It has been my pleasure to volunteer with Watershed Management Group over the past year. WMG is a unique combination of community, advocacy, and education to deal with one of the most critical issues in the desert southwest: water. They are making a difference from the ground up and I have been lucky enough to make a small contribution to this grassroots effort to change the way we deal with water issues here in Arizona.
I am so proud that my home is a Watershed Management Group site demonstration. Through their co-op program we learned how to turn the flooding hazard from stormwater into a resource. With their instruction to the co-op volunteers, earthworks were installed to slow, spread and sink stormwater throughout our landscape. WMG has also taught us how to reuse our water. Our washing machine and showers drain into the landscape. The desert community loves the shade and beauty that is spreading and feels safe that this is created through sustainable means.
I had been interested in water conservation on a local and personal level for awhile when I noticed one of their trucks logo. Researching online, I found the City of Tucson rebate classes for water tanks and grey water installations. I saw a chance to volunteer at workshops helping to create more sustainable environments at people's homes. The barn-raising model appealed to my sense of community, self sufficiency and even survival, as we live in a desert. I signed up for the classes and the workshops. I couldn't have predicted how contagious their enthusiasm is or the quantity and quality of the knowledge I have gained. Everyone there has multiple expertise in this field and are eager ,willing and available to answer any questions I have had. I've been able now to share with neighbors and so many others about proper tree pruning, plant choices and their planting, landscape grading for water retention, drip system and grey water installations. I've discovered my love for building various types of rock walls and the purpose of each. I also learned valuable information from other volunteers at the workshops. WMG attracts inexperienced and seasoned persons who are all interested in helping our environment whether it's their own backyard or on a grander scale. I've attended over 20 workshops and l continue to learn something new at each one. It's amazing to see the transformation that a small group of people can accomplish in a small amount of time. That realization is forever carried with every volunteer. An important aspect of their work is their involvement with commercial installations, including the City Council offices. The more visible this type of work is, the more people become interested in it for themselves. So, I also volunteer to help maintain my Ward office. It was gratifying to see all the people who stopped by on the annual tour this year. But I've forgotten to emphasize how much fun we have! Young, old (I'm 65) , digging in the dirt, it's always a great experience. Thank you WMG!
Out of an ordinary desert home, Watershed Management Group has created a progressive, sustainable, and beautiful environment. Their ability to design and tastefully create an example of a supportable home, charmingly designated as a "Living Lab", is equally matched with their willingness to educate the community. I have learned about rainwater harvesting, desert soils and composting, native desert plants, greywater harvesting, green home infrastructure...the list just continues. Their group oriented spirit is empowering and only adds to their appeal.
As an intern at Watershed Management Group, I've had awesome opportunities to serve the greater public. For the past four months we have been learning about rainwater harvesting, local food, green infrastructure and more. It is great to see how passionate WMG members are about their mission, and I am excited to support it.
Watershed Management Group (WMG) is exceptional in Top Notch Leadership, not just in Tucson, but on this planet Earth. As we know, Water Is Life (quote from Standing Rock). No one associated with WMG takes water for granted, ever! When you are working with WMG, you will see the full cycle of the rainwater landing on a roof, landing on the soil, the street, wherever it lands and how it will be channeled to either a rain barrel, cistern, a basin, however it can be captured and used again and again. WMG thinks long term. WMG thinks globally, acts locally. WMG's amazing, competent staff provides opportunities on an ongoing basis so that you and your family lives sustainably in your home, as they are there from start to finish with their many programs, such as: I Labor With My Neighbor. So many incentives to get you started, and Excited about each drop of rainwater being harvested! The talented Executive Director, Lisa Shipek, educates us with the newsletter, A Watershed Moment, that has become a collector's library series of the most advanced sustainable ideas, again thinking long term. As WMG was laying their foundation about 12 or more years ago, I had the opportunity to see first hand, the integrity and professionalism of the staff. Later in 2009, I participated in the 9 day certification program. WOW, what a hands-on experience that is! (An intense "digging your heels" in the soil boot camp, learning Rain Water Harvesting from A-Z, lots of fun too, especially with Brad Lancaster involved in the training. Catlow Shipek, highly knowledgeable, is always seeking how to be more efficient, with WMG's skills in high demand. And when you take a tour of WMG's Living Lab and Learning Center, it'll just knock your socks off. But that's OK, cuz then you're ready for a Yoga session, offered in the late afternoon. Did I mention just how FUN ~ WMG staff are?
