Guide to Building Rain Gardens out of Recycled Concrete

May 30, 2011 § 4 Comments

Left side of urbanite rain garden 1-pager I drew in 2008, click for full page

A flash from the past! I created this 8-page Landscape Rainwater Harvesting booklet for a workshop I taught the summer of 2008. The class was held June 14th 2008 at Los Angeles Eco-Village. The main activity was building las trincheras – an urbanite-terraced rainwater harvesting garden that I wrote about here a while back – and in this vid. It’s funny, the workshop was pre-creekfreak – the month before Jessica and I got started with L.A. Creek Freak in July 2008.

Right side of rain garden page - click for full page, link for full booklet in blog text

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News and Events – 17 July 2009

July 17, 2009 § 2 Comments

Some Recent News of Interest to us Creek Freaks:

Alternet: Rainwater harvesting genius Brad Lancaster on rainwater dryland farming in Tucson. See also this article about Tucson’s new rainwater harvesting law.

EGP News: Hazard Park wetlands get shocking and unfortunate extreme brush clearance.

Legal Planet: More on the nexus and navigability stuff, Legal Planet thinks that stretches of the river cannot be deemed non-navigable simply because the Corps refuses to let people boat on it.

Los Angeles Eco-Village: L.A. Creek Freak’s neighbor had a good time  at Cornerstone Theater Company’s Touch the Water – A River Play and blogged about it here.

Long Beach Post: How to keep trash out of the Los Angeles River

Charley Harper killdeer artwork (from LASHP blog)

Charley Harper killdeer artwork (from LASHP blog)

Los Angeles State Historic Park: Nearly twitterly details of the saga of a killdeer couple and their nest, and eggs turning into baby killdeerlings, here1, here2, here3, here4here5 and pretty much missing from here6.  My favorite part was the cool artwork they ran by Charley Harper.

Men’s Journal: More coverage on George Wolfe‘s kantakerous kayak.

Pasadena Now: Maybe for L.A. Creek Freak’s one-year birthday, someone could give a couple of copies of the city of Pasadena’s new map of the Arroyo Seco.

Santa Monica Baykeeper: Students, teachers and volunteers are stewarding Stone Canyon Creek, which runs along UCLA Lab School.

Spouting Off: The Santa Monica Bay Watershed is one block healthier with the opening of the city of Santa Monica’s new green street: Bicknell Avenue between Barnard and Nielson.

Events, too: [updated 7/17 1pm]

On Friday July 24th, the Audubon Center at Debs Park will host a river film night.  It includes two shorts about the Arroyo Seco, Stream Spirit Rising (Featuring the Arroyo Seco’s North Branch Creek tributary and L.A. Creek Freak’s very own Jessica Hall)  and A River’s Journey to Rebirth (about the  reintroduction of Arroyo Chub in the Arroyo Seco,) followed by FLOW.

The city of Los Angeles is hosting a couple of meetings to update the public on river plans and projects: Tuesday July 28th at 1pm and 5:30pm at the Los Angeles River Center.

News and Upcoming Events – April 9 2009

April 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

Artist Linda Gass Wetlands Dream Quilt - click image to see more of her work

Wetlands Dream quilt by artist Linda Gass - click image to see more of her work - copyright Linda Gass

Creeky News:

>Rainwater harvester Brad Lancaster tours the Tujunga Wash Greenway and Stream Restoration Project.   More on the water harvesting front: Alternet tells about multi-benefit rainwater harvestingin Africa; the L.A. Times explores harvesting rainwater in Downtown Los Angeles.  Lancaster’s blog features a very good guest blog entry by Julia Fonseca critiqueing the use of crushed rock (decomposed granite.)

>Frederick Reimers‘ excellent article about the Los Angeles River kayak expedition is finally on the web (after appearing in print last December in Plenty magazine).

>Minnesota Public Radio talks about why the Red River floods Fargo.  (Thanks Judith Lewis.)

>The L.A. Times reports that California may approve new more civilized greywater regulations.  Creek Freak Joe Linton is still loving his unpermitted greywater system.

And for bridge geeks only:
>Bridge Photo of the Day blogger is working his way down the Los Angeles River
>Is Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge over the Arroyo Seco haunted?

 Freaky Events:

Cheong Gye Cheon river in Seoul South Korea - Photo: Wikimedia

Cheong Gye Cheon river in Seoul South Korea - Photo: Wikimedia

Dr. In-Keun Lee,  Assistant Mayor of Infrastructure of Seoul, South Korea, will be giving a talk about the dramatic revitalization of the Cheong Gye Cheong.  Seoul, South Korea, actually removed a dozen lanes of double-decked highway to daylight the historic creek that was buried below.  The free open-to-the-public talk takes place from 2:30pm-3:30pm on Friday April 17th, 2009 at the Edward R. Roybal Board of Public Works Session Room (Room 350) at Los Angeles City Hall – 200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California 90012.  Entrance is on Main Street.  Easy access from the Metro Red Line Civic Center Station.

