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This conference is made possible by the generous contributions of our conference co-sponsors:

Department of the Environment, City and County of San Francisco

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

San Francisco Beautiful

San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance (SFGSA)

San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR)

San Francisco Unified School Distric



If you have any questions about this webpage, please contact the webmaster at: sharon@ecoschools.com

EcoSchool Design™ www.ecoschools.com

San Francisco

Green Schoolyard Alliance (SFGSA)

2004 Green School Grounds Conference

October 8 & 9, 2004


Photographs from the Conference!

Saturday, October 9, 2004



Workshops held at John Muir Elementary School in San Francisco

The workshops on Saturday, October 9, 2004 were held at three different schools in different parts of San Francisco. Please click the links below to see the photographs from each workshop held at John Muir Elementary School.

G. Learn to Build Outdoor Classroom Seating (AM & PM)
H. Visualizing Your Green Dreams (Murals) (AM)
I. School Gardening 201 (AM)
J. Teaching Science & Math in the Schoolyard (AM)
K. Cultivate a Peace Garden (PM)
L. "Forum" on Finding Resources for Your Green Schoolyard (PM)

Workshop G: Learn to Build Outdoor Classroom Seating

Instructor: Greg Van Mechelen, Van Mechelen Architects

This workshop taught participants about designing outdoor classroom spaces, and gave them hands-on experience with "earth bag" construction techniques. The bench was created in the shape of an earthworm, reflecting children's design ideas, and the finished work appears to crawl through the garden!

Earth bag bench construction involves filling strong plastic mesh bags with sand, gravel, or soil from the site. Then, the group arranges the bags into the desired shape for the bench, and lays them in overlapping layers, stacked like bricks. The bags are then pinned to each other and the ground using rebar (that goes through them and into the ground). Bags are also sometime further secured to one another and "sculptued" into the proper shape using strong twine to tie down the corners, etc. A layer of chicken wire is added on top of the completed form, and then a thin coating of cement is spread over that to unify the shape and make it durable. Sometimes tiles are added into that layer of cement (or added when it dries using morter and traditional tile laying techniques.)

This method of construction allows a small group of people to assemble an outdoor seating area using low technology, simple construction techniques, and creative energy to complete a durable bench in less than 10 hours.

The workshop group, hard at work in the morning, filling their bags with sandy soil.

The site for this bench is a narrow, existing garden strip, between the school building and the sidewalk.

Filling more bags!

Instructor Greg van Mechelen pitching in!

Discussing the design, based on children's ideas and drawings

The bags were stacked in several overlapping layers in the chosen form (an earthworm), and then covered with a layer of chicken wire to hold the cement finish.

Hurray! The earthworm bench is finished at the end of the day! Thanks for all of your hard work, everyone!

Workshop H: Visualizing Your Green Dreams (Murals)

Instructor: Precita Eyes mural company

This workshop explored ways to build community through art by focusing on public murals. The workshop helped to train participants in inclusive techniques for creating community-driven murals, from the design process through implementation.

Workshop I: Gardening 201

Instructor: Rivka Mason, School Garden Coordinator, Malcolm X Elementary School, Berkeley

This workshop focused on school gardening techniques that were of interest to "intermediate" level school gardeners--many of whom already had a small school garden that they wish to expand. It also included information about how to galvanize the school community, find local resources, improve soil health, practice seed saving, and a variety of other gardening techniques. The photographs below show the group working on seed saving techniques, and planting some new plants in John Muir School's front garden.

Workshop J: Teaching Science and Math in the Schoolyard

Instructor: Karen Mendolow Nelson, Science Educator

This workshop introduced a variety of exciting hands-on science and math curricula that can be easily explored in the schoolyard. The group experimented with topics from life and earth sciences to arts and ecoliteracy, and addressed State curriculum standards. The photographs below show the workshop participants working in Koshland Park (near John Muir School) and at the school, on a variety of hands-on lessons.

Workshop K: Cultivate a Peace Garden

Instructor: Adele Maze, Marin Waldorf School

This workshop helped to teach participants how to transform a place on their school grounds into a peace garden. It included information about extending the curriculum through activities and celebrations to cultivate a peaceful temperament and environment. Part of the workshop was spent on a hands-on project creating colorful, block-printed peace flags that participants took back to their own schools.

The photograph above shows Adele Maze leading the class.

If anyone has additional photographs from this workshop, please email them to sharon@ecoschools.com and I will post them here. Thanks!

Workshop L: "Forum" on Finding Resources for Your Green Schoolyard

Moderator: Nan McGuire, SFGSA Chair

A panel of local experts gave short presentations about finding resources for green schoolyards, and participated in a related discussion with the workshop participants.

Fran Martin, the Co-Chair of Visitacion Valley Greenway Project in San FranciscoFran will present slides of this project which has spanned ten years in developing a series of connected land parcels to be used by the surrounding community including the local schools.

Nan McGuire, Chair of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, and the moderator for this forum, will speak here as a member of the San Francisco Beautiful grants committee. She will discuss tips for grant proposal writing and what people can expect if they decide to apply to San Francisco Beautiful for a grant.

Tina Poles, School Garden Project Director for the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Occidental, CA will conduct an exercise with participants that will help them to organize a
greening project at their school.

Diana Samuelson, Coordinator of Project Ole at San Francisco Community Alternative Elementary School, will describe her success finding and working with volunteer groups who can come to school garden work days.


If anyone has photographs from this workshop, please email them to sharon@ecoschools.com and I will post them here. Thanks!