2nd Grade, Michigan 1952 California, 1996

Rhodes Hileman

I like this stuff, maybe you will too...


Brief Index of Related Pages

email to rhodes@smsys.com
The URL to this page is www.smsys.com/rhodes

Last update: 6/22/02

Traffic statistics for this site. wwwstats (Who looks at what when. It doesn't say why.) If you're interested in Japan, the creator of "FTPWebLog" has created a beautiful site for Nipponophiles.


Alternatives to Violence Project is an affective education seminar which began in the prisons and developed insights which proved useful on the "outside" as well. Choosing alternatives to violence turns out to be a multidimensional and very personal challenge for almost all of us in this most violence-prone society. I have been hearing about it from my friend, Peter Laughingwolf who has been working with folks in San Quentin for several years.



Architecture, like opera, is an interdisciplinary art. I like it especially because it brings together the challenges of engineering, craftsmanship, visual and tactile arts, and the need to work creatively with another person, or groups, as the client . For a long time, the emphasis has been on the visual aspect combined with the structural. Now we are beginning to demand more: thermal performance, nontoxic materials, more functional flexibility, and more natural lighting, to name a few changes. I have a bias toward passive solar design, of which I have done some, and toward underground or bermed structures.

Some architecture and design sites can be found at my short subjects page.

A sample newsletter about design methods research, which describes a listserv I like, can be found here.


Art: some favorite local artists

Joseph Slusky, sculptor.

Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, California 94703 phone: 510-841-7405

With skills of a consummate custom hotrod body shop artist, produces surreal metal sculpture painted with enamels or lacquers. My favorites are the ambiguous organic animal/human body shapes.

DiStefano Ceramics

45th Street, Emeryville, California 94608 phone: 510-653-2173

Glazed tile work of a surreal nature approaching, or surpassing, collage. You have to see it to believe it. Absolutely unique stuff with very fine detail.

Julie Cline, ceramics.

Harrison Street, Oakland, California 94611 phone: 510-658-6515

Plates, platters, bowls, cups, glazed in broad bright strokes or in the natural marbling that only glazes do. Very lively and tasteful. She has an annual sale for two weekends in December which is well worth visiting.


Bay Area Open Space Network

The Bay Area Open Space Network (BAOSN) is a network of about 50 people interested in Harrison Owen's Open Space Technology and how it might be applied in the Bay Area. It was born at the OT (Organizational Transformation) Open Space Conference early in July 1994.

Open Space is a way of having a conference without the usual panel of experts, and in fact, with no pre-set agenda. Participants choose to come based on a stated theme. A facility with multiple small meeting spaces is used and an empty matrix of time slots and spaces is provided. At the beginning of the conference the participants spend a little time deciding what they want to explore. Everyone puts up notices of sessions about their topics of interest on the schedule board. If people come to your session you do it; if they don't you go to theirs. We call it the "law of two feet".

The resulting conference is very exciting. Many people come away feeling more empowered and generally jazzed. An excellent tool for organisational transformation if, and only if, the present powerholders are genuinely ready to turn loose the collective genius of the staff. If you are senior staff with issues about control read "Flight of the Buffalo" to find out what you are missing. Then do an Open Space event. Email to Jane Deer [Jane Deer is my wife.]


Center for Group Learning

CGL is exactly that: a center for group learning - learning in groups, learning about group processes, learning as a group. A different process is featured each month, and other threads of exploration continue from month to month. Home for group nuts. I think its really big fun.

"The mission of the Center for Group Learning is to further the understanding of groups on both personal and global levels through the open exchange of ideas and experiences.

"Our intention is to bring together different group theories for the purpose of encouraging the cross-pollination of ideas and experimentation with new ways of operating in groups."

CGL c/o Ellen Palmer, 4231 Terrace St., Oakland, California 94611

Co-intelligence Institute"

The Co-intelligence Institute is a fledgling organisation exploring and publishing ideas about "co-intelligence". What is that?

First, I should caution that it has very little to do with espionage. It is about working together and thinking together.

It is society thinking for itself through national or global social dialogue. It is the collaboration of the rational, the emotional, the intuitive, the empirical, and other approaches to knowledge inside a single person, between two people, or among many people. It is often characterised by "lateral thinking".