Bloggers Joe Linton and Damien Newton teach you how to use lots of cool free stuff on the web at our Internet Skills Class on Tuesdays April 21st and 28th.

President Obama invites you to clean-up the Los Angeles River at Taylor Yard on Saturday April 25th.  Then go back and do it again at Friends of the Los Angeles River’s La Gran Limpieza at more than a dozen sites on Saturday May 9th.

Bike the Emerald Necklace on the San Gabriel River and the Rio Hondo with the city of El Monte’s Tour of Two Rivers bike rally on Saturday May 16th.  Then bike the Los Angeles River on the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s River Ride on Sunday June 7th.

Brad Lancaster Water Harvesting Talk

September 17, 2008 § 7 Comments

Water harvesting guru Brad Lancaster delivered a smart, silly and inspiring presentation in Santa Monica last Monday.  Creek Freak braved the Wilshire Rapid bus to bring you, our dear readers, this exclusive review.

blurry cell phone picture of Brad Lancaster pouring water

blurry cell phone picture of Brad Lancaster pouring water on model house

He opened his talk with a clever and telling demonstration.  Lancaster used a watering can to pour water on a small model house and yard made of impermeable metal.  Water predictably drained off the roof and yard.  He added two thimble-sized plastic cups (visible as two white spots in the above photo) representing cisterns to catch roof water.  Some excess runoff diminished.  He added kitchen sponges (visible as a light green line in the above photo) to represent the rainwater storage in earthworks.  Using a clear measuring cup, he demonstrated that capturing water in the sponges, that is in earthworks in the ground, has ten times greater capacity than even the cisterns.  This is a truth we learn from nature.  Healthy river systems have approximately 15 times the amount of water underground as they do on the surface.

Lancaster then reviewed the degradation of his hometown Tucson’s degradation of the Santa Cruz River watershed, his 8 principles of rainwater harvesting, graywater basics, and then a phenomenal photo tour of rainwater harvesting features from streets to homes to orchards to kinetic sculptures.  Especially dramatic is the changes to his own street, where Lancaster was able to make small curb cuts to water native mesquite trees in the public right-of-way.  The before and after images go from moonscape to eden.  Wow!  I’ll try to get my hands on them and post here.  Let’s do this in Los Angeles!  Tomorrow!

Lancaster advocates the simple-elegant passive in-tune-with-nature water harvesting techniques that resonate most strongly with me.  No pumps.  No tanks, no filters (on graywater.)  Keep things visible, clear, legible.  Reveal stormwater.  Slow it. Spread it. Soak it.

While Lancaster’s books are excellent and I highly recommend them, it’s even more fun to see him in person as you catch his enthusiasm.  I had a great time seeing him (though some of his puns are bit silly including “a bun dance” for “abundance”), now I’m excited to go forth and harvest more of the rain!  Fall is the most rewarding time for these projects; it’s the time to plant perennials and natives and you get to see the rain fall filling your work.  Start small, but get started soon!

Brad Lancaster Speaking in Santa Monica this Monday

September 12, 2008 § Leave a comment

Brad Lancaster

Brad Lancaster

One of creek freak’s heroes is speaking locally this Monday. Brad Lancaster, Tucson-based author of two excellent books on rainwater harvesting, will be speaking at 6:30pm on Monday September 16th at the Santa Monica Main Library, located at 601 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401. The free event is hosted by the group Westside Permaculture Gathering. Brad recently began the Drop In A Bucket blog.

As I mentioned to an elite few of you in an earlier blog, Brad’s books are excellent. I especially recommend Volume 2 which is a very clear step-by-step guide for building small and large scale earthworks that slow and infiltrate water in your neighborhood. The methods Lancaster advocates are all very passive – working with nature and gravity – instead of energy-intensive pumping and filtering. They’re also based in his concern for stopping degradation he has observed in Tucson’s Santa Cruz River. This book inspired this creek freak to work with my neighbors to create “las trincheras” – a series of small water-harvesting garden terraces in the front yard of the Los Angeles Eco-Village apartment building where I live. I’ll show off pictures of las trincheras soon right here on this blog.

Thanks to the good folks at the Homegrown Evolution blog for tipping me off to this event. I highly recommend their book, too.

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