Native Biodiversity Ripples Outward in the Nevada Desert


“We want to see if Ripple is a replicable model, or tool, for communities around the globe to be culturally and ecologically resilient. As it began, Ripple Project is a type of regenerative social infrastructure where people can connect, rally and grow.”

Regenerative Activism

We live in the sixth mass extinction… a time where massive changes in global species compositions are happening at unprecedented rates. In light of this, there are more people than ever dedicated to protecting biodiversity and the traditional ecological knowledge tied to it. A group of eco-technologists and friends from Maryland found a foothold in this realm by designing off-grid infrastructure for Burning Man’s Fly Ranch in Northern Nevada.

We designed Ripple, an anchor for native biodiversity in the challenging Great Basin desert, with extremely simple and effective life support systems to enable human stewardship. By creating a condensed, fertile hearth of gathering, knowledge, and participation, we are inducing a ripple effect throughout an ecosystem where 95% of groundcover is invasive.

Ripple sprouted from a desire to create meaningful impact

In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, a loose network of college friends found themselves craving an outlet to create a positive impact in the world; the Fly Ranch LAGI 2020 competition became the conduit for this impact. A dozen-ish people created Ripple as substrate for calling each other a few times a week, typing in Google Docs together, and meeting on Zoom. Ripple, a station for the regeneration of native biodiversity and ecological knowledge, eventually led to the creation of Ripple Project LLC, an org with the same vision, just on a much larger scale. The Ripple team expanded as more experts and enthusiasts yearning for meaningful work became involved. Throughout the process of designing off-grid infrastructure and ethnobotanical gardens, Ripple incorporated input from the Numu people and Northern Paiute people, as a collaborative effort intended to honor their ancestral land.

All relationships start with a gift

We learned Ripple had been selected as a finalist in March 2021 and would be given a grant, a contract and the green-light to build a permanent installation of Ripple at Fly Ranch!

Upon arriving at Fly Ranch that summer, we felt called to schedule a visit with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Museum in Nixon, NV. The museum director, Billie Jean Guerrero, envisioned collaborating on a medicine garden for the museum. Using part of our competition grant winnings and participation from tribal members, we designed the first phase of the medicine garden. It included a native mountainous plant palette and educational signage; 30+ volunteers made it happen! 

2022 was a year of growth and learning. It got serious, quick. We formed Ripple Project LLC, became fiscally sponsored (as a non-profit) by Far Away Projects, and created a democratic internal governance system. Two teammates prepared to camp long-term at Fly Ranch to commence building the first phase of the Ripple Base. Pictured below is a drone shot of this past summer’s work!

What did we accomplish?

  • Marked out the center stake of Ripple 🙂
  • Planted a 70’ radius ring of 311 coyote willows to ask as a natural wind barrier 
  • Installed a gravity siphon irrigation system to water the willows
  • Built an electric fence to protect us from the feral horses
  • Installed a solar trailer to power our build-process
  • Began five months of building relationships with the land, plants, water and our neighbors

Before we left in 2022, Billie Jean asked if we could fundraise to build a Haba, a traditional Paiute shade structure, at the museum. Six months later we built the Haba with a mini grant and volunteer support from Burners Without Borders.

Watch this video to see the Haba come to life!

Regeneration is collective action

We have been most proud of our work with tribes and those projects are expanding. The Stewart Indian School museum in Carson City, NV is interested in collaborating on a medicine garden and the Pyramid Lake Museum medicine garden has become an increasingly large and impactful project under the direction of Billie Jean. Community-designed museum exhibits are quickly becoming a solid component of Ripple Project LLC’s future. As we proceed gently and carefully to build the first Ripple Base at Fly Ranch, these experiences strengthen our team’s grasp of the Nevada ecosystems while building our relationships with partners in the area.

In the long-term, we will see if the Ripple Base at Fly Ranch is a replicable model for communities around the globe to be culturally and ecologically resilient. As it began, Ripple Project is a type of regenerative social infrastructure that people can connect, rally, and grow in.

Your generosity has a Ripple effect

At this time, we are seeking $80,000 to directly fund further work at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Museum, advance the Ripple Base at Fly Ranch, and fund our emergent company overhead. The dozen or so people organizing and building the majority of this project (with 15,000+ hours of volunteer participation) have been paying out of pocket and missing time at work to create these opportunities for engagement in Nevada. 

Each donation, no matter how small, makes an impact that ripples outwards. To contribute to this project is to become part of the community effort to regenerate our land through native wisdom. We need you, we appreciate you, and we thank you for being here!