Posts Tagged 'The Red Barn Cooperative'

Matthew Shaffer – Park(ing) spaces

So earlier this week I was exchanging emails in regard to a get together I am having next Monday with some girlfriends up in the bay area and brunch or lunch and a walk were aired in regard to potential activites. Now being a Londoner I’m not afraid of a walk (especially if it is in the direction of a local pub) and in the 10 years that I have lived on US soil I still haven’t reverted to that anti walking behaviour of driving from one side of the mall to the other. However, I believe that in Northern California ‘walk’ actually means ‘hike’ so there I was reading the email and having to now consider appropriate wardrobe and band aid choices.

One of the girlfriends then sent an email enquiring if we wanted to brunch and then ‘walk’ or ‘walk’ then brunch.. I saw my opportunity and typed quickly to reply that she had left out an entirely viable option which was to brunch then lunch…..

As soon as I hit ‘send’ I wondered what I was portraying as I DO love being outdoors, I DO love walking, I just don’t like blisters! I was just contemplating what I might to do make amends on this urban anti outside image that I was wrongly creating about myself and Matt stepped into my life.

OK, the truth may actually be that I ambushed him, (ah ha..please note the very natural reference to foliage in my rhetoric!…) Matthew Shaffer is the Associate Director of Marketing Services for The Trust for Public Land and an all round good egg for talking to me at such short notice and for doing so without so much of an inkling as to my current goal to fix my image and convey myself as both tree hugger and fresh air loving citizen.

Now the Trust for Public Land are doing some wonderful things and among them is an initiative to support urban dwellers and others not so fortunate to live near a park to reclaim a piece of green for their own. On September 19th TPL are holding a national event to create temporary parks in parking spaces for one day. Now you may be thinking wow that’s kind of whacky and cool but why would they do that? Well Matthew had the answers….

Tell me why you are passionate about this initiative and what your personal dream is in regard to the overall impact.

A little space – a little park not much larger than one parking spot – can go so very far to transform a neighborhood, bring people together, and get us a little closer to nature. Parks are vital to a city’s health, and Park(ing) Day helps demonstrate their immense value. And the creativity of designing and making all these individual parks happen – and putting them in unique places – is very rewarding.

We’re at a tipping point where cities and counties in particular are not just thinking about parks but putting real dollars and muscle behind ambitious park, natural areas, and trail plans. Great park systems – that reach as many families as possible – make cities great places to live. Park(ing) Day can help advertise the importance of these community efforts, especially when the Park(ing) parks reflect local needs.

I am curious, what is your favorite thing to do in a park? Play, read, people watch?
I wish I had an easy answer – depends on the park and the company. So many parks, so many options!

OK so here are some scenarios…just fill in the blank..

You are in Prospect Park, Brooklyn with say….Barack Obama, you would…
Play chess.

You are in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco with something to tell folks you would tell them…
Go to the observation tower at the deYoung.

Finally you are in Forest Park in St Louis with your closest friend, you would….
Get a map (never been) but let’s assume there’s an arboretum somewhere there – I’d check that out.

Check this video out to see past park(ing) day events.

I love the fact that TPL are forgoing traditional advertising and instead creating experiential teasers for what could be in a neighborhood near you. Want to take part?

If you live in the OC the closing date for entries to design your own park(ing) space is coming up on July 29th just fill out the entry form.

And for everyone else in the U.S please visit Park(ing) day to see how you can take part on Friday September 19th, and for those of you in London and other cities outside of the U.S, I believe that there is a commitment for this initiative to become an international affair with prior years having park(ing) spaces in European locations too, so please investigate what you could do in your own city.

Matthew, thanks so much for your time and your commitment to such a great initiative and for making me look a lot more familiar with our great outdoors.

Personally I am very much looking forward to some park(ing) transformations near me.. no REALLY I am….

Photo: The Berger Partnership, PS
© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…


Regina Aquilera – The Resiliency Factor

These words came up several times in my conversation with Regina Aquilera, who is a member the Yaqui Tribe, an acupuncturist, herbologist, yoga teacher, mother of three, and on the Board of Directors for the Native Wellness Institute.

What is the resiliency factor?

It’s about us remembering who we are and where we’ve come from. Despite the fact that much of our culture has been taken away or diluted. We have a common thread, who we are is important to us, we are proud of our heritage. We have a connection to this land that is spiritual, and we’re still here.

