Activist Andy Lipkis and his organization TreePeople have been saving L.A.'s trees for over 30 years. Andy founded TreePeople in his early 20s, planting 20,000 smog-tolerant trees in this city of smog. Since then, the organization and its volunteers have planted over two million trees in L.A. TreePeople has gone on to train and support communities in the planting of and caring for trees, running large-scale educational programs and consulting with government agencies on critical water issues.
Today, TreePeople has become one of the largest environmental educators in the United States. Headquartered high up on L.A.'s Mulholland Drive, TreePeople's staff works in yurts, round tent-like cabins, based on the 2,500-year-old Mongolian design. The organization's nursery helps supply trees for volunteers to plant. The new multi-use center is a gathering place where environmental experts from around the world meet and exchange views.
While urban forestry continues to be an important focus, the organization has expanded its horizons to address the massive problem of L.A.'s droughts and floods. Lipkis studied the situation and observed that when L.A. lost its tree cover, storm-drain management became a major problem. He looked to trees for the answer, learning how root systems of trees can act like cisterns, absorbing rainwater and replenishing the water reserves. Then he had a brainstorm: Artificial cisterns could be created that mimic nature's solution to water drainage.
With $1 million in funding for research, Andy Lipkis and TreePeople have developed pilot projects to prove the viability and benefits of capturing and storing storm water to increase the county's water supply in cisterns, while decreasing urban flooding and the amount of pollution channeled into the sea. Andy is currently in discussions with a number of companies interested in mass marketing cisterns. Progress is slow but Andy is a determined visionary. Stay tuned …