Our current focus is Project 509, a water and sanitation project in a deeply rural area of Haiti that has no roads. We initiated this project in December of 2010, immediately following the cholera outbreak that has been so devastating to Haitians across their amazing country. To date, we have made four trips to Haiti – working in a remote mountain area to bring critical water and sanitation resources, educational presentations, and capacity building efforts to people in extreme need.
Since our founding in 2009, we have developed and supported a variety of efforts designed to creatively address some of the problems our world faces at their roots. Our commitment has been to do so in a way that provides inspiration and education about the realities of these problems, and how we can effectively address them moving forward.
An important part of what we have done has also been event production. We have produced several community based events designed to educate and inspire people to take positive actions that will benefit their personal lives, their communities, and our world. Please visit our Events Page for information on past events.
The Positive Plate
Sustainability planning in business is becoming increasingly visible; yet as Professor Chris Spray says, “sustainability is like teenage sex – everybody claims to be doing it, very few are, and those that are, are doing it badly.” We agree.
In developing The Positive Plate, we worked with numerous Orange County and San Diego based restaurants to help them improve their sustainability practices, but also to publicly illustrate what comprehensive and integrated sustainability planning looks like in practice. This is an incredibly important concept, as the vast majority of businesses claiming to incorporate sustainability planning, only do what is in their best interest, and fail to adequately address problems they claim to be solving.
Restaurants provide an excellent opportunity to develop a model for comprehensive and integrated sustainability planning; they have extended and diverse supply chains, use tremendous amounts of energy and water, generate enormous amounts of waste, rely on a staff of employees that interact frequently with the public, and are often considered important parts of our communities.
Our evaluation system analyzes each restaurant’s sustainability efforts based on five different, yet integrated, categories:
1) Product Sourcing
2) Energy and Water Efficiency
3) Waste Reduction and Recycling
4) Employee Relations and Development
5) Community Engagement
Aquaponics is a unique agricultural method that merges hydroponics (water based agriculture) and aquaculture. Fish waste provides fertilizer for the plants while the plants filter the water for the fish. It’s a symbiotic relationship that demonstrates biomimicry in its truest form, and offers an interesting and educational way to conceptualize some of the strategies we are going to have to start thinking more seriously about adopting as societies move into a more uncertain and resource intensive future.
Aquaponics is also a great way to expand our understanding of what sustainable agriculture looks like – especially in water stressed areas, such as southern California, or Port-au-Prince Haiti.
Compared to traditional agriculture:
• Aquaponics uses 90% less water
• Requires no soil
• Produces up to 10 times greater yields
We developed a mobile aquaponics system (pictured above), which we brought to schools for educational presentations, as well as to a wide variety of community events, such as Earth Day events, the Artisan Food Festival at the OC Great Park, and the Orange County Fair. Our system was powered by solar and demonstrated a variety of vegetables and herbs that can be grown through aquaponics.
In December of 2011, we built a modular aquaponics system at Haiti Communitere, a sustainable building resource center in Port-au-Prince (left).
We also built custom aquaponics systems in several schools and community sites, including the Riverside Union School District, Avalon High School, the Lyford Caye International Baccalaureate School in the Bahamas, and the Orange County Fairgrounds.