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  • July 11, 2014 5:07 PM | Tiffany Whisenant (Administrator)

                 I would like to bring up a couple of issues on the reporting of local and regional water issues in two local media outlets. The first issue is the copying and reposting of an identical article. Here one can see an article published on July 9th at 8:27am by Barett Tryon of KLAS, the local channel 8 news station. Here the identical article was published a day earlier by Ken Ritter of the Associated Press. This copy/past reposting of the article demonstrates a new level of reporting and does not seem to add to the conversation. If Mr. Tyron read Mr. Ritter’s piece and restructured the information to expand or condense the information then that would benefit the reader to some degree. While I do not personally want to see KLAS become the next HuffPo, at least news aggregation does not hide its condensation and cites the original work. Taking the article as a whole and simply putting someone else’s name on it is the very definition of plagiarism. With no mention of the AP article one is lead to believe that the KLAS article is one of original creation.

                One possible contributing factor to this action may have been the complex water-speak that takes place within the piece. One would need to be in a unique educational position to understand, parse and then convey some of the concepts reported. For example, the following section is quite difficult for the average valley resident to digest as a coherent lake statistic.

    The lake on Tuesday was just under 1,082 feet above sea level, and the reservoir was about 39 percent full, said Rose Davis, a bureau spokeswoman in Boulder City. The dropping level since the reservoir was last full in 1998, at just under 1,296 feet above sea level, has left as much as 130 feet of distinctive white mineral "bathtub ring" on hard rock surfaces surrounding the lake.

                How can the lake be at 1,082, representing 39% of the reservoir’s capacity at the same time that 1,296 feet represents the reservoir being full? Further down the piece is a reference to Lake Powell being managed in conjunction with Lake Mead. Additionally the 39% fullness level would suggest that the lake can attain a level of at least 2,700 feet above sea level. It is possible that one measurement includes the other lake, but it should not be expected that the public would consider such things without them being explicitly stated.

                Lastly, as important as what is being said, is what is not being said. Towards the end, the mention of a “shortage declaration” completely fails to state or define what actions will take place once this declaration is made. With an expectation of a single foot rise by January and the declaration being expected sometime in 2016, the lack of any type of discussion on behavior change or actions needing to be taken is unnerving.

     Posted by Joseph

  • July 03, 2014 1:30 AM | Tiffany Whisenant (Administrator)

    One of the most crucial realities the valley must confront in the coming year and years ahead is our water use and reservoir situation. With non-reclaimable residential water use being the greatest source of consumption, we must look forward to implementing a variety of solutions for those who want plants on their property. Exploring those possibilities in practice is part of the focus of Vegas Roots Community Garden as well as Great Basin Permaculture. With the form of one’s yard providing a visually appealing quality, the function of a yard to provide food has moved into people’s minds as they seek a respite from the stress of their daily routines or providing supplementary nutrients to their household. Form and function have come together here at Vegas Roots Community Garden. Their hard work has been recognized by the Southern Nevada Water District in partnership with The Spring Preserve. Vegas Roots has been bestowed upon a landscape award of excellence. The award is in recognition of a lush and flourishing landscape while implementing water saving features and methods that help to optimize water use and reduce waste through transpiration and runoff.
    Next time you are out to visit our garden, take the time to peruse the rest of the greater property. As of this writing the orchard is producing a great load of fruit on nearly every tree. The front beds and rows are doing well and someone graciously sharpened all the tools so they are ready to go as well.

     Posted by Joseph

  • October 15, 2013 5:35 PM | Jessica Penrod (Administrator)
    I was born in Reno. I live in Las Vegas now. I make the drive to Reno about every 3 months or so and, yes, I love the Nevada historic markers and ghost towns and beef jerky stands in between. On my most recent trip north, I picked up my two favorite sources of Reno news, Edible Reno-Tahoe and RN&R. If you don't know this already, please believe that Reno is well ahead of Las Vegas in the local food, back to the farm movement. Food grows there and has for a long time, so it's not as tricky to talk people into eating local when they can see it. Different story down here. One thing I think about often is how to get northern Nevada and southern Nevada to fall in love again and be partners in this state we're in. Food is always my first bet since we all need it. Money is the next attention-getter. Then, I opened the RN&R to find this article "Growth Spurt - Indoor Agriculture May Supplement the Economy". The article quotes state renewable energy industry specialist Bonnie Lind, "Nevada spends approximately $2 billion a year out of state for its food..." That's a lot of money that we could keep in our state's economy! Don't fret too soon over whether or not to give up bananas (a very un-local food) to support the state, Lind offers the solution of supporting indoor agriculture in all of its varieties as an alternative way to grow the food we need, create jobs, and keep money in the state. And here's the kicker for me: "She added that Southern Nevada also has a high demand for quality produce year-round for tourism and Northern Nevada has a ot of the infrustructure needed to get it up and goin with local farming groups and the 'buy local' movement".
    I think we may have a match. 
  • July 21, 2013 12:22 PM | Jessica Penrod (Administrator)
    Our sense of sight is the predominant way we view the world around us. That's why cute pictures of puppies can subtly brighten your day and this is why I follow the NVSPCA on Facebook so I get my daily dose of cute while trolling the Facebook newsfeed. The lightning storm Friday night was certainly a dose of good eye candy. I was anxious to visit the Permaculture Learning Garden Saturday morning to see how the weather had affected it. And, yes, there were some significant things to see but the very best part was the smell of the compost and pine tree mulch. It was so rich and earthy. I wish I could bottle that smell. The feel of the soil was also notable since it was squishy and spongy after soaking in all the rainwater in the organic material that we've laid down. I had the pleasure of sinking a shovel into the soil, just to feel it. 
    To make the point better than I could bother to try, please watch this Ted talk exploring the audioscapes in our world. I also recommend reading A Natural History of Our Senses by Diane Ackerman.

