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

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

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

the garden mobile

Funded by the first participatory budget in the United States (see "gardens," above), the Garden Mobile was a collaborative design project between the voters of Vallejo, the non-profit board of the Vallejo People’s Garden (VPG), the Obtainium Works art-car team, and myself as the VPG Education and Development Coordinator. Participatory Budgeting expanded or started six community food gardens. The Garden Mobile was built to shuttle information and materials between VPG—a cultural hub but a geographical fringe—and the rest of the city. Notably, it needed to look good in Vallejo’s two annual parades. The design comittee also considered building a wooden garden shed on the back of a flatbed truck. After iterative meetings, we 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 am delighted to serve as an editor and consultant for him and Steve Raugh while they coauthor a lithe manual on empathic urban design. They are writing "Nature and Human Nature: Giving Hope a Chance" to do for cities what Rosenberg’s "Non-Violent Communication" does for language.