Early last month, actress Annette Bening launched TreePeople’s first-of-its-kind Watershed Teaching Garden and Center for Community Forestry at Coldwater Canyon Park in Beverly Hills. A ribbon cutting, press conference, and sustainability tour signified the opening of this four-acre, $10 million environmental education campus that will serve more than 70,000 visitors annually. Visitors will learn how natural forests work and discover simple ways to apply these principles in an urban setting, thereby actively preventing climate change, water and air pollution, and water shortages. 

 

The environmental center supports TreePeople’s vision of creating functioning community forests throughout L.A., in which local residents, government, and businesspeople work together to transform neighborhoods into sustainable ecosystems that act like natural forests. “Forests have always been the life support systems for the planet,” says Bening. “I’m inspired by TreePeople’s work in using trees as visible models of sustainability and helping to transform Los Angeles into a truly green city.” The facilities include a nursery for growing native plants to restore local watersheds, an urban watershed garden that offers hands-on exhibits on water harvesting and conservation, an LEED platinum-certified conference center, and a 216,000-gallon underground tank that collects and stores rainwater for landscaping. (818/753-4600, www.treepeople.org)   RINA VAN ORDEN