Wednesday, December 15, 2010

EcoCenter wins EPA's Environmental Justice Award!

2010 US EPA Environmental Justice Achievement Award Goes to Off-Grid Project at Heron’s Head Park
EPA Cites EcoCenter’s Landmark Partnerships—Collective Effort by Community, City, State, Private Firms
December 15, 2010 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency announced this morning that Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), a community-based environmental education organization in Bayview Hunters Point, is a recipient of a 2010 US EPA Environmental Justice Achievement Award. This award, given annually to landmark projects that connect environmental sustainability and social equity, recognizes LEJ’s EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park, the first environmental justice education facility in the Bay Area and San Francisco's first 100% “off-grid” building, modeling solar power and alternative wastewater technologies.

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LEJ office has moved!

The LEJ office has moved down the street!

1329 Evans AveSF, CA, 94124
Telephone and fax are still the same.
T: 415-282-6840; F: 415-282-6839
Check out the grafitti art that's splashed on our walls, courtesy of our Executive Director Malik Looper and Nate1Designs.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Laurie and living classrooms in NYC!

Hey all,

Happy holidays! Hoping you're taking this time to reflect and celebrate with your friends, family, and community. Life is governed by cycles, beginnings leading to ends leading to new beginnings. As the EcoCenter adapts and evolves with the seasonal cycles, I'd like to share some news on Laurie Schoeman and her work that has come full circle.

After Laurie raised the EcoCenter from foundation to vegetated roof, she returned to her native habitat of New York City as the Executive Director of New York Sun Works, primarily focusing on building living classrooms on school rooftops!

Check out the newest living classroom that Laurie is working on.
Rooftop Greenhouse Could Revolutionize City Schools

Congratulations Laurie! From BVHP to NYC, thanks for bringing learning to life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

LEJ quilt is up!

Last year, LEJ youth and staff reflected on their roots and shoots - where they came from, where they are now, and where they hope to go. Each person's patch was sewn together in this beautiful quilt now hanging in the EcoCenter.

Special shout out one of LEJ's Public Allies from 2009-2010, Diana Law, for bringing all the pieces together into one.

If you had to draw a tree of life representing your ancestral and cultural roots, your stable trunk, and the branches and fruits of your dreams and ambitions, what would it look like?

The holiday season reminds us to reflect, give thanks and appreciate all that came before us to make today possible. Much respect and peace to you all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photo tour of the EcoCenter

Photography by

Friday, November 12, 2010

EcoCenter Wishlist

Thanks to the City of SF's Virtual Warehouse and UCSF's Surplus Warehouse, we have very useful furniture for the EC's office! Also, much gratitude to the Aquarium of the Bay for donating funds to purchasing 50 chairs. Thanks to volunteers from the Meritus Fund alumni, the office was transformed into a more organized space.

If you're wondering what else we need at the EcoCenter, firstly, we definitely need program partners who want to bring programming, educational classes, or funding to the EcoCenter. We're planning now for EcoCenter programming starting in the spring of 2011. As for physical contributions to the EcoCenter to help us do the education and community engagement we want to do, check out our wishlist:

- Solar panels for solar thermal radiant heating: ~$4k
- On-demand hot water heaters (3)
- Pathway lighting and spotlights on building
- MicroEye microscope with video capabilities: ~$3.5K
- SmartBoard
- Webcamera for living roof
- Microscopes with rolling cart (20)
- Laptops (5)
- Flip cameras (5)
- Bird-safe wind turbine

Contact Tracy at for more info or visit our Amazon wishlist.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We have wireless internet!

Thanks to our amazing tech guys, Tim Pozar, Mike McCarthy, Hal Gibson and company, we now have wireless internet at the EcoCenter!

After they measured the internet speed, it was literally OFF THE CHARTS! How's that for an off-the-grid building?

Because of our wireless capabilities, we can monitor the wastewater system remotely. Soon, we hope to monitor our energy generated and energy usage remotely as well.

Check it out! Wireless network is EcoCenter and password is gr33n.

Monday, October 25, 2010

We have rainwater!

Habitat Gardens installed a meter for our rainwater catchment barrels so that we can see how much rain we have! After this past week's rain, the meter jumped from 4 1/2 feet to over 6 feet!

The first rainwater tank gets water from the standing seam roof, while the second and third tanks receive water that drains through the living roof. The second and third tanks are connected by a pipe underground so the water level in those two tanks will always be the same.

Currently, the rainwater from the second and third tanks are pumped to irrigate the roof at timed intervals. The EcoCenter, as a living building, reminds us that we need to stay in tune with the natural cycles of sun and rain because the building was designed to engage and harvest the power of the elements.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

EC at West Coast Green!

The wonderful manufacturers of the EcoCenter's wastewater treatment tanks, Orenco, is featuring the EcoCenter at West Coast Green, the premier green buildings conference of the West Coast!

As an FYI, the wastewater treatment system - which features Orenco's Advantex system, UV disinfection unit, indoor constructed wetlands, and leech field of native plants - is automated and monitored remotely so that an eye can be kept on the building without having to be at the EcoCenter 24/7. A control panel donated by Orenco logs data from the wastewater treatment system and sends the info through WiFi internet to our wastewater monitoring guru, Innovative Systems. What a great resource and learning tool!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Youth media makers from BAYCAT

Youth media makers from BAYCAT's summer media camp (Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology) visited the EcoCenter this summer to explore issues related to their summer theme, youth health. They got an interactive tour of the EcoCenter and participated in LEJ's food assessment, a collaboration with SF State Masters of Public Health students to gather the youth perspective on food in BVHP.

