Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

Testimonials

Presentations

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Each year, we [at Park Pride] strive to raise the bar for our keynote presenter [at our annual Parks and Greenspace Conference]. Each year that gets more difficult. I must say that, watching Brad in action speaking so passionately and convincingly about his work with communities and relating his work to our audience, he has lived up to that very tall order. The standing ovation Brad received after his keynote address is one testament to his success in reaching our broad audience of community groups, engineers, architects, and city/regional planners. Another testament to Brad’s success in reaching our audience is the fact that so very many people have congratulated us on getting him to anchor our conference. Some questioned why we had selected someone from Arizona to talk about our water challenges in Atlanta. Brad put any doubts to rest from his first words, “What do you want your community to be like?” And the rest is history. My only small complaint: How will we ever live up to the higher expectations that Brad set for our next conference?
–Walt Ray, Director of Park Visioning, Park Pride, Atlanta, GA

Having Brad come to Austin for a series of presentations on his integrated approach to water was one of the best decisions we ever made. Not only were his presentations professional, well-organized, entertaining and informative, but the content was extremely applicable to our region and current city/community movements. Brad’s unique approach—especially his emphasis on practical, doable, low-cost earthworks solutions—inspired many of us and fed an enthusiastic call-to-action for local changes in the ways we deal with rainwater and stormwater. Water is one of the most critical topics nearly everywhere today, and Brad Lancaster offers real-world solutions that can and have changed the way we think about and deal with that precious liquid that falls from the sky.
–Gayle Borst, Architect and Executive Director of Design~Build~Live, Austin, TX

I am writing to thank you for sharing your knowledge of rainwater-harvesting principles with the Community Design Academy and residents of Santa Cruz County. On both occasions that we worked together you exceeded our, and the participants’, expectations. Your extensive knowledge of water-harvesting practices, principles and benefits are evident. I have come to realize that information becomes more powerful when it is used positively to effectuate change. Your ability to transfer water-harvesting knowledge to people of all walks of life and motivate them to adopt your principles is simply amazing. Thank you again for your willingness to share your knowledge and teach others how to harvest the rain that falls on their land. I look forward to working with you again in the future.
–Jason Meininger, Coordinator of Sonoran Institute’s Community Design Academy and Santa Cruz County (Arizona) water-harvesting workshops

Brad Lancaster has presented for two years at the New Mexico Organic Farming Conference, the last time being in February 2010, and within hours we began receiving requests to bring him back again. Brad’s passion for his work shines through his presentation, inspiring those who hear him to get out and begin the work of harvesting rainwater. Brad’s practical advice on how to move forward addresses every level and ability from a homeowner with only a shovel to a farmer with large acreage and big equipment. Our conference halls always reverberate with nuggets from Brad’s presentation long after the presentation has ended. Brad is a treasured resource for those seeking more sustainable ways of living on the earth.
–Joanie Quinn, New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, Albuquerque NM

[Brad’s] keynote program on water harvesting was absolutely the highlight of our sustainable-landscaping symposium—our evaluations were full of rave reviews!
–Celia Curtis, Denver Botanical Gardens, Public Programs Manager

Brad Lancaster’s humor and unabashed and uninhibited style entice while educating the audience about rainwater harvesting. He has great knowledge on this subject and added much to our symposium.
–Robin Spaulding, President, Cascading Connections (Peak to Prairie Landscape Symposium)

Brad’s keynote presentation at the 2009 New Mexico Watershed Forum was, by far, the most popular event of the 3-day event as demonstrated by the 50+ evaluation forms we received and the verbal feedback we received. In particular, the often very-serious group of foresters in attendance got pumped up by the demonstration of how vegetation reduces stormwater runoff.
–Rich Schrader, River Source, Santa Fe, New Mexico

[Brad’s] rainwater harvesting presentation was truly a visionary outlook on water conservation and water (and energy) sustainability… entertaining, fast-paced, thought-provoking, and ultimately practical.
–Chuck Graf, Senior Hydrologist, Water Quality Division, Arizona Dept of Environmental Quality

