Mari Matsui – I came to the Bay Area six years ago from Kyoto, Japan. I was looking for work in a green-related field to complement my studies with the Department of Environmental Horticulture and Design at Foothill College. After attending a class at Common Ground, I pursued an internship. The time has passed like a dream, working as the Saturday Class Hostess. I set up the classroom, welcome people at the check-in table, control room temperature, clean up, sweep the floor, wipe the shelves, clean and water plants and plant starts, display new arrival plants, find plant signs, check-in deliveries, place book orders, supply inventory, recycle old calendars by transforming them into envelopes, dig soil at the demonstration garden, and create an effective and pretty window sun shield, which is under construction. The advice I had from Patricia was to think how I could make customers feel happy at Common Ground so that they would be a part of our community. I admire her philosophy and passion to run this non-profit organization. I love to come to work here not only for learning new things in classes and at the Center, but also for meeting people. Common Ground has an incredibly harmonious whole, which makes me feel fortunate to be part of it.
Patricia Larenas – I believe that as suburban gardeners we have great power to make positive changes for the good of our planet, more than we realize. We can transform our gardens to be sources of tremendous enjoyment by growing delicious food, providing a home for local wildlife, and by bringing their abundant beauty into our lives. I began volunteering with Common Ground 2009 when our suburban garden was part of Common Ground’s annual Edible Landscaping Tour for the first tinme. I have been part of the planning team for the Tour ever since! By hosting visitors in our garden I realized the value of sharing our experience with others. We transformed our yards into edible landscapes and used sustainable, organic practices to create a haven for ourselves and local wildlife.
Nalini Wikramanayake – Last December when I retired I was searching for an organization where I could volunteer and make a contribution to society. Since gardening has been my hobby I knew that I would be most comfortable working with a group that had similar interests. I heard about Common Ground and decided to meet with Patricia to talk to her about my interests and to see if she could include me in her team of volunteers. I was delighted that she welcomed me to join Common Ground. I have been with Common Ground since March of this year and enjoy coming to volunteer each week. I have learned not only about organic gardening but also about the products that are available in the store. Volunteering sparked my interest in organic gardening, and over the past three months I have taken a class in organic gardening and started my own composting at home. It is indeed a pleasure for me to come to Common Ground and meet and interact with all the staff and volunteers. I hope to continue doing volunteer work at Common Ground for a long time.
Sergey Tsybanov – you can see him here Saturday afternoons as he helps with whatever is happening on those busy days to make the center run more harmoniously. For many years, he updates our website, helps with accounting, loads fertilizer bags, and receives orders. He has planted tree collards and placed bare root strawberries on display. He makes our drinking water runs, as well gifting our plants with their Saturday waterings. He is our center’s treasure.
Glenda Jones designs and lays out our newsletter and class schedule. She patiently makes changes, and incorporates her fun artwork into the newsletter. We love Glenda!
Rick Tucker is our jack-of-all trades. Whether it’s securing the tomato cage display, or installing back-up power supplies for our computer, he’s our man, and we’re thankful to have him.
Judith Jacoby works part-time at the store, taking care of the plants, ringing in sales, answering the phone and helping customers, and in general doing anything and everything that needs to be done. Judith comes to us with a background in acupuncture, a special fondess for medicinal herbs, and a degree in holistic health and applied ecology.
Bob Griffin keeps our center, storage area, and display areas safe and in good shape. His maintenance skills and talents are a valuable contribution to Common Ground. You may notice our rolling display cart that Bob made.
Anne Ercolani balances our books (thank goodness). She is a CPA and likes to exercise and stay fit. She is the organizer for her family. Imagine volunteering …doing what you normally get paid for!! That is what our beloved Anne does. She is articulate, friendly and efficient…month in and month out!!
Michelle Perkowski We can depend on her like we depend on the sun coming up every day! She arrives every Thursday morning and stays till 3pm and does what ever needs to be done. She cleans, makes envelopes out of old calendars, calls removes our name from mailing lists and does We adore Michelle.
Maryanne Romanowski is starting us out on Quickbooks accounting software to facilitate our bookkeeping and ease co-ordination with other Ecology Action functional areas. Her help is instrumental in streamlining the business of Common Ground.
Collin Stone designs beautiful flyers to advertise our Saturday classes. Collins colorful, beautiful eye-catching flyers are each a piece of work on their own. They help spread the news about our educational programs. He makes the MOST gorgeous gardening class flyers you have ever and will ever see. They are collectors items for the teachers and us. We appreciate Collin very very much.
Evelyn Kmetovic gives great attention to detail. She graciously helps when needed on short notice at our center. She is very good with accounting procedures. She likes to represent Common Ground at outreach events. We like to call upon Evelyn when we have mailing parties.
Arnie Cornez hails from Portola Valley and helps out on a variety of projects. He has collected garden apprentices from the airport headed for our research garden in Willits. Arnie offered to buy paint and paint our lattice work on the fence. We had a 2 day painting party. You may have noticed the beautiful lovely green color that spiffs up the fence? He also helps us move those heavy fertilizers from back stock to front stock! Thank YOU Arnie.
Susie Mader has been volunteering with Common Ground since the beginning of Common Ground. Her contributions include landscape design, and coordinating with many local businesses for their contributions to our Silent Auction. She also teaches very popular container gardening and sustainable landscaping classes with us.
Courtney Dittmar – Volunteering for Common Ground presents a terrific opportunity to learn by taking classes and chatting with staff. Listening to Don, River and Patricia talk with customers is an education in itself. There is also the wonderful but little known Common Ground library that’s filled with obscure information. (Yes, there are still things that can’t be found on the Internet.) Of course, caring for the plants is a learning experience and a treat for the senses!
Tine Gildersleeve – Volunteering for Common Ground is one of the many delights of living and playing in the abundance of this wonderful and generous community. There is something special about volunteering…, being ‘a part of’…, being of service…. sharing the love of organic gardening. For me volunteering has become the gateway to an effortless flow of giving and receiving – of abundance! I appreciate the opportunities available to assist with and attend valuable and interesting workshops such as the ‘Gardening is for the Birds’, ‘Grey Water Systems, ‘Garden Based Herbalism’ – and so many more coming up! I’m very happy to be part of the Edible Landscape Tour committee, and I’m looking forward to seeing lots and lots of you on your bikes this coming August 1st!! It’s organic stone soup, rich with all the delicious and nutritious flavors and spices of everyone here. I am grateful to all my fellow travelers along the path. (Especially Patricia’s beaming good vibes!) Good times, Peace, Tine