About Us

Meet the Founders

Founder and Executive Director, Tina Matthias

Tina worked in a nonprofit setting at the Living Coast Discovery Center for over 32 years as the Volunteer and Programs Manager.  She currently serves as the chair for the Sustainability Commission for Chula Vista and is on the Zero Waste & Plastics Ban and the Bayfront Cultural Design committees.  Tina Loves educating her community on how to be sustainable through neighborhood composting, organizing community clean-ups and nature hikes, as well as hosting gardening and zero waste workshops. 

Since her journey with South Bay Sustainable Communities Network, Tina has received the Melvin Jones Fellow Award from the Lions Club International Foundation and has led the nonprofit to receive the Organization award for Sustainable Champion from the City of Chula Vista. She is also an active member of The Rotary Club of Chula Vista. Most recently, Tina has become an active member of Certified

Tina Matthias additionally was awarded The United States House of Representatives Constituent of the Month by Congressman Juan Vargas!

Founder and Lead Master Composter, Eric Bonney

Eric held a supervisor, instructor and customer service representative position for almost 30 years. After retiring, he became a volunteer at the Living Coast Discovery Center where he participated in community clean ups, zero waste programs and the compost garden. He completed their master composter certification program and co-founded the South Bay Sustainable Communities Network along with Tina. Throughout the program’s pilot year, he educated his neighbors about the process and the benefits of composting and has been the lead master composter for the Vance Street compost hub since June of 2019.

Eric is currently employed at the San Diego Zoo as a guest ambassador and enjoys riding his bicycle, playing golf, and brewing his own craft beer and mead. He then uses the beer grains in his composting!

Our Origin Story

"I was raised during the time when we were taught not to “trash” the earth.  I remember commercials with the Native American shedding a tear about the pollution in the rivers, open space areas, and national parks. I’ve always been very conscious of my behavior and others around me.  I’ve never been afraid to let people know that they dropped trash, even if it was a lit cigarette.  Our society needs to know that we want a place to live that is clean, healthy and safe.

In 1986, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to the island of Taiwan to visit my relatives.  My family lived in Taipei, the capital, and my mother warned me that it was so dirty that I found out it was known to the world as "Trash Island".  During my visit, we visited a beautiful park up in the Mountains at the edge of the city. This was a popular picnic site where the locals and people played in the stream flowing down the mountainside.  I was shocked to see in the same stream was trash and diapers floating past the people.  I saw a family leave their picnic site with the day’s trash left on the ground behind.  I did my best to inform the family that this was not acceptable and made them take the trash out with them. 

20 years later in 2006, I visited Taipei again for family reasons.  I was shocked to see the city streets clean, and no trash anywhere.  People were outside enjoying their clean city without masks.  Most noticeable was when I got into trouble for throwing a fruit seed in the trash at my aunt’s house.  She showed me the compost shoot for any food scraps.  She also informed me that they receive big fines for not properly sorting their trash.  This is when it came to me, Taiwan cleaned up their island and city in 20 years, and created healthy, happy and safe communities, and we in the U.S. still can’t even recycle correctly.

I realized the need to educate our community about the impact of pollution on our community and our environment.  We also need to work with the city government and elected officials to implement sustainable ordinances and create positive change. We need to get back to basics; growing gardens, creating urban forests for sequestration and homes for our native and migrating species, and give back to our community and make sustainable changes."

-Tina Matthias

Meet Our Team


Patti is a lifelong resident of Chula Vista and has become a dedicated community leader and volunteer. She taught for 29 years in the Chula Vista Elementary School District until her retirement in 1991. Since then, she has dedicated her life to volunteering and supporting the South Bay Historical Society, Chula Vista Heritage Museum, Sol & Ruth Gerber Family Center and the Living Coast Discovery Center where she is a docent, helps with outreach programs, and serves on volunteer committees. 90 years young, she advocates for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle and over the years she has been participating in sustainable events throughout the South Bay. Patti has a passion for community education and a desire to help reduce our carbon footprint to preserve our environment for the enjoyment of future generations.  


Born and raised in San Diego, Melanie is currently working for a locally and family owned flower shop in Bonita and her future plans include getting a bachelor's degree in sustainability. Melanie has been with South Bay Sustainability Communities since August 2020 as a Community Lead and is now a certified master composter. She is responsible for the education and compost maintenance of two community composting neighborhoods. She also works with small businesses to become more sustainable by donating their foos scraps to our community compost piles. She loves spending her free time practicing yoga and connecting to nature in any way she can. Her goal in life is to live as environmentally sustainable as possible and help encourage others to do the same as well. 


A Bonita resident for 40 years, Marianne has an extensive background in volunteering. She was a nurse for 45 years and since her retirement has held a board position for several organizations, including Friends of Cats and the former Chula Vista Nature Center (now the Living Coast Discovery Center). She is a former Rotarian and member of the Senior Volunteer Patrol in Chula Vista, and currently she continues to volunteer at the Living Coast. Her tenure there has seen her involvement in gardening, docent tours, and office work. These days, Marianne can be found enjoying her retirement and filling her time with gardening and composting. She has a half acre lot she tends simply for the enjoyment of growing plants and is learning how to compost in her own backyard. Marianne has a desire to “spend her days living right and to give mother nature a little help along the way.” 


Kat holds a bachelor's in both biology and psychology, is a certified zoo and aquarium science practitioner, certified master composter, and hold a master's in parks and resource management. She first met Tina while volunteering at the Living Coast Discovery Center and since their introduction has partnered with her on several projects, including a systematic review community engaged learning project for Team-Up to Clean-up program Tina developed. Kat has been involved with reforestation work, trail maintenance, wildlife rehabilitation and volunteered with both the Living Coast and the USFWS at the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge. At the Living Coast she was a docent, leading tours to teach local students about the conservation of our local habitats and watershed. At the Tijuana Slough National wildlife refuge, she was involved with restoration projects and clean up events. 


Owner of Underpressure Diving & Nature Photography, Jonathan is a citizen scientist and wildlife expert and has been SCUBA Diving for thirty years as well as taking photographs both above and below the waterline for fifteen years. Along with being an underwater and topside photographer, he has been a teacher, speaker, author, and research associate for many different environmental organizations. Leading diving/photography and naturalist trips all over the world, his award-winning work has been shown all over the U. S. and more recently in Europe. He is a staunch environmentalist and educator of young people. Jonathan is committed to making a difference on this planet through his images and his message of goodwill to all creatures.


Roxanna has been involved in sustainability since her later years in high school where she was awarded most sustainable student by the city of Chula Vista in 2022. She was the lead for her high school's Youth 4 Sustainable Future, the first school to house the program. After graduating, Roxanna attends the University of California Santa Barbara after first attending her local community college. She continues to volunteer for South Bay Sustainable communities as a master composter, Y4SF Lead and educator. "I am so honored to be a part of such a groundbreaking program that is truly changing the norm for future generations, accommodating new legislation and educating both students and their families about sustainable living!"