Ralph Bunche High School Biology Class Planting Party

We are pleased to announce a budding partnership with Ralph Bunche High School!  The Wolverines will be joining us for applied biology and participating in a field trip while they help build the Living Wall!  Special Thanks to Miss Brown (science) and Miss Steele (Principal) for all their efforts to make this happen.  We can’t wait!

The Heat Island Effect

What is a Heat Island? According to the EPA:

“The term “heat island” describes built up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C). Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.”

Image Courtesy of http://www.southwesturbanhydrology.com/

Image Courtesy of http://www.southwesturbanhydrology.com/

Our living wall will add vegetation to the heavily paved, urban habitat that exists in West Oakland. Increasing vegetation is one way that we can reduce the heat island effect in our neighborhood.  Read more about heat islands at http://www.epa.gov/hiri/.

Photo Courtesy of Biology4Kids.com

Photo Courtesy of Biology4Kids.com

Civic Involvement

Our living wall project wouldn’t be possible or relevant without the community organizations that inform and inspire us. Our rainwater catchment system uses a Rain Barrel from the Oakland Rain Barrel program, an innovative program from The City of Oakland that provided residents with water collecting barrels to encourage home rainwater collection systems. The green wall will add bird butterfly and beneficial insect habitat to Mandala Parkway, contributing to the newly established greenway. We are inspired by our green activist community members, including Urban Releaf and West Oakland Greening Initiative, both of whom have planted trees around American Steel Studios, and we love City Slicker Farms, our neighbors who promote community gardening and local food security.

American Steel Studios from Mandala Parkway


Our Living Wall

Our first project as Groundation Foundation is building a stunning Green Wall in West Oakland – fed by a solar-powered, 2820 gallon rainwater harvesting system, showering the sidewalk with led rainfall and a wonderland of new plant habitat built with recycled materials.


We began constructing elements of the wall in January, 2013.

Our ultimate plan is to green the entire Mandala Parkway facing wall of American Steel Studios with living wall panels. We decided to begin by constructing one prototype panel in January 2013.

We began with the installation of a 2,820 gallon rain barrel, thanks to our partnership with the Oakland Rainbarrel Program.


543958_396574113762239_78967656_nWe installed a rainwater catchment system, to divert runoff rainwater from the roof of American Steel Studios into our barrel.

We have been collecting clippings of succulent plants from our friends and neighbors. Our Nursery Team is actively propagating and caring for our plants in anticipation of installing them in our living wall frame upon completion.


Karen Cusolito and Nick Gardner after a day of Frame Fabrication

The steel frame for our Living Wall is nearing completion!

We are enthusiastically anticipating the installation of our first living wall panel this spring.

This wall will connect to the biological corridor already begun by the City of Oakland along Mandela Parkway.