Jim Bell

Title: Ecological Designer
Member Since: 11/12/2006

- Bio -


Professional Life

Jim Bell is an internationally recognized expert on life-support-sustaining development. His projects include the design and construction of the San Diego Center for Appropriate Technology and Ecoparque, a prototype wastewater recycling plant in Tijuana, Mexico that converts sewage into irrigation water and compost. He also worked as a consultant for the Otay Ranch Joint Planning Project and the East Lake Development Company. He has also served as the ecological designer for a life-support-friendly hotel for Terra Vista Management and for the recently completed Ocean Beach People's Food Cooperative's new "green" store. Jim has more than 40 years experience in the design and construction industry.

As a lecturer, Jim speaks to many groups each year. His lecture credits include the AIA California State Conference, the Society for International Development's World Conference in Mexico City, and keynote addresses at the University of Oregon's first "Visions for a Sustainable Future" conference and the State of Oregon's Solar Energy Association Conference. Jim is often interviewed on television, radio, and by the written press and has been a guest on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation."

His honors include: The Society of Energy Engineers’ Environmental Professional of the year for the Southwestern States, a "Beyond War" award, and a City of San Diego Water Conservation Design Award for one of his projects. You can visit his web site at: www.jimbell.com

Political Involvement

In 1996, 2000 and 2004 Jim ran for Mayor of San Diego. He ran for the 2nd District City Council in 2002. Though he has not yet been elected, his ideas relating to making our region as energy, water and food self-sufficient as possible, as soon as possible are being embraced by an increasing number of elected officials and planners. Jim also served on Mayor Murphy's Environmental Task Force and SANDAG’S Long Range Planning Group.

Work History

During high school, Jim helped support his family by working as a gardener, ditch digger and as a carpenter's helper. During and after college he worked as a carpenter. During the late 60s and early 70s Jim became concerned about the impacts of human activities on the environment and our quality of life. He became increasingly convinced that there were "smarter" ways to conduct our lives and build our communities that would minimize negative impacts. Toward this goal, starting in 1974, Jim pursued a career as an Ecological Designer, and as a public lecturer on the principles of Ecological Design. He is the author of Achieving Eco-nomic Security On Spaceship Earth and numerous other articles and papers on creating sustainable economies.

Working with People

Jim has served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Ecology Center, I Love a Clean San Diego, Environmental Health Coalition, and the California Association of Cooperatives. Currently, he serves as Director of the Ecological Life Systems Institute and the San Diego Center for Appropriate Technology. He's also a Board Member of Ocean Beach People's Food Coop and has recently been working with the San Diego Apollo Project.

Family History

Jim was born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1941. His family moved to Long Beach, California in 1943 and to San Diego in 1951. Jim has lived in San Diego ever since.


Jim attended Chesterton Elementary School, Montgomery Junior High School (in Linda Vista, 7th and 8th grade), Grossmont High School (9th – 11th grades), and graduated from El Capitan High School in 1960. He attended Palomar College and Long Beach State University. He graduated from SDSU in 1985 with a Bachelors Degree in Art and Art Sciences. In high school and college, Jim participated in a number of sports, including track, cross-country and basketball. He played varsity basketball at Palomar College and Long Beach State University.

Posts by: Jim Bell

When Good is Bad - April 18, 2014

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