As a pre-school teacher who was not on her regular 8:50am train to the World Trade Center on September 11, Gemma Bulos, witnessed a global community united through tragedy. In response, she wrote "We Rise", a rousing anthem that celebrates water as a metaphor for peace and unity in action. She left her life, gave away all her belongings and with her meager savings began traveling around the world to launch the unprecedented Million Voice Choir where groups sing "We Rise" on September 21, in celebration of the UN International Day of Peace and Global Cease Fire Day. This was the "single drop" that has rippled into the evolution of her current award-winning humanitarian mission that has helped bring clean water to over 150,000 people in the Philippines and 9 countries in Africa.
Gemma currently (Sept 2011) is the Director and co-creator of the Global Women's Water Initiative. GWWI provides African women the opportunity to gain the skills, technologies, best practices, and support networks they need to launch sustainable water and sanitation projects in their communities. Since its inception, GWWI has supported women's water projects in nine countries in Africa. But prior to leading GWWI, she founded of A Single Drop for Safe Water, an award-winning social entrepreneurial organization in the Philippines.
Her journey into the water world began in the Spring 2004 she founded the non-profit organization A Single Drop (ASD) to mobilize the Million Voice Choir to sing WE RISE around the planet as a vehicle to raise awareness of the global water crisis. She invited people around the globe to celebrate water and music as a source of peace and unity. In it's first formal year, the Million Voice Choir united peaceful voices from over 100 cities in over 60 countries and was the single initiative that has helped her to become a living example of ASD's concept; it takes a single drop of water to start a wave, one person to initiate social change. To date, the Million Voice Choir has dissolved the political, religious, social and cultural boundaries by bridging together a variety of groups who would not normally find themselves doing anything together.
A Filipina American, she has traveled around the world as a virtual volunteer building the Million Voice Choir sharing the interactive presentation "Water, Music and Unity: The Pathway to Peace and Global Harmony" exploring the power of water and music in our fundamental human relations, our global interactions and in peacemaking. Her work as a head teacher at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, mentor for at-risk youth in the South Bronx, and international volunteer work, combined with her work as writer and performer of one woman shows, helped her develop a comprehensive and entertaining approach to bridge art and advocacy to raise awareness of global water issues and inspire water stewardship to cultivate peace. The diverse audiences where she has presented span the gamut of age, cultures and belief systems; The distinguished leaders whom she has presented alongside range from Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, Mrs. Kofi Annan, Dr Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Chief Oren Lyons, Pete Seeger, the Honorable Ela Ghandi daughter of Mahatma Ghandi, Meadowlark Lemon, Ann Bancroft, first woman to brave the Arctic and Antarctica; and so many more. She has been invited to present her innovative work at the United Nations, World Economic Forum, World Islamic Economic Forum, Wharton School of Business, Sun Yat Sen University and many other prestigious conferences and institutions around the globe. Recently, she was invited to be one of the featured singers at the launch of UN Women at the General Assembly at the United Nations with Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, Geena Davis, Nicole Kidman and UN Women's Undersecretary General Michelle Bachalet, former president of Chile.
In 2005, Gemma received the CG Vibes Award from Cover Girl and Queen Latifah recognizing women who are changing the world through music and in 2006 was honored at the United Nations on the Global Day for the Rights of A Child by the Global Healing Foundation at an event sponsored by UNICEF for her tireless work with youth around the globe. She applied her Cover Girl award money towards opening her first international office, A Single Drop for SafeWater (ASDSW) in the Philippines to incubate a social entrepreneurial model for clean water and sanitation services. ASDSW offers simple and affordable water technologies and strategies that help communities create self-reliant local centers of water expertise that are citizen-run. This innovation won her the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship which named her one of the "Best Emerging Social Entrepreneurs of 2007" and she was recently declared the Ernst Young and Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2009 in the Philippines and Asia in 2010. Additionally, the program won other accolades including the Tech Museum Tech Equality Award and Warriors of the UN Millennium Goals sponsored by Kodak Philippines. In its first four years, ASDSW has provided over 150,000 people with improved access to clean water and sanitation and its business model is a true social entrepreneurial venture in that it generates its own income to fully support its operations with no dependence on charitable donations.
