Prescott City Council considers Granite Dells Property Purchase: Public Invited to Workshop

Prescott City Council considers Granite Dells Property Purchase: Public Invited to Workshop

Tuesday, April 8, 1pm 

Location: Prescott City Counsel Chambers, 201 S Cortez St, Prescott, AZ, 86302, Phone 928-777-1100

"Open Spaces are a vital part of the small-town character and unique natural environment of Prescott. They have long been recognized as a key issue for maintaining a high quality of life for those living in or visiting our community." - City of Prescott Open Space Master Plan

If you are interested in or concerned about the future of Prescott’s Granite Dells, please consider attending a public workshop hosted by the Prescott City Council on Tuesday, April 8 at 1pm.  

Ecosa Institute has long been an advocate for long term urban planning that integrates living systems with human environments.  The Granite Dells, at the center of Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley, could become the integrated, nature interpretive “central park” of the region.  

In the past, proposals have been floated to turn this property into a musical event venue, or other high-impact uses. The preservation of this Granite Dells property as open space would be a key action that would have a ripple effect in the quality of life for Prescott Area residents for generations to come, and would protect the sensitive natural habitat of Granite Creek that flows through the property. 

Granite Creek in proposed preservation area. Photos by Walt Anderson

Granite Creek in proposed preservation area. Photos by Walt Anderson

Philanthropist Foster Stanback, a Sedona home owner, has recently come forward to provide partial matching funds toward the purchase of the property. The Granite Dells Preservation Foundation would take responsibility for managing the property — so the City of Prescott would have little ongoing financial liability in the years to come. Many local organizations, including the Prescott Chamber of Commerce have voiced support for this effort. 

Last year the City Council declined to purchase this property, so a show of public support on April 8 will be critical in this round of negotiation.  

For more detail on this initiative, check out the article in the Prescott Daily Courier here:   

If you are unable to attend the Council Chambers workshop on Tuesday, April 8 at 1pm, please consider calling the Prescott City Council at 928-771-1100 to make your voice heard. 

Thanks for your support of Regenerative Ecological Design and Ecosa Institute!

 - Levi Mason

Ecosa Institute Operations Coordinator

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Alumni Spotlight: Jesse Froehlich (Spring 2006)

Alumni Spotlight: Jesse Froehlich (Spring 2006)

Spring 2006 Ecosa alumna and Davis, CA native Jesse Froehlich thinks everyone should be able to harvest rainwater, so she set out to make that possible, founding BlueBarrel in 2012.

The Guerneville, CA resident developed her first system in 2010 as an AmeriCorps project with Conservation Corps North Bay at the Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden located in Novato, CA. Her assignment was to build a 1,500 gallon rainwater catchment system with a budget of only $1,000. Jesse and project partner John came up with what ended up being the prototype for the BlueBarrel System, using 22 food-grade plastic barrels and associated hardware in a narrow corridor next to the farm’s greenhouse.

The system immediately proved workable, and Jesse decided to install one at her home in Sonoma County… and then another… and then a third! With a few tweaks each time, Jesse refined what became known as the BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™—now available as BlueBarrel’s DIY RainKit™ for you to install at your own home, school, or farm.

The original farm project is still functioning, and the largest of the systems Jesse has completed to date is a private residence with 42 barrels that irrigate a 250-square-foot vegetable garden.

BlueBarrel now offers the tools and resources for successful home-installation experiences for rainwater harvesters everywhere!

Jesse’s system can be ordered at her website, Components can be ordered separately, and costs are limited.

(All information borrowed with permission from

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Alumni Spotlight: Nick Aster (Spring 2004)

Alumni Spotlight: Nick Aster (Spring 2004)
It’s been almost 10 years since my Ecosa experience and it was very much the foundation for my passion for sustainability and systemic thinking.
While at Ecosa, I was interested in using my media experience to communicate the ideas I was learning.  In particular, I sought to reach audiences who might not be instinctively receptive, like the business community.  Hunter Lovins was a guest lecturer who, over whiskey at Prescott Brewing Company, helped solidify the idea in my mind that business could be a “part of the solution” and not an obstacle to building a better world.  In particular, the idea of balancing economic, environmental and social priorities became something of a mantra of mine and I subsequently enrolled at Presidio Graduate School to seek an MBA in Sustainable Management.
Fast forward a few years later and I managed to put my learning and passion to good use with the launch of – a media platform devoted to promoting the idea of the Triple Bottom Line to a business audience.  Over the past few years we’ve built an audience of over 300,000 monthly readers ranging from folks working for major corporations to small business people to new, conscious entrepreneurs – all looking to use the power of business to positively address environmental and social issues.


