Sustainable Scripps Ranch (SSR) is a committee of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association dedicated to promoting sustainable lifestyles throughout 92131. The committee, founded in 2009, provides educational classes, tours of intriguing sustainable destinations, and community-building Garden Share events. Committee members enjoy making a difference while making connections with each other and the community as a whole. 92131 Magazine spoke with SSR Chairperson Helen Plutner about the committee’s evolution over the years and its plans for the future of sustainability activism in Scripps Ranch.
Q&A with Sustainable Scripps Ranch Chairperson Helen Plutner
What is the history behind SSR?
SSR was founded by longtime resident Lynn Owens in 2009. It was a desire to create a better community, help inspire others, and manage our needs in a sustainable fashion. Simply said, Sustainable Scripps Ranch exists as a way to build our community and help people “go green.”
Is SSR part of a larger umbrella organization?
We are a standing committee of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association, which is a not-for-profit organization.
What is SSR’s mission?
Our mission is “to create more sustainable lifestyles and community through education, advocacy, and application of sustainable practices such as energy, water, and environmental conservation.” We provide a number of educational events, information on our webpage and newsletter, and email communications throughout the year to those interested in learning more.
Are there any subcommittees?
As a small, changing committee we all wear as many hats as needed.
How has SSR grown and evolved over the years?
We have made efforts to create new events and fruitful partnerships wherever we can find them. These connections include not only our own residents, but nonprofits, city and county organizations, and businesses.
Does SSR work with any other community organizations in Scripps Ranch?
We have partnered with Scripps Ranch 50 Plus many times and are now working with Scripps Ranch Friends of the Library.
What are some of the highest priorities when working towards environmental sustainability in Scripps Ranch?
Making sure we present expert advice to our residents. We work hard to provide current information and the newest technology so we can all become good stewards of our community and create positive change for future generations.
How did you personally become involved with SSR?
I have been doing volunteer work for a long time, mostly through my work where I was chair of their volunteer group. When I was thinking of retiring I decided I wanted to help the community I lived in and not spend too much time driving. Lynn Owens was looking for people interested in starting a sustainability group in Scripps Ranch. The timing was perfect. After going through the Cedar Fire and having to totally redo our landscape (we were fortunate to not lose our house), I found myself looking to make good environmental choices. Out went the lawn, in went the drought-tolerant landscaping (which took educating myself). From there more sustainable projects followed, as well as the desire to inform others of what I had learned.
What is your current role within the committee?
I am chair of the committee. I represent us at our SRCA board meetings, work to inform our residents of our events – whether in the form of website updates, email communications,
or newsletter articles – help with event planning, work with outside partners, and look to create new ones. I also try to read up on new trends and ideas and listen to what our neighbors want.
Sustainable Scripps Ranch Upcoming Events
Saturday, Jan. 9
Garden Share and Community Get-Together
1 – 2 p.m. | SRCA Community Center
Friday, Jan. 15
California-Friendly Landscaping Class
Registration required; contact Bre Pendergraft at 619-533-4203 or
5 – 8 p.m. | SRCA Community Center
Saturday, Jan. 23
Bus Trip to Downtown San Diego
Contact Lynn Owens at 858-566-7717 or
10 a.m. | TBA
West Sycamore Work Crew
8 a.m. | End of Stonebridge Parkway
West Sycamore Hike
8 a.m. | End of Stonebridge Parkway
What is the most rewarding thing about your role? The most challenging?
I enjoy meeting people in our community, making new connections, and learning new things. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback over the years and that makes it all worthwhile. As with most volunteer organizations, finding volunteers and making sure we stay relevant is always a challenge.
Can you tell us about any other key figures who have helped make SSR what it is today?
Lynn Owens and Rob Holmes have been with the group from the start. They are very dedicated and great people to work with. Lynn is really interested in water and Rob in energy, and he now runs Scripps Ranch 50 Plus. Ron and Janice Swaisgood were instrumental in formulating our mission and vision. They are now dedicated to their own group, Family Adventures in Nature. Suha Chari started our monthly Garden Share. Erin Mercer, Steve Carter, Beth Foster, and Tom Meissner round out the rest of our terrific committee.
Our mission is “to create more sustainable lifestyles and community through education, advocacy, and application of sustainable practices such as energy, water, and environmental conservation.”
What is SSR currently focusing on?
Water and energy are hot topics these days and we want to help our residents make wise choices. Things like growing your own food or taking a hike in nature can add fun and value to your life. We are here to get you started.
How often does the committee meet, and where do meetings take place?
We meet on an as-needed basis. We either meet at a committee member’s home or at our SRCA Community Center.
Can you tell us about Garden Shares, SSR Lectures, and any other regular SSR events?
We have a number of lectures throughout the year on all types of topics, revisiting ones that are of most interest to people. We bring Green Street to our annual Community Fair, which hosts local parks and provides experts with updated information on water, energy, and recycling as well as how-tos on gardening, composting, and even solar cooking.
Throughout the year we tour interesting places such as Pure Water, Miramar Landfill, green homes, and more. We have great fun exchanging ideas, produce, and more at our monthly Garden Share and community building events. And we’ve had a number of our own homegrown Waterwise/Green Living tours.
What have been some of the organization’s most memorable projects or events over the years?
We are very proud of several of our events. Green Street was created for the SRCA Community Fair, going on six years now. We have had a number of Waterwise and Green Living Tours, where residents have opened their homes to allow us to see sustainability in action – everything from drought-tolerant landscaping, solar, electric cars, rainwater and greywater harvesting, composting, and more. And we had a Water and Energy Fair at our community center in 2013. We hope these events have inspired you.
Are there any projects or events coming up soon?
We are planning a bus trip to downtown San Diego to show people how to use the Bus Rapid Transit at Miramar College. Among the stops will be the Little Italy Farmer’s Market, Waterfront Park, and the wonderful San Diego Central Library. We will host a three-hour Water-wise Landscaping Class run by the City, as well as our monthly Garden Share. And we are hoping to have another Energy and Water Fair in the next few months.
How would someone go about getting involved with Sustainable Scripps Ranch?
The best way to reach us is to email sustainableSR@scrippsranch.org or call the Community Center number and leave a message. We are always looking for volunteers or donations to support what we do. You can also join our email list, make a donation, or volunteer by going to www.scrippsranch.org.
What are a few easy ways Scripps Ranch residents can conserve resources in their daily lives?
Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth, get a free water audit of your property (619-570-1999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org), turn off your sprinklers when it rains, use a carwash instead of a garden hose, buy a smart power strip, and switch to LED bulbs.
Is there anything else you would like to add for our 92131 Magazine readers?
If you have suggestions for talks or can provide expertise you want to share with our community, please let us know. And here are some really important waterwise tips that people tend to miss: keep the water on your property. This not only helps the environment but saves you money and gives you happier plants. Landscaping fabric is no longer recommended when planting. And learning how to properly remove grass will save you a lot of headaches.
Name: Helen Plutner
Community: Scripps Ranch
Education: B.A. in Biology
Favorite Spots in 92131: Miramar Lake, West Sycamore
Sustainable Scripps Ranch At-A-Glance
Name of Organization: Sustainable Scripps Ranch
Chairperson: Helen Plutner
Mailing Address: 10755-F Scripps Poway Pkwy. PMB 613, San Diego, CA 92131
Phone: 858-397-5747 #2