In 2011, she was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the United States by Filipina Action Network.
Like water, she continues to flow around the world as a water ambassador, initiating water projects, raising awareness of the global water issues and all the while uniting peaceful voices through the healing power of music and every living being's shared need for water.
Nick Weigel has over 15 years of experience in civil engineering. Nick received a Bachelors of Science degree in Civil Engineering from California State University, Chico in 1995. In 2001, Nick joined NorthStar Engineering where he has specialized in the design of decentralized wastewater collection, treatment, and dispersal systems. Nick has extensive knowledge in wastewater flow estimating, field analysis of soils, analytical modeling of nitrogen and salt loading, designing advanced and secondary wastewater treatment systems utilizing recirculating sand/gravel filtration systems, aerobic systems, textile filters, and alternative disposal/reuse options such as drip and spray irrigation. Nick is active in the wastewater community and has taught at the California Wastewater Training and Research Center at CSU Chico, is a certified National Association of Wastewater Transporters instructor for the Onsite Wastewater Systems Inspector certification and Operation and Maintenance certification courses, and is currently teaching multiple courses for the California Onsite Wastewater Association. Nick is also on the Professional Advisory Board for the Department of Civil Engineering, CSU Chico, and is chair of the Butte County Wastewater Advisory Committee.
Harold has been involved in the modeling, design, and pilot testing of technologies and processes for sustainable water and waste management for the past 15 years. His studies have included decentralized and satellite water reuse systems, natural treatment systems, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for alternative wastewater systems, and source control systems for nutrient and energy recovery. He is a registered civil engineer in California and conducts research in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis.
Mike Collignon is the Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition, an organization he co-founded in 2010. He engages in national and state-level advocacy, publishes a monthly member publication and a monthly feature in Green Builder® Magazine. He has presented at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, EEBA, RESNET, Better Buildings: Better Business (Wisconsin), Green Building Focus, StormCon and the Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference. Mike has also delivered testimony at the IECC and IgCC final action hearings. Finally, he has served as the moderator or host for Green Builder® Media's Impact Series webinars from 2012–present.
Laura Allen is a founding member of Greywater Action and has spent a decade exploring low-tech, urban,sustainable water solutions. She is the lead author of the San Francisco Graywater Design Guidelines for Outdoor Irrigation, and authored the Water-Wise Home: How to Conserve and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape (forthcoming on Storey Press). She has a BA in environmental science, a teaching credential, and a master's degree in education. Laura leads classes and workshops on rainwater harvesting, greywater reuse, and composting toilets. Laura has presented widely on greywater reuse, including at the Water Smart Innovations Conference, Bioneers, California Environmental Health Association conference, and California Landscape Contractors Association conference. She participated in state greywater code development in California and was on the code advisory committee for Washington State. Laura was featured in an Ask This Old House episode and was the 2014 recipient of the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award of Water Champion.
Elizabeth Dougherty is determined to make innovative approaches to water sustainability all the rage in California.
Elizabeth Dougherty is determined to make innovative approaches to localizing water sustainability all the rage in California. Since gaining her PhD in 2003, Elizabeth has delved into a wide range of work in permaculture, natural building, fair trade, agroecology and energy efficiency. In 2008, seeing a need to centralize water conservation and reuse information, Elizabeth founded Wholly H2O, a water-progressive nonprofit that engages policy makers, business owners/developers and the public. Wholly H2O delivers interactive educational programs, consulting, and networking services to gear Californians to using conservation, rainwater, graywater, stormwater and blackwater as primary water sources, whether in drought or high flow.
