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May 21st, 2009

ESCONDIDO CREEK

Since 1990 the Escondido Conservancy has been working to preserve the watershed of the Escondido Creek. Almost 26 miles long, the creek threads its way through numerous communities of people, plants and fauna as it makes its way to the 1,000-acre San Elijo Lagoon. The Lagoon is the exit point for the watershed into the Pacific Ocean. This watershed is critical habitat for wildlife and it is critical habitat for the people who live here, a remnant of the once expansive North San Diego County’s wild and open spaces.

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Oaks, Primary Elements of the Creekside Ecology

Development pressures are real, though the economic downturn of late has been a boon to those dedicated folks working to protect this resource. Developers have screeched to a halt and The Conservancy, along with others, are acquiring land and donations.

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Mimulus/ Monkey Flower Brighten the Edges of Dense Oak Groves, Part of an Interconnected Plant Guild

The Elfin Forest Interpretive Center, a truly beautiful and environmentally integrated structure, is under construction and the anticipated opening date is June 2009. Designed by the exceptional artist &architect team of James & Drew Hubbell, the Center has a living roof with native plants, is operated on solar power and has composting toilets. Its passive solar design utilizes careful siting to minimize energy needs, taking advantage the site’s solar aspect.  Revolving exhibits will offer visitors an invitation into the landscape that surrounds them as well as understanding and inspiration for engagement with place.

I have just completed the watershed booklet that was commissioned by The Escondido Creek Conservancy. In a place where people are more familiar with the inside of their car than they are with the land around them, I felt deeply that they needed to be engaged in a truly visceral way. This document would be the primary ‘marketing’ tool for the Creek.

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History Held in a Shape: This Oak Limb, at one Time, Likely Supported Another that had Fallen on it, Creating an Unusual Form

The underlying concept for this booklet was to create something that people did not want to throw away. I felt strongly that if they were willing to throw this away, that they would also throw the Creek away.

The document needed to encompass the whole at a glance so people could see the relationship of their communities to the Creek and to the larger watershed. Indeed, it is essential to help ordinary folks to have the knowledge of this place as well as a grasp of its importance and vitality and the benefits it brings.

An accordion form was developed for the booklet. This would allow for a strong and continuous visual element.  The handmade look would set it aside from being “just another slick marketing tool”, and the tactile nature of part recycled felt paper would add to the feeling of this being a piece of art.

Including the iconic bird, the egret, on the cover page was my thread: the egret can be found the length of the watershed- from the Pacific all along the stream. The Oak tree is drawn from one that stands in a place that rendered me silent: canopies spread fifty feet.  dsc_0251Spring grasses in chartreuse green looked as if a painter had brush-stroked them in  and left a meandering path, one person wide.

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Tree Roots are Vital to the Stability of this Riparian Eco-System

The Creek danced over smooth rocks, its sound held low by the canopy. Bright flowers in the understory picked up the late sunlight: purple, vermillion, yellow and the green scents of sap and leaf, of soil and

water, of teeming life, a world away from the rush. I imagined that others might feel as I did if they ventured into the world of the calm of the Creek and its towering oaks, away from the busi-ness of life.

Designing content as story in order to engage the reader in a visceral way, I have  sought to inform, educate and above all engage the reader in the vision of a future with a whole watershed that held value for them. Using metaphor and imagery to engage emotionally as well as to describe the deep story of place and our relationship to it, as well as a vision for the future and future generations.


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The Brackish Water & Aquatic Plants of the San Elijo Lagoon are a Filtering System & Habitat for Birds & Other Myriad Creatures

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