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Find inspiration, savor a fresh foods buffet, and learn the latest in sustainability

By Walt Meyer

September 16, 2012 (Lakeside)--At Heartland Coalition/UnitedGREEN's  Forging a Sustainable Future event at San Diego State University in March, keynote speaker Robert F. Kennedy Jr. shared the importance of changing how we all live in light of the global climate crisis. But as has been said many times, all global change starts with local action--and there has never been a better time to take steps for real change. Toward that end, Heartland Coalition’s UnitedGREEN division is producing a series of customized Forging a Sustainable Future Solutions events to advance its mission of transforming the San Diego region.

The first FSFS event will be “Living Green at Blue Sky Ranch” on September 29 from 3-6:30 p.m. Exhibits and experts will explain permaculture, wildfire protection, Community Supported Agriculture, grey water, water catchment, organic farming and gardening, and other aspects of this self-sustaining community in Lakeside. The aim is to encourage others to emulate techniques used at Blue Sky Ranch (BSR) and invite people to showcase their innovations on the property. Early bird rates of $20 have been extended; at the door rates are $35/person or $60/couple.

The founder of BSR, Ingrid Coffin, who co-owns the Ranch with her husband, Bob, said, “After the Cedar Fire, in order for the community of people to get re-inspired, we decided to turn it into an educational community that is open to the public a few days a year to see what sustainable living is like in real life, rather than just reading about it.” She and the other residents of the Ranch rebuilt with recycled materials as much as possible and as self-sufficiently as possible. They even recycled a whole house. Almost all of their electricity comes from solar arrays, they grow a good portion of their own food, and recycle much of their water.

They have always seen the property as a chance to teach others and learn from others how to be more sustainable. “We’ve had some classes here,” Coffin said, and they plan to have more. “This event will be an opportunity to meet like-minded people.” And all of their experts will be on hand to show off exhibits and answer questions.

Among the experts who will be there to show off their work are ‘gardener in chief,’  Taj Chaffin and Josh Robinson, who created a permaculture exhibit and who teaches classes on the subject.

Stephen Bolling is Blue Sky Ranch's designer. His company,, was created to promote the goals, philosophy, design guides and ideals of regenerative planning.  "I practice this in the current and future building projects at Blue Sky Ranch," Bolling says.

He says he works with a lot of networking groups and that, “I run into construction people who are networking because they are not fully using their skills in the current job market. Blue Sky Ranch will give them the opportunity to build a demonstration project. Instead of just showing people plans, they will be able to show them a working model of what they build.”

He said that they can build workshops or classes around the successful projects. “And there is a different atmosphere here than doing a project downtown or in a heavily populated residential area. Here we can focus on a healthy design, a clean design, in a natural setting. These are permanent exhibits unlike temporary projects that are built at colleges. This is a house people are actually living in.”

Attendees are encouraged to submit proposals for projects they’d like to build at BSR. They will be asked to submit a short (one-page) written description of the project along with an illustration of the finished project and a list of resources required to carry it out. For more information visit:

 Other features of the ranch are an African garden featuring plants that are endangered on that continent, a mother shrine where they have a Mother’s Day celebration every year, orchards and gardens, a pea-fowl palace (the birds serve as guards and the Ranch residents eat the eggs), urbanite walls and walkways made from recycled concrete, and a labyrinth that is based upon the famous Chartres Cathedral labyrinth located near Paris, France. The “Sky Kids”—the children who live on the ranch—will have a lemonade stand at the event.

Future events in the Forging a Sustainable Future Solutions series will have tailored programs in the five distinct regions of San Diego to not only promote awareness but also to provide actionable steps for attendees. UnitedGREEN Forging a Sustainable Future events provide programming to our community with win-win partnerships of business, education, and government for sustainability environmentally, economically, and culturally where we live and planet wide.

Visit or call 619-631-4333 for information and tickets. Tickets are $35 per person and $60 per couple and include the fresh local food buffet.




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