Thanks to Watershed Management Group, Earth Day may breathe easier. Each year since this dedicated non-profit began, I have witnessed how its mission to encourage, assist, teach, and -labor with their neighbor- in Tucson and globally has put in to practice Earthworks to capture precious drops of rainwater. Some of the basic permaculture concepts are observation, always begin small, as then it is easier to correct any mistakes, and SEE the possibilities of what you have at hand (your home/yard) and how it can be transformed by following simple Earthworks. It truly is a beautiful ART in every sense to see a dry barren area transformed into a breathtaking oasis by simply digging a basin, placing chosen rocks around this basin, like a natural frame, adding compost, a few native plants, mulch, then rainwater...how exciting to witness this miracle come to bloom. Next comes the native birds, butterflies, bees, a shelter for small animals, and shade. Yes, the work is old-fashioned, roll up your sleeves hard work and with these co-op workshops with WMG comes yummy satisfying food and drinks. Yes, the certification is intense, I know from experience, and on a high bar, so those who become certified are fully trained to teach in this field. Yes, WMG has attracted staff that do not take these water issues lightly, but are constantly refining their skills to offer the best practices available they know. Recently I asked Executive Director, Lisa Shipek, when WMG will hold the next certification completely in Spanish,. She responded, when WMG gets the funding. Last fall, WMG offered their first certification completely in Spanish, quite a successful accomplishment! Yes, WMG is about outreach locally, globally, continually! Their staff in India are folks that are not asking the people there to learn what works in the United States, but encouraging the people in India to use practices that work there in their villages. Check out the award-winning Tippy Taps ! It takes tremendous commitment to stay focused on one issue - Water, which is a basic human right for all. Thank you to WMG for doing your part!
After learning about water harvesting from Brad Lancaster (water harvester guru extraordinaire, world traveler. lecturer, on the Board of Watershed Management Group, who walks the talk, lives in Tucson, and is passionate about improving our water management here in the desert) I discovered I, too, am on fire about water harvesting and the many ways we can do it here (in this desert, where we get more annual rainfall than municipal water we use!!!) I found in WATERSHED MANAGEMENT GROUP an outlet and channel for my efforts. They are a wonderful group of dedicated people who have organized a multifaceted effort to save our water and use it wisely. They cover education, outreach, policies, active demonstration, and so so much more! I feel my monetary donations are going to expand this worthy effort (there is so much good being accomplished, and so much more room for growth), and my time and efforts on the co-op are fun, educational, (and at times-aerobic!) promote sense of community, and together, we can bust this city to sustainable and beyond! It doesn't really matter where in Tucson I put my effort, any water harvested and well used is more water in my pocket!...so to speak...
I began volunteering with Watershed Management Group (WMG) in Tucson, AZ over 10 years ago. Living in the Sonoran desert with our declining aquifers, I was drawn toward their mission and their grassroots, community-based approach to learning to live well (and thrive!) with only the 11 inches of rain Mother Nature gives us each year. I've participated in their hands-on co-op program learning easy-to-implement and inexpensive rainwater harvesting strategies that I am now using in my own yard. WMG is a fountain of knowledge for living well in our desert, from collecting rain to improving soils to understanding desert plants and animals. They teach people to work with nature to grow shade, food, and improve quality of life by "planting the water" first. WMG is truly a community group actively working with individuals, community groups, and government entities to help affect positive changes with low-tech, low-cost techniques accessible to anyone. I am now in their Docent training class and looking forward to spreading the simple, but important concepts to others. As more and more people and local government officials implement these strategies, we can make a difference to restore our aquifers and improve our urban environment for everyone. Plus, WMGers are a fun bunch! WMG's Living Lab is a great place, full of laughter, positive energy, and hope.
I love WMG! They are always effective with, and appreciative of their volunteers & donors. They have a clear mission and great outreach. Not to mention everyone there is super-friendly!
I am a volunteer and docent trainee with Watershed Management Group. Every volunteer opportunity has been an opportunity for hands on learning in conserving water - a valuable squandered resource in our water scare Tucson environment. The docent training has provided more in depth training in watershed management principles and specific knowledge about the implementation of strategies both in the WMG Living Lab and in the community. This is an excellent much needed nonprofit offering training and most importantly, implementation of good works in water conservation.