project leader
Elizabeth D
1960 Mandela Parkway
(West Oakland)
latest update rss
Updates from the Groundation Team

the project

Groundation: Trickle Up Habitat presents
The Most Fabulous Green Wall Ever Built

Imagine -

An undulating green wall that will literally pour light onto dim sidewalks, throughout multi-colored native plantings, and create an attractive and calming setting with the year-round sound of water falling through a sculpted downspout.  

No, no, this is not some crazy artist's dream. Rather, this is The Most Fabulous Green Wall Ever Built and is being produced right now in the heart of West Oakland by Groundation: Trickle up Habitat - a new partnership between artists, environmentalists, and the city of Oakland.

Groundation: Trickle Up Habitat is a blooming partnership of Wholly H2O, American Steel Studios (ASS), Green Wall expert Nick Gardner, Indra Designs and the City of Oakland’s Rain Barrel Program (ORBP). Each partner brings a unique element to this glistening green wall project - ASS the location, lighting and water sculpture; Nick Gardner and Indra Designs the wall, water system; Wholly H2O the partner and volunteer coordination, educational materials and community outreach; ORBP two large rainwater harvesting cisterns. It’s an amazing team loaded with capacity and experience.  

We are taking existing green wall design to a new level by building a sculpturally designed vertical green wall. The Most Fabulous Greenwall Ever Built is being constructed with recycled materials organic soils and native plants, to be fed by a solar-powered 5650 gallon capacity rainwater harvesting system.

Now all we need are the funds to continue to trickle up our habitat from the ground up and from the sky down.

How You Can Help

We are already rolling but we need funds to cover some of the expenses of this outstanding green wall project. Be a part of it by contributing $10 or more.  We especially like triple digits!

More About Who We Are

American Steel Studios is an important anchor on the currently revitalizing corridor of Mandela Parkway’s recycled water-fed greenway, running close to the Port of Oakland and the West Oakland Bart station. Building on American Steel Studio’s track record as a center for art and community gatherings,** this artfully-designed green wall will boost the local economy by creating a beautiful atmosphere to boost the attraction of high-density housing, restaurants, local businesses, pop-up markets. That brings new employment opportunities and needed services to our community.

Our green wall will tie into the newly revitalized, recycled water-fed greenway running in front of ASS, as well as the new restaurants, and pop-up markets taking root within two blocks. The Most Fabulous Green Wall Ever Built fits right into the City of Oakland’s West Oakland redevelopment goals.

We’re doubly excited because The Most Fabulous Green Wall Ever Built fits right into the City of Oakland’s redevelopment goals for our neighborhood. Our green wall  accomplish graffiti abatement, improve air quality, an ongoing issue in West Oakland, and reduce energy consumption by regulating temperatures inside the American Steel building. This substantial green wall soften the hard environment, acting as a tonic to ease stress and fatigue and provide a much-needed connection to nature, missing in the modern concrete jungle of West Oakland. Moreover, we will have an ongoing demonstration to use for teaching purposes.

Art, habitat supporting local biodiversity, rainwater harvesting, faling water and solar power. Be part of it!  

the steps

Progress to Date


Oct 2012

  • Establish partnership with ASS, Wholly H2O, City of Oakland, Indra Designs and Nick Gardner - done
  • Create a project management framework – underway
  • Document Progress - done
  • Establish materials list – underway
  • Establish budget – underway
  • Establish work flow – underway
  • Determine volunteers needed - underway
  • Build Prototype - done
  • Design rainwater harvesting feed system – underway
  • Acquire solar pump – done, donated by Turbo Rain
  • Clear area for two 2825 Bushman tanks donated by the Oakland Rain Barrel Program - underway
  • Acquire metal for steel structure – done, donated by ASS
  • Community Drive for plastic soup containers (steel for structure has already been donated) - underway


Oct/Nov 2012

  • 2 - 2825 gallon rainwater harvesting cisterns delivered and placed – delivery time set
  • Build remaining structure for green wall structure
  • Design educational signage 
  • Community Drive for native plants, soil and mulch
  • ASS artists design lighting and sculpture


