[Sdpg] At this gallery, green is primary, Permaculture Folks in Bay area create a public space gallery
Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
lakinroe at silcom.com
Tue Aug 21 07:29:51 PDT 2007
At this gallery, green is primary, Permaculture Folks in Bay area
create a public space gallery
'Living roof' tops Berkeley space
Nancy Davis Kho, Special to The Chronicle
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
There's a new resource for homeowners, architects, designers and
eco-activists in the Bay Area interested in practicing
sustainability: the Green City Gallery.
Opened July 22 on Shattuck Avenue, near the Downtown Berkeley BART
Station, it is a joint effort by Bay Localize, an Oakland nonprofit
that focuses on regional self-reliance and ecological sustainability,
and DIG Cooperative, a building group that focuses on helping members
achieve a greener lifestyle.
The goal is to demonstrate how conservation, recycling and reuse can
be brought into homes and businesses.
Babak Tondre, a permaculture teacher at DIG Cooperative and a gallery
curator, said, "This is an eco-design showcase; we want to mainstream
green technology by making it more visible."
Tondre said visitors to the gallery will leave with an "action
package" of ideas for making sustainable design part of their lives.
The gallery's organizers were given a generous lease from a neighbor
up the street, developer Soheyl Modarressi of the gourmet takeout
hotspot Epicurious Garden.
"We made a presentation to Soheyl on how he could create a 'living
roof' for Epicurious Garden, providing food production, water
catchment and solar energy," Tondre said. "He was so impressed that
he challenged us to use this space for the summer, to show the public
what's being done" with green technology.
The organizers had two months in which to pull the exhibits together.
The bare-bones, slightly run-down space is highlighted by a model
living roof that stretches from corner to corner of the gallery's
front window. Visitors can study the rooftop garden design, a smaller
version of the approach that will be used on the 2.5-acre living roof
being installed on top of the California Academy of Science's new
building in Golden Gate Park.
There's also a display of habitiles, a modular vertical tiling system
from designer Aurora Mahassine. These porous tiles have pockets for
soil and plants and are designed to be hung on the outside of urban buildings.
"The habitiles are like living downspouts; they collect water and
provide a habitat for birds and butterflies," Tondre said.
Other exhibits ringing the large gallery focus on green power and
energy; natural building techniques; constructed wetlands; and gray
water systems, which channel water from sinks, showers and washing
machines into the garden.
Tondre points out that "for plants with a certain root depth, this
diverted gray water irrigation reduces the need for sprinklers,"
particularly helpful during a dry year such as this one.
A second advantage is that it reduces the amount of water that must
be treated. With enough participation, Tondre suggested the East Bay
Municipal Utility District could consider a gray water rebate
program, which would credit homeowners and businesses for diverting
water from its treatment plants.
One of the most intriguing exhibits sits in the middle of the
gallery. On one side is a toilet with a garden sprouting from behind
its tank, and on the other is a urinal with a similarly lush plot of
plants behind it.
It is the "PeePeePonics" installation, designed by Nik Bertulis of
DIG Cooperative. The design channels urine and feces through
specially chosen plants that act as filters, cleaning the output by
consuming toxins and effluents and converting it to nitrogen-rich
nourishment for the plants themselves.
The gallery also features art created from recycled materials or
reflecting the natural environment, such as "Thunderbird Calls for a
Meeting of the Ways" by Christina Bertea, constructed entirely of
recycled materials, including a hibachi grill.
The gallery will act as a hub for urban sustainability. According to
gallery events organizer Kat Steele, there's a speaker series in
conjunction with SOULutioneers, an organization leading the
permaculture movement. Permaculture is an approach to designing human
settlements that mimic the structure and interrelationship of natural
ecologies. It encompasses agriculture, architecture, land access,
legal and economic systems.
The gallery will also play host to the Berkeley Green Drinks Group,
an informal networking and social event for players in the
"We want the gallery to be a hub for workshops, networking and social
interactions for the sustainability community," Steele said.
One challenge facing the Green City Gallery is funding. Epicurious'
Modarressi extended the group's lease through September after seeing
the number of enthusiastic visitors at the gallery's opening. Beyond
that, however, the gallery's organizers have to raise funds to stay
in their present location or find another suitable space.
"We're in the process of planning an Aug. 24 fundraising gala,"
Steele said, adding that donations to the gallery are welcome at any time.
Given the precarious nature of the Green City Gallery's future, it's
worth a summer field trip - for homeowners, architects and designers
- to brush up on real-life sustainable design techniques.
-- Green City Gallery, 1950 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley,
digcity.coop/greencitygallery . Open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. thr
-- Bay Localize: www.baylocalize.org
-- DIG Cooperative: www.digcity.coop
-- Habitiles: www.tesselation.com/tesselation/index.html
-- SOULutioneers: www.solutioneers.org/
-- Green Drinks International: www.greendrinks.org
More information about the San-Diego-Permaculture