Tom Atlee has convened the institute, and is working on a book on the subject.


Economic geography

I believe that our ignorance about where our food and essential resources come from is a significant source of social malaise. I once did a little study of food production/consumption in the SF Bay 9 county area which was amusing and instructive, but I would like to know a lot more.

If we don't understand where things come from, or what was involved in producing them, it's hard to feel connected with, or appreciative of, our world. I think this is one of the major causative factors of vandalism for example. Kids now grow up thinking chickens come from Safeway.


My family history

Where do I come from? I'm Scotch/Irish/English, Norwegian, German/Irish, and French/Scottish.

The name Hileman was originally "Heilemann" and came from Nordheim, Germany. It meant "healing man". The Hilemans arrived in Gloversville, New York, sometime in the mid 19th century, and they farmed there. In the days of homesteading, my great grandfather rode out to Iowa in the spring, staked his claim, built a sod house, put in a crop, and rode back to Gloversville to bring the rest of his family by harvest time. He later became a trolley car operator, and a federal marshall, both in Centerville, Iowa. My grandfather, W. Ralph Hileman (German/Irish), married a lovely French/Scottish lass, and moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he raised my father and siblings, and ran the Detroit YMCA for many years. He also, in the 1950's, ran the YMCA World Tours Program, coming home with tapes of Hawaiian music which he had recorded himself, and delightful photographic slides. I remember my holiday visits to his home in Detroit, hearing the sweet Hawaiian music and smelling grandma's turkey and pies fresh from the oven. To me the combination was a taste of heaven.

My father went to the University of Michigan, and then to Yale Graduate School. He worked mostly in technical writing and editing, at Electric Boat, in Groton, Connecticut (documenting the Nautilus and Sea Wolf), and at MIT Press, and later, promotional writing and photography for Middlebury College, Vermont. With a fascination for history, his later years were spent on a series tasteful renovations of colonial era houses in New England. The oldest (non-native) house in Lyme Connecticut, built of hand-sawn oak in 1690, was the last of these. Among his gifts to me were a love of nature, camping, and photography, an early education in geology and botany, a love of classical music and singing, an enjoyment of the history to be found in the New England landscape, and a willingness to grapple with, and solve, puzzles of all sorts - a foundation for scientific inquiry.

The name Rhodes was the maiden name of my mother's maternal grandmother, Florence Rhodes. She married A.C. Hyatt and raised her family in Wisconsin. Florence was one of nine daughters in a family with no sons. She wanted the Rhodes name to get passed on somehow, so my uncle and I got it as a first name. The first of this family to arrive here was Henry Rhodes, landing in the upper Hudson Valley in the 1840s. I have a copy of a letter written to him from his family in England, who ran a pub, still to be found there. The letter tells of heartbreakingly miserable circumstances, which make it clear why he left.

My mother's father was Norwegian. His father arrived directly from a small parish near the central coast of Norway, soon bringing over his sisters too. They settled in Minnesota and Wisconsin. My mother was born in Plymouth, Wisconsin, going to high school in Sparta, Michigan, and graduating from Muskegon High. She met my father in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, and I was born and raised in New Haven.

While I was growing up, my mother worked in advertizing art, and was among the few women to reach executive levels in the fifties. In the last twenty years she has been fighting for migratory bird habitat, and open space, in North San Diego County. Among her gifts to me were an appreciation of contemporary art, 20th century symphonic music, modern architecture, an appreciation of cultural diversity, and a dedication to constantly challenging oneself to open to new perceptions. Her vigorous use of imagination to create well designed solutions remains an inspiration to me.



I want to fly and see the earth, low and slow. I'm a wannabe aircraft owner and pilot. I have been reading Flying magazine since 1980. However, a plane of my own and a license to fly it will have to wait until more pressing needs are covered. Meanwhile, if you fly, let's talk about it.

Anyone flying to Oshkosh who wants company? I've yet to see it first hand. I would love to go. I know enough to be able to take on some of the tasks of navigation and communication, my eyesight is good, I enunciate well, and I know I'm not the PIC. On the other hand, I weigh somewhere north of 200 pounds.

