Author: Jessie

RuckusRoots Sculpture Debuts at Northeast LA Art Walk


Our latest TRASHformation sculpture enjoyed a successful premiere last weekend at during the Northeast LA Art Gallery Night in Highland Park. The sculpture was on display at The Church on York last Saturday during the art walk.

We teamed up with 127 middle school students from Academia Avance in Highland Park, CA to create an interactive sculpture made from recycled materials. The program, called TRASHformation, was the only arts education the students received all semester.

photo 4 1

At the beginning of the program, we asked participants to come up with ideas for an art piece that would positively affect their community. The winning idea, by 11-year-old Brisa Cabrera Diaz, is entitled “Your Hug,” and is an 11-foot tall sculpture of a teddy bear that absorbs feelings. As Diaz wrote in her proposal, “My art piece is of emotion. When you’re sad you hug it and when you’re mad you can talk to it about your madness. Express your feelings to it.”

RuckusRoots worked with artist Rebekah Waites and five classes of middle school students over the spring semester to collaboratively build the sculpture. Students learned creative problem solving and artistic techniques such as sculptural modeling and fabric mache. Almost every piece of material used to make the sculpture was donated or found in the Highland Park community, including scrap wood, old bed frames, plastic containers, donated fabric, and mattress foam. 

The sculpture has several potential new homes, including the Academia Avance High School Campus, and a short stint at the Burning Man Arts Festival. We are hoping to place it at another local gallery for the duration of June and July, 2014. Please contact us if interested in hosting the bear.



RuckusRoots goes to Coachella with CryoChrome!

rainbow tunnel

If you were wondering what RuckusRoots was up to this April, look no further than CryoChrome, one of the must sought after art installations on display during this years Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, CA.

We spent 18 days in the desert to help make CryoChrome come to life. The piece was the brain child of LA artist and RuckusRoots collaborator James Peterson. This was Peterson’s first commissioned art piece for Coachella, and we are proud to say it was a success!

The interactive sculpture was roughly 40 feet long and 20 feet tall, and was based on Russian ice caves. Affectionately dubbed ‘the rainbow tunnel,’ the outside of the piece was covered in a skin of over 20,000 recycled CD’s (yay for recycled materials!) while the inside of the tunnel was vaccu-formed plastic walls covered in color-changing LED lighting. As you walked through the piece, the walls rotated around you, creating an optical illusion that left festival goers dizzy and exhilarated. Lines remained long throughout both weekends of the festival; we estimated at least 70,000 viewers experienced the sculpture each weekend.

RS cryochrome outside
Photo courtesy of Koury Angelo via Rolling Stone

We were honored to be a part of such an amazing art project! The piece was featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone, LA Weekly, The Hollywood ReporterHuffington Post and many more. It was an exciting month and now we’re on to more ruckus-raising at home!

Coachella 2014: Cryochrome from James Mills on Vimeo.

RuckusRoots Chosen to attend Annenberg Alchemy Seminar

cute kid

We’re looking forward to completing the last leg of our Annenberg Alchemy seminar this coming June. We attended the first two sessions this past March at the Science Center.

We were thrilled when we found out earlier this year that RuckusRoots had been chosen to participate in this year’s annual Annenberg Alchemy seminar. The seminar consists of 3 days: two full days of training and an ‘Anthology Review Day’ approximately 90 days later. This 90 Day period allows the program attendees to implement the lessons learned. Critical issues covered are fundraising, board effectiveness, civic engagement and accountability.

This prestigious non profit seminar focuses on the working relationship and communication between the Executive Director and the Board Chair, more specifically the alignment of both parties goals, roles and responsibilities in relation to each other and how that provides the catalyst for change for the overall organization.

To be accepted into Annenberg Alchemy, they require your organization has been serving the needs of the local community for at least three years, with the same Executive Director in place for two or more years, and operating with an annual budget of $5 million or less. Check, check and check!

We’re looking forward to completing the last leg of our Annenberg Alchemy seminar this coming June. After attending the first two sessions this past March at the Science Center, we’re sure that we’ll make a lot more good connections and take the invaluable tools Annenberg gave us to better RuckusRoots in every way!



Interview with a Highland Park Innovator

     Many believe the first step towards change begins with one’s self; this belief has proven to be more than just an idea to an extraordinary Highland Park resident. Chan Wing Lam has proven himself much more than just a loving husband and father, but also an innovator who has recently acted upon his lifelong interest in electrical engineering and the world of eco-friendly living.