I own a community-management company and manage 95 homeowners’ associations. The cost of landscaping services and water to irrigate vegetation represents 45–85% of their annual budgets. We are always looking for ways to save the associations money and resources. I discovered Brad and his work on the internet while looking for ways to educate our boards on sustainable landscaping, and was honored to have him as the key speaker at a training event I held for my board members, landscape-committee members, and the landscaping companies that service the associations. Everyone was engaged and entertained, and embraced the concept of sustainable landscaping. I am happy to report that many of the boards have included in their budget for 2016 money to change parts or all of their landscaping to be more sustainable. Several have already implemented some level of change. I am also happy to report that two of the landscaping companies have registered get their certification. Everyone is impatiently awaiting the next event. I have found the only way to make change happen is to educate those in the position to make the changes. Thank you, Brad, for your wisdom, commitment, and knowledge!
–Charlene Dufresne, Owner, Copper Rose Community Management, Tucson, Arizona

Teaching & Workshops

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Brad Lancaster leads a very thorough workshop on greywater harvesting that both piques interest and teaches practical skills.  The workshop participants are quickly engaged with a presentation that provides the background for the why and how-to of greywater harvesting. Through the hands-on portion of the workshop, participants learn actual implementation of real systems along with integrated design concepts that include energy efficiency, appropriate plant selection, and low-tech, low-cost systems.
–Lisa Shipek, Executive Director, Watershed Management Group

Brad Lancaster has taught the Permaculture Design Course with me for several years and his presentation is always a highlight of the course. The students become highly motivated learners and participants in his hands-on exercises. Brad is always highly prepared, obviously enjoys his subject matter, maintains a high level of professionalism and is always current on changes in the field of water remediation and harvesting, his primary teaching interest. I, too, always learn something new when Brad shares my classroom.
–Scott Pittman, Director, Permaculture Institute USA

Brad Lancaster first visited our school in 2009, and [has received] rave reviews from the faculty and students. Brad has the unique ability to engage the young and older alike. His message is upbeat and inspiring. He leaves us feeling like change is at our fingertips, and with the motivation to be that change.
–Barbara Gilbert, Science Teacher, Albuquerque Academy

Brad presented to middle school students, high school students, and teachers at our school, and the overwhelming response was that individuals were inspired to take steps to “plant the rain.” Brad actually IS the change he wants to see in the world and this authenticity comes across during his presentations.
–Karen Lyall, Sustainability Coordinator, Sandia Preparatory School, Albuquerque

Brad is a dynamic educator who can inspire and excite people of all ages. With his humor, intellect, and warm personality he is able to get his audience to understand that everyone can change the way we use water. He is equally effective in front of a large audience as he is with a smaller group of students. Brad’s simple solutions to our perceived lack of water abundance can be implemented by both the individual as well as the large institution. I have invited Brad to our community for the past two years and each time we have learned something new.
–Karen Temple-Beamish, Science Teacher & Sustainability Coordinator, Albuquerque Academy

Tours

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Brad Lancaster gives a lively, fascinating tour of his home, where he seizes every opportunity to turn what we in the desert so often waste—sunlight, rainwater, even mesquite pods—back into the precious resources they are.  Designed for fun and convenience, everything on Brad’s property inspires creativity and resourcefulness—the very traits we seek to cultivate in our youth today. At various points along the tour, students learn about rainwater-collection systems, native desert foods, solar ovens and water heaters, and even how to choose a home based on its orientation to the sun. Brad’s property is a visible example of real transformation—from a barren, unsightly plot when he bought it, into what it is today—an oasis for desert vegetation and wildlife.  That metamorphosis has had a positive impact on his neighborhood, as well, creating a stronger sense of community as others adopt more sustainable, desert-friendly practices in their own homes and yards. Several of our students were still talking about the tour in school the following day, which is what we had hoped for.  Enthusiasm for ways of living that restore natural desert beauty and habitat while minimizing pollution and waste is precisely what we work to instill in all of our kids.
–Dan Moxley, Language Arts Teacher, Sky Islands High School, Tucson

