GreenTown Los Altos Celebrates Water Exhibit, Sustainably

A GreenTown Los Altos welcome to the Los Altos History Museum. © 2012 Joel F. Bartlett. All rights reserved.

by Peg Champion

“What a blessing for the rain – it’s our water supply coming down!”

With that, Linda Gass, curator of the Shaped by Water – Past, Present and Future exhibit, greeted more than 125 enthusiastic guests crowding the foyer of the Los Altos History museum on Feb. 29, a cold and rainy evening. GreenTown Los Altos hosted the event to celebrate the exhibit and the many volunteers who helped to create it.

Shaped by Water covers both the history and future of water in the Santa Clara Valley. The exhibit examines the changing relationship between people and water over the years and poses a vital question: Can history teach us to become better stewards of our water supply? Artifacts, interactive displays and creative art installations inside and on the grounds of the museum encourage visitors to take action to conserve and preserve this precious resource.

Margie Suozzo, chair of the GTLA leadership team, addresses guests. © 2012 Joel F. Bartlett. All rights reserved.

In brief remarks, Margie Suozzo, chair of the GreenTown leadership team, warmly thanked the GreenTown Water Stewardship Committee for its help throughout the many stages of the exhibit process: research, writing, building and program planning. Noting that the committee’s “primary role was the creation of the ‘future’ section, and the many outdoor displays that are a part of it,” she also called out Joe Eyre’s leadership in formulating “a cohesive whole from our many fragmented ideas.”

Epicurean Group Executive Chefs Jamie Barillas and Roger Rungpha, with Sous Chef Doug Frizzell. © 2012 Joel F. Bartlett. All rights reserved.

“And, I wanted you to know that here at GreenTown, we put our money where your mouths are!” Suozzo continued, recognizing the chefs of Epicurean Group, who provided the evening’s organic and sustainable food. The food service company, headquartered on Main Street in Los Altos and a member of GTLA, emphasizes local and seasonable foods.

Suozzo noted all of the foods were “low-water use” according to the “hidden water use” scale in the exhibit. The team of waitresses and waiters included students from Los Altos High School who circulated among guests serving canapés such as citrus quinoa on red endive with a strawberry balsamic coulis.

Los Altos History Museum member John Reed and former GreenTown Executive Director Kacey Fitzpatrick try out the “hidden water use” scale. © 2012 Joel F. Bartlett. All rights reserved.

Suozzo pointed out that even the cups, plates and napkins were water-friendly, made of 100 percent compostable materials. The serviceware came from the GreenTown Co-op, a service that Mary Clark Bartlett, owner of Epicurean Group, and GTLA started to help local businesses purchase compostable food serviceware at affordable prices.

The guests enjoyed a variety of Northern California wines, donated by GreenTown members for the event. Most of the wines were organically grown – without chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers harmful to the watershed. Many of the wineries also practice other sustainable practices, such as using energy from renewable sources, reducing packaging and recycling process wastewater, Suozzo said.

“I came away with a new understanding of why everyone needs to contribute to conservation,” said Brad Whitworth, a GreenTown member who attended the event. “The evening was a perfect example of sustainability at work. It’s not the easiest or least expensive path to follow, but it is the wisest.”

It’s shocking! Industrially-produced beef ranks highest on the hidden water use scale. (Photo: Brad Whitworth)

Shaped by Water– Past, Present and Future
Los Altos History Museum, 51 S. San Antonio Rd.
Open Thursday through Sunday, Noon to 4 p.m., through April 22.

The Shaped by Water exhibition goes beyond the Museum’s walls with events and community engagement scheduled throughout the course of the exhibition. Upcoming events include:

  • Bus tour of the Adobe Creek watershed with several stops, expert speakers, lunch and moderate walking. Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. $35. Register now.
  • Water-themed Earth Day Festival, Saturday, April 21. Noon – 4 p.m., free. Museum Courtyard.

Exhibit Curator Linda Gass, Former Palo Alto Mayor Peter Drekmeier, Margie Suozzo. © 2012 Joel F. Bartlett. All rights reserved.

Our thanks to:

The GreenTown Water Stewardship Committee: Sybil Cramer, Joe Eyre, Linda Gass, Kit Gordon, Gary Hedden, Maddy McBirney, Barbara and Kevin O’Reilly, Kathleen Santora, Scott Vanderlip and Linda Ziff.

The Shaped by Water Event Committee: Peg Champion, Jan Davis, Jennifer Delamare, Michele Gerstel, Mary Gospe, Maddy McBirney, Barb O’Reilly, Margie Suozzo, Laura Teksler.

Peg Champion is a member of GreenTown Los Altos and the principal of Champion Organic Communications. Her work focuses on communication and education strategies to encourage sustainable behavior. For more information visit http://www.ChampionOrganic.com

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