Elizabeth serves on the the Education and Outreach Committee for the CA State Water Plan 2013, Bay Area Water Stewards - a watchdog group for the SFPUC, and on the the Water Committee for Green CA. Elizabeth also serves on the Board of Directors for the West Oakland Green Intiative, overseeing the Pollinator Pathway Committee. Her greatest desire is to make water conservation and reuse the hip and sexy thing to do in California.
Debbie Franco is the community and rural affairs advisor and local drought liaison in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR). She works on a range of issues, including environmental justice, water, water and energy, and rural community issues. She is a member of the Governor’s Drought Task Force. Before joining OPR, she 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.
With degrees in Environmental Studies and Law and Administration, Justin Malan has formal training in the core disciplines impacting the legislative services needed by clients. He has 30 years of experience in numerous fields of resource management, public and environmental health, environmental advocacy, renewable and clean energy development and sustainable development in state, local and private sectors. He is currently principal at Ecoconsult. Past positions held include: Executive Director, California Ocean Science; Executive Director, California Aquaculture Association; Founder and Executive Director, Marine Sanctuary and Estuarine Reserves Foundation; Founder and Executive Director, World Sturgeon Farmers Association. Justin acquired an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of California’s environmental statutes and regulations, particularly the Public Resources Code, Health and Safety Code, Fish and Game Code and Government Code. Has sponsored, written and guided, the passage of over 50 bills in these particular areas.
Regina Hirsch has 18 years of experience monitoring and implementing watershed-based Best Management Practices solutions and assessing effectiveness cumulative of non-point source pollution treatments. After catching the watershed monitoring bug at the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, she founded Sierra Watershed Progressive, a consulting/contracting firm which focuses on sharpening tools for Best Management Practices aimed at rehydrating watersheds and enhancing instream flows throughout California. Since 2009, Sierra Watershed Progressive has designed, installed and monitored projects which increase resiliency and onsite sustainable water budgets through water conservation and reuse within critical wildland-urban interfaces. She has facilitated, created, and implemented multiple training and outreach platforms with multiple organizations including Central Coast Salmon Enhancement, California Onsite Water Association, UC Masters Gardeners, California Conservation Corp, Tuolumne River Trust, local Resource Conservation Districts, as well as multiple public and private schools throughout Central California. In addition, Regina is an executive board member of the California Water Reuse Policy Council. Regina Hirsch’s goal is to focus on integrated, collaborative appropriate decision making when it comes to water, energy, plants, soils and most of all, community.
Tony Madrone is a sustainable landscape designer who specializes in irrigation and water management with Indra Designs. Tony is dedicated to creating beautiful, functional and unique native-scapes utilizing drought tolerant plants, high efficiency irrigation and locally sourced materials when feasible. Tony applies his extensive knowledge of irrigation systems and residential storm water management to designing and installing rainwater collection and graywater systems. Tony has 17 years of experience in landscape and irrigation design and is an ARCSA Accredited Professional, Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL), EPA Certified Water Auditor, EPA Water Sense Partner and Licensed Landscape Contractor (License #960204).
Miriam Volat works personally and professionally to promote health in all systems. She has worked professionally as a facilitator, researcher, educator, small farm advocate and community organizer to increase broad-based community resiliency. Her work has focused on food, agriculture and water systems and the important intersection of biological and socio-cultural diversity. She has an M.S. in Vegetable Crops from UC Davis with an emphasis in Soil Ecology and Nutrient Cycling and a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Her academic research has focused both on preventing nitrogen pollution to groundwater from non-point agricultural sources and small farm viability. Since 1995, Miriam has facilitated multi stakeholder processes with policy and community organizing impacts, strategic planning and decision-making processes for organizations working to sustain our ecosystems, community visioning, food-system assessment and design processes. She has also designed and run communication, leadership and team building trainings for university, business, non-profit and personal development groups. Miriam serves as Board Chair of Sonoma Counties’ Daily Acts Organization and previously served on the Board of Directors of an International Cultural Preservation funding organization.
