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Phoenix Valley Branch Programmatic Changes in 2019

To our friends, associates, collaborators, donors, sponosors, supporters, and volunteers in the Phoenix Valley:

Over the last seven years, WMG has been filling an important niche in the Phoenix area, providing leadership in water harvesting education and implementation, green infrastructure, and urban watershed management. We’d like to continue to fill that important role while making some strategic shifts based on program impact and available funding.

Phasing out Green Living Co-op

Earthwork at a Phoenix Vally workshop. We launched the Green Living Co-op program in the Valley in 2011, with high hopes to grow the program to reach an optimal and sustainable size. In order for the Co-op model to work well, there needs to be at least 20 workshops per year, and ideally closer to 30 to 40 workshops. This number of workshops ensures ample volunteer opportunities to earn Co-op hours and a large enough financial base of projects to cover the outreach and administrative costs of the program. Donor dollars have been covering the outreach and administrative cost of the Phoenix Co-op over the years. Despite increased outreach and marketing, the interest in the Co-op has not grown over the years, but stayed steady around 8-12 workshops per year.

WMG increased our outreach efforts and staff resources over the last three years with the goal of growing the Co-op. Despite this investment, interest in the Co-op did not substantially increase, and we have determined it is not the right program for the Valley community. WMG decided to discontinue the Co-op program as of December 2018, to invest our energy and donor dollars in other areas that will lead to increased mission impact. This was a difficult decision to make, because we highly value the hands-on education and deep engagement that the Co-op program provides. We appreciate the dedicated and passionate group of Co-op hosts and volunteers who have participated over the years. Thank you for investing in the community process and helping grow water harvesting and sustainable desert landscaping in the Valley.

Doubling Hydrate Series

With the phase out of the Green Living Co-op, we’re focusing on other program areas. In 2019, we will be doubling the number of Hydrate series we offer. The Hydrate the Valley program is a five-part series that offers free water harvesting classes in four hub cities: Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, and Glendale. In the past we have offered two series per year, and now we are scheduling series in all four cities, so we can have an annual presence in each city. Our goal is to make this a robust offering with strong municipal partners and business sponsors, and reach hundreds of new people every year. In 2019, we hosted Hydrate Tempe in January, and have Hydrate Glendale scheduled in May (5/1-5/29), Hydrate Mesa scheduled in August (8/1-8/29), and Hydrate Phoenix booked for October (10/2-10/30). You can check out the schedule, and register here.

Investing in Green Infrastructure Demonstration Sites  

WMG is continuing to work with partners to create public demonstration sites of green infrastructure that provide models for the community and help further sustainable urban development. Last year, we partnered with the Design School Hydro-GI Lab at Arizona State University and the Flood Control District of Maricopa County to build experimental water harvesting basins that will provide useful information for designing and implementing more green infrastructure projects.

Another strong partnership was with River Network, Four Peaks Brewing, and the City of Tempe to create a green infrastructure demonstration site on Rio Salado Parkway adjacent to the Salt River and the Grove of Arizona Cities and Towns park.

This year, we are working with the city of Tempe to select, design, and build a new green infrastructure demonstration site that will serve as a hub for public engagement. We’ll be planning a series of workshops for the fall, so community members can learn about these practices while helping install the project.  

Community Outreach and Consulting

WMG will continue to engage the public through community events as well as planning another Go with the Flow water harvesting home tour in the fall. Additionally, a group of our Valley docents will be helping with outreach events throughout the Valley. You can get involved by attending Hydrate classes and workshops at public demonstration sites. Details on all of the upcoming opportunities are available through our Phoenix Action Bulletin and on our website here.

We are pleased to share that Ryan Wood, WMG’s Valley staff member for the last seven years, will continue serving the Valley community moving forward. While we are no longer offering consultation services for residential clients, we will continue to offer our consulting services to municipal and commercial partners to ensure the continued advancement of green infrastructure, sustainable desert landscaping, and watershed health.  

Through these larger scale projects, we can continue to have a positive environmental and water harvesting impact on the Valley. However, we still depend on our Valley donors and volunteers to stay involved in our mission to keep these projects moving forward. We appreciate all you have done for WMG to support our efforts and look forward to working with you this year!

Lisa Shipek
Executive Director
Watershed Management Group