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It's so easy being green

Workshops at Roseville's Utility Exploration Center focus on sustainable living
By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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Kermit the Frog may have lamented being green, but Roseville residents have the help of the Utility Exploration Center to make being environmentally friendly a little easier. Entering its third year, the Green Living Workshop series hosted by Roseville’s Utility Exploration Center are hands-on, interactive guides for residents to understand sustainable living. Developed by Utility Exploration Center director Bob Garrison, the weekend courses run the gamut of sustainable living from lighting conservation in the home to efficient irrigation and gardening tips. The center has been working with Sims Recycling Solutions to provide an electronic waste collection that will benefit the IDEAscape, an outdoor extension of the Utility Exploration Center set to begin construction next year. Earlier this month several families gathered at the center to create bluebird nests under Garrison’s direction. Participants used recycled lumber to build an enclosed nesting spot for bluebirds that are losing their habitat to construction and building. Garrison said hands-on activities allow children to learn the how and the why of green living in a way that they can quickly understand and comprehend. The children were encouraged to take their bluebird nesting boxes home to mount in their yards and watch for bluebirds to visit. “The idea was to target children and families to encourage sustainability in the community,” Garrison said. “A lot of them are just good hands-on fun activities but we also have more in depth lecture classes for adults.” Roseville resident Dylan Loaiza, 5, was one participant who worked on his birdhouse with help from his mother at the January workshop. “My mom just signed me up,” he said. In addition to the birdhouse workshop, Cheryl Buckwalter, owner of Landscape Liaisons in Cool draws on her profession as a landscape designer to teach residents how to create eco-conscious landscapes and responsible irrigation techniques. This spring, Buckwalter will teach a three-part course on planning a “green” landscape. “The course really covers all the bases when it comes to landscaping projects,” Buckwalter said. The three parts, Buckwalter said, teaches residents to first create a master plan keeping in mind site conditions for plants, how to utilize recycled materials and how to pull together a look that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible. “The next step is grouping the plants based on water needs and exposure,” Buckwalter said. “And then we wrap up with irrigation and how to utilize some of the technology that’s available to get the most out of your watering and landscape.” Several of the courses are taught by Garrison who is a natural history interpreter who used to interpret for state parks in California and the California Department of Fish and Game. His favorite class to teach is a workshop about vermicomposting called “Worms in the Kitchen?” The class teaches residents to set up and maintain a worm bin to keep under their sink to dispose of food scraps that, with the help of red worms, will turn into natural fertilizer. “I love teaching people about the environment,” Garrison said. “The classes get me out of my office and dirt underneath my fingernails, it’s great.” Know and go: Green Living Workshops take place most Saturdays until May. Upcoming workshop: Solar Power Options Jan. 30 11 a.m.- noon $5/$4 for Roseville residents Register for courses and see a full class list online at Roseville.ca.us/explore 1501 Pleasant Grove Blvd. 746-1550 or Roseville.ca.us/explore for more information