Brad’s Tucson-area tours are a favorite part of our learning program at Ecosa Institute.  It is one thing to read through Brad’s books and quite another to hear his on-the-ground stories about making change that integrates nature with urban life. Brad’s humor and dynamism keep everyone engaged and provide an inspiring program high point when we make a field trip to Tucson.
–Levi Mason, Ecosa Institute, a program of Prescott College, Prescott AZ

Integrated Design & Consultation

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I had the privilege to work with Brad Lancaster on three CoHousing projects in Tucson, Arizona, from 1998 to 2006. My position was as local Project Manager and a development partner. Brad was the Permaculture and Water Harvesting Consultant for Milagro, Sonora, and Stone Curves CoHousing projects from the earliest feasibility/design conception phase through to the completion of these projects, including his supervision of the implementation of his recommendations.

Brad’s role may seem to be a minor one compared to all the other primary, required consultants (architects and all their related building design engineers, civil engineers, landscape architects, hydrologists, etc), yet Brad’s gentle and sincere expertise and input had a profound influence on all aspects of the project’s designs and successful outcomes.

Only in retrospect did it become clear to me what a positive and inspired influence Brad’s charismatic presentations had on almost every vital aspect of these three projects, including the impact on the sales literature and presentations to potential buyers. All three projects sold out, and the last one, Stone Curves, did so prior to the completion of construction. Every individual involved, from designers, approval bureaucrats, lenders & appraisers, builders, and individual workmen to prospective and final purchasers, was in some way positively impressed and impacted by unique elements Brad brought to the projects. I have absolutely no doubt that Brad’s incorporated design and water-harvesting features continue to positively influence the lives of the individuals and families who live in these three intentional communities.

I wish to add a few words about Brad’s style as a team player. Besides Brad’s thorough knowledge and understanding of his own areas of expertise, I found him always to be the most respectful and best listener to ALL other team members. I’ve never experienced him cutting in or interrupting another, he bides his time to speak with equanimity. Yet, when it is his turn he has a simple passion that not only explains his contribution, but somehow acknowledges all the other ideas respectfully, too.

Brad Lancaster is a talented individual who will always make valuable contributions to any activity or enterprise he is involved with.
–James L. Hamilton, CoHousing Project Manager

Brad has brought his creative design and implementation skills to many projects we have worked on together since the early 1990s, ranging from helping students develop and implement a permaculture design at Ha:san Preparatory and Leadership School (a Native American high school in Tucson) to designing and undertaking an extensive habitat-restoration program on hundreds of acres at Tucson Audubon Society’s North Simpson Restoration Site on the Santa Cruz River.

The Permaculture Concept Plan that Brad helped develop for the Mason Audubon Center has been implemented in steps for 10 years as funding has become available, and is teaching and engaging the community at each step. Brad has provided input on City of Tucson projects on many occasions, recently helping envision a watershed approach to harvesting and using stormwater from “A” Mountain (a.k.a., Sentinel Peak) to help support vegetation in and around Mission Garden.

While helping technically edit drafts of Brad’s Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond books, I have seen Brad’s absolute devotion to painstaking research and detailed descriptive writing, in addition to his passion for inspiring others to evolve from extractive, scarcity-inducing lives to abundance-inducing lives, starting with harvesting rainwater. Artwork has been key to Brad’s teachings and writings. He has worked with many artists and illustrators, myself included, to capture just the right combination of technical detail and accessibility in order to get information across in an appealing, easily understandable way.

