Skip to content


October 2022


November 2020

Bucket Brigade Annual Membership Campaign

No burden is too heavy if we all lift together.

Record-shattering wildfires are hammering communities across California each year and Americans are more divided than any time in a generation. In the face of fear and loss, one thing reminds us that we are all in this together: Neighbors helping each other in a time of need.

Volunteers remove and clean up debris after the Alisal Fire as a part of the Alisal Fire Assistance Project

In the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and Debris Flow, the Bucket Brigade emerged from the mud, leading an army of caring volunteers to dig out neighbor’s homes, clear and restore open spaces, restore trails and to reconnect the community. We learned, first-hand, that disasters don’t care about the things that divide us. We also learned that no burden is too heavy when we all lift together.

In the face of even larger wildfires and natural disasters, the Bucket Brigade continues our work, building a more resilient community and helping to prepare the next generation for life in a changed world. Each volunteer project since 2018 has organized, trained, and deployed volunteers in response to community needs. We are building a  network of experienced volunteer leaders throughout Santa Barbara County so that we can be more prepared to face the challenges of climate change. In the wake of larger and more frequent disasters, just wanting to help our neighbors is no longer enough. We all need to become good at helping.

Now is the time to reconnect with the Bucket Brigade community. Your donations help fund our grassroots, humanitarian campaigns like the Alisal Fire Assistance project this spring. Membership also helps kick-start Community Uplift Projects in neighborhoods all across the community, from Santa Ynez to Elings Park, from the Montecito Debris Flow to wildfire relief. Membership helps to provide the safety equipment, tools, materials, and leadership that allow for year-round community action, not just to respond to crises, but to help prevent them.

In order to become better at helping, we have to practice helping. Our grassroots, community resilience programs put our words into action. We train to restore the community after a disaster, by restoring part of the community each week. This is a virtuous cycle of training, uplift and renewal that everyone is welcome to participate in.

ORGANIZE: Our Community Uplift Projects organize neighbors to take cooperative action to make their community better and safer for everyone.

TRAIN: Bucket Brigade Academy is a resilience leadership program where we field-train and certify students in life safety skills and teach advanced volunteer leadership techniques through Community Uplift Projects

DEPLOY: Relief efforts, like the Alisal Fire Assistance Project, deploy volunteers in response to natural disasters and community crises to help neighbors in a time of need, healing the community with organized, helping hands.

An unrestricted donation of any size helps to provide the safety equipment, materials, and leadership that allows for year-round community resilience action.

Debris after the Alisal Fire in Gaviota CaliforniaTeam Rubicon pose for a photo during the Alisal Fire Assistance Project

Read on to learn more about the Community Uplift Projects that your donations fund.

Community Uplift Project: Train

Bucket Brigade Academy

Bucket Brigade Academy is a one-week, leadership training program for high school students interested in community resilience. Through hands-on volunteer deployments and positive leadership education, Bucket Brigade Academy teaches students how to organize, train and deploy volunteers in response to natural disasters and community crises. Our trainers put an emphasis on relationship-building and community organizing to help create a more interconnected and resilient Santa Barbara County.  Building on the Bucket Brigade Community Self-Rescue System, honed during the humanitarian response to the 2018 Thomas Fire and Debris Flow, our trainers put an emphasis on relationship-building and community organizing to help create a more connected and resilient Santa Barbara County. Students focus on skills including: ASHI safety certifications, volunteer deployment , positive leadership training and more!

BBAC’s inaugural year was a great success with 22 students completing the program! In 2023 we will be expanding BBAC to include 3 different leadership training levels across seven weeks during the summer. The Academy is a great place to get to know young leaders looking to make a difference in our community. We will open the application process for one month beginning on February 1, 2023 and will announce admissions at the end of April.

We aim to keep Bucket Brigade Academy an accessible, and equitable program so that it is open to all those interested in community resilience, no matter their income. In order to do this, we need your help.

If you or someone you know would like to sponsor the Bucket Brigade Academy please get in contact with us at

Community Uplift Project: Train

Bucket Brigade Humanitarian Garden

The Bucket Brigade Humanitarian Garden (BBHG), located at Elings Park South, is the headquarters of the Growing Community Project. The 7-acre Garden is the place where community members can come and learn how to restore their own community with neighbors from all across the County.  There are four key elements in the garden.


