Lonny Grafman

I am Lonny, the founder of Appropedia.org, feel free to ask me a question.

Campus Office Information

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Office Schedule

Courses Taught and Developed

Cal Poly Humboldt and Partner Universities in Parras, Mexico; Chiapas, Mexico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and New Delhi, India.

  • Engineering 114: Whole Earth Engineering
    • also variants Whole Earth Engineering for the Desert and Whole Earth Engineering in Southern Mexico
  • Engineering 123: Engineering Fabrication
  • Engineering 210: Solid Mechanics Statics
  • Engineering 205: Introduction to Design
  • Engineering 225: Computational Methods for Environmental Engineering I
  • Engineering 280: Environmental Issues in Parras
  • Engineering 280: Environmental Issues in Southern Mexico
  • Engineering 280: Directed Study in Parras
  • Engineering 280: Directed Study in Chiapas
  • Engineering 305: Appropriate Technology
    • also variants Appropriate Technology in the Desert, Appropriate Technology in Southern Mexico, and Appropriate Technology in Dominican Republic
  • Engineering 308: Technology and the Environment
  • Engineering 331: Thermodynamics & Energy Systems I
  • Engineering 370: Energy, Technology and Society
  • Environmental Science 370: Energy, Technology and Society
  • Engineering 371: Energy Systems and Technology
  • Engineering 480: Appropriate Technology Projects in Chiapas
  • Engineering 480: Appropriate Technology Projects in Parras
  • Engineering 480: Special topics in Dominican Republic
  • Engineering 499: Upper Division Directed Study
  • Environmental Studies 123: CCAT Practicum: Variable Topics (teacher mentor)
  • Environmental Studies 371: Resilient Community Innovation

University of Nevada Reno in partnership with the University of the Basque Country:

Humboldt County in partnership with College of the Redwoods and the California Conservation Corps:

Permaculture design course components and many other deep engagements, e.g.:

Entrepreneurship and Innovation course components, e.g.:

  • Manufacturing Innovation - Small Business Development Center
  • Innovation - LATAM Business School
  • Entrepreneurship curriculum development for various organizations and schools


Lonny Grafman is an Instructor of Engineering and Appropriate Technology at Cal Poly Humboldt; the founder of the Practivistas full immersion, abroad, resilient community technology program; the Advisor and Project Manager (and at times fundraiser) for the epi-apocalyptic city art projects Waterpod, Flock House, WetLand, and Swale; the director of the Northern California Hub of BlueTechValley, supporting energy saving entrepreneurs; the director of the AWEsome Business Competition for groups working on Agriculture, Water and Energy in Northern California; and the Founder and President of the Appropedia Foundation, sharing knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.

Lonny has taught university courses and workshops in dozens of countries. He has worked, and led teams, on hundreds of domestic and international projects across a broad spectrum of sustainability - from solar power to improved cookstoves, from micro-hydro power to rainwater catchment, from earthen construction to plastic bottle schoolrooms. Throughout all of these technology implementations, he has found the most vital component to be community.

His first books, To Catch the Rain and Atrapando la lluvia, cover inspiring stories of communities coming together to catch their own rain, and how you can do it too. His newest book, co-authored with Dr. Joshua Pearce, is To Catch the Sun covering inspiring stories of communities harvesting their own solar power and how you can do it too.

Current Activities

Cal Poly Humboldt



Developing and teaching service learning courses in sustainable design, appropriate technology, international development, the environment, and energy.

Appropedia Foundation



Promoting, facilitating and bolstering the sharing of knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.

Design Your Future

Co-Creator with Prof. Beth Eschenbach


Teaching university, service learning based, sustainable engineering design in high school to engage students in the design process and encourage their entry into higher education. Developing sustainable design as context for curriculum.


Founder, director, teacher


A summer immersion program in Spanish and Appropriate Technology since 2005. Founded, directed and taught, as well as co-founded and co-directed, programs in Parras de la Fuente, Mexico; San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.


Project Manager


"What if healthy, fresh food could be a free public service, and not just an expensive commodity? That’s the question we really want to ask with Swale. Swale, a collaborative floating food project, is dedicated to rethinking and challenging New York City's connection to our environment. Built on a 130-foot by 40-foot floating platform, Swale contains an edible forest garden. Functioning as both a sculpture and a tool, Swale provides free healthy food at the intersection of public art and service. With Swale, we want to reinforce water as a commons, and work towards fresh food as a commons too."

Campus Center for Appropriate Technology

Steering Committee member


"The mission of CCAT is to demonstrate appropriate technology in a residential setting, to provide hands-on experiential learning opportunities to Cal Poly Humboldt and the surrounding community, to collect and disseminate information about appropriate technology, to examine the ethical and social consequences of technology, and to dispel the myth that living lightly on the earth is difficult or burdensome. CCAT is dedicated to sustainability and seeks to help others live likewise."


Sustainability and Appropriate Technology Advisor, Volunteer Coordinator


"Waterpod™ is a floating, sculptural, eco-habitat designed for the rising tides. It floated in 2009 from the Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queens, navigate down the East River, explore the waters of New York Harbor, docking at several Manhattan piers on the Hudson River before continuing onward. The Waterpod™ demonstrated future pathways for water-based innovations. As a sustainable, navigable living space, the Waterpod™ showcases the critical importance of the environment and art, serving as a model for new living, d.i.y. technologies, art, and dialogue."

Flock House

Sustainability Advisor


"Part fantastic and part practical living, mobile Flock House living systems are interstertial, are both autonomous and dependent on their local community and human relationships to care for, share amongst, collaborate, and corroborate with. As living systems, they are bridges for informal cross-discipline, cross-boundary, and cross-border notions of perimeter, property, and polity. Flock House represents migratory structures as part of a city’s ecology."

Select Projects

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Select slide-shows can be seen at http://www.slideshare.net/lonny.

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Recent Podcasts






Here are some books that I have been part of creating and/or that I am in.

  • To Catch the Rain: Inspiring stories of communities coming together to harvest their own rainwater, and how you can do it too by Lonny Grafman ISBN 978-1947112049 (available at http://www.tocatchtherain.org/)
  • Atrapando la lluvia: Historias inspiradoras de comunidades que se unieron para recolectar su propia agua pluvial, y cómo usted también puede hacerlo by Lonny Grafman ISBN 978-1947112100
  • To Catch the Sun: Inspiring stories of communities coming together to harness their own solar energy, and how you can do it too! by Lonny Grafman and Joshua Pearce ISBN 978-1947112629 (available at https://www.tocatchthesun.com)
  • The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World by Nilofer Merchant ISBN 978-0525429135
  • InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig ISBN 978-0062020703
  • Thrivability: A collaborative Sketch curated by Jean Russel
  • The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas by David Burkus ISBN 978-1118611142
  • Open-Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs by Joshua Pearce ISBN 978-0124104860
  • Convergence: Philosophies and Pedagogies for Developing the Next Generation of Humanitarian Engineers and Social Entrepreneurs by IJSLE
  • Locally Delicious: Recipes and Resources for Eating on the North Coast by Locally Delicious ISBN 978-0982942604
  • Lunchbox Envy: An Adventure in Healthy Eating for Kids and Families by Locally Delicious ISBN 978-0982942611

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