Owner and Founder Alicia LaValle is a Professional Project Manager (PMP), with 15 years experience as a design-build landscape architect, land planner and sustainability researcher.
With a Masters in Landscape Architecture (MLA) from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Forestry (MSc) from the University of British Columbia my work has focusing on interdisciplinary water, waste and land management specializing in applied climate change solutions.
I also have 10 years of experience as an educator in a variety of capacities for adults and youth in North and South America. As a professional development consultant, I have taught around the world, specializing in creating and delivering customized and intensive hands-on goal setting and skill building workshops.
The Toolbelt Learning Collaborative (TLC) aims to change your life by changing your relationship with your homeplace.
Here at The TLC we offer confidence in project design, planning, implementation and maintenance through our innovative approach that treats every project owner as both client and student.
"We focus on the processes that create sustainable homeplaces and take you on that journey with us."
Our measure of success is the ability of clients to confidently take on more complex and creative projects from their wish lists as a result of their life-enhancing experience us.
for several generations in my family there has been an interesting pattern.
In one generation all sisters, and the next - all brothers.
Thus, the skills and interests passed on intergenerationally didn’t always fit typical gender roles.
For my sister and I, whenever there was a home improvement project, we were out there with tools alongside my father learning and doing.
When I was 15, my family designed and built a new house, but there wasn’t money left for landscaping and so the 2-acre denuded clay hillsides became my job, building retaining walls and garden beds, creating topsoil and learning about native plants that could help in erosion control.
Summer landscaping evolved into a master’s degree in landscape architecture, a profession where I have worked on everything from residential and commercial design + build projects to large scale habitat restoration and remediation.
I also have an MSc in Forestry from the University of British Columbia where my research focused on climate change, and waste management solutions. My passion is to bring together solutions from all these scale and scopes of my practice to foster grass-roots creativity, individual curiosity and holistic community - driven sustainability
As a collaborative we aim to retrofit not just places but paradigms: tearing-down the ideas of “unattainable” to make space for knowledge of “achievable” and “exceptional.”
I love solving sustainability challenges.
As a design-build project manager in Buenos Aires, I helped convert one of South America’s largest landfills into a regional park.
With compacted soils from heavy equipment, and high temperatures from the decomposition going on below, the plants were literally baking from drought conditions – in an area that had once been a wetland. Seeing this as an opportunity, I took a course in vermiculture – the use of worms to make a nutrient-rich, pathogen-resistant moisture retaining compost.
Bringing in partners, we soon developed an industrial-scale vermiculture plant demonstrating to the highly cost-conscious clients, how the systematic and strategic diversion of waste materials for worms could reduce costs and also enhance plant survivorship and ecosystem performance.
The Toolbelt Learning Collaborative takes roots
Many steps along my path helped develop my tenacity to craft challenges into opportunities
While working for the National Park Service in San Francisco, unattainably high rents led me to build a lofted studio to share with others.
While in Buenos Aires, a very flat metropolis, I missed rock-climbing. So, with the help of family and friends who I had also interested in the sport
I coordinated a modern "barn raising party" only in this case the barn was a 2-story climbing wall in the middle of the city.
More recently, I lived 8 years in Vancouver, BC working as a project manager, sustainability researcher and educator. However, the housing market made settling there seem unsustainable. So I turned my housing insecurity into an opportunity - this time to build my own home.
For the last few years I have been designing and building my own tiny home with multiple sustainability-oriented adaptations such as rain-water harvest and solar-power.
I am thankful to now call the beautiful Sunshine Coast of British Columbia home. I acknowledging the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) and Sechelt (shíshálh) Nations to whom I give thanks for countless generations of stewardship that came before me.