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Watershed Arts Center

The RisingLeaf Watershed Arts Center will reflect a living, indigenous understanding of the natural world and a site-specific application of the following ecological organizing principles articulated by Sim Van der Ryn:

These principles are...

1. The best solutions are arrived at by paying attention to the unique qualities of a given place.

2. Direct and indirect environmental costs of design decisions are traced using ecological accounting.

3. Work with nature's processes of regeneration, thus transforming maker and user.

4. Everyone is a designer; each voice in the design process needs to be honored.

5. Make nature’s cycles and processes visible in the design of the constructed place.

RisingLeaf has been working with architect, Craig Henritzy, from Berkeley on conceptual designs for the Watershed Arts Center. Craig Henritzy created his own interpretation of the RisingLeaf vision of the center for the Watershed Festival held in May 2004. He is also engaging his students from the San Francisco Academy of Art/School of Architecture and the San Francisco Institute of Architecture to create designs for the center. These designs provide rich ideas that can be incorporated through a community-based process into the actual center. Steps are being taken to form a team to carry out the needs of establishing the center.

“By explicitly taking ecology as the basis of design, we can vastly diminish the environmental impacts of everything we make and build.”

“Ecological design brings natural flows to the foreground.  It celebrates the flow of water on the landscape, the rushing wind, the fertility of the earth, the plurality of species, and the rhythms of the sun, moon, and tides.  It renders the invisible visible, allowing us to speak of it and carry it in our lives.  It brings us back home.  As the elements of our survival - the provenance of our food and energy, the veins of our watershed, the contours of our mountains - become vivid and present once again, they ground us in our place.  We are given news of our region and the comings and goings of our fellow species.  Ultimately, ecological design deepens our sense of place, our knowledge of both its true abundance and its unsuspected fragility.”

“Such design cannot be the work of experts only.  It is ultimately the work of a sustainable culture, one skilled in reweaving the multiple layers of natural and human design.  Ecological designers are facilitators and catalysts in the cultural processes underlying sustainability.”

Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan
Ecological Design

The center will demonstrate natural systems by employing permaculture design, native plant restoration, innovative water catchment and treatment systems, and alternative energy. To encourage transportation alternatives, use of bicycles and the Monterey-Salinas Transit system will be promoted along with providing a shuttle system as needed. Parking for cars will be off-site.

As water is the essence of all life, watershed education will provide the focus for all of the center's outreach. Programs and workshops will feature local and visiting nature writers and artists, place-based educators, bioregional thinkers, theatrical performers, and musicians. Additional events will be organized on topics ranging from restoration of habitats in the Carmel River Watershed, to whole-systems design, and biodynamic agriculture.

The Rising Leaf Watershed Arts Center will house an arts and ecology library, bookstore, and gallery which will highlight various projects. Native plants will be for sale to encourage their use in gardening and landscape restoration. A demonstration, energy-efficient kitchen will be designed for teaching about and celebrating the food grown at the center.

The Carmel River Valley, with its unique and diverse habitats, is an historical landscape that is fast disappearing. This valley deserves a watershed arts center, for through its dynamic presence, local citizens and visitors can strive to be better stewards of these threatened lands upstream from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Through relationship-building, education, and action, the center can bring to bear the native intelligence, scientific understanding, and commitment required to solve the interrelated social, and environmental problems facing our culture.

"As the Assemblymember for the 27th District, I fully support the goals
of RisingLeaf Watershed Arts and their proposal to establish a
Watershed Arts Center in Carmel Valley. Water, of course, is one of the
most important resources we have. Creative approaches such as those
undertaken by RisingLeaf Watershed Arts will be necessary component as
we address our water needs." -- Assemblyman John Laird, 2004


RisingLeaf Watershed Arts is a 501(c)(3) public benefit organization.
Contributions are tax-deductible in accord with California and IRS regulations.
Tax ID #74-3065745

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