In the 20 years I have known him, Brad Lancaster’s life has been an on-going “work of art” revolving around water harvesting, community, and sense of place. He passionately wants to educate and inspire all of us to follow his lead in making his home, neighborhood, community, and world more abundant. The home he shares with his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew is an evolving example of his life’s work, and includes elegant art designs and sculptures that educate as they engage. Brad’s wide-ranging, integrated way of thinking is guaranteed to yield many benefits and products from each public-art effort—the essence of sustainability.
–Ann Audrey, Environmental Consultant

I am writing in support of award-winning author and public speaker Brad Lancaster—for his leadership, hard work and ability to gain consensus among diverse stakeholders. When I first met Brad, I was prepared to be awed by his knowledge of water-conservation best practices, but my lasting impression was his intimate understanding of art, history, and sense of place.

I had the pleasure of working with Brad for one of Ward 1’s premier neighborhoods, Dunbar/Spring. This $500,000 project was so well-conceived and coordinated by Brad and his neighbors that it has become the poster-child for countless other Tucson revitalization projects. Earlier this year, the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted Dunbar/Spring in “Hip Little Tucson Heats Up,” featuring the unique street art that Brad’s leadership helped make happen. His concepts for artwork and earthworks were taken from research about the people and natural ecosystem of the neighborhood. That’s what makes his work so special.

Brad was also involved in another Ward 1 project, the award-winning Bike Church. Entirely made of bike parts and created by artists training Ward 1 youth, Brad led the effort to design the rainwater-harvesting earthworks that has turned this public-art project into a mini pocket park adored by residents and visitors.

Brad’s leadership and respect for people, culture, language, and history extends far beyond his neighborhood. He helped push Tucson to be the first city in the nation to pass commercial rainwater-harvesting requirements and most recently he helped us revise and improve Tucson’s greywater laws. His annual community tree-planting effort has resulted in more than 1,500 native, low-water shade trees planted in his own neighborhood and thousands more across Tucson. Using street runoff to irrigate the street trees reduces water consumption as we reduce downstream flooding. I appreciate his common-sense solutions to battle urban heat islands and climate change.

I wholeheartedly support Brad Lancaster. He is talented, hard-working, and charismatic, and would be a tremendous asset to any team.
–Regina Romero, Tucson City Council, Ward 1

Teamwork & Community Projects

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As a co-founder and current Senior Program Manager with a Tucson-local non-profit, Watershed Management Group, I have worked with Brad Lancaster on various projects and programs since 2006. Brad has served our organization by providing technical expertise, assisting with strategic planning, serving as an educator, guiding policy development, and generating programmatic ideas.

Brad’s vision to define a new “story” for Tucson—to have a community become harmonious with and celebrate its local environment—has greatly influenced Watershed Management Group’s direction and focus over these years. This story of place is ingrained in every thought and action Brad expresses. The work Brad has accomplished in Tucson—shifting us to a community approach and providing tangible and practical action steps towards better utilization of local resources, including water-harvesting practices—has become world-renowned.

I have had the privilege of working with Brad in a number of team settings engaging diverse stakeholders and opinions, including developing local policy, strategic planning, community forums, and more. Brad easily guides a productive team setting by ensuring the vision is clear to work, asking critical questions at the right time, staying solution-focused, and finding common ground that bridges divides.
–Catlow Shipek, Senior Program Manager, Watershed Management Group

I have worked with Brad Lancaster as an illustrator and Permaculture colleague for many years. He has always shown a real appreciation for my work as adding to the artistic merit of his books and well as the technical clarity. Brad respects and values artists, and supports artistic expression.

Brad strives for clarity and precision in everything he does. He does this not for its own sake. He works for the benefit of every reader of his books and every participant in his workshops. Through all his actions, he seeks to achieve something that will cause each person with whom he works on a book or in workshops to go away feeling not only informed but also able to work with the material offered for the objectives shared. Whatever he does, he wants those who learn from him to become their own experts, confident in the knowledge to work effectively on projects of their own.

He has done that very thing in his own neighborhood. From a group of older houses in the same area, Brad’s engagement with his community has allowed it to form a community in spirit and in fact, as we have seen in the water-harvesting and other permacultural projects in the homes, in the streets, and in the community garden that exist there now. He teaches directly and by example, and many, many people have effectively learned and put a great deal of that learning into practice. His neighborhood now emerges as a kind of artistic expression of community energy, enthusiasm, and values.