  • March 28, 2013 11:27 AM | Jessica Penrod (Administrator)
    Today I am happy to set up a worm farm with the folks at Work in Progress. While preparing for the class, I gathered what resources I have on the topic. 

    *Pictures and a bit about my worm farm at home, Feb 2012 (read it here)

    *A flyer I made for the teachers' lounge at Morrow ES. 

    *Worm infographic from Nature's Footprint (the maker of my worm farm set up)

  • December 28, 2012 6:04 PM | Jessica Penrod (Administrator)
    Resolutions tend to be as mis-guided as they are well-meaning. So, how does one set goals that outlive the initial inspiration or achieve sustainability? (A goal for 2013 is to find a replacement word for sustainable; I feel it has been beat to death.) That is the 9.4 million dollar question that I pondered today as I drove to the Three Square warehouse and volunteer facilities in North Las Vegas. 
    The first thing I noticed were the date palms dropping delicious edible dates on the sidewalk in front of the main entrance. Ha! Inside the impressively massive facilities, I met Michael, a volunteer and friend of Great Basin Permaculture, and Robin, my mom. Michael is familiar with the space as he volunteers regularly there as a cook, so he led us on a tour of the warehouse full of boxes big enough to park a Fiat in, the kitchen where the hot meals are prepped, the community room where banquets are held for current and potential sponsors, and the sorting room.  The volunteer coordinator, Patti Johnson, greeted us and told us that the $9.4 million facilities were all donated through corporate grant money. At this point I was surrounded by money and food and felt justified in thinking that there is plenty to go around. It's all about directing the energy and resources in the most efficient way. Then, just in time to interrupt my warm fuzzies, we were told by Patti that in order to volunteer, we needed to go online and print out the application. She left us standing under the Hilton Park Sign a tad bewildered. We were willing and able and interested volunteers that had driven from three seperate and distant parts of town to spend a few hours making ourselves useful. Then we met James Ray, who cheerily gave us a printed application and pens. After filling out the applications, he put our information into the volunteers system and showed us to the sorting room. Awesome, that's more like it! The warm fuzzies returned. James showed us the sorting room where donations are, well, sorted. At first, we helped pack 20 lb boxes of snacks. While sorting through the snacks to pack up and send to schools (which, as a teacher, I've handed out to students), I vowed to donate more healthy snacks. I would rejoice at the site of a box of raisins in and amongst the mountain of Jello Snack Packs and cheddar crackers.There were a lot of people already working on this project and they had a good system down, so I felt a bit redundant. The volunteer coordinators noticed and redirected us to sorting. Three Square collects everything, not only canned and dry food goods, but drinks, candy (lots of leftover Halloween candy), clothing, toys, tolietries, glasses, and so on. Three Square is working toward becoming a zero waste facitily by recycling everything recyclable, donating expired food to Gilcrease Animal Sanctuary, and composting food waste with A-1 Organics.
    Overall I was impressed at how Three Square runs their organization and manages their volunteer staff. I look forward to spending more time there as a volunteer. 
    Which brings me back to that 9.4 million dollar to set a goal that will outlive the good intention that inspired it. 