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Breaking Ground in Sedona

In Spring of 2013, a generous donor invited Ecosa students to design and implement a project on his land in Sedona. Last week, we broke ground on the permaculture portion of the design.

Ecosa partnered with Villegas Landscape, LLC owner Joe Villegas, who typically designs and installs high-end (but conventional) residential and commercial landscapes in the Sedona area. Before the economic downturn, Joe aspired to build a subdivision adhering to regenerative, restorative, and sustainable principles. He took part in permaculture workshops and familiarized himself with the latest technologies. However, the market for ecologically designed architecture tanked, and just as his project was finally within reach, it slipped through his fingers.  Joe was left with a strong desire to implement his knowledge but with little demand from home and business owners in Arizona.

When Villegas Landscape, LLC, was approached to work on this Ecosa project, Joe was elated! Not only did he squeeze us into his schedule and agree to do the intricate backhoe work himself, but he deeply discounted his usual fee in support of our educational mission.

The original plan developed by the Spring 2013 Ecosa students was critiqued at the end of the term by the owner and professors. Then, Fall 2013 students visited the site with broad-land expert Craig Sponholtz and longtime Ecosa collaborator Brad Lancaster. These experts made recommendations based on their observations, and the plan was again modified. Finally, Joe Villegas worked closely with Ecosa staff to make further revisions to the design based on the capabilities of the heavy equipment and budget restrictions. Because Joe speaks the language of Ecosa, he was able to fully understand our ideas and rational, and most importantly, could make informed decisions based on our philosophy and ethics on the fly.

A tremendous amount of earth was moved last week. An existing drainage ditch, which served to route water off of the property in a fast, erosive straight-away, was reclaimed with rocks and dirt that had been moved on the property over the years. A berm was reconfigured to encourage the natural drainage to flow into an area earmarked to be a ‘resource meadow’. Hopi corn will flourish in the future as the water is slowed, spread, and sunk.

On the final day of excavation, Spring 2014 Ecosa students Mike Gray and Jeff Glessing; friends Rebecca (and alumnus Nicholas deMatties) constructed a rock mulch run-down (as suggested by Craig Sponholtz) to restore the fenceline adjacent to National Forest property. Heavy equipment had mined soil there at a 90-degree angle for other projects on the property in the past, and the area developed major erosion issues. With Joe’s help on the backhoe, the slope was restored to a 1:3 ratio. Fist-to-football sized rocks were collected and the students made quick work of piecing them tightly together along the slope. The area was seeded with Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) in experimental fashion, with half of the slope sprinkled with seed, and the other half with the seed worked into the soil. The seeds were watered-in, and we expect to see a lovely, stable fenceline after a few more rains.

Projects like this are rare in higher education – the experiential learning at Ecosa is a win for the students, a win for the contractor, a win for the donor, a definite win for the environment and really fun for the staff!


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Spring 2014 Ecosa Students Join the Ecosa Community

Spring 2014 Ecosa Students Join the Ecosa Community

Feet in circle at orientation, Spring 2014

Feet in circle at orientation, Spring 2014

Orientation week in the RE-Design Certificate program this term included some new components to help students connect to each other and the staff with this iteration of the learning community at the Ecosa studio.

One of the things this orientation was an exercise introduced by Mark Lakeman in the last term — a physical, geometric encounter that accompanied a verbal dialogue focused on themes of circular patterns, living cycles and rhythms.  As each round of interaction moved, the content became more personal.

It is a dynamic learning group at Ecosa this term and we are excited to be under way!

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Ecosa Alumnus Spotlight: Matt Coffey (Spring 2009)

This gallery contains 3 photos.

WEST TISBURY SOLAR BARN In the fall of 2014, the South Mountain Company fielded an inquiry about reducing the carbon footprint for a 50 acre West Tisbury, Massachusetts property led to a journey of exploration – and a surprising result. … Continue reading

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Feb 12, 4pm Event – Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community

Ecosa Institute at Prescott College would like to invite you to join us at PeregrineBookCompany 219A North Cortez, Prescott, Arizona 86301 928.445.9000


Political Science and Environmental Studies Professor Karen Litfin will give a powerpoint presentation and talk about her new bookEcovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community. A booksigning will follow.