Next Steps


Nov/Dec 2012

  • Install rainwater harvesting system (WH2O/ASS)
  • Build first section of green wall - 20' x 20'
  • Produce educational signage
  • Post educational signage
  • Outreach for Nov Launch Party (All Partners and Associates)


Jan 2012

  • Groundation: Trickle Up Habitat hosts The Most Fabulous Green Wall Ever Built Launch Party at Site (All Partners and Community)



why we're doing it

Community Benefits

  • support the City of Oakland’s redevelopment goals
  • create a permanent demonstration site combining native plants, recycled materials, led lighting, sculpture, rainwater and solar energy!
  • augment the Mandela Parkway Greenway project
  • graffiti abatement
  • increase habitat for local biodiversity
  • improve air quality
  • provide an aesthetically beautiful and healing space in the midst of urban blight
  • educate local schools about environmental issues
  • bring in new businesses and services
  • increase public art
  • regulate building temperature inside American Steel, reducing both energy and water usage



  • Materials for Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) system, Urban Farmer = $1200                                     
  • Design/Build 3 solar powered pump(Recycled Materials): ASS =$1400
  • Soil: American Soil and Stone = $600
  • Framework Hardware (recycled): ASS = $1400
  • Rainwater System Design: WH2O/Indra Design = $800
  • Acquisition Labor: WH2O/ASS = $300
  • Installation Labor = $1600
  • Signage Design: WH2O/ASS = $450
  • Signage Production: ASS= $1250

Total project costs = $9000.00

Many of the structural and plant materials for the wall will be donated and recycled materials from the innovative and industrious American Steel Studios community, well-versed in turning trash into useful materials.

Total project costs after in-kind donations and recycled materials = $7900

Third party credit card processing (3%) = $270
ioby materials and labor = $35

Total to raise = $8,172







Updates from the Groundation Team

The Groundation Team has been taking after the bees and has been busy at work.

Our team consists of:
• Karen Cusolito – American Steel Studios, Founder and Director, American Steel Artist, the girl you want to know for just about anything
• Nick Gardner – Green wall designer, American Steel artist, leaving his mark
• Elizabeth Dougherty, PhD – Wholly H2O, Director; American Steel artist, naiad
• Tony Poeck – Indra Designs, Owner, landscape and irrigation designer extraordinaire, plate balancer
• Kat Sawyer – Oakland Rain Barrel Project, Project Manager, queen of all things rainwater and a welder to boot
Nick has changed his original structural design to incorporate recycled metal, and solar-powered rainwater as the team requested.
Nick Gardner with Original Prototype, Photo by Elizabeth Dougherty
The first prototype was too restrictive and required more steel than really necessary.
Nick really reduced the amount of steel needed in his retooling of the prototype.
The new design is drawing on a stockpile of steel donated from American Steel Studios, left over from building an art piece.
Kat Sawyer and Nick Gardner check out the angle of the container. Back of Prototype 2. Photo by Elizabeth Dougherty
We started with cut recycled plastic water bottles, but decided some heavy-duty recycled soup containers would work better. Elizabeth is working on eating as much soup from the Berkeley Bowl as possible as well as putting a call out to the community to bring us their used soup containers.
Front of the Prototype 2, Photo by Elizabeth Dougherty
Kat Sawyer, from ORBP secured us two 2850-gallon Bushman rainwater cisterns through the City of Oakland’s awesome Rain Barrel Program. She and Karen scoped out the final location for the tanks and now the area is being cleared to make space for the tanks’ impending delivery.
Kat really likes the location of one of the tanks! Photo by Elizabeth Dougherty
Our next steps are to get a handle on our schedule and the volunteers needed. As four of the five of the core team are welders, we’ve decided to build the entire first frame together. Get ready for sparks!!


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • MaryLee M.
  • Diana H.
  • Mary P.
  • Mary P.
  • Matthew M.
  • Charlotte K.
  • Rodrigo P.