My first flight was an unforgettable red-eye on a Lockheed Constellation from Detroit to New York. I think I was 7 or 8 years old, flying "by myself". My mother, who worked for Capital Airlines, entrusted me to the stewardesses who delivered me to my father in New York. I slept in the three-across seats with the arm rests removed. Len Morgan's stories in Flying magazine, of the days of DC3s and such, have always for me been grounded in this first flying experience.

I have also flown in a Piper Apache, hitchhiking from Albuquerque to Memphis; a Cessna 182, hired for a video shoot; and a Maule that took off in six seconds flat.

My most interesting flight experience was in a DC-9, the original shorter configuration, flying out of Tromso, Norway. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot brought the plane into a steep bank, applying forces far more extreme than anything I've experienced in the U.S. We corkscrewed up through the overcast to get out of this steep mountain valley; making several complete turns until we were clear of mountains and clouds. This was regarded as normal by the rest of the passengers. It gave me a good respect for the capabilities of the Douglas craft. I like the DC-9 because it is still small enough to feel like it is all one piece, as opposed to some of the later wide-bodies which feel more like an articulated bus in the air.

Planes I dream about owning, at the low end: the Air Cam twin or some of the J3-cub-like kits; in the mid-range: the Pilatus or the Cessna Caravan, both with floats and the PT6; at the higher end: a restored Mallard converted to turboprops. I'm sold on turboprops.


FPGA computing

FPGA computing is computing with Field Programmable Gate Arrays. FPGAs are chips in which the switches or "gates" can be linked in a variety of ways inside the chip, while the chip is running. Briefly, this means your not stuck with a CPU of a fixed architecture. Instead of writing programs to fit a particular CPU architecture, you can "write" an architecture to fit the problem, and you can have a different architecture on the same silicon "real estate" for every different problem. Since loading a new architecture into an FPGA takes less than twenty milliseconds, it would be reasonable (requiring only a 2% overhead) to change architectures for a procedure lasting one second!

The Supercomputing Center at Princeton demonstrated in 1992 that a pipeline of 32 FPGAs could, by this reconfigureable architecture strategy, run a DNA sequence matching algorithm 3000 times faster than a DEC VAX. So it is a very powerful approach.

Since then, Giga Operations Corporation has been creating development systems for FPGA computing using a modular, scaleable, hardware system and a `C' syntax compiler which produces "XNF" code which is commonly used to define the configuration of a XILINX FPGA. This gives ordinary software programmers access to their "dream machine", ie. they can have any hardware structure they need. A single FPGA computing module, the size of a playing card (bridge not poker) will do a lattice gas analysis at the speed of a CRAY one.

It is an exciting development. If this interests you, look at their homepage, at my resume, and drop me a note.


Future Search Conferencing

Marvin Weisbord, with a couple dozen other contributors, wrote a book, Discovering Common Ground, which describes a process, or a family of processes, which help groups, communities, corporations, identify and expand their common interests and then produce a plan for collaborative action.

Kenoli runs the emailing list for Searchnet (Future Search support group) in the SF bay area. If you want to learn more, you can get on the list and come to a meeting held every couple months in the Oakland hills.

Michael Kelly is another one in this area of work, although not specifically Future Search. He produced a 12 minute video of his process called "Reinventing Limestone" about a community in Maine by that name which had just lost its airbase (the major employer) and was trying to figure out how to save the community.

In this age of multinational corporations who take little or no responsibility for their community impact, we are going to see a lot more of this sort of challenge. It seems that desperate circumstances enable a level of creative cooperation not otherwise seen much.

For me, this stuff is right on the money; this is where I am heading. Specifically, I offer to help communities work on development goals which focus on the health of their watersheds. I am becoming a better facilitator for this kind of community redesign effort. In 1978, I called this "Bioregional Design" and got a degree in it. As of June 1998, I completed the Future Search training and I have interned at a large (double) corporate Future Search.


Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems , essentially, are databases in which the primary index is place (geographic location) and the usual report is in the form of a map with some ancillary charts and tables and text.

The industrial favorite is a commercial system, "ARC-INFO" from ESRI.

