Author: Allegra Bick-Maurischat

Summer Program Wrap

Summer of 2020 has come and gone; Fall is already upon us! We wrapped up our summer program last month – and before we jump into our autumn updates and upcoming projects – we wanted to share a little more about it.

Our work exists at the intersection of creativity and social justice, and as an organization, we felt it critical to acknowledge- especially during this time in history – that environmentalism, art and activism do not exist in a vacuum. We work very hard to develop programs that provide vulnerable populations free, artistic opportunities focused on improving their communities and amplifying their creative voices. And it was in this same spirit of allyship and solidarity that we launched a summer program to open a dialogue with voices long underrepresented in our line of work.

Intersections was designed to allow viewers a peek inside the lives and work of the people within the intersectional environmentalism movement via virtual studio tours and candid conversations with Executive Director, Chrissy Spehar. This entirely digital program (shoutout to the ease and accessibility of IGTV!)  directly addressed creativity, sustainability and social justice while providing less-visible voices in the eco-movement an opportunity to share their work with a broader audience.

We spoke with seven incredibly inspiring folks of color – from community organizers, visual artists, musicians, sustainable chefs, environmental educators and other professionals – and we took away so much from these conversations.  If you missed any of these Intersections live, go back and watch them on our IGTV page and enjoy this little sneak-peak of all our featured guests below! 

Isaias Hernandez, @queerbrownvegan (L.A native, environmental educator and zero-waste advocate) spoke to us about racial, social and eco-justice – and how we can all dig in deeper to the “why” behind movements like zero-waste living and #plasticfreejuly. Watch here.

Mahoganee Amiger, @mahoganeeamiger (South Carolina-based recording artist, activist and founder of @responsibleartistry) shared her wonderful music with us and spoke to us about her approach to artistry as a form of revolution. Watch here.

Aura Vasquez, @auravasquezofficial (Columbian-born immigrant, eco-advocate and community organizer) discussed the power of sharing our stories, the power of personal connection in creating real social change. Watch here.

Teresa Flores, @tereesafloores (interdisciplinary artist based in East LA) chatted with us about her work and how she explores ideas around culture, race, place and history. Watch here

NiNo Alicea, @leaveittonino (Puerto Rican artist, educator and set designer) shared with us about everything from his Burning Man Honoraria awards to Hurricane Maria and his latest public art project #Múcaro4PR. Watch here.

Rieetha Dhamne, @zanzaneet (Indian-born, indigenous cooking blogger and sustainability activist) gave us a kitchen tour and shared how traditional Indian practices can be used to enhance our connection to the precious planet. Watch here.

Kamilah Sanders, @kivanoir (Nashville-based female founder and marketing guru) dove deep into the importance of art for communicating our vision for social impact, her passion for sustainable fashion and more. Watch here. 

Thanks for joining us in a summer that was full of important growth and wonderful success in exploring the opportunities of online programming offers. We can’t wait to share our plans for the fall with you all soon! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERSECTIONS: In conversation with Isaias Hernandez

“As someone who didn’t have support when navigating the environmental field, I asked myself who I wanted to be for others, and that’s an educator.” – Isaias Hernandez

Our online summer program is off to a wonderful start! We wanted to design a digital program that directly addressed creativity, sustainability and social justice, while also providing less-visible voices in the environmental movement an opportunity to share their work with a broader audience – enter: Intersections

We launched last week with our first guest speaker, Isaias Hernandez of Queer Brown Vegan! He joined our Executive Director, Chrissy Spehar in a live chat via Instagram for a really lively and engaging conversation on topics ranging from graphic design, virtual activism via social media and models for environmentalism that go beyond just a trendy “eco-friendly lifestyle.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Isaias experienced environmentalism from a different angle as a low-income person of color, and explained that much of his activist roots stem from the frustrations and invisibility he experienced growing up. He recently gained his degree in Environmental Science at UC Berkeley, and has been doing diversity inclusion activism, academic research, and creative work in environmental spaces since then. Isaias talked with us about co-creating Alluvia Magazine, which highlights BIPOC environmentalists through visuals and storytelling about climate justice. Later, he started the Queer Brown Vegan page and blog intentionally as an educational resource and safe space for like-minded folks to learn terms and concepts from the environmental movement while empowering them to take action. 

He explained to Chrissy that back in college, he often struggled to connect complex terminologies and concepts together. Upon graduating, he realized how important it was to simplify and breakdown each term to help improve others’ understanding and knowledge of eco-justice. Isaias’ mission now is to amplify other voices and delve deeper into sustainability and environmentalism – especially where contextual histories have been oversimplified, white-washed, or even erased entirely.

You can access the whole interview with Isaias on our IGTV if you missed it, and be sure to follow Queer Brown Vegan for approachable information on topics like veganism, zero-waste, eco-justice for info on his upcoming projects.

P.S Make sure you’ve got your calendar set for 10am PST – every Wednesday in July we’re going to be hopping on Instagram and chatting with more amazing folks! 