“If you can’t take a year off to visit ecovillages around the world, this marvel of a book is the next best thing. It’s actually even better for the carbon it saves, the questions it asks, and the wisdom it shares. I am eager to share it with all my students and fellow teachers.”
—Joanna Macy, author of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy

Ecovillages offers that rarest of gifts: wisdom. It asks not simply how to address the build-up of carbon, dwindling of species, and toxification of our world, but how we can live together joyously on a single earth.”
—Paul Wapner, Professor of Politics, American University

“Litfin combines her intellectual prowess with her sensitivity and compassion to tell a hugely important and inspiring story.”
—Chris Uhl, Professor Biology at Penn State and author ofDeveloping Ecological Consciousness

“This first-rate book deserves to reach the widest possible audience; we must pay attention to it if we are going to thrive as a species on this fragile planet.”
—Nina Wise, author of A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life


In a world of dwindling natural resources and mounting environmental crisis, who is devising ways of living that will work for the long haul? And how can we, as individuals, make a difference?

To answer these fundamental questions, Professor Karen Litfin embarked upon a journey to many of the world’s ecovillages – intentional communities at the cutting-edge of sustainable living. From rural to urban, high tech to low tech, spiritual to secular, she discovered an under-the-radar global movement making positive and radical changes from the ground up.

Not only is another world possible, it is already being born in small pockets the world over. These micro-societies, however, are small and time is short. Fortunately – as Litfin persuasively argues – their successes can be applied to existing social structures, from the local to the global scale, providing sustainable ways of living for generations to come.
Karen Litfin

Karen Litfin has been on the Political Science and Environmental Studies faculty at the University of Washington since 1991. Her books include Ozone Discourses: Science and Politics in Global Environmental Cooperation (Columbia University Press, 1994) and The Greening of Sovereignty(MIT Press, 1998). In her research and teaching, she endeavors to integrate the cognitive, emotive, and practical dimensions of sustainability. That commitment led her to write a book on her travels to ecovillages around the world Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community (Polity Press, fall 2013). For a preview, see this short video.

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Egg Drop!

Egg Drop!

An Egg Packaging Design created Spring 2014

An Egg Packaging Design created Spring 2014

During the first week of most terms in the RE-Design program at Ecosa, students usually create packaging for an egg with limited materials — with the goal of creating a design that is adaptable and able to protect the egg from being dropped.

Students practice with different designs, testing their ideas until they come up with a resilient solution.  This time around there were a few broken eggs before

Ecosa Founder Tony Brown Tests Egg Packaging

Ecosa Founder Tony Brown Tests Egg Packaging

satisfactory designs emerged.  The process of learning through trial and error is a cornerstone of the Ecosa Experience — in the words of Ecosa founder Tony Brown, we encourage students to “fail” so that real learning can occur, getting people out of the safe zone and into the experimental, learning mode.  Part of the joy of this process is the process of learning from all outcomes, being playful about the mistakes, and taking that information to come up with something new and different.

It is happening right now in the Ecosa studio this term!

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Spring 2014 Program Starts at Ecosa!

Spring 2014 Program Starts at Ecosa!

Spring 2014 Students & Staff during Orientation Day

Spring 2014 Students & Staff during Orientation Day

The Spring 2014 RE-Design program has started at Ecosa Institute, and we’re excited about this term.  The current Ecosa cohort includes a number of Prescott College RDP students and we’re glad to have the strong PC representation at the studio this term.

This term Ecosa students will work on a greenway trail design project that will run through the center of the Prescott College campus, as well as another larger design project in the local Granite Dells area north of Prescott. We are excited about this group and creative work that will come out of this term.

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Ready for a change? Do the Ecosa Experience starting January 21, 2014!

UPDATE: Unclaimed Scholarships still available! 

Ready for a change? Do the Ecosa Experience starting January 21, 2014!

Greetings Ecosa friends and potential students,

Ecosa Students working on Sedona design project

Ecosa Students working on Sedona design project

It is registration time at Ecosa Institute for our Spring 2014 program and there is still a little room left in the incoming cohort. This semester we will be learning while working on a project that focuses on the watershed and greenways in the local urban setting. We will also be spending time in Sedona, Phoenix and Tucson in addition to our focused studies at the Ecosa studio in Prescott, Arizona.

Since Ecosa’s first class in 2000, over 300 graduates have completed a learning program at Ecosa. Many of them are reporting fulfilling career experiences in fields of design or sustainability since that time.

By enrolling in the next semester of study at Ecosa, this could eventually be you or someone you know.

In addition to our core focus on design thinking and introducing regenerative change actions in the world, we’re expanding our attention to themes of entrepreneurship, communication design, and opportunities for graduates to network after they leave Ecosa.

Transferable academic credit is available through Prescott College, and we still have unclaimed scholarships available.  Now is a great time to engage with the Ecosa Experience. Download an application here.

Please spread the word about this limited time opportunity!


- Levi Mason
Ecosa Institute at Prescott College

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