Brock Dolman co-directs the WATER Institute, Permaculture Design Program and Wildlands Program. He has taught Permaculture and consulted on regenerative project design and implementation internationally in Costa Rica, Ecuador, U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, Brazil, China, Canada, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba and widely in the U.S. He has been the keynote presenter at numerous conferences and was featured in the award-winning films The 11th Hour by Leonardo DiCaprio, The Call of Life by Species Alliance, and Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution by Vanessa Shultz. In October of 2012, he gave a City 2.0 TEDx talk. Brock completed his BA in the Biology and Environmental Studies departments at the University of California Santa Cruz in 1992, graduating with honors. For over a decade, he has served as an appointed commissioner on the Sonoma County Fish & Wildlife Commission.
Frances Spivy-Weber is vice chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. First appointed in 2007, she was reappointed and elected vice chair in 2009, and tapped for a third four-year term in 2013. Before being appointed to the board, she was executive director of the Mono Lake Committee. From 1983 to 1992, she was director of international programs for the National Audubon Society. Earlier in her career, she was a legislative assistant for the Animal Welfare. She was a member of the Bay-Delta Public Advisory Committee and co-chair of its Water Use Efficiency Committee. She was also co-chair of the Southern California Water Dialogue and convener of the California Urban Water Conservation Council. She has served on the boards of many other organizations, including the Water Education Foundation, California Council of Land Trusts, and Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund.
Tom Hicks is a California water law and conservation attorney. Before law school Mr. Hicks was an energy and water policy analyst at the Natural Heritage Institute and the founder and Executive Director of the Headwaters Institute. He has interned at the San Francisco Office of the City Attorney, California State Water Resources Control Board, and American Rivers. Tom founded and chaired the inaugural California Water Law Symposium sponsored by leading northern California law schools and is a Board member. Tom is a former whitewater raft guide, kayaker, and Colorado Outward Bound instructor. He holds a JD from the University of San Francisco School of Law and a BA from the University of Vermont.
A plumbing contractor and member of Greywater Action, Christina has been diverting greywater to gardens for over six years now, and regularly instructs the basic plumbing component of GWA's week-long installer course. Her 4-year professional training as an apprentice in the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters instilled a deep pride in craft which she attempts to convey to greywater installers. She also creates "eco-art" addressing various water issues--watch for one of her pieces at the conference!
David White has a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences and a Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He has worked with numerous environmental groups in Ventura County CA over the past twenty five years. He is the cofounder and Executive Director of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture and directs the "Once upon a Watershed" education program active at eleven schools in the Ventura River Watershed. David is also the Director of Environmental Education for Food for Thought's Ojai's Healthy Schools program managing and coordinating the garden and farm based learning programs for the Ojai Unified School District. One of David's favorite things to do is to plant trees with kids.
In December 2014, Olivia graduated from McGill University in Montréal with a degree in Environmental Science. After moving back to her home in Minneapolis, she quickly realized her place wasn’t at a desk in an office, so she drove west to begin a spring of volunteering on various organic farms and homesteads. Olivia landed in Groveland, California, and learned of Sierra Watershed Progressive (SWP), a group working with simple, yet innovative ideas about water reuse and conservation. Needless to say, Olivia was hooked—within a few months she made a new home at a nearby off-grid farm and began working with SWP, learning the ropes of greywater design and installation, stormwater earthworks, and (so many!) different types of rainwater capture projects. These days, most of her work is in the field installing systems, intermingled with computer design work and occasional educational talks. In other words, she plays in the dirt for a living, and couldn’t be happier! When she’s not digging, Olivia enjoys learning and building at the farm, doing anything from milking the goats to planning and building structures.