Environmental Systems Research Institute inc., 380 New York Street, Redlands, California 92373

This is a vector-based system which runs very well on Sparc stations (and poorly on DOS PCs the last I looked) and now recently on PCs under NT. ESRI has been very supportive of environmental work by offering GIS software assistance to various ecological groups. Their product is used by California state natural resource agencies, and by oil companies, among others, and is very well respected.

An SFbay area ArcView (from ESRI) GIS service provider for "grassroots organizations" in the nine-county area is GreenInfo Network. They are doing the sort of work I would like to be more involved with.

The public domain favorite (and thus mine) is GRASS (Geographic Resources Assessment Support System) produced and supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (USACERL, or "cecer" on the web, aka the "moon"). It is a raster-based system, and it has been known to run on a fair variety of hardware including PCs. It requires UNIX and Xwindows at this point. However it has been ported to LINUX, a public domain flavor of UNIX, in the last couple years, and, since Xwindows was put in the public domain by MIT (thank you), the whole shootin match is free!

Free of charge that is, once you plunk down the three thousand for hardware. There is a lively users group from which support may be sought, and many have installed GRASS on LINUX systems in the last four years. Linux/GRASS binaries are available from The MIS:PRESS on the CD that comes with Volkerding's "Linux Configuration and Installation" book. I'm using the Slackware Linux (with which comes the book). Debian Linux is next.

My interest in GISes is primarily as a support tool for community based watershed restoration groups. Although I must confess a fascination with Geodetic Survey maps going back to my earliest bicycling years. Now USGS maps are available on digital media!


Organizational Development

I have facilitated the metamorphosis of two nonprofit groups using my own techniques designed specifically for each group. In both cases the groups were reviewing their intentions and evaluating their capability to continue to meet the goals of their organizations. In one case the group decided it could not continue with the current level of volunteer support. In the other case, goals were refined and new personal commitments were made; the group was re-structured and continued to develop.

I am learning and doing more in this area, and this year I am offering my services. Future Search and Open Space Technology are two other methods I can work with. See OD Resources, and Bay Area Open Space Network and Center for Group Learning and Co-Intelligence Institute and Transformational Social Dialog Conference working notes for related activities.

I read and sometines participate in several listservs which relate to OD. I recommend them to those interested:
Center for Group Learning based in the SF Bay Area. deepfun A play community hosted by an exponent of technography. International Association of Facilitators hosted at albany.edu Future Search net was "Searchnet", based in Philly. Organizational Development Network- "ODnetwork" Open Space Technology

I have just (9/1/99) been to my first NWcluster group session here in Seattle. Very satisfying experience, and obviously a very sophisticated group of OD professionals. If you live nearby and are interested, write me and I'll send you a description of the four hour evening. Meets bi-monthly (6x/year) on the 1st Wednesday.


Planet Drum Foundation

Planet Drum was founded in 1973 in San Francisco as an early agent of bioregional awareness ("early" at least among the non-native people of North America) by Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft who have carried the drum through thick and thin ever since. By now there's quite a crew, turning out "Raise the Stakes", a more or less quarterly journal of bioregional thought and activity.

In the old days, Planet Drum produced fine works of the printer's art in "bundles", sort of a magazine in multiple formats, held together only by the envelope they came in. Today, Raise the Stakes, the major printed voice of Planet Drum, is in a single small newspaper format.

Planet Drum has been home to some of the more forward thinkers in the ecological arena: Berg, Peter Coyote, Ray Dasmann, Jim Dodge, Freeman House, Jerry Martien, David Simpson, Gary Snyder, George Tukel, ... to name a few of the more notorious.
Planet Drum

Planet Drum, P.O.Box 31251, San Francisco, California, 94131

Recycling old computers

I think computers are great and becoming greater, but there are some aspects of the industry and the market which bother me. I could rave down a long list here, but I will restrict myself to one item.

The pace of design advances is very fast. It is well known that about every year and a half one can buy, for the same money, equipment of twice the capacity and speed as the last generation. Consequently the pace of obsolescence far outstrips the pace of deterioration. To me, it is not acceptable to throw away an old motherboard just because a new one runs four times as fast. What should we do with older computers which now seem impossibly restrictive?

