[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 
environmental movement.

"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
Aug. 31.

-- 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 mailing list