Podcasts & Interviews

The blog and podcast that floats slowly, spreads widely, and sinks deeply into conversations about the human relationship with land, water, and community.


Episode 5: For Watershed Restoration in California Emily Fairfax Says We Should Leave More of it to Beavers

Dr. Emily Fairfax is quantitatively proving the value of the beaver to watershed restoration in California. Her work is showing that with beavers on the landscape, we can be more fire, flood, and drought resilient. Beavers are a keystone species missing from many parts of their historical range—and their absence is showing—California has lost 95 percent of its wetlands. Fairfax says that while the reintroduction of beavers back into California watersheds is crucial, we can and should get started mimicking what beavers do on the land, slowing, spreading, and sinking water, by using beaver dam analogs and beaver principles.

For more information on Emily Fairfax’s work visit:

Episode 4: Planting the Rain: An Urgent Conversation with Rainwater Harvesting Guru Brad Lancaster

Brad Lancaster’s solutions are radical, incredibly basic, and urgently needed. In this episode, Brad describes how he began harvesting street runoff at his home, where he harvests 100,000 gallons per year on 1/8th of an acre, and in his neighborhood in Tucson, Arizona. Brad’s ideas grew into a citywide movement toward regenerative hydration practices in the desert. While California is in a predictable predicament with water—having over-allocated available resources and climate change exacerbating the scarcity—this conversation contains essential inspiration and practical tools you can apply at your home to withstand the ongoing drought and reduce your water footprint while enhancing your quality of life.

For more information on Brad Lancaster’s work visit: Harvesting Rainwater and Desert Harvesters

Additional note: Neighborhood Foresters showcases the 25+ years of rain-irrigated neighborhood native food forestry work in Brad's Dunbar/Spring neighborhood, and gives many tools and info that other neighborhoods can use to create or help evolve their own neighborhood forester efforts.

Episode 3: Permaculturist Brock Dolman

Brock Dolman is a biologist and systems thinker. He is the co-founder of Occidental Arts and Ecology Center—one of the first permaculture education centers in North America. In this episode, Brock colorfully muralizes the concept of regenerative hydration by connecting tools like rainwater, greywater, and fog harvesting, with conceptual tools like water budgets and unorthodox partnerships with keystone species, like the beaver. Brock wants us to think of watersheds as a lifeboat, where we not just slow it, spread it, sink it, but think it, too. This conversation will leave you looking at your space and place differently—and gives you easy-to-implement water and land management solutions for your backyard, business, or organization!

Episode 2: Martha Davis and Tom Ash

Individual water choices matter. Martha Davis spent much of the past two decades in a leadership position at the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. She currently serves on the boards of the Mono Lake Committee, the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, and the Community Water Center. Martha joins us to reflect on the late water conservation legend Tom Ash, a horticulturist who spent three decades in public water and was a leader in believing what you do in your backyard can make a difference. This conversation is a sweet one. You can listen to the original full interview with Tom here.

Episode 1: Debbie Franco and Brad Lancaster

Our first guest is California’s Senior Advisor for Water and Rural Affairs, Debbie Franco, who shares her personal thoughts on the state’s water inequities and how practices like rainwater harvesting can improve the health of the state’s watersheds. The conversation centers around reflections on an interview with drylands water guru, Brad Lancaster, who’s an expert in the field of rainwater harvesting and water management. Clips of Lancaster’s masterclass in ‘planting rain’ are interwoven throughout an insightful and inspiring talk on how California can realign its relationship with water.

You can listen to the original interview with Brad Lancaster here.

For more information on Brad Lancaster’s work visit: Harvesting Rainwater and Dunbar Springs Neighborhood Foresters.

Debbie Franco
Debbie Franco is Senior Advisor of Water and Rural Affairs in the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR). She works on a range of issues related to water and to rural communities. Debbie was a member of the Governor’s Drought Task Force, part of the team that developed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and co-leads the Wood Utilization/Rural Economic Development Steering Committee. Before joining OPR, Debbie served as the policy director at the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water. She holds a master’s degree in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis.

Brad Lancaster
Brad Lancaster is the author of the award-winning Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond and co-founder of Since 1993 Brad has run a successful permaculture education, design, and consultation business focused on integrated regenerative approaches to landscape design, planning, and living. In the Sonoran Desert, with just 11 inches of annual rainfall, he and his brother harvest about 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year on an eighth-acre urban lot and adjoining right-of-way. This harvested water is then turned into living air conditioners of food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, and a thriving landscape incorporating wildlife habitat, beauty, medicinal plants, and more. The goal of his book series and overall work is to empower his clients and community to make positive change in their own lives and neighborhoods—by harvesting and enhancing free on-site resources such as water, sun, wind, shade, community, and more. It’s catching on, as evidenced by tens of thousands of practitioners and demand for Brad’s work around the world.

Tom Ash
Tom Ash has 30 years of experience in the fields of water use efficiency, sustainable water rates, public education and horticulture. Tom was the UC liaison to water agencies in southern California starting in 1987. He was instrumental in the design and implementation of the first water budget rate structure agencies (IRWD, 1991). Tom has advised the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the State of California, regional and local water authorities in California, was a guest lecturer in Australia during the millennial drought (12 years), advised the US Drought Policy Task Force in 2003-04, assisted business, the landscape industry, water agencies and university researchers in North Carolina, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Texas during droughts. He served as a Senior Environmental Planner with the Inland Empire Utility Agency and has assisted 15 agencies on the design, public outreach and implementation of financially successful, publicly popular and sustainable water budget rates.