1) Put old computers to work doing slower tasks for which they are suited, such as household monitoring, phone answering, word processing (they're still better than a typewriter). I have grown accustomed to using two or three computers at the same time; it beats using Windows on one processor (!).

2) Give them to folks who can't afford the new stuff. Non-profits, East European families or companies, inner city schools. There is a company in Massachusetts which will receive your computer "junk" and send it on to their Russian counterpart where it is fixed and used or salvaged for parts. Even here in San Francisco there's a computer junkyard (HMR inc, 690 24th St, 415:647-6071) which sends containers full of stuff to the West Pacific where it is recycled and reused. In Santa Rosa there is a computer recycling place that attempts to place old equipment into its highest use.

3249 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (south of town between Todd and Hearn)

Also, we are recycling computers to Bosnian refugees in the Bay Area. Write Jane Deer if you have something that's reasonably complete and usable. Even if it is hideously slow by your standards, if it has a more or less current user interface (MAC or Windows) it is worth their time to learn on.


Reinventing democracy

Frances Lappe and Paul DuBois, now in Brattleboro Vermont, have created a Center for Living Democracy and have written a book about it called

The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives

Jossey-Bass Publ., 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, California 94104.

"The essence of living democracy is building relationships. Our job is to create social and political relationships where none existed before, to restructure and redefine those that are destructive and underdeveloped."

I hear that a news service on the subject is in the making.

A great site is the Civic Practices Network . It is loaded with case studies, written in the first person, of people creating democratic relationships in their work and communities.

I want to talk about it, hear about it.



I dream of sailing across the Pacific, but like flying, it will have to wait. I have been a shipwright for a number of years in the seventies, working on steel ships, and wood yachts.

As of October 1996 I have been sailing on the SF bay, out of Berkeley, on a Cal20, an O’Day 21, and a Columbia 22.

Lest you think I'm swimming in cash, the Cal20, which is very spiffy, belongs to a friend (he's got about $4500 into it), and the Columbia was purchased by my wife for a song. All this time I thought you had to be wealthy to sail, and that used to be true when boats were made of wood. There are now many fiberglass boats available that are 20 to 30 years old and still very serviceable. Prices at the low end seem to be $100-$200 per foot, so a Cal 20 in safe and clean condition might go for $2000 to $4000 fully outfitted.

The Columbia22 has certainly won our affection. It is a comfortable, but small, boat, very sturdy, and it turns on a dime. Her designer is listed as William Crealock, although I have also seen it attributed to Bill Tripp. Either way, she has a very respectable heritage. I have reinforced the cabin top under the mast with a sturdy mahogany arch epoxied to the bulkhead, the original design was too weak there for my taste. New standing rigging and all re-wired as of 1997. A happy little boat! We recently moved it to Seattle.

I've taken classes at OCSC (Olympic Circle Sailing Club) here in Berkeley. They are recommended. I got US Sailing's Basic Keelboat certification, taking my practical on a J24.


Watershed Study Center

The Shoreline Study Center was established by Inez Yoder in 1987 to provide information to the public about natural habitat on the North/South Pacific Coastal Migratory Bird flyway. It is now called the Watershed Study Center.

It was spurred into existence by threats to the Batiquitos Lagoon on the coast of northern San Diego County, posed by development plans. The Batiquitos Lagoon is a major stopover for many long-range migrating birds. It is a last, and key, refreshment and recovery stop for them, without which they are quite likely to vanish. Monitoring of existing habitats and EIR review have been their focus. [Inez is my mother.]

More recent efforts have produced the Canyons Network, which has been adopted as a project of the Sierra Club.


Transformational Social Dialogue Conference

TheTransformational Social Dialogue Conference is still (!) in the planning stages. This is another of Tom Atlee's brainchildren like the Co-intelligence book and group. The ideas here are manifold, but the best we could do at distilling them lies herebelow:

"We hold a basic belief/value/trust that there is a kind of social dialogue that will, over the long run, result in constantly improving social solutions, visions, and actions, and that people will identify with, and take responsibility for, what they have created through such dialogue. This is societal learning. This conference is an opportunity to explore the nature of such dialogue, the obstacles to it, and what opportunities and tools are at hand to get it to happen. We will try to exemplify these values in this conference. This conference is an opportunity to explore what that kind of social dialog is and could be, might look like, to learn about it, and to practice it. The format of this conference will reflect our efforts to live these values."

