Community July 29, 2008

Green Dreamers

A Few of the Many to Watch, Follow and Emulate

So many efforts, so many pioneers. One magazine isn’t enough to share all the stories, but in our first “Green Issue”, we offer you some people and organizations to consider when it comes to saving our resources. Once you meet them, you might want to join them.

Garth Callaghan

Garth Callaghan Construction & Energy Savers of Idaho
“Building a home or business to be energy efficient is no more expensive than conventional construction,” opines Callaghan. His company builds almost exclusively out of alternative building materials, with a main focus on energy efficiency. The financial savings are welcomed by homeowners and small business owners alike.

Morgan Brown

Sun Valley Solar & Whole Water Systems
For Brown, finding tangible ways to save the environment is a passion that has led him and wife Rebecca Bundy to build a demonstration solar home. He also has started two green-oriented businesses, helped found the Sun Valley Sustainability Conference and has become an active supporter of the nonprofit organization Citizens for Smart Growth. Morgan believes that poorly managed growth is the greatest threat to the quality of life in the Sun Valley area.

The Messengers: At work or at play, these are some of those who make “headlines” with their efforts.
From left: Garth Callaghan, Morgan Brown, Chris and Phoebe Pilaro, Scott Mason

Chris & Phoebe Pilaro

Active professionally as a photographer, Chris recently released “Everything’s Cool,” a film about climate change. An informative and interactive blog has developed from the film, bringing dialogue to a worldwide audience. As a couple, Chris and Phoebe have installed solar panels on their home and worked with the city of Hailey to establish Jimmy’s Garden, a low-flow water park adjacent to their Hailey home.

Scott Mason

Ketchum Grill
Riding his bike from East Fork to his restaurant in Ketchum for about 11 years, Scott Mason has had ample time to contemplate not only menus, but also his surroundings. Mason’s restaurant prides itself on a local following, affordable fare and the use of home-grown products like greens and lamb whenever possible. A practitioner of the Slow Food movement, his meals are prepared on-site from the freshest ingredients, in a style guaranteed to maximize the full natural flavor.

Wood River Organics

Judd and Heather McMahan identified organic farming as a passion for their life together. Zesty greens are their specialty, and many backyards sport varieties of tomato plants they cultivate on their farm for those inclined to do minimal gardening. An anomaly in a field of farmers several decades older than them, Judd and Heather are proving it is possible to roll the sleeves up and get sustainable agriculture into the local economic environment.

Idaho’s Bounty

With the surge of awareness in industrial food production and the nationwide focus on local food, Idaho’s Bounty’s organizational goal is to create regional food sheds. On the producers’ end, a stronger demand for local food provides rural development opportunities and economic incentives for farmers. For consumers, access to healthy local food provides accountability on an intimate level. This fall two geothermal greenhouses in Hagerman will be converted to growing organic food as an experiment in year-round production capabilities. The website will soon serve as a relay point for goods.

Lava Lake Land & Livestock

Since 1999, Kathleen and Brian Bean have raised the highest-quality, best-tasting, certified organic and grass-fed lamb available while protecting the rich native landscape of the Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon. While we enjoy the all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free meat, none of which has ever seen a feedlot, Lava Lake has developed land management and conservation practices. Through a blend of niche marketing strategies and by serving a central land stewardship role in the region, Lava Lake is helping re-define the role landowners and ranchers can play in preserving and restoring the West’s great landscapes.

Webb Landscaping

With at least 160 employees traveling to Bellevue and Ketchum from cities farther south, Webb Landscaping decided to calculate the company’s environmental impact. A drive to work pattern evaluation and a sustainability study prompted van pools, which will take a million miles off the highway by shuttling up to 15 people per van from home to work. Webb’s efforts extend to their clients. Grass is cut high, organic material left on the ground, herbicide excluded in fertilizing and native landscaping encouraged. >>>



The Speculators: Those who see a trend coming and get ahead of the curve.
From left: Derek Ruhter, Gunnar Whitehead, Molly King, Christian Nickum

Whitehead’s Landscaping

Whitehead’s vermicompost tea is the basis for a multi-layered organic lawn-care program. Gunnar and Merri Whitehead’s goal was lessening the amount of synthetic fertilizer applied in the Valley. The tea gets its start in a bin filled with millions of red wiggler worms. These little squirmies eat leftovers from Shelley’s Deli and Atkinsons’ Markets, reproduce and excrete the gold standard in organic fertilizer.


Icebreaker specializes in garments made from merino wool, sheared from New Zealand sheep and woven into pieces especially designed to layer atop one another. The physical layering of cloth reflects the company’s interwoven chain of producer to manufacturer to consumer. From reliable wool grower relationships to wastewater purification practices at the factories to employee contentment, the company reflects the healthy, symbiotic relationships necessary for sustainable business practices.

Rocky Mountain Hardware

Given the chance to build a new building, the folks at Rocky Mountain Hardware decided to go for the gold in the form of LEED certification. The structure meets a remarkable standard in green building. The building will be the first office in the Valley to receive such certification. Their products can likewise be used in other projects aiming to attain LEED-quality construction.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

The Nature Conservancy is rapidly increasing efforts to protect life-giving waters. The Salmon River drainage is a critically important waterway for salmon, steelhead and other native fish. Private ranches often house spawning fish as the headwaters are located on various ranch properties. By working with communities and the people who live along the river, TNC develops common sense solutions, such as water conservation agreements as exemplified at Silver Creek Preserve, one of their first local projects.

Citizens for Smart Growth

“Blaine County is an example of working to balance growth with quality of life,” says Vanessa Crossgrove Fry, executive director of Citizens for Smart Growth. Where will all these people live, work and play? Fry sees Smart Growth as the liaison between people, government and developers in the Valley, ensuring local residents a seat at the table when shaping the future of the county.

You can always expect to see Fry, co-workers and supporters at all development hearings; when your mission is to enable healthy sustained economies and an awareness of the relationship between land use planning and quality of life, every voice counts. >>>



The Directors: They see the future and they want to save us from our self-indulgent selves.
From left: Laura Hubbard, Vanessa Crossgrove Fry, Linn Kincannon, Craig Barry, Heather Kimmel (WRLT Program Coordinator)

Idaho Conservation League (ICL)

Formed in 1973, the Idaho Conservation League focuses its work on air quality and public lands, which account for two-thirds of Idaho land, and community conservation to achieve its goals. The group helped stop a Sempra coal-fired power plant from being constructed in southern Idaho last year. And the ICL is currently in a lawsuit for mandated reporting of methanol emissions from dairies in Idaho, which currently have no emissions regulations forcing them to comply with the Federal Clean Air Act.

Enviromental Resource Center (ERC)

Want recycling bins for a special event? Want an eco-camp for your child to learn about ecology? Want people to stop idling their cars? These are the people to help you out. With the warming of the slopes and crisping of the forests, the ERC continues to meet the challenge of educating the public on environmental topics. Recently the group began Commit2TakeAction, a program geared toward citizens already doing some things to lessen their environmental impact, but probably needing inspiration to do more.

Wood River Land Trust (WRLT)

The Trust realizes the health of the Big Wood River and the Valley’s groundwater depends in part upon homeowners’ yard care. For true environmental participation, it’s all about recognizing the cycle of life. Thus, what you put on your lawn and the quantity of water you use affects water quality and aquatic life elsewhere. The Land Trust’s certification program offers community members education and step-by-step ideas to make yards safer for the area’s water sources.

This article appears in the Fall 2007 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.