Scout - Katie Bachler


We’re very excited to welcome Katie Bachler to Joshua Tree as our first HDTS Scout!  

The HDTS Scout Residency is dedicated to learning more about the people and places that make up our diverse and ever evolving community.  

Drop into the HDTS HQ, the Scout's home base, and meet Katie, our steadfast and effervescent inaugural Scout, who can be found in her base camp at the HQ making maps, hosting conversations, and baking bread – in between her off-site adventures around town and out in the field.

Katie has a lot in store during her time here, including:

  • a series of talks featuring local experts
  • joining together to create a web of knowledge
  • a research library and archive documenting the many spaces, places, plants, and people that make up this special region
casual conversations with drop in visitors over tea

  • site visits and field trips around town

Learn more about the Scout Residency.

Katie was in residence from 2012-2013.  

You have to build a fortress


Gardening in Joshua Tree. Rich soil and a plethora of water, lots of native edibles.....Not the things we think about when conjuring a desert in the mind. I spent the morning with Jill Giegrich, an avid permaculturalist and founding member of Transition Joshua Tree, and an artist. She is beginning a permaculture demonstration garden in the backyard of her studio. She has 2 pomegranate trees and a beautiful hand-made greenhouse that is totally rat and groundsquirrel-proofed. You have to dig 2 feet down and bury a fence or they will dig under! Jill is growing a veritable brasica farm back there! So much vibrant glowing kale and chard; she feeds herself all year from this garden, using a lasagna composting method- layering manure, household foodscraps, straw, yard waste directly on the plants. She is coming up with ways to conserve Joshua Tree's super precious resource, water. Joshua Tree is built on top of a 10,000 year old aquifer that will run out of water in 200 years, says the US Geological Survey. Nitrates from our urine seep into this aquifer. We live in the desert and it is so so dry, and we need nutrition rich soil. Jill is advocating pouring diluted urine(10 to 1) onto straw bales, creating a nutrient rich space, as the carbon of the straw mixes with the nitrogen in the urine, beginning the composting process. You can read more about this on her blog. Jill is great, I am going to a meditation with her tonight!

123 Kale!

124 Edibles!

Desert Library

Abbey, Edward Desert Solitaire

Abbey, Edward The Best of Edward Abbey

Ainsworth, Ed Five Acres of Heaven

Alexander, Christopher A Pattern Language

Austin, Mary Beyond Borders: The Selected Essays of Mary Austin

Berry, Wendell The Unsettling of America

Bachelard, Gaston The Poetics of Space

Hiss, Tony The Experience of Place

Hyde, Lewis The Gift

Krakaur, Jon Into the Wild

Kurutz, KD and Gary California Calls You

Nash, Roderick Wilderness and the American Mind

Schama, Simon Landscape and Memory

Smithson, Robert The Collected Writings

Solnit, Rebecca Storming the Gates of Paradise

Thoreau, Henry David Collected Writings

Tuan, Yi-Fu Space and Place

Foxfire 5


I would love more suggestions!!!




Untrammeled by Man


“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” - From the Wilderness Act of 1964

The Wilderness Act, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1964, legally protected 9 million acres of US Land from over-use by humans. The Wilderness Act is written in an almost prose-like manner, and explicity states the human need for solitude within nature; this is a right. Part of the definition of Wilderness in the Act: Wilderness has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation. Joshua Tree Park (Formerly Joshua Tree National Monument) has 585,000 acres of Wilderness.  As a Wilderness, an area is protected from all forms of activity besides walking, campfires are prohibited, and there is a strong Leave No Trace principle. The land is for treading upon lightly and for enjoying through the senses. Where have you felt super alone in the wild?

BBQ and Potluck Wednesday June 27 at HDTS HQ, Featuring local plant Palo Verde

Hi everyone! I would love to meet people from these parts, and learn a bit more about this desert! We will have a BBQ and feature the beans of the Palo Verde Tree, which are bright green and so sweet! Please bring something to share if you feel inclined. We will sit outside on the patio! 5-7pm! Hope to see you there! 6470 Veterans Way!119

still from a wind film



I met up with the lovely BC DeVore last week at Natural Sisters to talk about the Transition Joshua Tree Initiative. BC is a totally amazing lady! She works as a therapist with people in the military, and has the kindest eyes. We spoke about the importance of drumming as a way to connect people. She works with the Kids Are IT group in Transition Joshua Tree. The Transition Joshua Tree Initiative is based on the following ideas.

1) Encourage the citizens of the Morongo Basin to face and understand the growing threats to our community’s quality of life due to the interconnected challenges of climate change, an unstable global economy and the end of inexpensive and abundant fossil fuels

2) Foster a dynamic community organizing process that unleashes the collective genius of our citizens to envision a better future and start the transition to a more resilient, sustainable way of life.

3) Organize the community to develop a comprehensive Energy Action Plan that will delineate our transition away from fossil fuels.

There are transition initiatives all over the world. These towns are based on ideas of permaculture and interdependence. Look at the map below to see where this is happening!115

Live in the Desert; Live Longer

113 Today I spent some time in a secret archive in the Public Library here in Joshua Tree. Penny who works there is the most helpful, and she showed me lots of old files about the history of Joshua Tree. I am really intrigued by the homesteading that took place out here from the 1930s until the 1970s. The Small Tract Act was passed in 1938, homesteaders could build small structures on 5 acres, and be deeded the land by the Bureau of Land Management. Penny was telling me about a certain Colonel E B Moore who heavily promoted the Desert Lifestyle, specifically the "little piece of heaven" that was the 5-acre tract of land. He set up an office in downtown JT, where the Mojave Land Trust is now located (also an entity interested in the definition and functioning of the land in the desert). By 1955, 43,000 5-acre tracts had been filed, it was desert fever! Joshua Tree was known at the 5 Acre Capital of the World!  Thousands of small cabins (only had to be 12 x 6 ft !) still dot this landscape. This myth and magic of desert living for some was just that; they could not handle the harshness of this land, now many lay abandoned with the tell-tale overhanging roofs angeled upward towards the sky. Stay tuned for more thoughts related to homesteading. I am planning an event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Homesteading Act. 114


Email me!

Hi everyone!

Please write me at

I would love to hear about your ideas about the desert and being !




The soul is no traveller; the wise man stays at home, and when his necessities, his duties, on any occasion call him from his house, or into foreign lands, he is at home still, and shall make men sensible by the expression of his countenance, that he goes the missionary of wisdom and virtue, and visits cities and men like a sovereign and not like an interloper or a valet.

I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe, for the purposes of art, of study, and benevolence, so that the man is first domesticated, or does not go abroad with hopes of finding somewhat greater than he knows. He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things.

-Emerson / / Via 5 Acres of Heaven: Story of The Great American Desert

Scout's Library Preview!

110 Here are a few of the books from the Scout's Desert Library. They all relate to the question of living outside of "society?" Can this be acheived by literally travelling to the wilderness, like Everett Ruess who wandered the deserts of Utah and disappeared at age 20? Or by creating structures and living situations based on the idea of the health of the whole community, putting people first, as proposed in A Pattern Language? Or by considering the function of gift economies as opposed to capitalistic, monetary exchanges, as discussed in The Gift? Or creating a simple life of contemplation and "bread labor," like Helen and Scott Nearing did in the woods of Vermont and wrote about in The Good Life? An expanding library with texts that relate to the desert and questions of belonging in this world can be found in the Scout's HQ. I am deeply interested in how we find connection, and when we choose to be alone and am planning on creating a reading and talking series to discuss some of the ideas of these authors and more, and would love suggestions on other desert  related texts for the library!