Design brings intentionality into the environment. I love the iterative processes of design thinking, the wonderment of biomimicry, and the common sense of permaculture. I locate needs and wants, solve problems, resolve conflicts (often between multiple species), and develop aesthetics. You can find a few of my projects below.

a city meadow

Citizens of Vallejo democratically funded my first design, an 8,000ft² permaculture meditation garden, via the first participatory budet initiative (PB) in the US. After that, I tailored a dozen designs for residents; the State of California partially funded most of these projects with incentives to convert lawns into climate-smart landscapes.

I named this design-build company “Little Bird Gardening” to celebrate emergent properties in complex systems. Powered flight emerged in birds at a confluence of adaptive and aesthetic traits. Flight, or cognitive skills that it sharpened, might have helped birds survive a global catastrophe and thrive afterwards. I hope similar for humans today and identify gardening as one pathway for resilience.

the garden mobile

The Garden Mobile coalesced in a collaboration between participatory budget voters of Vallejo (see "gardens," above), the non-profit board of the Vallejo People’s Garden (VPG), the Obtainium Works art-car team, and me as the VPG Education and Development Coordinator.

Participatory Budgeting added new nodes and strengthened hubs in a network of community food gardens. We built the Garden Mobile to shuttle information and materials between VPG—a venerable network hub but a geographic fringe—and the rest of the city.

We also decided the mobile should look good in Vallejo’s two annual parades.

The design committee considered options like building a wooden garden shed on the back of a flatbed truck; we eventually decided to wrap a bus in a decorative and educational vinyl shell. A wheeled, collapsible ambulance cot would help load and unload cargo through the back door.

a bus covered in educational art about growing vegetables
VPG volunteers, four Touro University medical students, using the bus to deliver a nutrition workshop.

I designed the wrap. The wooden background mirrors the garden beds at VPG and the desired shed on wheels. The watercolor-styled paintings unfurl along a golden spiral. The text provides different gardening information legible at short and long distances (a property which with more time I might have finessed).

Even when simply parked, the Mobile does a lot to uphold VPG's mission of growing healthy food, people, and community.


After nearly a decade of collaborative tinkering with Robin Freeman, I feel delighted to serve as an editor and consultant for him and Steve Rauh while they coauthor a lithe manual on empathic urban design. They are writing "Nature and Human Nature: Giving Hope a Plan" to do for cities what Rosenberg’s "Non-Violent Communication" does for language.