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Contact: Ann Hatch                                 

For immediate release — Sept. 30, 2013

(DALLAS) — It’s a desert out there. It’s dry as a bone. That’s what a drought is all about.

Caught in the grip of a three-year drought that blankets almost 90 percent of the state and is rated “severe” to “exceptional,” Texas and its residents face agricultural, economic and ecological disasters without water. Water has become a huge commodity as rain clouds have become a scarce resource.

How can individuals fight a drought when they face extreme temperatures, water restrictions and brown grass everywhere they look? The idea of using passive water harvesting and new types of landscaping is a philosophy that author and permaculture expert Nate Downey of New Mexico will share with audience members during two programs he will present in October — the first feature presentation that is part of the Dallas County Community College District’s 2013-2014 Clean Economy Series.

Passive water harvesting involves a number of principles that Downey will explore as he explains a system that uses no moving parts to store moisture, control erosion, prevent pollution and conserve water. A longtime permaculture/landscape designer, Downey studied under Bill Mollison and is the award-winning author of two books, including “Harvest the Rain: How to Enrich Your Life by Seeing Every Storm as a Resource.”

Downey’s first presentation will provide an overview on Friday, Oct. 25, titled “Introduction to the New Water Economy.” The program will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in room W102 of the W Building at Brookhaven College, located at 3939 Valley View Lane in Farmers Branch/Dallas; the cost to attend is $10 per person. Downey will discuss what Texas residents and others can expect in a drought-stricken state (and world) as people move toward building and sustaining water harvesting as an industry as well as that process’s role in the economy.

The following day (Saturday, Oct. 26), Downey will present a one-day workshop about “The Bold New American Landscape: Passive Water Harvesting,” which begins at 9 a.m. in room W102 of the W Building and ends at 5 p.m. The cost of the workshop is $175; participants can register in advance at Information about additional speakers in the series is provided on that site as well.

For more than a decade, Downey has spoken, taught and written about permaculture practices. He owns Santa Fe PermaDesign, a landscape-design firm whose projects emphasize beauty, function and ecology. He is a frequent guest on public radio and writes a popular column called “Permaculture in Practice” for The Santa Fe New Mexican.

At home and in the workplace (regionally, nationally and internationally), Downey’s work addresses what he calls “changescapes,” “permapatterns” and “permaDesign” — methods that provide practical and visionary ways to be productive and add value to people’s lives, homes, communities and the environment.

Downey said that enough rain falls to provide ample water for everyone. As a result, “We simply have to collect, store, distribute and reuse a small percentage of that which falls from the sky. Fortunately, this way of saving the world comes with perks such as increasing your property’s value, lowering your utility bills or simply creating a comfortable oasis for conversation just outside the kitchen door,” he added.

The seven colleges in DCCCD’s system are sponsoring the 2013-2014 Clean Economy Series, which comprises workshops in October 2013 and in January, February, March and April 2014 — including DCCCD’s annual Sustainability Summit. Volume ticket discounts are available for each workshop but must be paid in advance. A season pass offers individuals who are interested in three workshops an option to register for all three at a cost of $125 per workshop.

The Clean Economy Series offers hands-on workshops that provide attendees with practical knowledge about how to live and conduct business in a more sustainable way that supports people, the planet and profits. Conducted by nationally known leaders in their areas of expertise, the workshops are designed to touch, educate, inspire and move participants to take action. The series began in Santa Fe and is produced by the New Mexico nonprofit organization Carbon Economy Series.

Additional scheduled programs in the 2013-2014 Clean Economy Series include:

  • “Local Food Production” with Joel Salatin, Jan. 28-29, 2014, at Cedar Valley College in Lancaster/south Dallas
  • “The New American Landscape: Cistern Systems” with Nate Downey, Feb. 21-22, 2014, at Eastfield College in Mesquite

For more information, visit

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