  • December 22, 2012 11:47 PM | Tiffany Whisenant (Administrator)
    In my attempts at explaining the definition of dormancy to an 8-year-old, I thought about how beautiful the concept is.  At a time when it seems like absolutely nothing is happening, plans are being put in for the next season.  The Jujube trees at the Permaculture Learning Garden have all dropped their leaves, the gourds have died back and everything is using significantly less water.  A plant going dormant in the winter is by no means stagnant, it's simply building itself up again where it counts the most.  Leaves are dropped in the fall, and warmth, moisture and fertility are retained in the soil so that plants can lay down healthy roots, equaling healthy shoots when the time is right. 
    So, as I beat myself up for eating chocolate and lazing in my pajama pants during the coldest parts of the year, I try to remember that dormancy is a natural state of growth, and there is much glory in (seemingly) doing nothing.  Happy holidays everyone; thoroughly enjoy your chocolate!
  • December 12, 2012 8:12 PM | Jessica Penrod (Administrator)
    It arrived! I ordered the DVD all the way from Australia, the source of most things permaculture, and am happy to report that it was in my mailbox last Friday. The husband and I poured a bottle of wine and proceeded to watch all 100 minutes of it, stopping occasionally for discussions. The chihuahua was mildly amused by the birds in the background, such a cacophony of sound! It reminded me of a sad statistic I found last year while teaching an urban bird class to fourth graders: Over half of the songbird population in the US has diminished since the 1950s. After watching this DVD, I feel confident that permaculture design can help us create environments in our urban neighborhoods that provide nourishment and shelter for those lovely songbirds and, of course, for the humans. 
    Truthfully, I was curious about Geoff Lawton. I ordered the DVD because it focused specifically on URBAN permaculture, something our Las Vegas members have an obvious keen interest in, but a second intention was to see more of Geoff Lawton outside of the famous Greening the Desert videos. With a keen eye for identifying patterns, an extensive knowledge of workable relationships, and a passion that often overwhelmed his monologues, Geoff Lawton takes you through a variety of urban spaces, some as we typically know them and others showcasing examples of intentional permaculture design. This is one of those documentaries that provides shaded music to imply the mood (a little cheesy if I might be so opinionated). The last half of the film showcases a "Permablitz", a weekend workshop of students under Geoff Lawton that observe, design and implement a more efficient food-producing yard for a willing Australian urbanite. I envy the mangoes and paw-paws...
    Join us for a showing of this inspiring movie Tuesday, January 15 at 5 pm at usr/lib. Register here!
  • December 09, 2012 10:12 AM | Jessica Penrod (Administrator)
    Introducing today's guest blogger, Santa's newest reindeer, Permablitzen.

    (Cue Australian accent) Hello GBP Blog Readers...a very merry Christmas to you all! I bring a message from Bill Mollison directly. Do enjoy:

    "It's time to define what we do want"

    That's what he said. So, Las Vegas, tell me what you want and I'll let the old man know. GBP has a wish list (see below). If you are inclined to give generously to your local permaculture non profit that is dedicated to promoting positive sustainable changes for the benefit of all creatures great and small in the Las Vegas Valley, Santa will check your name twice on the nice list. 


    Dear Santa,

       We've been a very good non-profit this year. We've worked on the Permaculture Learning Garden, building with repurposed materials to create a shady oasis of inspirational observation in the Vegas Roots Community Garden. We've earned a grant from Native Seeds Exchange and the donations of many supporters through our Indiegogo campaign. We've included our letter with your newest reindeer, Permablitzen, who snacked on carrots from our garden as we wrote the list.

    1. Anything from our Library Wish List:

    Tagari Pack:
    Permaculture: A Designer's Manual Mollison
    Introduction to Permaculture Mollison
    Permaculture Two Mollison
    The Power of Duck Furuno
    Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrtition Mollison
    Energy From Nature Pedals
    Sepp Holzer's Permaculture Holzer
    Edible Forest Gardens (2 vol set) Jacke
    Permaculture Holmgren
    Gaia's Garden Hemenway
    One Straw Fukuoka
    Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Vol 2 Lancaster
    Rainwater Harvesting Vol 1 Lancaster
    Sowing Seeds in the Desert Fukuoka

    Support local booksellers! Find them online at

    2. Meadows Mill #5 Hammer Mill for grinding mesquite beans to flour, for our annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast and for community use! Read more about it here:

    3. Compost Tumbler (like this one)

    Of course, Santa, we are always grateful to accept cash donations or time donations from volunteers. Say hello to Mrs. Claus and the elves. We'll be sure to leave out some mesquite cookies for you. 


    Great Basin Permaculture


  • December 03, 2012 8:35 PM | Anonymous
    Some people in other parts of the country can take a long, well deserved rest. Their work in the fields, gardens and orchards is finished for a year as winter settles in. But here in our valley, where my tomatoes are still producing and there isn't a freeze in the forecast, we have little time to enjoy our successes and learn from our... um... other experiences.

    Spring planting seems like next year, because it is. Yet it's only eight weeks away! The race against the summer heat will be on. Seeds for squash, corn, melons, greens and other vegetables can go in the ground as early as February 1. Count out the days for yourself: Seeds planted the first, germination mid-month, and then two weeks until the weather warms up in March. Remember, we broke a 100 degrees in April this year.

    There is time now, though, to stand in your garden and breathe. Enjoy those few peaceful moments, because before you know it, there will be much to do: clean up and composting, soil amending, pruning the fruit trees and creating new beds, irrigation and tool maintenance -- and don't forget to order your seeds (

    Saturday, we will gather at the Permaculture Learning Garden to begin preparing for next year. (Didn't we just pull up the gourds last week?) I hope to see you there.
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