Check out the short video they made on the EcoCenter! Thanks BAYCAT!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Living off the Grid


As we explore the world of off-grid living at the ecocenter, I would like to share with you an interesting overview produced by HowStuffWorks and captures many of the themes we discuss at the building.

"Around the same time each month, millions of Americans go to their mailboxes seeking the comforts of a handwritten letter or their favorite magazine only to be greeted by white envelopes with miniature cellophane windows. We're all familiar with these mailers -- power, water, gas and telephone bills, all conspiring to take your hard-earned money. For most people, paying utility bills is a tiresome and frustrating task. What if there was a way to get out from under the thumb of public utilities and produce your own sustainable energy? Well, there is. Going "off-grid" is becoming an increasingly popular choice for people looking to reduce their carbon footprint, assert their independence and avoid reliance on fossil fuels."

Check it out,


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beautiful Shots of the ecocenter

Hi Friends:

Pardon my absence--its been a busy few weeks to say the least! I wanted to share some really nice shots we have of the Ecocenter. We'll be taking these to Pasadena Next week for California Design Biennial: Action/Reaction which is featuring the Ecocenter!!!.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ecocenter Voted Best Trip Back to the Future in SF WEEKLY!

Friends--this is very cool and unexpected news:
The Jetsons didn't foretell the future; the Flintstones did. At least, that seems to be the lesson implicit in San Francisco's first 100 percent "off-grid" building, a self-contained ecology classroom at Heron's Head Park. The facility won't use city sewage or electricity services, but instead relies on wetland cells and ultraviolet sterilization lamps for wastewater treatment, and solar panels and a wind turbine for electricity. The center boasts a living roof, and is surrounded by low-maintenance native plants. Run by the nonprofit Literacy for Environmental Justice, the EcoCenter teaches schoolchildren the ins and outs of clean air and water, healthful food, and open space restoration. It will also explain how dirty industries and facilities sometimes get put in poor neighborhoods. Interns will be trained as resident naturalists and docents.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Alternatives to BP Oil


Today the world announced the Oil Crisis in the Gulf has eclipsed even Valdez as the worst Oil Spill in US History. This is absolutely devastating for the habitat of the Gulf and the local human comunities that live near and depend on the Gulf for their livelihoods. In a matter of minutes the entire ecosystem of the Gulf has been changed--perhaps forever and in the wake of this crisis, rises a huge swatch of environmental injustice brought on by this accident. It makes me feel really proud of what we have accomplished in BVHP to build a place that will showcase sustainable alternatives to petroleum by featuring a stand alone solar array with no interconnection to Petroleum based energy inputs which we are using to teach our community about solar power and alternatives to petrol.

On this memorial day the Ecocenter team pays respect to the citizens of this world that are trying to stop the flow of oil from this accident and save the Gulf.

We were voted the "Best Trip Back to the Primitive Future - 2010" this week in the SF Weekly, which is a nice irony considering what we are dealing with in the Gulf.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ecocenter selected to be a Sustainable Site!

We were selected out of a competitive pool of national applicants to be a "sustainable sites" pilot project. The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort
by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. I stated in our application that we represent a model for an urban sustainable site if only because we are sited in the middle of a distressed environmental zone in San Francisco. I think this pilot project will afford us the opportunity to have positive impact on the USGBC as well as other communities interested in greening up their communities.

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What a Day!


What a powerful Grand Opening we had last week!

The weekend started off on a very interesting and unique note. On Wednesday of last week, Herons Head Park's irrigation line broke, which meant we had no water on site to water newly established plants-so what did we do? We used the rainwater that we had stored over the last storm cycle.

On Thursday evening, before the event, and during the Ohlone Bear Dance gathering, the power went out to the Backlands Pier 96--so what did we have at the Ecocenter? A completely stand alone and self-sufficient stand alone solar powered building to light our path!

Every challenge that faced us we overcame with a solution. And it all made me feel personally empowered by what we have created at Herons Head Park--a completely self sufficient build environment that can sustain us amidst infrastructure failures!

Thursday through Saturday the Ohlone Community gathered at Herons Head Park as part of a larger convergence. It was absolutely spectacular--the new moon rising over the sweat lodge that had been so carefully constructed out at the end of Herons Head; the earthy aroma of sage spreading across the waterfront; and the sweet song of the nightbirds ringing out across the park, over the Bay, through the ancient corridors of the Naval Yard--empty and darkened by the old Naval buildings that sit empty over fallow land.

Sunday came and it couldn't have been more beautiful out. We had a great turn out from all across the city--youth, actvists; politicians, truckers; backlands and frontline workers; teachers; bikers; former LEJ youth and Current LEJ youth. It was an amazing gathering to kickoff a decade of work to bring the ecocenter to life.

Stay tuned, there is plenty more to come. This was only the beginning.

Thank you to Bill Wilson and Dave Rambuler for your amazing pictures!