As a teacher and trainer with Native Wellness Institute, how do you bring this resiliency into your area of focus?

I especially enjoy working with Native youth and adults in disease prevention, and promoting healthy lifestyles. I utilize the combined philosophies of Eastern & Native cultures to encourage Native people toward wellness. One thing I like to do in my session is to have people visualize their village 150-200 years ago, what are your ancestors doing, how are they living, what are they eating? Their great-great grandparents were hunters , gatherers, farmers, and fishermen. They didn’t eat anything that wasn’t fresh, caught by them, or grown by them. It reconnects them with their heritage, and it also reminds them that traditional ways are very balanced ways.

How does Native Wellness Institute work toward that balance?

The mission of the Native Wellness Institute is to promote the well-being of Native people through programs & trainings embracing the traditions of our ancestors. Native Wellness is a traditional model to guide us along a path of Balance. A holistic and integrated approach in the way we live our lives. The four directions of wellness are: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. This is a Plains model of the Medicine Wheel or Circle of Life. Everything in the circle is connected, the wheel evolves around each aspect, it continues, it’s always growing..

Native Wellness embraces the teaching of our ancestors, living life in balance and with respect.
Our goal is to serve as a resource for Native specific training programs and technical assistance services to Native people, communities and organizations. We accomplish this goal by bringing together highly skilled Native trainers and consultants across the United States and Canada for conferences, workshops and other projects, implementing a leadership training initiative that will strengthen the circle and prepare Native people for leadership opportunities, and developing programs and services to meet other areas of need that impact the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being of Native people.

You mentioned your enjoyment of working with native youth. Does NWI have a special focus on youth?

The Native Wellness Institute is serious about their responsibility to teach, train and prepare our young people for living in a good way in today’s world. Many of our young people are doing fantastic things and balancing the two worlds in which they live very well. Others are struggling and trying to find their path in these often chaotic times. NWI strives to provide a process where our young ones can make a “head to heart” connection and understand the “why” of behaviors and how we can promote and maintain living by the “Warrior’s Spirit” being positive, productive and proactive.

Can you tell me more about ‘living by the Warrior Spirit’?

It’s about being alive, connected , we want our youth to be healthy leaders, not followers. It’s about taking the extra step, stepping up to the plate. Many of our youth are learning to speak their language. They design projects for their community, school, or family. A warrior finds balance from within, to be able to go out into the world and be positive.

Regina how were you taught your native traditions?

Most of the Yaqui traditions have been merged with Catholicism. I was not taught to speak Yaqui or Spanish because for my parents to fit in it was not ok to be Indian. I do remember my Dad singing songs and telling stories. He is gifted in the oral traditions. I learned the most from my grandmother, she was all about natural ways to heal your body. She was a herbologist, she used hot stones to massage us. She always had something boiling that would heal a stomach ache or headache or fever. She understood the circle, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. By spiritual, I mean not religious, our spiritual connection to the earth.

So I see by your chosen profession you keep some of your family traditions alive. What are other ways you do that today?

Learning songs and dances, holding true our sacred items, wearing native jewelry that is culturally significant.

Regina thank you for your warrior spirit, I am grateful that it’s still so strong.

If you would like to know more about the work of Native Wellness Institute please visit their website at, or you can contact Regina at nativetouch.

Also if you would like to learn more about Native American affairs you can visit Bureau of Indian Affairs or Administration for Native Americans (ANA).

Image Source – Native Wellness Institute
© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

John Trosko – The importance of being organized

There is something about getting organized. That ‘high’ of accomplishment post wardrobe clear out, garage clean up or collections demobbed. It helps us develop a new relationship with our ‘stuff’ and the result can range from quiet satisfaction and peace of mind to a grander liberating experience.

To learn how to achieve this, today we are talking to John Trosko Los Angeles-based professional organizer and owner of OrganizingLA. John and his company professionally plan and supervise organizing systems in homes and businesses. By applying creative and technical solutions, John’s company teaches others how to spend less time searching for the things they need, which results in more time for the activities they love.

John is also 2007-2009 President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO-LA) and his press coverage includes the Los Angeles Times, BusinessWeek, DailyCandy,,, Better Homes & Gardens, Estates West Magazine as well as national television segments for Scripps Howard Broadcasting Company. John is truly the doyen of organization so if this is an area of challenge for you, listen well..

John, what do you feel are the benefits of decluttering our homes and work spaces?

