Growing Solutions Restoration Education Institute

 

2018 Update From Don and Karen

  UCSB STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students on a recent four-day field trip to Santa Cruz Island. The students are part of the UCSB Smithsonian Scholars program overseen by Mario Castellanos,   director of Office of Education Partnerships at UCSB. Students were on the island to gain valuable science and field experience in island bird ecology, park conservation and outdoor education. Growing Solutions' Karen Flagg gave a restoration ecology lecture and an island-botany walk . 

UCSB STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students on a recent four-day field trip to Santa Cruz Island. The students are part of the UCSB Smithsonian Scholars program overseen by Mario Castellanos, director of Office of Education Partnerships at UCSB. Students were on the island to gain valuable science and field experience in island bird ecology, park conservation and outdoor education. Growing Solutions' Karen Flagg gave a restoration ecology lecture and an island-botany walk . 

Hello Growing Solutions friends and supporters.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.‑Chief Seattle

We have been working on educating and engaging students in the fields of ecological restoration and organic farming for over 20 years. Many of our students and interns are doing good work in these fields. And we are not alone in these efforts. Worldwide there are thousands of other organizations trying to mend our fragile and degrading environment. Yet the insatiable consumption of our natural resources and the biological destruction of our life-support system continues to increase.

As a culture we need to think and act in a radically different way. To solve any problem including environmental ones, you need to get to the root of the problem by recognizing the complexity of whole systems. A systems approach offers us a much better way of thinking and doing…how it interacts, who and what it interacts with, and acknowledging that life is complex. 

For example; many of our farm interns have been raised in urban areas and are unaware of how their personal habits set off a chain of events in a larger system. One of our requirements is that they must keep their living space inside and out clean and tidy. This isn’t just basic housekeeping. The cardboard box from the grocery store set next to the house soon collects several half-washed juice bottles intended for recycling. That in turn accretes last week’s favorite magazine added to the bag of clothes intended as a donation to the thrift store along with the tossed apple core because it was easy to throw there as the phone was ringing. 

Why is this important? First, this is creating an ideal habitat for mice…free rent with food included. After a while the mice begin to look for ways to get into to the house…if a cardboard box is good, a house is better! Once there are mice in the vicinity the snakes move in looking for their dinner. If it happens to be a gopher snake, so be it. If it happens to be a rattlesnake we now have a hazard for the people (not to mention the snake) who step out of the door each morning, sleepy with coffee in hand. 

Don was lucky to be able to study with C. West Churchman at Berkeley in the late 70s. Churchman was a Professor at the UC Berkeley’s School of Business Administration and Peace and Conflict Studies. He taught for decades and according to his wife, Gloria “he became internationally recognized, and somewhat controversial, because of what was then a radical concept of incorporating ethical values into operating systems.” 

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  Researchers setting camera-monitoring rig to identify unique markings and track feeding patterns of the endemic  Santa Cruz Island Spotted Skunk . L-R: Mario Castellanos,   Ricardo Estrada, Scott Logan.

Researchers setting camera-monitoring rig to identify unique markings and track feeding patterns of the endemic Santa Cruz Island Spotted Skunk. L-R: Mario Castellanos, Ricardo Estrada, Scott Logan.