Sherry Lee Bryan is Senior Program Specialist at Ecology Action and partner in the water management company California H2orticulture Services, based out of Santa Cruz, California. Sherry has 14 years of experience helping public agencies and private companies innovative their water conservation and irrigation efficiency programs. She is the co-founder of the Central Coast Greywater Alliance and Monterey Bay-Friendly Landscaping Program, and has permitted, designed, and installed multiple greywater irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting systems for irrigation and indoor, non-potable uses, and other green infrastructure projects. Sherry is bilingual English/Spanish and is the lead instructor and coordinator of the Monterey Bay Green Gardener Certification Program, an ecological landscape installation and maintenance training program that has graduated more than 500 landscape maintenance workers since 2006.
Optimal, integrated design has been Art Ludwigs day job for 32 years. His specialty is complex, deep green integrated "systems of systems” for water, wastewater systems, energy, shelter, human powered transport, financial sustainability, etc.
Using Art’s designs, a 75 percent reduction in per capita negative impact is easily achievable and 90% is possible.
At UC Berkeley, he developed the first laundry detergent biocompatible with plants and soil, and founded a successful manufacturing business to distribute it.
His books Create an Oasis with Grewyater and Water Storage are top sellers on Amazon, his DVD Laundry to Landscape is helping educate a new generation of landscapers. His 500 page web site, oasisdesign.net is top ranked for a wide range of topics.
He has worked professionally on building codes in three states. He has helped craft greywater codes in New York, Arizona, New Mexico, Santa Barbara. His quantitative analysis of the health risks of greywater smoothed the way for more rational regulation of greywater in California, and he played a major role in the crafting of the new standards.
He lives with his family in a food jungle in a canyon above Santa Barbara, California, which features rainwater and runoff catchment, as well as numerous other water conservation and reuse features.
John P. DeGrazio first visited Yosemite National Park in 2003 after many exciting adventures in several other U.S. national parks. He had an epiphany while standing on the Half Dome summit and decided to move his family from New York City to California to start an adventure company in the Sierra Nevada. 2006 marked the beginning of John’s career in Yosemite as an outdoor educator and wilderness guide when he created YExplore Yosemite Adventures. He relishes every moment he can share the natural wonders of the park with visitors of all ages from around the world.
John’s passion for stewardship has led to his involvement with several volunteer organizations that create service projects in and around Yosemite. John is currently President of the board of directors for the Yosemite Gateway Partners, an organization that supports the national park while promoting economic and cultural prosperity for its surrounding communities. His service with this organization has earned him recognition from the National Park Service as a Yosemite National Park Centennial Ambassador in 2016
In his spare time, John enjoys cycling, hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, and backpacking with family and friends. His fondest memories are of reaching Yosemite summits with his wife and two daughters. John has also become an avid nature photographer while sharing daily images of Yosemite on his Instagram account @yexplore.
Trathen Heckman is the co-founder of Daily Acts Organization, Board President of Transition U.S. and a front yard farmer. Trathen works with engaged citizens, leaders and networks to provide innovative community-based solutions, which harness the power of nature and inspired action to build leadership and local self-reliance. This ranges from installing food forests from front yards to City Hall landscapes to helping mobilize thousands of sustainability actions as part of the Community Resilience Challenge, a Daily Acts program that has been replicated regionally and nationally. Trathen is a founding member of the Sonoma County Food System Alliance and worked actively with the Sonoma County Greywater Working Group, which participated in the 2009 California state Greywater law update. He lives in the Petaluma River Watershed where he grows food, medicine and wonder while working to compost apathy and lack.
In 1997, Freddy Otte began working for Central Coast Salmon Enhancement as their Chinook salmon pen-rearing program biologist and also started working in watershed management planning beginning in 2000 after graduating from Cal Poly SLO in 1999 with a BS in Biology.
In 2005, Freddy Otte was hired as the Biologist with the City of San Luis Obispo. San Luis Obispo is very progressive in resource protection and enhancement. This position is unique in that there are very few municipalities that employ a biologist. As the City Biologist, Freddy closely interacts with planners and engineers during project design to ensure the environment is protected. Freddy is dedicated to ensuring the protection of steelhead whose survival is threatened by urban development, water pollution, drought and other factors.