If you work in a business, how much time are you wasting looking for client-related paperwork? If you’re a lawyer, there is absolutely no way you can charge a client for the time you are using to locate a lost file. You’ll never recoup this cost and it just eats into your bottom line. If you can cut down file retrieval time from 2 hours to 30 minutes wouldn’t that be an achievement? Being organized will save you time, stress, and ultimately money because you’ll find what you want, when you need it.

Where do you see people get stuck with their organization goals and how do you help them get unstuck?

In my business, there are many reasons why people get stuck. When I began doing “organizing” as a business, I used to think if someone adopted a system, their organization worries would go away. I would walk a client through the front door, talk to them about where they drop the mail, and why. I’d set them up with a better basket in the ideal location, put a label on that basket, sneak a trash can in there somewhere and drop a letter opener into the basket. I’d coach the client about the value of systemizing their daily mail to keep the paper clutter at bay. But nothing on Earth is going to get them to actually maintain the system if they don’t care enough, or they’re not taking responsibility for what comes into the front door.

What do you mean being “responsible?”

I realized over the past four years, that people’s attitude about their stuff and systems need to change before they can make lasting improvements. So it’s not about the stuff, and it’s not about the systems. People need an overall vision of what they want their home or office to look like and get the help to keep it that way on a regular basis. The relationship to their stuff needs to shift. By eliminating the need to stop blaming their disorganization on a partner or small limited closet, they focus on what they can start doing now, on a personal level. This means that when you shop for something and bring it home, you assume the responsibility for the care, maintenance and storage of that item. You take the responsibility for putting (or not putting) something away in a cabinet or drawer when you’re finished using it. You can chose to have your space a mess or make tiny steps necessary to keep it somewhat tidy. If you shift your thinking and put value and responsibility into your choices and actions, you’re more bound to want to take care of your possessions and increase your chances of maintaining your space.

I love the awareness that our responsibility begins right at the check out register! John, thank you for your organizing wisdom and for shedding new light on our clutterbug challenges.

If you feel you are in need of more organizing tips John serves as Editor of “OrganizingLA” an online blog delivering daily productivity tips and trends, and in October John will become a contributing author to Samantha Ettus’ “The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster,” published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

In the meantime think of the multiple benefits of tackling that unruly drawer, selling that old box of vintage comics or sorting through that pile of paperwork….
Looking forward to that sense of accomplishment.

P.S if you are up for the challenge don’t forget to donate or recycle your stuff! Working Wardrobes , Salvation Army, Green Dump Truck , and many more organizations will be thankful for your newly found decluttering skill!

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

This ‘nourishing conversation’ was picked up and featured in a blog carnival compiled by One Organized life.

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

Lynn Thomas – Equine Assisted Therapy

We often get asked “what is the difference between coaching and therapy?” The boundary between therapy and coaching is not defined by a set of absolute rules and terms. They sometimes overlap, especially with some contemporary therapy modalities. In general though, therapists are trained to diagnose and treat mental illness and may work with their clients to understand the ‘why’. Coaches view their clients as naturally creative resourceful and whole, and as having their own answers; working in the present and future – “what’s possible from here?…”

Just as there are many different types of coaching there are also many types of psychotherapy and in today’s nourishing conversation you are going to hear from someone who has a passion for helping people in crisis, and about the gentle giants in this partnership, Lynn Thomas, Executive Director of EAGALA (The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association).

What is EAGALA’S vision and mission in the world?

EAGALA is dedicated to improving the mental health of individuals, families, and groups around the world by setting the standard of excellence in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Our vision statement says a lot of what that is, but in essence its about our desire to help people around the world to live happier healthier lives and we know that this is a powerful, effective tool for change. EAGALA provides education, standards, innovation, and support to professionals providing services in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

What is EAP?

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) incorporates horses experientially for emotional growth and learning. It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals. EAP is experiential in nature. This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviors, and patterns. This approach has been compared to the ropes courses used by therapists, treatment facilities, and human development courses around the world. But EAP has the added advantage of utilizing horses, dynamic and powerful living beings.

The focus of EAP involves setting up ground activities involving the horses which will require the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence, and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed by EAP. EAP is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families, and groups. EAP addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs.

Why Horses?

We are often asked, “Why horses? Why not other animals?”
Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. The size and power of the horse are naturally intimidating to many people. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times, they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. Using metaphors, in discussion or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.