  • Regenerative agriculture:  Learn how to use modern organic farming methods to restore soil health by growing fresh produce and fruit for our food insecure neighbors. One out of every four people in our county is food insecure. This is a persistent ongoing crisis and this garden will give everyone in the community a chance to do something about it. All produce from the garden will be donated to local food aid agencies like, People Assisting the Homeless and the Organic Soup Kitchen.
  • Food forestry:  Small fruit orchards planted in harmony with other plants and crops to create organic synergy to reduce water use and to build soil health. All produce will be donated to local food aid agencies.
  • Habitat restoration:  The Elings Park South ecosystem was badly damaged by conventional agricultural and grazing practices. Our climate-adaptive restoration is restoring the ecosystem and preserving endangered plant species while teaching volunteers the art and science of habitat restoration in a changed climate.
  • Access and Education:  The Humanitarian Garden will provide free garden and gardening access to thousands of community members each year in a positive teaching environment. There is a County-wide community garden shortage with not enough garden plots to provide access for thousands of people who don’t have access to their own yard space. Our garden provides weekly access to three different kinds of gardening and anyone can sign up. Each element provides a different opportunity to grow and learn with fellow community members interested in building resilience with their own hands. It is one thing to advocate for food security, habitat restoration and species preservation, it is another thing to pick up a bucket and a shovel and get to work. Let’s get to work.

The map above shows the plan for the garden. You can read more in depth about the project here.

BBAC’s inaugural year was a great success with 22 students completing the program! In 2023 we will be expanding BBAC to include 3 different leadership training levels across seven weeks during the summer. The Academy is a great place to get to know young leaders looking to make a difference in our community. We will open the application process for one month beginning on February 1, 2023 and will announce admissions at the end of April.

As we approach the one year anniversary of The Garden, we’re reflecting on the progress made and gratitude for the 150+ volunteers who have worked together, put on their gardening gloves and dug in the dirt with us! Deckers Brands took the lead with their Art of Kindness in 2021 and 2022 which brought the volunteer spirit and helped us lay the groundwork for our Native Pollinator Garden and ADA accessible, decomposed granite picnic area. Santa Barbara Middle School came out in force to build raised beds, sheet- mulch, remove invasive plants and plant native species! We’ve also held family-friendly all ages volunteer events almost  every Saturday this year. Dedicated volunteers have been planting native flowering plants, which are attracting a plethora of pollinators; removing 16 TONS of invasive plant species, and even planting drought-tolerant fruit trees that will feed people for years to come.

Check out this epic video from John Palminteri’s recent coverage of students in the garden HERE!

Volunteering is a way of demonstrating community and environmental stewardship, bringing you closer to the land, people, and history of your surroundings and intensifying a feeling of responsibility.” –Hannah Yin, Bucket Brigade Volunteer

Community Uplift Project: Organize

Walk Montecito

Walk Montecito! has officially completed 2 miles of trail and we will be building our next half mile of trail at the end of November!

We have also installed a demonstration strip of our “informal trail” along Camino Viejo Rd. Please come check it out! We have developed the new “Bucket Brigade Brown Velvet” trail surface technique using Santa Ynez shale. Brown Velvet is a local material that is smooth and hard like decomposed granite, supports local businesses, is better for the environment, and has a more natural look than imported decomposed granite. Win-win-win!

On National Public Lands Day, we held a trail beautification event. Community members of all ages came out to help clean, replant, and beautify the Montecito Neighborhood Trail Network. Thanks for coming and keep your eyes open for our next neighborhood trail workday!

Montecito Neighborhood Trail Network

All trails labeled “inform trails” will be built using the Bucket Brigade Brown Velvet technique.

“I think the benefits of the Montecito Neighborhood Trail Network are enormous from the viewpoints of safety, accessibility, increased exercise availability, beauty, and sheer neighborliness. It’s a delight to be walking along a trail and to run into an old friend, or to meet a new one. That’s what living in Montecito has always been about to me and my family and friends!” — Joanne Rapp, Montecito Resident

If you walk in Montecito, please consider donating today. Your donations will leave a legacy for the next generation, allowing people to walk safely along the beautiful tree-lined streets of Montecito for years to come.

Community Uplift Project: Organize

Walk Santa Ynez

This project is three years in the making and co-founder Abe Powell has been hard at work with Santa Ynez neighbors, community leaders, Supervisor Joan Hartmann, and Santa Barbara County Public Works to prepare the way for this massive trail restoration and Safe-Routes-To-School project. The goal of Walk Santa Ynez is to reconnect neighborhoods and schools from Los Olivos to the Santa Ynez River through roadside trail restoration.

We broke ground on the Refugio Road Trail Restoration Project in front of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in late September. The groundbreaking was attended by community members, local dignitaries, and #1 reporter-about-town John Palminteri. We have completed our demonstration trail, in front of the High School, thanks to two epic volunteer work days where dozens of neighbors and the UCSB Community Affairs Board showed up to help!

There will be a break in trail construction while S.B. County Public Works makes needed road and drainage improvements along Refugio Road, but keep your eyes open for our next Walk Santa Ynez volunteer work day!

Please support community education and emergency preparedness by becoming a Bucket Brigade member today. 

Your donations facilitate these programs. They keep our doors open as we organize and engage volunteers through weekly workdays and build trails connecting neighbors; train people in first aid, CPR, and volunteer leadership at Bucket Brigade Academy and ultimately deploy these volunteers throughout the community where there is need, including at the Bucket Brigade Humanitarian Garden and Habitat Restoration Project

Find us on Social Media!

Want to connect to Bucket Brigade news and events?
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Back To Top