Our work is driven by ecosystem health and in particular, by human health. This is in no small part because our company began in West Oakland.
When we started hyphae in 2008 in West Oakland, we were exposed literally and figuratively to the effects of environmental injustice. Our immediate neighborhood had a Superfund, a freeway in-circling us and lead contamination in our own yard that was over 10x worse than EPA recommended thresholds.
Motivated by our condition, we became friends with our neighbors Brian Beveridge and Margaret Gordon, who as community members started West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.
Having backgrounds in ecology, engineering, design and research, we sought to proactively find solutions to our own environmental exposure and the conditions Brian and Margaret had been documenting for years. We therefore began a collaborative called Urban Biofilter, a joint venture between WOEIP and hyphae design laboratory. The partnership was brought about by living on a shared street in a shared community, seeking proactive community driven solutions to the environmental justice impacts we faced. The partnership has existed for over a decade, and shaped much of our work and mission.
Urban Biofilter innovates, documents and disseminates open resources to communities at risk of environmental impacts, we also advocate to local, state, national policy makers. EIP provides leadership, community organizing, policy development, and local and state advocacy, as an award winning environmental justice, community participatory design and citizen science organization. Hyphae contributes design, engineering, research, and innovation, as part of their triple bottom line values as a mission driven company and community member.
Our flagship initiative is called Adapt Oakland, a novel, multi-benefit ecosystem service and health-based adaptive management framework for implementing green infrastructure. The project was developed specifically in West Oakland, but also serves as a framework and toolkit for other neighborhoods with high impact from Ports, T.O.D. and industrial land uses. The project was funded by the Governor’s Office of Research & Planning, the San Francisco Foundation, ClifBar Foundation, and individual donors.
We are currently advocating the plan to neighbors and working on multiple sub-projects including a neighborhood specific citizen science and greening designs, as well as community-based air quality plan with AB 617.