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This program is designed to accelerate projects led by people such as landscape architects, watershed restoration stewards, municipal planners and ecological engineers, water conservation specialists, facility managers, sustainability directors, edible landscape entrepreneurs, community garden coordinators, farmers, land stewards and permaculturists, NGO project managers, environmental advocacates, and others dedicated to wise water practices and projects. A yearlong distance program with a 9-day residential option, start date: Summer 2015 (exact date TBA).

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” ~Jacques Cousteau

Do you want to further local water projects, watershed regeneration and living systems that support the true health and wealth of your community and the world? The Wise Water School supports water leaders to take a deep dive into designing, implementing and accelerating community-inspired, regenerative, water-related projects. Ashevillage Institute teams up with Brad Lancaster of Rainwater Harvesting and other outstanding water champions to bring you the online, yearlong Wise Water School.
Partners include: Second Nature, NC Green Schools, UNC Asheville’s Office of Sustainability, Bee City USA

“Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.” ~John Thorson

Water is vital for life. Although 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, only 2.5% of that is fresh water and estimates are that by 2025, more than half of the world’s population will lack access to fresh water. With global water insecurity, plus flooding, droughts, stormwater run-off, pollution, and many other water-related issues; communities around the world are in need of designing and implementing living systems and appropriate technologies that supply, recycle, manage and restore healthy water, watersheds, and water cycles. Replicable models and scalable solutions already exist. From applied best practices, to neighborhood and city policies, to institutions, schools, organizations and businesses who are addressing water from a local to global scale, the Wise Water School is bringing together pioneering practitioners, presenters, projects and perspectives with participants who are developing and implementing visionary [and profoundly practical] water-regenerative projects that serve and support thriving, community-inspired ecosystems.

“Just as water is the foundation of life, it must also be the foundation of design in the built environment” ~Betsy Damon, Founder of Keeper of the Waters

The Wise Water School builds skills in leadership, strategy, capacity, understanding and design to support your greatest potential to be water champions in your own community. The curriculum includes:

Water leadership & community models
– Who are we being to manifest design revolution
– Effective tools & tips for project collaborations & success
– Project capacity, resource & time assessment & management
– Principles to scale project design & development from micro to macro
– Replicable, on-the-ground community models from around the world

Design systems & methodologies
– Observation and assessment of natural patterns
– Ecological design principles, critical thinking & evaluation metrics
– How to use ecological design principles to form context-appropriate strategies
– Implementation and evaluation including what natural patterns mitigate climate extremes

Water retention landscapes
– Ecological benefits, food production & living systems
– Soil fertility & evaporation reduction for water retention
– Design & management of systems for stormwater, droughts & floods
– Earthworks, natural channels & erosion triangles for ponds, swales & berms
– Appropriate technologies (rainwater, grey water, black water & aqua-food systems)

Water literacy
- Watershed awareness
– Water & energy carbon nexus
– Water as ‘exchange’ for all life
– Understanding, accessing & engaging different types of water & their properties, ie: rainwater, fog, ice, snow, condensation, fresh water, salt water, grey water, black water, urine, etc.

Participants will: 1) learn from and work with world-renowned practitioners, 2) deepen understanding of water systems in multiple scenarios, 3) gain a national peer network that will provide ongoing project development support, and 4) design and implement real projects.

Visit the detailed curriculum page here.

“We have been quick to assume rights to use water but slow to recognize obligations to preserve and protect it… In short, we need a water ethic–a guide to right conduct in the face of complex decisions about natural systems we do not and cannot fully understand.” ~Sandra Postel, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity

Brad LancasterLead Instructor – Brad Lancaster is the author of the award winning books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Brad is a permaculture teacher, designer, consultant, and co-founder of Desert Harvesters. He has taught at numerous universities, centers and conferences, including internationally. He designs integrated water harvesting and permaculture systems and works with policy-makers in his hometown of Tuscon, AZ. Brad practices what he preaches—living on 1/8th of an acre where he harvests 100,000+ gallons of rainwater a year, creating a desert oasis by directing rainwater into food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, a thriving landscape and habitat for wildlife. This harvested water is then turned into living air conditioners of food-bearing shade trees, abundant gardens, and a thriving landscape incorporating wildlife habitat, beauty, edible and medicinal plants, and more. Such landscapes can cool buildings by up to 20° F (11° C), reduce water and energy bills, and require little more than rainwater to thrive. Outside the home, Brad has helped others do the same, enabling clients to create ephemeral springs, raise the level of water in their wells, and shade and beautify neighborhood streets by harvesting their street runoff in adjacent tree wells.

Brad started writing the Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond series with the goal of empowering his clients and community to make positive change in their own lives and yards, by harvesting and enhancing free on-site resources such as water, sun, wind, shade, and more. The series provides accessible explanations of what water harvesting is, how to do it appropriately, and how to tailor water-harvesting strategies to the unique conditions of different sites and integrate it with the harvest of other resources. Brad believes we all can become beneficial stewards of the land, and partners in the ecosystem in which we live, and that by harvesting water—and more—we can all begin to transform our households, neighborhoods, campuses, businesses and more from being consumers of resources to generators—and even regenerators—of resources. Drawing on his years of teaching, consulting, designing, on-the-ground implementation, and learning from others, Brad offers students clear and simple processes to assess and design their own harvesting systems at home and throughout their community.

Guest presenters include: Brock Dolman, Lonny Grafman, Penny Livingston, and others. To read more about them, visit the Instructor & Presenter page.

“Human beings are made up mostly of water, in roughly the same percentage as water is to the surface of the earth. Our tissues and membranes, our brains and hearts, our sweat and tears–all reflect the same recipe for life, in which efficient use is made of those ingredients available on the surface of the earth. Water makes up 71 percent of the human body.” ~Al Gore, Earth in the Balance


  • Reserve your spot. You and/or your team’s place in this program will not be reserved until your registration payment is complete. Select the option you want and click on the ‘Register Now’ button to pay by credit card:
    • OPTION 1 – This fee includes up to five participants
      The Wise Water School encourages teams to attend who are working together on a project or are from the same region, and includes: Up to three people to attend the [optional] 9-day residential session in Asheville, NC with Brad Lancaster — Starting Summer 2015, exact date: TBA. PLUS two people to participate in the remote program, online peer network, and project development.
      • EARLIEST BIRD: By or before August 1st – $5,000  
      • EARLY BIRD: By or before November 15th - $5,750 > AVAILABLE NOW
      • REGULAR FEE: By or before January 15th, 2015 – $6,250
    • OPTION 2 – This fee is for individual online participation only
      • EARLIEST BIRD: By or before August 1st – $1,333 
      • EARLY BIRD: By or before November 15th – $1,666 > AVAILABLE NOW  
      • REGULAR FEE: By or before January 15th, 2015 – $2,000
  • Please submit this form: One participant survey per team.
  • Payments are non-refundable. See the cancellation policy.
  • Raising your own funds: See this resource page for ideas.
  • For participants attending the [optional] 10-day residential session in Asheville, NC: Food, transportation and lodging are not included. Lodging options may be available at the Ashevillage Sanctuary. Other lodging options may be found here.

“If you gave me several million years, there would be nothing that did not grow in beauty if it were surrounded by water.” ~Jan Erik Vold, What All The World Knows

Stacey Murphy
Ashevillage Institute, Co-Director

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