Horses require work, whether in caring for them or working with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the “easy way” are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life.

Most importantly, horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Many people will complain, “The horse is stubborn. The horse doesn’t like me,” etc. But the lesson to be learned is that if they change themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.

What one thing would you want people to know about EAGALA?

I have a deep desire to see people live the most fulfilling lives possible, and this is a great modality for helping people in crisis. Whether it be someone in an emotional difficulty or just wanting to self improve, people can use this to help them in their journey.

What’s new for you?

I’ll be going to South Africa this year. It’s great to see how EAGALA is growing around the world. The journey has been really exciting. We hear from our partners around the world that,” It’s working.”

Thanks Lynn, for sharing your love for people and horses, and have a blast in South Africa!! For anyone wishing to know more about Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and EAGALA please visit their website at

Photo Credit
© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

Harry Hopkins – Motivational Landscaper

With Summer Solstice and Midsummers Day upon us and what seems to be an extraordinary heat wave here in Laguna Beach all signals pointed to time in the garden with friends this weekend. My own plot is very small and overgrown, just the way I like it and it was a treat to sit and be witness to various wildlife seeking both food and shelter from the harsh summer elements. This week also saw me having a nourishing conversation with Australian import Harry Hopkins, Hamptons landscaper, to learn more about what occurs in high end landscape design.

Harry, what first interested you about landscape design?

I lived in Japan, Tokyo for a couple of years when I was 15 to 17. My Dad would take us all out to spend a couple of weeks in Kyoto and I think the gardens there got me into it. The incredible beauty of the zen gardens and the shrines, the whole area kind of blew my mind. When I returned to Australia I studied horticulture and landscape design. There was also a property where we lived in Sydney that had one of the first Camellia groves imported from China, with a propagation house and 20 diff. species of Japanese maple, an incredibly well planned property, studying design made sense of it for me. These are the two main reasons and I have never thought about doing anything else.

Where do you undertake the majority of your projects?

In Bridgehampton and Easthampton, people are building or renovating homes on the potato fields out here and we landscape them. There is not a lot of old growth up here on the fields and we create gardens that look mature, bringing in large trees, the smallest of which will be approximately 20ft. Some people out here still create monsters where maintaining 2 acres could cost them $100,000 each year but after working out here for 22 years I now have clients that really appreciate their gardens and it is not about keeping up with the Jones’.

The hard part of being out here is being at the end of an island, everything gets thrown at you at once, there are short seasons and it is initiation by fire trying to plan and plant. We have just worked 15 hour days for 3 months so we don’t have a lot of time to think during this time, it is a pressure cooker. You have to explain to people that everything we do is alive and we can’t always just put plants in while buildings are being built, it’s an on going education.

You spend many years nurturing the gardens you work on, how do you view them?

Well firstly there is the responsibility, I guarantee trees and plants so there are punch lists and a lot of monitoring going on, that is the side of it that is ‘work’ and takes time and then there is another side of it when I go the the properties early in the morning or late afternoon to photograph them and it is wonderful. It’s the feeling of awe and satisfaction, I love it. The process can be a little hectic sometimes but the outcome is mind blowing.

You are struck by the beauty but what about getting dirty?

That is the best part! Getting dirty and watching it, I am sat here at a house I landscaped 12 years ago and looking at one of the most beautiful trees that I planted, it is incredible, there is definitely huge satisfaction from the dirt side of the job. After the first 4 or 5 years you watch and see what has really grown, it is an inspiration.

What are your clients looking for?

Not to get their hands dirty. My clients prefer to walk the property not work it. There is a lot of paranoia about lyme disease and ticks from the woodland so families are looking for gardens that include a lawn, (somewhere to place their hammock), maybe a treehouse, a pool, with enough money anything can be created. These properties are often only used for 12 weeks of the year and families might only get up to their property for 3 days each week, so they want something that is complete and looks good. For some of my clients their gardens represent precious time with their children in an open space, living in Manhattan appreciating an open space here with their families feeds their soul.

How often to you encourage vegetable gardens and do you find that children become more aware of nature and the concept that vegetables actually grow and not just appear on shelves?

I now have 3 or 4 clients who do small scale things with their children for example we will install small cut flower areas, herb gardens and small vegetable gardens. Children can also appreciate small agriculture out here; picking strawberries, we also have apple time and farms that produce cheese. Showing kids these things is a part of being out here. I also have a couple of clients who have cooks on property and they grow their own veggies.

