Stewardship Committee

Maureen Hanson retired to the Illinois Valley on Jan. 1, 2009 with her husband, Paul, after living their lives in the Seattle area with a large extended family. They came searching for a simpler way of life, and found it here through connecting with the Spiral Living Center and developing growing friendships.

The Hanson’s are constantly learning new skills, as well as generously sharing their time, energy and skills in sustainable building techniques, herbal medicine, gardening, and more. You can find them working in the garden, building a cob house, singing in the IV Community Choir, and promoting Ecostry, a practice of extraction of forest products without forest decimation. They also belong to One People’s Public Trust. Maureen spent 21 years as a school bus driver and driver/trainer in the Seattle area, and 6 years driving for Seattle’s metro.

Charles Samuel Greenwood, P.E., has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from California State University at Sacramento. An Oregon native, he has lived and worked in Takilma since 1975. For over 25 years he has owned and operated Greenwood Engineering, pioneering the engineering of tree mounted structural systems, including code-approved commercial tree houses. He has worked on hundreds of conventional and un-conventional building designs, including straw bale, ICF, and soil based floor systems. He has designed and installed low pollution/energy storage heating systems and has engineered, constructed, maintained and operated numerous hydroelectric plants including utility interconnected and stand alone projects. HumanCar, his primary interest, is known world-wide.

Charles has been a member of SLC since its beginning, serving as treasurer on the original board and now on the stewardship board. He has two adult children and a number of surrogate grand children.

Christine Perala-Gardiner, Ph.D. is a geo-morphologist with over 20 years of experience conducting research and restoration practice on urban and rural watersheds in the western USA and in Europe. She has worked for over 30 years in horticulture, botany and ecological restoration, in her primary range on the West Coast; mainly Oregon, California and in Western American plant communities. She has expertise in monitoring and managing annual and perennial invasive weeds at a landscape scale. Christine combines a strong background in watershed assessment with geomorphic process dynamics, GIS landscape analysis and recovery of floodplain and riparian functions.

Christine co-founded WaterCycle Inc. with Dr. John Gardiner in Sept. 2000. She was President of the firm until it was dissolved in 2012. In those 12 years, the firm sought to elevate physical process dynamic interactions with vegetation within watershed management. Christine brings considerable breadth of international research and practice in soil bioengineering, called “biotechnical bank stabilization”; integrating hydrology and hydraulics with geo-technical parameters, fluvial geomorphic process and plant community dynamics. She taught watershed science and fluvial geomorphology for Portland State University, and continues to provide public presentations as a speaker and expert witness.

Since Sept. 2000, Christine has jointly managed an alpaca farm, first in Sandy OR and since 2006 in Cave Junction, OR. Practicing what they teach, she and her husband have identified key elements in sustainable farming. They have brought a new economy to SW Oregon that they showcase on their farm and in the Cave Junction area, and teach associated living skills such as pasture management, livestock husbandry and shearing.

Deborah Lukas works as a Clinical Herbalist and Herbal Pharmacist with 25 years experience. She founded the family business Siskiyou Mountain Herbs, and propagates and grows many medicinal plants on the Frog Farm in Takilma, Oregon. Debbie teaches classes emphasizing respect for the land, ethical harvesting techniques and propagation of rare medicinal plants. She has been involved in nonprofits as staff, board member or volunteer for many years, and dreams of uniting diverse people in the Illinois Valley in the quest for sustainable living. She raises chickens, vegetables, herbs and hope! In 2006, she founded the Spiral Living Center to provide education and support to those living in the Illinois Valley. She serves as volunteer Executive Director of Spiral Living Center.

Deborah Murphy has a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Specialization in Early Childhood from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She worked at the Van den Berg Learning Center, the lab school at SUNY where she trained student teachers and taught children from first to fifth grades. She has taught in New York, California and for many years she taught at the Dome School, a private, alternative school in Takilma, Oregon and also served as its administrator.

Deborah has written a series of children’s books and designed curriculum kits for the Southern Oregon Historical Society and for the Siskiyou Field Institute. For several years she worked as a Mentor for the Oregon Center for Career Development in Childhood Care and Education through Portland State University and the Oregon Resource and Referral Network in a statewide mentoring program. She has been employed by the Oregon Caves National Monument in the Curriculum Based Education Program. She is an education consultant, an Oregon certified trainer and an Instructor for Rogue Community College and Eastern Oregon University in the Early Childhood /Elementary Education Programs.

Grace Brookman has a degree from Evergreen State College. She is currently pursuing an accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree at Oregon Health Sciences University. She enjoys hiking, biking, beekeeping, swimming in the river, cooking with fresh foods, and teaching others about nutrition and health. Grace helped to start SLC’s IV Bikespace in 2008. She has volunteered to organize seed swaps, a silent auction and a local food contest at the Illinois Valley Farm and Garden Festival, and has taught workshops in bicycle repair, gardening basics, and feta cheese-making. Grace also led a bicycle tour of Takilma gardens.

