About Urban Resource Systems

History of Urban Resource Systems

URBAN RESOURCE SYSTEMS (URS) was created as a non-profit organization in the State of California in 1981 with the mission of assisting the development of urban self-reliance strategies in cities around the world.  Our belief was that cities could become more energy efficient, resource-conserving and self reliant in producing both food and fuel to support the millions that would eventually be living in urban centers and to reduce the impact of these centers on surrounding land and more remote wilderness and habitat.  Today, a majority of the world does live in cities.  Our aim and practice has been and continues to be one of developing and supporting projects that involve the community as stewards and advocate for creating healthier urban ecosystems.  We believe that EcoCities must be an integral strategy in fighting global climate change.

URS proved to be ahead of its time in promoting urban food and fuel strategies in the early eighties.  Initial work focused on research and the preparation of visual and written materials to promote the value and existing practice of these strategies.  The founder of URS, Dr. Isabel Wade, subsequently decided to apply locally what the organization promoted globally.  The organization became a greenhouse for local forestry, open space and solid waste recycling projects.   Projects sprouted under Dr. Wades leadership and/or the fiscal sponsorship of URS include:

  • Just One Tree – a project to illustrate the value of urban tree crops, starting with lemons in San Francisco
  • Adah’s Garden – the community conversion of an abandoned street-end-right of way into a thriving open space and habitat zone
  • San Francisco Friends of the Urban Forest – local community-based urban forestry
  • California ReLeaf – statewide community-based urban forestry
  • ZooDoo – local solid waste management
  • National AIDS Memorial Grove – local open space restoration
  • SF Parks Alliance – local open space stewardship
  • Greenhouse Project – served as a fiscal sponsor & advisor to this open space conservation project

Most of these projects are now their own 501©3 organizations

Board of Directors

URS is governed by a multi-skilled group of ardent environmentalists:

Isabel Wade, Ph.D.

Isabel Wade is the founder and President of Urban Resource Systems. She has served as the Executive Director of a number of the URS projects including ZooDoo, California ReLeaf, the AIDS Memorial Grove, and Neighborhood Parks Council. Dr. Wade received one of the first national awards for excellence in the environmental field from Good HouseKeeping Magazine. She founded the State of California’s Urban Forestry Program in 1977 under Governor Jerry Brown. Dr. Wade served on the Commission on the Environment for the City of San Francisco from 1994-1996 and as Chair of the Parks Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee from 2000-2005. In 1999, she received a Gerbode Fellowship Award in recognition of her contributions in the environmental field from the Gerbode Foundation. She received a Silver SPUR Award in 2010 as a Bay Area leader in Open Space. She currently serves as a consultant on international and local urban environmental projects. Dr. Wade is a co-author of Citizens and the Environment (Indiana University Press), and author of City Food (URS, 1981), and numerous articles on urban food production. She has a doctorate in Environmental Planning from the University of California at Berkeley.

Peter Hayes, Ph.D.

Peter Hayes is the Executive Director of the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development, a non-governmental policy-oriented research and advocacy group. Peter graduated with a degree in History from the University of Melbourne. He has a doctorate from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California at Berkeley. Professionally active as an environment and energy consultant in developing countries (working for United Nations Environment Programme, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Canadian International Development Research Council, US Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Programme), he also writes widely about security affairs in the Asian-Pacific region. He was first executive director of the Environment Liaison Centre in Nairobi, Kenya in 1974-76. He was Deputy Director of the Commission for the Future (Australian Government) from 1989-1991. He is a leading expert on North Korea which he has visited seven times. He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations; and the US Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific. He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000.

Lucy Fisher

Lucy Fisher is Associate Director for the SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice), which is associated within the Department of Global Development at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She also coordinates the SRI Research Network and co-manages the Cornell Conservation Agriculture Knowledge Resources Project. She is currently on the board of directors for SRI Global, an NGO that supports information and field programs related to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Fisher has an MPS from Cornell University in International Agriculture and Rural Development.

Mindelle Kershner

Mindelle Kershner is President of Resourceful Systems, a nonprofit organization she founded in 1980, and an expert in recycled paper. She currently serves as a real estate agent with Tower Properties and as an independent property manager. Her local communities activities include serving as a Board Member of the Neighborhood Parks Council, of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, of the Friends of Noe Valley, and she is Chair of the Noe Valley Emergency Preparedness Group.

Jan Chernoff

Jan Chernoff served as a Board member of Morrisania West (youth development) for twenty years, as well as the Neighborhood Parks Council for 14 years.

Kim Larson

Kim Larson is a long-time advocate for urban agriculture. Working with Governor Jerry Brown and the California Conservation Corps (CCC), she helped establish organic gardens, recycling and composting centers and animal husbandry programs for the CCC. She subsequently moved to Washington DC where she was a key organizer of ACT 79: A Fair and Conference featuring “appropriate technology.” Her continued interest in food and agriculture resulted in a 6-month field study funded by the InterAmerican Foundation to explore colonial legacies and nutritional and behavioral consequences in rural Jamaica and St. Vincent. While raising her four children over the span of two decades, she served as a founding Board member of a non-profit focused on improving school food and establishing school gardens, Better School Foods, and currently serves on several other Boards including The Rodale Institute based in Pennsylvania, D.C. Greens, Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies (YIBS), and Advisory Board for the Children & Nature Network. In addition, she serves as a consultant for National Georgraphic and Lindblad Expedition joint projects. Kim is a resident of Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley in Urban Studies and George Washington University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Our Board contracts & expands depending upon the projects we initiate or accept.

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