All our properties are now organic, it is harder as it is a slower process, a tree may take longer to look its best but there is an important integrated relationship between the plants and the lawn etc.. it can be quite a hard sell to educate people that this is important.

What about water usage?

Long Island has lots of water and we use ‘leaky pipe’ irrigation which I first found out about in the kibbutzs in Israel. Some people also have their own well but for many years the potato farmers used harsh pesticides so the well water needs to be properly filtered but it can still be used for plants. Irrigation is a real art, in the first year of planting we need to pamper these newly planted mature trees and plants as they are still in shock, then we need to regulate as time goes on. People are also becoming more aware of indigeneous plants that require less water.

We also use a lot of Mycorrhizal it’s like a soil fungus, what might be created on the floor of the forest when plants integrate within each other where they have this kind of symbiosis. So instead of standard fertilizer we will use this fungus that really promotes root growth and the plants to relate to each other, it is a pretty new thing, people have only been really aware of it in the last five years and it works incredibly well. There is a lot of green thinking out here but it is hard to promote with the NY mentality.

You sound like quite the educator.

Not so much the educator, I think I see myself more as a motivator, a landscape motivational speaker. I spend a lot of time getting people involved looking at both the big picture and getting them excited about a tree or branch. I called a client recently to tell them to come out to see a tree that had just blossomed, they hadn’t seen it blossom in a couple of years. I am trying to get clients to understand more and I spend a lot of time motivating.

Is there anything that you refuse to do?

Yes, to take out trees that shouldn’t be taken out to create clearings, that is the main thing. I will say that I think we should work around it and will try to reign people in as far as maintaining the integrity of the landscape. I have actually walked out of a couple of jobs because of things like that. I also draw a line at pesticides.

Are you someone who believes that we should all grow something regardless of how small our space is?

Absolutely, even if you live in a tiny studio you can have a small herb garden on a window sill or small table or even figure out how to get out onto the roof, everyone should work out how to grow something, it is incredible therapy and good for the soul. In NYC I see so many people in Central Park who are passionate about it, soaking it all up, maybe more passionate than those who have 2 acres out here. I will always promote this in urban areas, I could never imagine not having plants around, even where I live in Australia it is a relatively small property and there is something going on in every corner. When I work on smaller projects like that I look to see what I can put into every nook and cranny.

Harry, thank you so much for taking a quick break to talk with me and for motivating us to get growing! Have a fun summer break (or would that be winter break?) back in Oz.

© The Red Barn Cooperative

This nourishing conversation was picked up and featured in Her gardening blog, a gardening carnival.

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

Teresa Manley & Joe Raffetto – Stepping up in a disaster

It’s that time of year again, I am packing up my important papers and personal things that I really don’t want to lose. It’s Southern California and I’m preparing for fire season.
I am a lucky one, even with four evacuations under my belt in eleven years. Many of my friends and I’m sure many of yours have not been so lucky. Wildfires have become a way of life in a strange way.

From having all your precious things in boxes at the door ready to throw into the car at a moment’s notice, to that network of people you have on speed dial when you see that plume of smoke hit the sky. Which elderly neighbors need help, who has horses but no trailer? These are just a few of the myriad of thoughts that go through the minds of people who have lived through wildfires.

Today I would like you to meet two people who have met these challenges head on.

Teresa you and Disaster Relief are no strangers. Can you tell me what Disaster Relief means to you?

There are many phases of disaster including immediate relief/response, long term recovery/rebuilding and preparedness. The area I have been most involved with is long term recovery which is just that – long term! Immediate relief is usually very well taken care of with many agencies and individuals involved with supplies and sheltering. Community led long term recovery is where groups of community leaders come together to bring resources to their community such as insurance advocacy, rebuilding expos, organization of volunteer labor, fund raising, unmet needs committees, etc. This is typically a 2 year process, although sometimes longer, depending on the magnitude of the disaster. What was surprising to us is that while immediate relief is very well organized, there really isn’t an agency or any ‘plan’ for long term recovery. A bag of clothes, water and food is fantastic, but if you don’t have a home to live in at the end of the day…….

How did you become involved?

I went to volunteer at our local chamber of commerce after the Cedar / Paradise fires in 2003 — for just a few days 🙂

What’s going on in Southern California since the fires?