Jeff Meier was born and raised on his family’s turkey farm in Northeast Wisconsin. After the family business went bankrupt in 2000, a restlessness stirred within Jeff to find his own path. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and minor in Classical Humanities. Upon graduation he took an AmeriCorps position that landed him in Oregon, a region of the country that seemed to beckon him.

Jeff has been living in Oregon since 2007, albeit in phases and stages. His primary passion has been leading crews of teenagers to complete trail projects and restoration efforts the Forest Service/BLM sponsor. Jeff has been employed with Northwest Youth Corps for 7 years and has worked in practically all corners of the Northwest. In the Fall of 2010, he discovered Takilma after maintaining five miles of trail along the Illinois River. He quickly became enamored with the botanical diversity and wild rivers of the Siskiyous. Jeff has been returning to the Illinois Valley every winter since and dedicates his spirit and energy towards making the valley a more resilient community.

Jerry Lapora has a B.S. in Crop and Soil Science from Oregon State University. He owns and operates Wild River Organic Farm with his family. He has taught courses at SLC skillshares and workshops, such as extending the growing season using hoop houses. Jerry usually has dirty hands and a happy heart!

Laurel Peña is an herbalist and freelance writer living in the Klamath River region. She began her formal training as a Clinical Herbalist in 2001 by studying with Michael Moore whom she considers her mentor. Her first step into emergency medicine was certifying as a Wilderness EMT in 2009 and the next step is Paramedic school this Fall. Her passion for sharing information led her to become an instructor of CPR, Wilderness First Aid/First Responder, and EMT courses as well as herbal classes. She has 12 years of experience providing care in challenging environments.

Margaret Hall Morton was born and raised on a small family farm in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains of southern Virginia. She volunteered as a family intervention worker for the Pace County Florida Guardian Ad Litem program from 1990 to 1994, while attending West Florida University. For ten years she worked as a youth social worker, helping to start grant-funded family integration programs throughout the country. She moved to the Illinois Valley in 2005, where her family owns and operates an off-grid farm, raising and preserving eighty percent of their annual produce consumption. Margaret serves as Spiral Living Center’s Membership Coordinator.

Rachel Goodman was born in New York City, and moved to Oregon in 1971. She has been growing and preserving organic produce ever since, believing increasingly that small rural communities can be sustained though community and economic self-sufficiency. Her interest in natural healthcare led her to become a Licensed Massage Therapist in 1986. She maintains a current practice in Cave Junction.

Steve Orr, see Board of Directors.

Betsey Norton R.N. was born and raised in Maine, graduated from Tufts University in 1965 with a degree in Sociology and worked in the inner city of Boston for three years before relocating to the West Coast. While living in E. Washington, she served on the local school board for ten years, four years as chairperson, always seeking to positively influence the local children and community. She returned to school in 1987, completing another Bachelor’s degree, this time in Nursing. Working in the health field propelled her interest in the relationship between health, food, and our environment. Always an avid gardener, she dedicated herself to promoting organic ways of growing food, teaching her own children as well as others in the community. Betsey moved to Southern Oregon with her family in 2000, looking for a more “like-minded” community and to escape the aerial spraying of herbicides, which was rampant in the E. Washington wheat-growing area. She focuses on growing berries, enjoying promoting healthy food for our local people and encouraging the move to a more self-sustaining way of life.

John L. Gardiner MBE, Ph.D. P.E., see Board of Directors.

Kelpie Wilson is a writer and a mechanical engineer. Currently, she works with the biochar industry though her consulting company, Wilson Biochar Associates and as an editor at the Biochar Journal, published in Arbaz, Switzerland. From 2008-2012 she worked as a project developer and writer for the International Biochar Initiative. From 2004-2008 she was the environmental editor and columnist for and a contributing editor for Yoga Plus magazine. She has published more than 100 articles in numerous magazines and online publications.

From 2004-2006 she was a technical writer for Energy Outfitters, a solar equipment distributor. Prior to that she spent 12 years as a forest protection advocate with the Siskiyou Regional Education Project in Oregon, serving as its executive director for 5 years during that time. Before moving to Oregon, she worked for a small R&D firm designing Stirling cycle engines in Berkeley, California. Kelpie graduated with honors from California State University, Chico in 1987 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. Before beginning her engineering degree program, Kelpie worked as an auto mechanic in Austin, Texas and was a certified engine performance technician.

Kelpie’s volunteer experience includes many presentations and demonstrations of biochar technology for community groups and schools. In November 2014 she helped organize the Biochar School, a 5 day workshop near Petaluma, California on all aspects of biochar use for small farms, with a permaculture perspective. In 2010, she developed and presented a semester-long program on biochar science at the Dome School, a combined 1st through 5th grade classroom in Takilma, Oregon. Kelpie has appeared on numerous radio shows discussing environmental and political topics including the need to save ancient forests and the climate change benefits of biochar. A list of her publications is available at and she blogs regularly at