Freddy coordinates the Citywide Stormwater Management Program as mandated by the State Water Quality Control Board and overseen by the City’s Natural Resources Program. This program improves water quality for local steelhead. Freddy collaborates with numerous agencies and organizations to broaden the ability to implement steelhead trout recovery in San Luis Obispo County.
Freddy is currently Vice-president of the Salmonid Restoration Federation, a statewide non-profit whose mission is to promote restoration and stewardship of California’s native salmon, steelhead, and trout populations and their habitat. He is also part of the local collaborative the SLO SI (SLO Steelhead Initiative) (City, state agency, NGO’s) who have banded together to deal with new regulations and have a unified voice for steelhead advocacy in the southern part of the state.
Brian Cary has roughly 15 years’ experience working to support natural resources in Washington, Arizona and California. Prior to college and while debt free he traveled extensively on very little and realized he wanted to work to support the natural environment. Returning from overseas, he obtained a B.S. in Biology and a graduate degree in Environmental Studies. With this education and passion for the environment he began a long journey which included studying marine bird abundance, evaluating riparian forest growth characteristics , habitat conservation plan effectiveness, incentive based agricultural land riparian forest restoration, headwater streams, wetland restoration and water supply. Currently, Brian is the Program Manager for the Wildlife Conservation Board’s California Streamflow Enhancement Program, a grants program, whose primary objective is to fund projects which lead to enhanced flow that benefits fish and wildlife.
Megan Rippy is a postdoctoral scholar in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California Irvine with expertise in ecologically-informed design of green stormwater infrastructure and statistical and timeseries modeling of sustainable urban water systems. Her work focuses on deconstructing the social, ecological, and climate-related drivers of green infrastructure performance and urban water conservation during times of drought. Megan received her BS from the University of California Santa Cruz, and her MS and PhD from the University of California San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Dan has 20 years of experience working in the irrigation industry, on projects in the western U.S. and internationally. He specializes in the evaluation of basin/watershed and field level evapotranspiration, remote sensing, flow measurement, on-farm water management, nutrient and salinity management, irrigation district modernization, and agricultural water energy use. He teaches irrigation courses at Cal Poly including irrigation water and salinity management, irrigation system design and management, pump and well design, and irrigation project design and modernization.
Lester A. Snow, the mastermind behind countless water resources management projects, has been involved in water issues in two states, both the public and private sectors and on regional, state and federal levels of government.
In a timeline of his career, Snow served from 1988-1995 as the general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority after leaving the Arizona Department of Water Resources. From 1995-1999, he was the executive director of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, which included a team of both federal and state agencies. In 1999 then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt appointed him as the Mid-Pacific regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. In 2001 he went into the private sector as a consultant until 2004 when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him as director of the California Department of Water Resources. In 2010 Schwarzenegger appointed him as secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.
Currently he is the executive director of the California Water Foundation, integrated resource management director for Resources Law Group, LLP, and a member of the California Water Service Group Board of Directors and Water Education Foundation Board of Directors.
Leigh is the principal of Greywater Corps, a company that designs, installs, and teaches about residential greywater systems as a solution to California’s water crisis. He has installed several hundred greywater systems in the Los Angeles area, ranging from simple gravity-flow systems to elaborate multi-stage filtration & purification systems. Leigh also works with nonprofits, water companies and city agencies to facilitate broader implementation of greywater use. He has lectured or taught workshops at numerous institutions, both local and statewide. Leigh is both a licensed architect and contractor in the state of California, and an ARCSA Accredited Professional.
Alan Hackler is the owner of Bay Maples: wild california gardens, located in San Jose, California. Bay Maples is an award winning, design build construction firm specializing in rain-water and greywater systems. Bay Maples has been installing greywater systems in California since 2009, after the California Plumbing Code was adopted to allow for simple greywater systems.