Schoolyard Habitat

at Walgrove Elementary School

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Creating a restorative garden is a big deal. It speaks to lots of big ideas: restorative justice, habitat conservation, outdoor education. And the list goes on. What might get overlooked sometimes is the little stuff: the micro-moments of discovery that happen when kids slow down and look around them. The Wildlands works its magic when kids stop, take notice, and discover.

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Summering in the Wildlands


Wildlife in the Wildlands! This summer a mother duck built her nest in the tall grass of the Wildlands. She hatched seven eggs whose chicks quickly grew into a raft of ducklings. I happened upon them swimming with mama on a summer’s day. I had to zoom so as not to scare them. A mother duck is protective of her brood! They have since moved on to a bigger and better pond. We’ll miss them!

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Vernal Pools: Looking back


Before asphalt, Venice might have looked like this in the winter and spring months. This image borrowed from shows a Southern California vernal pool. They are bare, lifeless spots for most of the year, disguised by chaparral or coastal sage scrub. When enough rain falls, they come alive and take in their fill of water. Our urban environment has disrupted the natural flow of rain water down from the Santa Monica mountains to the beaches. Meaning that Walgrove–and the surrounding area–can no longer capture this flow in such seasonal pools. Still the Wildlands’ dry arroyo (aka bioswale) mimics this function for the campus by capturing run off from the higher point of the yard. A manmade pool is better than no pool at all.