In San Diego, the communities have come together and there are resource centers located in each of the fire affected communities with funding through the San Diego Foundation. There are weekly insurance meetings, rebuilding workshops through the County of San Diego, and our unmet needs committee has held its first meeting. Volunteer labor (Mennonite Disaster Services, etc.) will likely be here in October to begin the first round of rebuild projects (safe, sanitary homes for the most at risk families who have gone through FEMA, SBA, Case Management and the unmet needs table for assistance.

Are there ways people can get involved in helping?

Yes – there are going to be many projects where volunteers are needed, such as clearing brush from properties for the elderly and at risk who are unable to do it themselves.

Teresa, why does it take such a long time for people to rebuild their Homes?

After a disaster, 95% of survivors find they are underinsured. The underinsurance can range from a small percentage to severely underinsured, through no fault of their own. When you call to get an insurance quote, even if you ask for full coverage, they know you are shopping around, so the agents tend to ‘underbid’ so they will get your business. Then when the gigantic binder comes, very few people have the time or expertise to read the entire thing. Even very intelligent, wealthy people are surprised to learn they are underinsured. With a regular one-on-one house fire (that seems strange to say!) the underinsurance may not be as noticeable. But, after a disaster, the demand for building materials increases as well as for architects and contractors, so what may have been $125/sf to build may jump to 155/sf, for instance. Two income families with ‘disposable’ income typically have the ability to take out a loan while they pursue their insurance company and / or litigation. We found that families in the backcountry were less likely to have the ability to do that. Some of the ’03 survivors are just now getting back home and some have not. These families are in the worst position. The long term recovery committees and agencies assist all families with insurance advocacy, rebuilding workshops, etc., but with unmet needs and volunteer labor groups, there is a criteria of working with the most at risk families (elderly, disabled, widowed, uninsured, etc.). After the ’03 fires, we only had one family that didn’t have insurance because of ‘philosophical “reasons. Most low income individuals simply could not afford it. Elderly on fixed income had to choose food or insurance – it was not that they were being irresponsible. Others were simply unable to get insurance because of where they lived.

If people would like to volunteer to help in some way, who should they contact?

For San Diego, it is Volunteer San Diego who will be ‘brokering’ all of the misc. volunteer activities. Last time, we had a volunteer coordinator but it was too much for one person, and Volunteer San Diego does this as their normal life.

From what we have heard from our FEMA VALs (voluntary agency liaisons), it is going a little slower in the LA area. There is a group in San Bernardino called Mountain Hearts and Lives. They were active in the ’03 fires too so they might know. Ira is the person we met with a few times way back when

Is there any other individuals or agency that could be of service to people still needing help?

George Kehrer is a gem. He is an attorney and was a general contractor. He and his wife lost their home in the Oakland Fires and after discovering the horrific problems with underinsurance, they began their insurance advocacy group. They assisted us with families in Katrina as well is his website. He has all of the insurance quote programs on his laptop and can sit down with survivors and make sure they receive maximum benefits from their policies and many times, can get more than the policy limit.

Thanks Teresa.

Joe how did you become involved with the Red Cross?

I became a Red Cross Volunteer sort of by accident. On the Friday after the 9/11 attacks I couldn’t take just sitting home in Jersey so I went in to Manhattan and met up with a friend who lived there. That night we decided to walk along the Westside Highway towards Ground Zero. Maybe because of my government NOAA sweatshirt and big camera bag we were able to walk right through 3 checkpoints and ended up at the Red Cross Center. It was set up in a public school building just behind the Pile. They were short staffed as you can imagine so we lent a hand. We ended up being there for about 8 hours until dawn. Tom, the director, thanked us and said that he could probably use us again later that next day but had no way of getting us credentials. Somehow despite tightening security we were able to work our way back. He smiled when he saw us and shook his head in disbelief. Later that day we were able to sign up at the Red Cross Center further uptown and became official. I’ve been with them ever since.

What other disasters have you helped with?

Ground Zero, two floods in Jersey, a few house fires in Jersey, Waveland, Mississippi after Katrina (we were the first Red Cross team to reach the town center), and of course the school evacuation center right here in Borrego Springs during last year’s fires. I’m very conflicted right now because they desperately need Red Cross people to head for the Midwest but I just can’t do it because it is a very critical time with my business and they need at least a two-week commitment.

What is the best part of being a Red Cross Volunteer?

