Not your typical field trip: 500 students win a chance to replant the Angeles National Forest

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Students from 10 Los Angeles area middle and high schools learned this week that they were winners of sponsored field trips to the Angeles National Forest to help restore fire-damaged areas of one of Los Angeles County’s largest preserved open space.

The Facebook-based contest TreeByTree was a collaboration between TreePeople and Edison International. On a weekly basis, students from 17 schools posted photos of sustainability-minded projects they spearheaded, from recycling programs to tree plantings to converting a vintage VW Bug to electric.… Read more >>

A Valentines Day tour of your local sewage treatment plant?

Seeking inspiration on how to spend Valentine’s Day?  Check out this idea: Brooklyn Sewage Treatment Plant to Hold Valentines Day Tours Again.

What makes this such a sell-out event on the other coast?  NPR reported that perhaps it is the pheromones that makes this unusual tour part of the hipsters’ bucket list, but maybe it’s more.

Maybe people are really wanting to connect with each other about things that matter…like the quality of our water.  Maybe Super Storm Sandy is making folks want to get a bit more eco-literate and brush up on the water cycle info they got back in 6th grade science class.  Or maybe it is the amazing view of Manhattan.… Read more >>

When Trees Thrive, People Thrive

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We at TreePeople certainly believe that what we are doing is a matter of life and death. But sometimes we’re confronted with more sobering proof than we expected. That’s what happened when I read this article by Lindsay Abrams that recently appeared in The Atlantic, “When Trees Die, People Die.” 

I expected that this article would be just another “trees-make-us-feel-better” story. “Aren’t they pretty? Let’s go plant some.” I wasn’t prepared for this (italics mine):

When the U.S. Forest Service looked at mortality rates in counties affected by the emerald ash borer, they found increased mortality rates.… Read more >>

Learn How to Get Your Landscape Really Green

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You may have noticed that some years in Los Angeles County are wetter—or drier—than others. And in wet years you may also have noticed a lot of unfiltered water rushing off paved surfaces, into storm drains, and out to sea carrying whatever pollutants it washes over. So, not only are we losing water that could be captured for local use or returned to the ground for irrigation, we’re failing to clean it up before it enters our waterways.

But did you know that even in times of drought, what little moisture falls from the sky can be harvested and put to use?… Read more >>

Like it or not, you DO make a difference

“You are never in neutral,” TreePeople founder Andy Lipkis tells environmental leader Huey Johnson, in an interview about how we all affect the environment. “People say [to me], ‘I love what you do because you show that people can make a difference.’” The truth is, people do make a difference, Andy says. And it comes in the form of every step we take, every penny we spend, in all the ways we move through the world.

Growing up in the 1960s in a severely polluted Los Angeles, Andy realized that we have to embrace the notion that even the smallest contribution—whether planting a single tree or shutting off the tap when you brush your teeth—does make a positive difference.… Read more >>

Sheet Mulching 101 (part 2 of 2)

Valerie Fontaine sheet mulching project 12-14-2012

Want to see how an average home in Los Angeles can save almost 100,000 gallons of water per year? Here is TreePeople member and volunteer Valerie Fontaine, converting her yard to a sustainable site. With a simple DIY project, Valerie transformed her garden in a weekend.

Following Part 1 of our tutorial, here are your sheet-mulching FAQs:

Is it really as simple as it sounds? Just put down cardboard or newspaper, dump mulch, keep moist, and wait? Is that it?
Yes.… Read more >>

Sheet Mulching 101 (part 1 of 2)

Valerie Fontaine, Dec 14, 2012

What is sheet mulching? Just the quickest, easiest way to go from a thirsty, outdated green shag carpet of a landscape to a sustainable garden in about the time it takes to mow the lawn.

Follow these easy steps and you can do what fabulous TreePeople member and volunteer Valerie Fontaine recently did at her house. Once you go green, you’ll never go back.

  • Cover the lawn with 1 layer of cardboard or 6 layers of newspaper. Be sure to overlap by at least 6 inches to prevent the grass from growing through.
Read more >>

How Did Hollywood Get Its Name?

Heteromeles arbutifolia, or toyon. Photo: docentjoyce

Legend has it that early residents of SoCal were so inspired by a lovely holly-like bush that they were inspired to call their new digs Hollywood. The shrub that captured their imagination was the toyon, which is amazing to see this time of year.

In fact, the name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley, the “Father of Hollywood.” Whitely bought 500 acres from E. C. Hurd; Hurd’s wife’s friend (stay with me here), Daeida Wilcox, co-opted the name “Hollywood” from her neighbor, Ivar Weid, who lived in what was then called Holly Canyon.… Read more >>

After Christmas, What to Do with Your Tree?

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Did you opt for a real Christmas tree this year? A lot of us grapple with the choice between real and fake, weighing the proverbial environmental impact of one vs. the other. One dilemma people face with a real tree is, what do I do with it after the holidays?

Mulch it! While your tree was alive, it benefited the planet, and it can continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Chipping up your tree is a great way to create vital organic matter that is ideal to put on top of the soil–similar to a natural forest.… Read more >>

A Native Re-Greening for TreePeople’s Cistern

Photo: Andy Lipkis

Park operations director Jim Hardie calls it the “grasscrete circle”—also known as the TreePeople cistern, a 216,000-gallon underground storage tank, where we save rainwater filtered and collected from rooftops and the Parking Grove. The stored water irrigates TreePeople’s grounds in the warm months. For the past four years, the circle has been planted with wildflowers, which look gorgeous but require regular weeding. Jim is excited about a low-maintenance alternative called purple needlegrass or Stipa pulchra or Nassala pulchra—the official state grass of California!… Read more >>