Martha Davis
Martha Davis retired in late 2017 from her position as Assistant General Manager/Executive Manager for Policy Development at the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA). Since 2000, Ms. Davis led many of the Agency’s award-winning planning and green programs including initiatives promoting water efficiency, renewable energy, storm water capture, recycled water and climate resiliency. Ms. Davis continues to serve on the board of directors of the California Section of the WateReuse Association, and on the boards of the Mono Lake Committee, Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, the Community Water Center, the Rose Foundation Northern California Grassroots Fund, and the recently established Water Efficiency Trust. Previously, Ms. Davis served as the Executive Director for Californians and the Land (1998-2000) and for the Mono Lake Committee (1984-1996). Under her leadership, the Mono Lake campaign culminated in a unanimous landmark public trust decision by the State Water Resources Control Board to protect Mono Lake. Ms. Davis graduated from Stanford University cum laude with a degree in human biology and received her master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is the recipient of an honorary PhD in Public Policy from the Kennedy College in Oakland, California.

Brock Dolman
Brock Dolman is a wildlife biologist and is nationally recognized as a restoration ecologist and renowned innovator in watershed management and permaculture design. Brock integrates wildlife biology and watershed ecology with education about regenerative settlement design and ecological literacy to illuminate what it is to live in partnership with a living, emergent Earth and engender societal transformation. Brock co-founded the Sowing Circle, LLC Intentional Community & Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) where he continues to reside and act as a co- director of OAEC’s Permaculture/Resilient Community Design Program, Wildlands Program and WATER Institute. He has taught Permaculture and consulted on regenerative project design in 15 countries on 5 continents and widely in the U.S. Brock graduated with honors from the University of California Santa Cruz in Agro-Ecology and Conservation Biology.

Trathen Heckman
Trathen Heckman is the founder and director of Daily Acts Organization. He serves on the Board of California Water Efficiency Partnership, co-founded Climate Action Petaluma and is engaged in a range of sustainability and resilience-focused networks and alliances. Trathen helps people and groups reclaim the power of their actions to regenerate self, nature and community. He lives in the Petaluma River Watershed where he grows food, medicine and wonder while working to compost apathy and lack.

Rick Taylor
Rick has spent the last 25 years weaving ecological literacy into the landscape profession through practical cutting edge solutions. His desire to transform the industry’s influence from extractive to regenerative has led to the creation of the Landscape Carbon Calculator and Landscape Analytic Solutions. His decades of experience in landscape design and construction have deeply influenced the efficacy of the Landscape Carbon Calculator. Originally founded as a small landscape design/build/maintain contracting business, his firm, Elder Creek Landscapes Inc. has led the SF Bay Area in practical and visionary approaches to sustainability.

Steph Wald
Steph has been with Creek Lands since 2003 developing steelhead-centric watershed management plans for coastal watersheds in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties with partner agencies and organizations. She received her education at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, and University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Fall, IA. In addition to her experience with Creek Lands, Steph has taught at Cal Poly, Allan Hancock College and Cuesta College, and directed the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum. Two of her favorite completed Creek Lands projects include the Carmel River Lagoon Large Wood Debris project which included delivering partially built LWD structures to the water by helicopter, and being the facilitator and plan writer for the Big Sur River Watershed Management Plan. Creek Lands is currently the proud proponent of 4 WCB Stream Flow Enhancement Program grants, and is actively engaged in figuring out how to generate a management plan for the Salinas River that covers both San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties.

Bruce Kuebler & Bert Rapp
Bruce has been an Oak View resident since 1999. He is a retired Civil Engineer with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where he was involved with water supply planning, water quality, distribution system maintenance, water conservation, environmental analyses, water rights, and organizational management. Bruce was appointed to the Ventura River Water District (VRWD) Board in May 2013. He was elected in November 2013, and re-elected in 2016. He represents VRWD on the Upper Ventura River Groundwater Agency, which he helped form beginning in 2014, and has been Board Chair since its inception in January 2017.

Bert Rapp has lived in Ojai for 39 years. He has a BS in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He has worked for 5 years with the Watershed Protection District on levee design, river hydraulics and hydrology, and for 20 years with the City of Fillmore as City Engineer and Public Works Director. He was involved with potable water systems, sanitary sewer systems, stormwater treatment and management, traffic control and street maintenance, and flood control. Bert spent 8 years with the Ventura River Water District as General Manager. He is married, with four children.

Jamie Whiteford
Jamie is a District Scientist with the Ventura County Resource Conservation District, where he is focused on expanding the use of agricultural practices that enhance operational resilience and which provide supplemental ecological services in support of the surrounding landscape.

Sergio Scabuzza
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Patrick Michal
Patrick is the water systems manager at Rush Creek Lodge (wastewater, greywater, and freshwater) and holds a T2 and D2 certification from the California State Water Board.  Patrick graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy, with a concentration in Environmental Policy.  Patrick began his career working as a Lab Manager in a Parasitology/Ecology lab, helping to design experiments that dealt with climate change and its effects on amphibians and parasites. Patrick's work has been published in the Journal of Ecology and EcoHealth. Patrick also managed the University of South Florida’s Botanical Gardens, specializing in beekeeping as well as helping to create ecological indexes with ArcGIS.  Patrick began to transition his work into the construction/engineering industry, which has aided in his transition to managing water systems in California.

We’d like to acknowledge the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Tuolumne County Resource Conservation District (TCRCD) and the people of California whose support of Prop 84 made this podcast possible. Thanks to Ryan Evans and Todd Hannigan for editing and mixing. Thank you to Charles Upton, who recorded the original interviews.