You may recognise here the murky writing style of a committee, There is a set of working notes for this effort which I have lightly edited and put online. They are way too rambley to include here, but well worth reading if the above quote sounds interesting to you.


Watershed restoration groups

Watershed restoration groups are the people dearest to my heart.

I have been associated with a couple groups in the Mattole Watershed:

Mattole Resources Council, P.O. Box 160, Petrolia, California, 95558
Mattole Watershed Salmon Support Group, P.O. Box 81, Petrolia, California 95558.

MRC is the more general purpose group. It has undertaken the task of educating the Mattole Valley community about its land use and stewardship options. It has produced some valuable research on old growth timber and published a stunning map of timber in 1940 and 1980 in the valley. It produces a newsletter, coordinates tree-planting, and stream maintenance efforts, and has addressed a broad variety of reinhabitory issues along the Mattole.

MWSSG has been a leading edge salmon habitat restoration group since around 1978. They pioneered the use of locally supported salmon hatchboxes in California, as a "first-aid" component of a larger, more comprehensive restoration program. The small local hatchbox idea had been tried in Alaska with some success. MWSSG got the local community involved in it, which was a critical step.

The hatchboxes are refrigerator-sized redwood boxes laid at stream-side with water piped from high up the feeder creeks. They are seeded with fertilised salmon eggs and clean gravel. Stream water is plumbed into the bottom of one end of the box, upwells through the gravel, and departs at the top of the other end. As the eggs hatch, the fry struggle to the top and are let out to holding ponds where they will await the time for release to the stream. Eggs-to-fingerling survival rate is around eight times the natural rate. Unlike large state-run hatcheries, these salmon are imprinted on their own creek, to which they will try to return. The salmon population in this watershed is thus an increasingly heterogeneous, and growing population. We could say they don't have all their eggs in one box. Population diversity is maintained by limiting the take of eggs from the natural upstream migration to 5%, yielding about 10-17% of the young going downstream.

Community members volunteered, or worked at minimal pay, to survey all the streams in the valley for salmon habitat potential. Prescriptions for improvement were made, mostly for erosion control measures, and restoration efforts began, and continue to this day. Children and young adults have been involved in the processes of securing eggs and milt, seeding the hatchboxes, and tending the fingerlings to release point.

King Salmon runs in this small coastal watershed were down to less than two hundred, from 1950 levels when "you could walk across the river on the backs of the salmon". Today, in spite of a massive landslide in 1983 halfway up the watershed, and a major drought from 1984 to 1988, Salmon are running at around 1000 Chinook (King) and 400 Coho (Silver) and these numbers are slowly but steadily rising. The community has a strong feeling of ownership for this result. That in itself is a more powerful force for watershed health than any state-sponsored program could have been.

Freeman House and David Simpson have been the main minds and muscle promoting and supporting this effort in its first decade. Gary Peterson is a fishery biologist and local resident who has been working on this challenge with them since the early eighties. His expertise has given the data-gathering program real teeth, and the resulting harvest of knowledge about the watershed and its runs is substantial. Freeman left the MWSSG in the mid eighties to work with the Mattole Restoration Council. Freeman has written a book "Totem Salmon - Life Lessons from Another Species", Beacon Press, just released in April, 1999. Beacon Press, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass 02108. He calls it an "anecdotal memoir of the last twenty years in the Mattole watershed". I think it is a wonderful blend of eco-political realities and a very personal experience of nature in the Mattole.


This web site is dedicated to the memory of Little Stevie (of the Mattole) who truly had the struggling heart of a Salmon. May we carry on our work with as much spirit.

Rhodes Hileman

How to find me.

Mail me at rhodes@smsys.com

Lastly, here is a link to a picture of Rhodes and Jane (me and my wife) in Seattle, 1999. A guy on the sidewalk with a Sony Mavica took a few shots of us, waiting in line at this restaurant (very good food) and gave us a floppy disk. This is the best of them.