February 27, 2019 David Ameryun2

My lifelong passion for all things Green.

If you follow my career or listen to my webinars and presentations at all, you will hear me proclaim my life-long passion for nature, the environment and how that led me to green building and living walls as outlets for positive change. If you engage my consulting and innovation services at any level you will quickly hear how I see all created things as connected and therefore, the underpinning of my passion and motivation.

I am also an active seeker of spiritual growth and read extensively on the subject. Naturally that leads me to spiritual teachers who understand the connection between nature ( all creation ) and the Universe. Today I was reading a daily meditation from one of my favorite teachers, Fr. Richard Rohr, and felt like the reading was spot on for illuminating my own passion and how it comes through in my work.

I hope you enjoy this segment and the notion of “the greening of the self” and maybe you will even look up Richard to hear more of this type of information. The following is an excerpt from today’s meditation.


The Natural World

Kinship with All Life Thursday, March 15, 2018
Joanna Macy vividly reconnects our seemingly separate selves with nature, both present and past:
The conventional notion of the self with which we have been raised and to which we have been conditioned by mainstream culture is being undermined. What Alan Watts [1915-1973] called “the skin-encapsulated ego” . . . is being replaced by wider constructs of identity and self-interest—by what philosopher Arne Naess [1912-2009] termed the ecological self, co-extensive with other beings and the life of our planet. It is what I like to call “the greening of the self.” . . .
Among those who are shedding these old constructs of self . . . is John Seed, director of the Rainforest Information Centre in Australia. One day . . . I asked him: “You talk about the struggle against the lumber companies and politicians to save the remaining rain forests. How do you deal with the despair?”
He replied, “I try to remember that it’s not me, John Seed, trying to protect the rain forest. Rather, I am part of the rain forest protecting itself. I am that part of the rain forest recently emerged into human thinking.” This is what I mean by the greening of the self. It involves a combining of the mystical with the pragmatic, transcending separateness, alienation, and fragmentation. It is . . . “a spiritual change,” generating a sense of profound interconnectedness with all life. . . .
. . . Unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible. . . .
By expanding our self-interest to include other beings in the body of the Earth, the ecological self also widens our window on time. It enlarges our temporal context, freeing us from identifying our goals and rewards solely in terms of our present lifetime. The life pouring through us, pumping our heart and breathing through our lungs, did not begin at our birth or conception. Like every particle in every atom and molecule of our bodies, it goes back through time to the first splitting and spinning of the stars.
Thus the greening of the self helps us to reinhabit time and our own story as life on Earth. We were present in the primal flaring forth, and in the rains that streamed down on this still-molten planet, and in the primordial seas. In our mother’s womb we remembered that journey, wearing vestigial gills and tail and fins for hands. Beneath the outer layer of our neocortex and what we learned in school, that story is in us—the story of a deep kinship with all life, bringing strengths that we never imagined. When we claim this story as our innermost sense of who we are, a gladness comes that will help us to survive.

Joanna Macy, “The Greening of the Self,” in Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, ed. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (The Golden Sufi Center: 2013), 145, 147, 155-156.


February 27, 2019 David Ameryun

I fell in love with Living Walls in 1987 when I went to Europe after college graduation.

My degree background was in science and I was headed to grad school in the fall. Having grown up in farm country and with most of my jobs being in landscape, I appreciated plants but I had never heard of or seen a living wall. While moving around Europe, my eye was drawn to walls intentionally covered in plants and they jumped out at me everywhere. They made lots of sense to me and were beautiful in a way I had not imagined before. Living walls fascinated me then and I am now amazed that they have been the focal point of my career……but not how I had planned it.
In the early 90’s when I was setting out to create my first Living Retaining Wall System, no sooner than the first walls went up, did the drive to understand how to make them successfully grow over with healthy plants and stay that way become front and center to my mission. Lots of history, relationships and many stories have shaped my understanding of the subject. For the purpose of this post, I will stick to the main points and will offer some deep dives in other posts over time, so keep coming back for more.
Here I will cover the main issue any designer will need to overcome if they are to be successful with the specification and performance of living walls. Living Walls or Green Walls come in many types and perform in service applications from structural to facades and slopes to vertical. They all have the same needs and many of the questions discussed here apply to them all. Living Walls are environmentally beneficial while naturally beautiful, which makes them a great tool for Green Building but will not be utilized as often as they should, until more well thought out systems become available and specifiers become comfortable with their successful grow-in.
Living Walls Consulting Presentations
The Big Issue With Living Walls
Living Wall Consulting Facts
The Hard Truth About Living Wall Systems
Its a fact that vendors will not discuss but most systems that claim to be living walls or to support plants covering the face are line extensions of non-living systems that have not been well thought out for the living applications they are sold for.
Living Wall Consulting Questions
Get These Questions Answered For Success

Plants grow in soil.

  • The more soil in the face the better and great soil, appropriate to the plants intended is even better. Living Wall vendors must understand this and communicate it.
  • If the product vendor cannot show how a large quantity of the right soil gets into the face, accurately every time…. they are not offering a properly thought out system.
  • Potential living wall systems must securely hold the soil so that it stays in place long-term or the plants will not be long-term either.
  • A qualified living wall system vendor will know exactly how many cubic feet of the right soil is held securely in the face of their system…. or living walls is not really their business model.
  • Well thought living wall systems will have several ways for plants to be introduced into their facings. Whether from seed mixed in the soil during installation or blown on the face after installation or live plugged into the face during or after structural completion. Their system will elegantly accommodate the method of introduction and they can quantify it and stand behind it. Its complicated and more to discuss that I care to type in this blog post.
  • Lastly, water is a key factor that can overcome poor seasonality of construction or harsh weather patterns to bring success to vegetation grow-in. Not all walls can be irrigated or need it but if a system has not designed an elegant system to add irrigation to their facing system…. they are not really in the living wall business. Again, lots more to discuss but this is a good start.
There is so much more to cover and it leaves me with plenty of room to run in later blog segments. Proper vendor and product selection is a major factor in the ultimate success of a living wall so this is a great place to start.