Director & Lead Designer

David Shaw

David Shaw

Santa Cruz Permaculture, UCSC Common Ground Center, Right Livelihood College

David Shaw is a permaculture designer, educator, facilitator, farmer, and musician living in Santa Cruz, California. His focus is building connections – with ourselves, with each other, and with nature. David has been teaching sustainable living at UC Santa Cruz since 2004, and in 2012 founded the Common Ground Center, offering a suite of programs for social justice, economic resilience, and ecological sustainability. He directs the UCSC Right Livelihood College, a partnership with the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” David is also an active member of the global World Cafe Stewardship Council, a group dedicated to hosting inter-generational dialogue on questions that matter. David completed the Farm Apprenticeship at the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems and holds a MS in Integrative Eco Social Design from Gaia University. In order to meet the challenges of today, he is creating an urban farm and inter-generational learning center that fosters hands-on farm and wilderness skills, cultural competence, social entrepreneurship, and collective action.

Guides & Learning Partners

Janine Björnson

Clay, Bones, and Stones

Janine Björnson is a natural builder, educator, and consultant who has a specialty in natural paints and plasters. She began her career in natural building in 1996 when she studied with Cob Cottage. Since then, she has taught over 90 workshops in Canada and the United States. Her passion for building with natural materials bloomed out of her love for the earth, in conjunction with her concern for diminishing ecological resources and toxic buildings. Since then, she has devoted the last 2 decades to immersing herself in the world of natural materials and the knowledge of how we can shape dwellings that are healthy, healing, inspiring, and beautiful. She loves teaching and particularly loves to inspire and teach women how to build, and this is evident in her enthusiastic teaching style. Janine has presented at various Natural Building Colloquia. She has taught the natural building component of Dominican University EcoDwelling program, and is the “natural materials” cyber panelist at She is a Co-Active Coach ( and artist. She lives and builds in Sebastopol, California.

Lee Klinger, MA, PhD

Sudden Oak Life

Dr. Lee Klinger is an independent scientist living in Big Sur, California. Since 2005 he has served as director of Sudden Oak Life, a movement aimed at using ecologically-based techniques to address the problem of oak mortality in California and elsewhere. Dr. Klinger has over 30 years of academic experience in the environmental sciences and has held scholarly appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado, the University of Oxford, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Klinger also serves Chairman of the Board of Teleosis Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to developing effective, sustainable health care provided by professionals who serve as environmental health stewards. He is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of London.

Mark Lakeman

City Repair Project, Communitecture, Village Building Convergence, Planet Repair Institute

Mark is a national leader in the development of sustainable public places. In the last decade he has directed, facilitated, or inspired designs for more than three hundred new community-generated public places in Portland, Oregon alone. Through his leadership in Communitecture, Inc., and it’s various affiliates such as the The City Repair Project (501(c)3), The Village Building Convergence, and the Planet Repair Institute, he has also been instrumental in the development of dozens of participatory organizations and urban permaculture design projects across the United States and Canada. Mark works with governmental leaders, community organizations, and educational institutions in many diverse communities.

Penny Livingston Stark

Penny Livingston-Stark

Regenerative Design Institute

Penny Livingston-Stark is internationally recognized as a prominent permaculture teacher, designer, and speaker. She holds a MS in Eco-Social Regeneration and a Diploma in Permaculture Design. Penny has been studying the Hermetic Tradition of alchemy and herbal medicine making in Europe and the United States for 4 years. Penny sits on the board of the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) and holds 2 Diplomas in Permaculture  Education and Permaculture Design. She has studied, taught with, hosted and learned directly Bill Mollison, and David Holmgren the co-founders of Permaculture and the developers of the PDC curriculum. Penny has been teaching internationally and working professionally in the land management, regenerative design, and permaculture development field for 25 years and has extensive experience in all phases of ecologically sound design and construction as well as the use of natural non-toxic building materials. With her husband James Stark, and in collaboration with Commonweal — a cancer health research and retreat center — Penny co-manages Commonweal Garden, a 17-acre organic and certified salmon-safe farm in Bolinas, California.

Doniga Markegard

Markegard Family Grassfed

Doniga comes to ranching with a background in nature and permaculture. This has given her a perspective on the real risks that we are facing as a species. In her youth she was mentored by some of the leading wildlife trackers, naturalists and Native spiritual elders. She spent years alone and with a small group of passionate youth in the Western Washington Wilderness learning the ways of the ancestors, immersing in nature, bird language, survival skills and wildlife tracking. Along with her husband and four children, Doniga owns and operates Markegard Family Grass-Fed LLC raising grass-fed beef, lamb, pastured pork and dairy supplying the Bay Area with local, nutrient dense foods. The family ranch leases land through out the Bay Area spanning over 8000 acres.

Lydia Neilsen

Rehydrate the Earth

Lydia Neilsen is a permaculture landscape designer and consultant specializing in passive water harvesting, as well as a gardener, educator, soil builder, and earth lover. Lydia is dedicated to the development and implementation of beautiful regenerative designs and practices on a do-it-yourself scale. She believes that animals and animal husbandry are a critical element in landscape, human, and planetary health. Lydia specializes in soil building, greywater, integrated poultry systems, water harvesting earthworks and productive water conserving landscapes, polyculture and efficient uses of limited space.

Melissa Ott

Melissa Ott

Green Gal

Melissa Ott is an educator, gardener, event planner, writer, and baker living in San Jose, California. A guiding quote in her life has been Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world” since middle school. In 2017, Melissa participated in the UC Santa Cruz Farm Apprenticeship program where she received her Certificate in Ecological Horticulture. She also received her Permaculture Design Certificate from Santa Cruz Permaculture in 2017. That same year, Melissa launched Green Gal Consulting, offering marketing, outreach, event planning, and other services. For the 2018 growing season, Melissa began cultivating Green Gal’s Garden, a small market garden in the Santa Cruz Mountains. For 5.5 years, Melissa supported education and outreach programs and projects at the UCSC Sustainability Office and other campus organizations. She received her B.A. in Literature in 2014 from UCSC, where she designed and taught two undergraduate courses. Melissa has been writing her Green Gal blog since 2009 and dreams of one day opening a home-based, organic, and locally sourced sourdough business.

John Valenzuela

Cornucopia Food Forest Gardens

John Valenzuela is a horticulturist, consultant, and permaculture educator. Living in Hawai’i for 15 years, he studied and practiced tropical permaculture while teaching throughout the Islands to a wide range of people — children, students, professionals, farmers, displaced sugar workers, owners and renters. He has been a lead permaculture design course teacher at the Bullock Family Homestead in Orcas Island, Washington, for 10 years, also having taught in Costa Rica and throughout urban and rural California. His special interests are home gardens, plant propagation, rare fruit, food forests, agroforestry, ethnobotany, and native ecosystems. He is now based in his original home state of California, where he maintains ornamental and edible landscapes and a small nursery, while sharing his passion for plants. John has served as the chairperson for the Golden Gate Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers Association.

Jon Young

8 Shields Institute

Since 1983, Jon has been mentoring folks in the nearly lost art of understanding bird and animal language. Just as science is beginning to see the credibility in this ancient skill, Jon has been leading communities world-wide to get these skills back through lectures, workshops, media—but mostly through training and mentoring. Jon’s leading-edge work on bird language has been posted in magazine articles and in books including: What the Robin Knows, Animal Tracking Basics, Coyotes Guide to Connecting with Nature, BirdTalk and Exploring Natural Mysteries, and is the subject of popular audio CD series including Seeing Through Native Eyes and Advanced Bird Language.