Im working with Brook Sarson at H2OME in Southern California and for 7 years we have been installing rainwater harvesting and greywater systems for residential houses. We are doing what we can to beat the drought by capturing and reusing water for the landscape. Business is good but we NEED to have more of an impact to beat this drought, create biodiversity, and sequester carbon on a LARGER scale.
What can we do to have more of an impact?
How can we reach more homeowners and like-minded individuals? I don't want to "sell" this concept to people. I want them to understand the benefits and how easy it is to implement.
We run workshops and meet ups at least once a month. The next two are:
You know ... what put me over the edge of realizing earthworks and cisterns are a good thing is all the work that Brad Lancaster has done. I read both of his books and seen a ton of videos he made. The reason why I did that, mostly, is because I saw one of his videos early on. This video is about 8.5 minutes and is on youtube so anyone can see it. I suggest, anyone interested in your systems should see this first.
I got to thinking a little bit more about your post, so, I decided to research the resources of San Diego and who does what and why.
Wow, nice city. You guys are near the ocean so it looks like you are the last defense for keeping water on the land before it goes to the sea. In general, the permaculture way is to try to manage water in a watershed starting at the highest part then working your way down. That works if the land is owned by 1 owner or if everyone agrees. It would be difficult to do that. So, I suggest a different multi-pronged approach.
Simple start. Create a logo and paste it everywhere. This logo should be as recognizable to the citizens of San Diego as the Nike. If you have a brick and mortar, put that symbol there. Make that property an example of what can be done (gutters, rain gardens, Cisterns, earthworks, grey water systems, etc). Make your partners (the plumbers, the gutter people, Good Neighbor gardens, the permaculture place and so on) also examples of your co-ordinated efforts. Then the homes of the employees. And a little sign of the logo in all those locations.
Master Free Resources: OK. You guys use a bunch of plastics and glue and stuff to have cisterns, gutters, piping and so on. If you do earthworks, you may also have machines to make bio-swales, gabions, rain gardens and filtration basins. However, besides the machines and plastic you also use organic matter as mulch, compost or just good top soil. I suggests having some property around the city to collect and process the free resources you can get.
Where are the free resources? All over the place. People throw it away. However, to make the biggest impact, I would see if there is a way to help (or follow) the city workers in this video. You could help them take the debris from a storm as it happens (giving the home owner the choice to keep it. What ever the resource, I suggest, you do not transport it very far (less than 2-3 miles). Meanwhile the logo can be seen on the truck working with the city.
White Knight:. The sites mentioned above are the ones that are flooding or damaged. Taking the debris away helps the city and they will be grateful. However, what will make them more grateful is showing them you can prevent the floods themselves by a little creative landscaping. If you can save the city the overtime paying these "flood patrols" by putting in passive systems, they will be more grateful. I submit this video and this video as evidence that when it rains there are floods in San Diego. What a waste of water (notice in the second video the "flood patrol" guys from the city).
If you create solutions in these places (through landscaping and earthworks and stuff), I would again, put a small sign with the logo there. Funding? Well, that is important. No one works for free. You could do this to build good will with the city and get the brand (your brand) more recognized if you want. However, since this is California's #1 problem, I may look into getting some grant money from the state, or the county, or even the city..
The main point is to find the places where you get the most flood reduction impact and the most visibility. To that end, I submit Figure 1. This is the intersection of MLK Jr and I 805. In this picture, there is also a cemetery (with lots of trees) some churches and schools. I suggest you find a way to "adopt" this intersection. Find ways to use the trees and landscape of the road to "eliminate" any flooding that might occur. 100's of thousands of people go through this intersection every year (many going to work). If that logo was on a few signs at this "adopted" intersection, people would see it on the drive, especially if there are slow downs. Trimming the trees (and chipping) could provide valuable ground cover for this area (so would some bio-swales). This would be the ultimate "demonstration" site for your stuff. Likewise, the cemetery will cull trees and sometimes trim them. You should get that resource. Bring them to the local churches and help them (at low or no cost) create water saving landscaping. All the while, the logo can be seen at the church and your name on the mouth of the preacher.
Other Places to be known: When people think your business is cool, they will tell their friends and even blog, vlog, and use other social media to let their friends know who you are, and how cool you are. I would follow the local links here to try to get your name, logo, blurb, etc into their literature. Kinda like how you are featured on the San Diego Sustainable Living ... web site.
Advertising: Besides the stuff mentioned above, I would create a radio and TV champain and put it on neither. Kinda. Be interviewed in a podcast or by a radio station. Put a video on youtube, with the intent to put it on the TV one day, if it happens it happens. Make the video short and the message clear. Participate in local forums. You might find something on Craigslist or Reddit to participate on that would be more local to San Diego (not international like premies.com). With all of this advertising show to everyone you are the expert and honest choice for them (and make that true!!!).
Legal: You probably have read the city ordinances on this stuff, but to make sure you are above board, I would read them about Storm Water and about grey water (look at the same url to find it).
I also suggest you look up some of the description as to what the Intersection of MLK Jr and I-805.
That is a brief look at your wonderful city. I hope this is helpful for your future endeavors in the city.
Permaculture People - Good; Evil People - Bad; Evil Permaculture People - Trolls.
Location: San Diego County, CA (9a) ~15-18"precip/yr
posted 3 years ago
Great ideas Donald.
Greg, I don't think I have met you before but I know Brook and much of the SD permie circle like Ecology Artisan crew, etc.
I am born and raised in SD and do lots of permaculture stuff. For one, I make and install pre-cast modular ferrocement water tanks for rainwater harvesting systems. Also building a permaculture education and demonstration site out in Ramona.
I totally have the same question as you and think about it a lot, not that I have an answer though! I am happy to see changes as more people around SD, and greater areas, adopt some permaculture practices.
A significant portion starts with education because most people just don't have any idea that these permaculture tools exist let alone a grasp of the underlying ecological functions that run the systems.
I absolutely love the work that the Watershed Management Group is doing in Tucson. I’m sure you know of them. They are doing such an awesome job at educating people and are getting so much done related to local water. I would love to see a group like them here in SD. I know you guys at h2ome and josh with his education stuff through SDSLI and Aldin at Sky Mountain, etc. are all doing great work too but WMG just seems to be doing SO much. They do have Brad L. there that helps and especially a good sized and organized and motivated staff. WMG does a lot of marketing and outreach and they have been doing it longer than we have here in SD, at least at a more organized level. For example, curb cuts are just starting to happen here in SD whereas Tucson has been doing it awhile. And that has taken education. Education for the public and to convince the government that these things work and make a difference on so many levels.
I am so happy to be here in SD where this change in happening and I love and appreciate the work we are all doing. I think we all need to get this information out there as much as possible. More internet videos, news stories, etc. The internet can spread ideas so fast. Maybe we need an overarching permaculture-type group that organizes our collective efforts to reach more people.
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