Some Food for Thought…

Hi RuckusRoots friends and family! It’s time for another program update…

If you’ve been keeping up with us via email or on the ‘gram, you’ll know that our TRASHFORMATION collaboration with FEAST For All went through a bit of an evolution this spring, as we were met with the COVID-19 crisis just one week into the start of the program! Our initial plan was to create an on-site mural installation made from collaged food packaging in our weekly workshops with Teaching Artist, Allegra Bick-Maurischat. As Feast for All’s mission is to make cooking classes, nutritional education and fresh produce accessible to low-income families at their SouthCentral L.A location, we designed a mural inspired by seasonal fruits and veggies for our project with them. But when the pandemic hit Los Angeles mid-March, we quickly canceled these in-person workshops and hopped online! 

Our iteration of the above program turned into Food for Thought – a free, weekly Zoom class where Allegra taught different collaging techniques to participants using recycled food packaging as material inspiration. Each week, we had local vegan chef, Carmen Karlsgodt come on to chat with us about a seasonal fruit or vegetable and share a recipe using that item for the participants to try at home with their families. We then focused our creative project for the day using that same fruit or veggie as our inspiration! The kids (and adults) who joined in each week learned to combine creative re-use with traditional design skills like pattern, color and texture into mixed media works of art. At the end of our sessions together, we all had individual Spring/Summer Harvest-of-the-Month Food Calendars featuring items like artichokes, strawberries, cucumbers and more! So much tasty seasonal goodness 😋

 

 

 

 

 

 

While there was certainly a learning curve when it came to moving things online, these workshops quickly became the highlight of our week – providing an opportunity to connect with members of our community and make art together in a new digital space. We had kids and families participating from across the country, friends and supporters dropping in just to say hi and get creative, and new folks joining the workshops up until the last session! 

 A quick shoutout to our program funders at the California Arts Council and the L.A Department of Cultural Affairs as well as our partner Feast for All! Thanks for all the support as we quickly adjusted to the times, and got this program up and running online! Now, more than ever, we feel very blessed for the ability to continue providing free and accessible programming to our community, and it’s our plan to keep doing just that by bringing you more online content in the coming months.

 

P.S if you missed these Food for Thought workshops, or just want to continue creating with us at home, Allegra designed these downloadable coloring book pages inspired by artwork from the classes! Each of these six Spring/Summer Harvest-of-the-Month Calendar includes a coloring page and the recipe for that month! Check them out 😉

Impactful Interns

Check out what one of our high school interns, Anthony, has to say about his experience so far with RuckusRoots…

 

As part of our RuckusRoots internship, one of our main goals is to reduce waste, become aware about waste consumption and where it goes. We scope out the neighborhood and surrounding areas to look for trash. We identify what type of waste they fall under. We went out and talked to different businesses about their waste buildup. We got to see the differences between neighborhoods and how their trash buildup compares to different areas. On one particular day, we went along the LA river in the Frogtown area and cleaned up the trash around there. (Pictured below is the data we collected that reflects the types of waste we found!) We are also learning about how trash can be repurposed into other things for different uses, as RuckusRoots has programs at schools to teach the younger students about waste reduction. I am looking forward to visiting classrooms to teach kids about their waste and how to reduce it! 

So far, we’ve learned:

  • About the different types of trash and the many materials they are made of
  • Ways of using alternatives to reduce our waste on disposable objects such as reusable water bottles
  • All bout the life cycle of trash – from product to waste and pollution that ends up on around our neighborhoods
  • How to design graphs about the data we collect and input the information
  • How to create surveys to collect information and accurately assess data
  • The process of making a change in our community by taking action
  • The many resources that available to locals who want to make changes in our area

I like the Ruckus Roots internship because it has made me more aware about my trash consumption and how much waste I produce. I’ve learned about the cycle that trash goes through and the many ways it pollutes our communities. I’ve learned how to contribute towards reducing my neighborhood’s waste and trash buildup. Overall, being an intern here has helped me reduce my waste and become more sensible about how much trash I’m producing. I’m glad I got the opportunity to have Ruckus Roots as my internship.

Our holiday wish…

It’s always around the holidays when we are reminded of how blessed our little organization is. We are so grateful to count you among our ever-growing community of supporters, collaborators & allies.

This year, each and every one of you continued to make a real and lasting impact for our immediate L.A community, arts education and the planet by aligning yourself with RuckusRoots’ goals and values. 

What more could we ask for?! 

We do have one item on our wishlist this year, however. Maybe it will resonate with you…

Our wonderful new interns (read up on our Strong Roots internship program if you’re interested) recently surveyed Highland Park community members about their hopes for their neighborhood in the coming year. What they learned echoes exactly what we’ve been hearing from citizens all over the L.A area – from Culver City to Echo Park, South Central, West Hollywood and beyond! 

People want deepened connections with one another. They want safer, more beautiful neighborhoods. They want to access to resources and tools that will teach them how to affect real, visible change in their homes and communities. 

It’s a tall order.

But here’s what we realized: We’re all on a mission to achieve the same goals!

We’re continually inspired and awed by the resilience and innovation of the Angelenos we meet through our work. Let’s get together and tackle these goals in 2020! 

Here’s to another year of empowering communities, deepening connections and making sustainable creative experiences accessible to all…

Happy holidays!