Brad continues to learn himself. He does so in his travels, and he does so when working with others. When we work together, I think about what I illustrate, build models for clarity, and ask in-depth questions about the work. He always listens, observes, and responds carefully and with clarity. He also does something else which make him the best kind of colleague and teacher. He learns from his exchanges with others, and he incorporates what he learns into what he publishes and teaches.

All these qualities make Brad Lancaster a good team member in any enterprise.
–Silvia Maria Rayces, Illustrator and Permaculture Practitioner

Over the last five years, through my role as neighborhood president, I have had the opportunity and the privilege to work with Brad Lancaster on a variety of projects and issues affecting the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood.

Brad has been a dynamic leader and an inspiration in our neighborhood for more than a decade. He has cultivated community involvement in our annual neighborhood tree planting, which has greened our neighborhood with the planting of more than 1,000 trees. He spearheaded a neighborhood partnership that resulted in the formation of a community garden that continues to stand as a cornerstone of neighbor-to-neighbor friendship and mutual endeavor. He has led by example in the areas of water harvesting and permaculture, using his home, yard, and street frontage as teaching tools. His ideas have spread steadily through the neighborhood and beyond, with more and more homes harvesting rainwater runoff from the public right-of-way as a direct result of his involvement in neighborhood programs and in the community at large.

Most recently, I was glad to have Brad’s involvement and input in the planning and execution of a water-harvesting, traffic-calming, and public-art project which was funded by a nearly half-million-dollar grant from the Pima County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. Thanks to Brad’s thoughtful contributions, one of the major public-art pieces, a six-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a Sonoran suckerfish and a horned lizard, is relevant to place and promotes a hopeful and inspiring vision for the future. The sculpture, originally conceived as a sculpture depicting non-native fish, became a symbol of the history of our watershed as a result of Brad’s brilliant and widely supported vision for the sculpture to depict a native fish species that was once common in Tucson’s perennial streams. In addition, the sculpture reflects a sense of place through its proximity to the High School Wash and its placement in a water-harvesting chicane.

Brad is a motivated and inspired individual, and he has shown himself time and again in the arena of neighborhood activism to be capable of coalescing the desires and ideas of neighbors and moving them forward as a singular vision. He would be my first pick for any team with a project to accomplish.
–Ian Fritz, Vice-President, Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Association

Rainwater Harvesting Books

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Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape

Praise for Volume 1
Additional Volume 1 Testimonials
Volume 1 Book Reviews

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2: Water-Harvesting Earthworks

Praise for Volume 2
Additional Volume 2 Testimonials
Volume 2 Book Reviews

Recognition & Awards

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Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA): Local Genius Award

American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA): Lifetime Achievement Award

Cox Conserves Hero: Arizona

Bicycle Commuter of the Year: Tucson

David Yetman Award: Tucson Audubon Society

Award of Excellence/Personal Recognition: American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association

First Place, Homeowner < $10,000: Arizona Dept Water Resources/Tohono Chul Xeriscape Contest

Best Water Harvesting: Arizona Dept Water Resources/Tohono Chul Xeriscape Contest

JD DiMelglio Artistry in Landscaping: Arizona Dept Water Resources/Tohono Chul Xeriscape Contest

Good Neighbor Award: City of Tucson & Pima County

Drops in a Bucket Blog

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Upcoming Events

Also see the full list of upcoming events.



Umbrella Newsletter

The Umbrella: Spring Equinox 2017

THE UMBRELLA:
A catch-all of resources,
events, media, and more
from Brad Lancaster
Spring Equinox 2017
Around here we like to rhyme with the seasons whenever possible. In this case, that means welcoming the fast-approaching beginning of SPRING (the Vernal Equinox (in the northern hemisphere) is March 20 this year in Tucson, and marks one of only two […]

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