garden.” Additionally, Craft Wisdom provides instructions for projects ranging from candle making to building rustic furniture, while Survival Wisdom is a compilation of tried-and-true techniques for wilderness subsistence. Although these volumes speak to a more rustic existence than most of us who are connected to The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano probably have, they are, nevertheless, valuable resources for reacquainting ourselves with the basic skills for “homemaking” in the most essential sense of the word. —Christian Beamish 13


Graft Lab.

Our resident exptert talks fruit tree pruning and grafting.

Dr. Doug Hibbard

California Rare Fruit Tree Growers How did you get into fruit tree pruning and grafting and how long have you been doing it? I’ve been doing both for about 20 years now. My grandparents were gardeners and, though I was gardening a lot before that, I realized it’s easier to grow fruit than veggies. I wanted to learn to grow as many things as I could on our property so I got involved with the California Rare Fruit Tree Growers - they were the best source for what would grow in our area.

Why did you decide to propagate your own, what grafting techniques are there and which do you use most? The goal of fruit gardening is variety or diversity, not necessarily quantity. Grafting allows us to create far more variety of fruit in a smaller space. The grafting technique I use the most, because its easiest, is called cleft grafting, where you insert the scion (fruiting wood) into the root stock. This is the technique we used in the workshop at The Ecology Center last year and will use again this year. I have also bark grafted and done t-budding, both of which are tougher to do. Using the t-budding technique, I was able get the Gravenstein variety from my grandparent’s land years after their farm was torn down.

ALSO: Learn more about fruit tree pruning and grafting in February’s Backyard Skills offering. Fruit Tree Pruning and Grafting / February 18th / 1PM Learn the basic principles of fruit tree grafting, pruning, and care. Instructor: Doug Hibbard. Material Fee: $10 (Includes a grafted apple tree.)

Has the art or technique of it changed much over time, or since you’ve been involved? Not since I’ve been doing it, but it has changed in the last 30 years or so with the use of Parafilm – a wax tape that’s actually used more in the surgical industry. It creates a little greenhouse that allows the grafting wound to heal without drying out. Why is it important for people to learn more about fruit tree care and culture? The number 1 reason is taste and health of the fruit – growing your own is far superior to buying at the market. Number 2, the real joy of grafting and pruning, is that it connects us to seasonal changes throughout the year because each 01.

part of the process has to be done in it’s own time. Also, it’s really fun to be able to grow varieties that you can’t find in the market, like my grandparent’s Gravenstien apple. The number 3 major benefit is that you can have a lot of variety in a little space, which greatly extends your season - if you do it right, you can be eating fresh apples from late May to January (in California). It’s also important to continue saving heirloom varieties that would otherwise be lost. With these techniques, could we reforest our communities with edible plants and trees? Absolutely, especially in this area. Grafting images and instrcutions from “Grafting and Propagating Fruit Trees” published by Penn State.


Cleft Graf Basics: The scion is prepared by making a tapering cut 1 to 2 inches long on each side (1). The stock is cut off squarely (2) and split vertically (3) with a knife or cleft grafting tool to a depth of about 2 to 3 inches. Keep the knife in position (4) or insert a chisel to keep the split open and insert the scions (5). 03.

All exposed surfaces are waxed or coated immediately. Usually, no wrapping is needed because the stock exerts sufficient pressure to hold the scions; however, wrapping the stock will ensure a tighter connection and less chance for the scion to be bumped out of the stock. 04.


TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Pruning shears Pruning saw Parafilm Sharp knife/ box cutter Block planar Electrical tape



The Calendar FEBRUARY

18 Backyard Skills: Fruit Tree Pruning + Grafting Learn backyard fruit tree care 101, and bring home a grafted apple tree to plant, 1pm. 25 F  ree Yoga with Yoga Works at The Ecology Center / 4pm

MARCH 3 B  ackyard Skills at Center for Living Peace - Homemade Cleaning Products: Eliminate the toxins in your home by making your own cleaning products. 1pm. 10 Tools of the Trade: Beekeeping Talk and Honey Tasting With resident beekeeper Diane Wyzga. FREE.1pm.

17 B  ackyard Skills: Natural Fabric Dyeing Learn to extract natural dyes from local plants to create your very own set of hand kerchiefs. 1pm. 22 W  orld Water Day All day festivities, TBD. 24 Tools of the Trade: Household Water Retrofitting-Greywater & Rainwater With Evan Marks. FREE. 1pm. 24 Free Yoga with Yoga Works at The Ecology Center. 4pm.

22 W  e Are Earth Day potluck and yoga with Yoga Works. FREE. 4pm. 28 Tools of the Trade: Compost Production and Use With Erik Sykes of Organics Alive. FREE.1pm.


Tools of the Trade In collaboration with our new exhibition Tools for Change, Tools of the Trade is a FREE roundtable series in which local experts in a variety of fields will share useful skills and unique insights related to sustainable living.

7 B  ackyard Skills at Center for Living Peace - Natural Tie Dyeing Learn to tie-dye t-shirts from natural plant dyes. 1pm. 14 I Am Earth Day Festival A celebration of lifestyle; eat local, surf clean, do yoga. Join us for a full-day worth of family-fun! FREE.10am-4pm.

Be part of the solution

ONGOING EVENTS: Tools for Change / General Store Hours: Saturdays + Sundays 11am to 3pm House and Garden Tours First Saturdays of each month, 1pm. Weekend Happenings Activities for children and adults including tastings, storytelling, small crafts and much more!

Join us one Saturday a month to learn about topics such as beekeeping, backyard chickens, greywater systems, sustainable stimulants and more. Dates and times vary each month; please check TheEcologyCenter.org for more details.

The Ecology Center is founded on the principle that people can make a difference. We believe that individual actions can transform the community, elevating the health of our environment for future generations. Become a member today and enjoy the benefits all year long. COMMUNITY (STUDENT) $25 One-year subscription to Evolve, The Ecology Center’s Quarterly publication Discounted pricing on programs and classes ADVOCATE (INDIVIDUAL) $50 Latest edition of The Ecology Center tote bag STEWARD (FAMILY) $100 10% off purchases at Tools for Change SUSTAINER $250 2 free tickets to our Summer Speaker Series “Backyard Skills”, The Ecology Center’s first publication featuring recipes for sustainable living such as worm bin, rain barrel and solar oven construction, and sprouting, terrarium design and non-toxic, homemade cleaning tips. GUARDIAN $500 10% off purchases at South Coast Farmstand VISIONARY $2500 Year-end private event at The Ecology Center The Ecology Center is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


The Ecology Center

EcoCenter Inc. 32701 Alipaz St. San Juan Capistrano CA 92675



EARTH DAY FESTIVAL Join us for our fourth-annual earth day festival, complete with homegrown organic vegetable seedlings, jug music, delicious food and a scavenger hunt for the entire family!

Profile for The Ecology Center

Evolve / Issue 05 / Tools For Change  

An eco-journal of obtainable and sustainable solutions curated by The Ecology Center

Evolve / Issue 05 / Tools For Change  

An eco-journal of obtainable and sustainable solutions curated by The Ecology Center