Pasadena Water and Power – Gabrieleno Trailhead

Keeping It All Onsite To Support Regeneration

Pasadena Water and Power enrolled us in reimagining a meeting place at the Gabrieleno Trailhead in Pasadena. Their request was to demonstrate hugelkultur and “green waste” transformation to increase water holding capacity, building living soil and furthering their efforts in habitat restoration. The location in the Upper Arroyo Seco had been a historic gathering area but drought, compaction and off road vehicles had not been kind to the land.

The Gabrielino/Gabrieleño people lived with the land, not on top of the land but in kinship with the living systems of the Earth. All of Nature, rocks, water, plants, birds and animal life were treated and cared for as family. If the river/stream rose, the people moved their homes, they didn’t move the river. They lived in harmony and appreciation of the gifts of water. The Gabrielino/leño people were traders, friends to other peoples; their life was abundant and they traded with many neighboring bands creating well traveled trails such as this location.

As dominant culture took control of the land, harnessing the water, building dams, roads and contemporary infrastructure, this shoulder of the beautiful headwaters of the Arroyo Seco was degraded, compacted and left barren. Recreational vehicle use exploited the luscious curves of the upper arroyo floodplain, turning the once verdant hills into a trash and invasive species filled wasteland.

Enter Studio Petrichor to design a regenerative plan for the area. The Gabrielino/leño trailhead is still a popular gathering area for hikers and mountain bike riders and the need for such destinations is continually increasing. How can we begin to reverse the damage done to the land AND support healthy outdoor living? What is missing that can begin to heal this scape? With the support of Pasadena Water & Power we began to bring in truckloads of mulch to shelter and protect the barren and eroding soil.

With mulch, covering the previously exposed and compacted soil, invasive species removed and a restoration plan in action, Pasadena Water and Power encouraged our non-profit arm, Poly/Ana to teach public education workshops on Hugelkultur as we had done for the agency in other locations.

Studio Petrichor and Poly/Ana began to gather resources from our community. We needed more mulch, we needed logs and we needed green waste. Our expert tree trimming friends at Phil & Sons provided those materials, avoiding sending them to landfill or putting more carbon into the atmosphere (burning of logs). Our trusted contractors prepared the site, excavating areas where the Hugels would be built and tested. Workshops were scheduled and friends and friends-to-be signed up.

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