I think the greatest thing about being a Red Cross volunteer is that it allows me to directly help people in need which is what most people want to do when a disaster strikes. I’m just lucky enough to already be in a position to do that. It’s by far the most rewarding volunteer role
I’ve ever had. I look forward to every aspect of it.

Thanks Joe !!

To Teresa & Joe and all the amazing people who step up to the plate when others need it most we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

If you would like to nourish your heart and soul and volunteer you can read about opportunities at or at any of the other organizations mentioned in this post. You can also learn a little more about the longer term disruption that disaster causes by checking out the new tv series on Greensburg post the 2007 tornado that wiped out the whole town.

© The Red Barn Cooperative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

Jill Donello – Zero In on Zero Waste

Ex-business consultant specializing in process improvement and corporate education, now mom of two boys striving for Zero Waste.

Jill, what is the purpose of the Earth Resource Foundation?

Earth Resource Foundation (ERF) is an environmental educational non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, conserve, and restore the Earth to a healthy and sustainable state by redirecting available human, technological, monetary and academic resources. ERF works with youth, communities (government bodies) and businesses to make responsible choices about using the earth’s resources in a sustainable way.

Who should attend the upcoming Zero In on Zero Waste event?

The Zero In on Zero Waste Business Conference is open to all but focused on businesses who are interested in increasing their profits by eliminating or drastically reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfills or incineration. Many businesses who have achieved zero waste (or darn close!) have realized increased profits of millions of dollars annually simply by rethinking the way they use resources to produce their products or within their businesses processes. There are so many ways that companies have found to improve their businesses while reducing their environmental impact…this conference is designed to educate, demonstrate and inspire those who wish to do the same. It is one of the few opportunities to network and learn from zero waste companies.

When you talk of savings of millions of dollars it sounds like you are referring to fairly large companies, what would a smaller business owner get out of the conference and the networking opportunity?

It is true, most of the speakers are from multi-nationals (Toyota, Ricoh Electronics) which I think shows that zero waste is an attainable goal for all businesses, not just ones with small operations. The participants in the conference, however, range from large to small businesses (and also include government organizations, academics, and others), many local businesses attend making this a great networking event for companies looking to find “partners and collaborators” in their desire to build more sustainable businesses. The focus of the conference is to turn waste into profits, something I think businesses of any size can benefit from. Also, many cities (around the world) are beginning to adopt zero waste goals and standards (A few California examples include: Santa Monica, Burbank, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, Oakland, and San Bernadino county), so the sooner businesses learn about potential new regulations, the better they will be able to respond successfully.

Which companies are proud to claim ‘Zero Waste’ today?

There is a listing of several zero waste companies at Zero Waste Businesses. It’s by no means inclusive but provides some case studies on what companies are currently doing. Some really neat innovations have come from companies who have re-examined what’s being put in the trash…Vons (Safeway Stores) turns old produce into compost and donates non-saleable but edible items to local foodbanks, Ricoh Electronics eliminated a source of toxic waste by changing to re-usable containers for chemical deliveries, Interface carpet collects old carpeting and makes it back into new…Being a “zero waste company” is currently defined as one who is diverting 90% or greater of it’s waste from landfill or incineration.

What is important about your own involvement in this initiative, what meaning does it hold for you?

For me, the Zero Waste “movement” is important because it has the potential to impact a variety of “world struggles”. Mass consumption-ism is destroying the planet through overmining, pollution, global warming, landfill offgasing and land destruction, the destruction of our oceans… it also encourages unfair trade practices, worker exploitation and a plethora of other “societal ailments”. What I think is different about zero-waste from other green initiatives is that it’s goal is not to ask people to deny their basic needs or material desires but to fulfill those desires in a more sustainable way. The success of a zero waste isn’t based on guilting people/businesses into making more environmentally-friendly choices, but demonstrates that profitability and sustainability are equally-achievable goals. ZW is truly a win-win which is critical to making any real, sustainable change—businesses make more $, people get more needs satisfied, and the world becomes healthier…

Thank you Jill for sharing your passion for this topic, I hope that many businesses sign up for the conference to get educated. To register, view the speaker line up or to see how you can get involved visit

Thursday, June 26, 2008 8:00 am to 5:30 pm
Location: Ford Motor Company
1 Premier Place, Irvine, CA 92618

© The Red Barn Cooperative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

May 2018
« Sep    

Red Barn Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

    follow me on Twitter