     Born and raised in Hong Kong, China, Lam first found his interest in electrical maintenance when in high school. Moving to America in 1984, he began working long hours in a seafood restaurant and later as a BBQ chef. It was not too long ago that he began putting his time into solar powered apparatuses to help cut back the cost of his electricity bill.

     In 2013 he started his first solar panel project with broken glass windows and pieces acquired via eBay. Today he has several panels installed over the roof of his home and is even attempting to build a windmill. Each panel produces around 130 watts that go into one of his 3 inverters he has set up around his home. We got a chance to take a look inside his home and workshop to see for ourselves his mechanical endeavors.

     Within a day and a half, and given the right materials, Lam can build one of his solar-powered automatons all by himself. He has given no thought to passing on his knowledge of mechanical money-savers down to a new generation, but did seem intrigued when posed with the question. Although his legacy may end with him, it has influenced the way Highland Park residents think about conservation. With the sight of his home just across the street from Franklin High School, hundreds of students pass by noticing not only his solar panels, but also his front yard garden full of vegetation he grows for his family.


Meet our fall Strong Roots Interns

Fall Strong Roots Internship

photo 1As part of our Strong Roots internship program, RuckusRoots has taken on two new interns for the fall semester. Strong Roots is an internship program in which LA teens learn sustainable art, building and design skills with guidance from RuckusRoots staff artists.

Both interns, seniors from Academia Avance Charter School in Highland Park, are also responsible for tasks ranging from daily social media posts, to looking for funding opportunities, as well as learning how to manage design and content for the website.

Below are bios from our interns in their own words:

Milagros is currently a college ready senior at Academia AVance Charter School. With a strong interest in sports, music, art, and literature, Milagros (aka. milo) plans to study business, in Chicago. And hopefully move out to the East Coast after college. 100% tea fanatic , Batman lover for life ! ! !

I can make a cookie in a mug. I have a cut out Mystery Machine that blocks the path in my room and I used to get in trouble for reading in class. I must become physically invested with something to become emotionally invested and I dread running, but am a co-captain of my school’s cross country team. Everytime I dress nicely I feel like James Bond and people say that I have the head for my hat. I love singing, but feel like I singing the same 7 songs over and over. My hands are always cold. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’ll tell you when I get there. -Andres Guzman

Strong Roots is an intensive, hands on opportunity for young people who have expressed an interest in sustainable art and design as a potential career path. Strong Roots was designed as a way to bring professionally-guided experience in the arts to areas of LA where these kids of opportunities are often difficult to come by. 


We’re always interested taking on new interns from the East LA area! For internship inquiries or to learn more about our Strong Roots program please contact

Call to Artists in the East LA Area!

bird trash

Ruckus Roots, a local non-profit organization, is seeking an energetic, optimistic mind for a TRASHFormation project to take place once a week, beginning in the month of January, (2014) and running for 2 or 3 months.

TRASHformation is an interactive, improvisational art experience that transforms community-generated waste into a substantially and collaboratively built art piece, aims to raise awareness about waste production and consumption while encouraging participants to explore their own creative capabilities.

We are seeking a lead artist to guide middle School- aged participants through the process of a TRASHformation. Artists must be capable of surveying recycled/reusable materials and work spontaneously, with children ages ranging between 10 and 13, to produce a finished work of art.

Design, building and large scale art experience, creative reuse of recycled/waste materials and knowledge of sustainability issues is a plus! Ability to think on your feet and adapt to changing circumstances also a plus.

This is a paid gig, with potential for future jobs. contact us at by December 20th, 2013.


Chimes for Change: A Success at Soundwalk 2013

RuckusRoots premieres ‘Chimes for Change’ at Soundwalk 


Last Saturday, Loyola High School students from our pilot ‘Chimes for Change‘ program displayed over 30 wind chime sound installations at Soundwalk, one of the country’s biggest sound art exhibits, in Long Beach. The program was a collaboration with music and sound art teacher Steven Speciale and visual artist James Peterson. Students worked with RuckusRoots over 6 weeks to fabricate wind chimes out of recycled materials, each one expressing a sustainability issue through their piece.

Soundwalk attendees not only got to view the collection chimes, but also scan QR codes affixed to each piece using their smart phones. The code allowed them access each artist’s electronic song as well as  read his artist statement, which described the sustainability issue inspired by the chime.


After working with Peterson to conceptualize and build their chimes, Speciale taught students how to create electronic music using Yellofier, a digital song making application. The students recorded their chimes and then composed songs using those sounds in Yellofier.

The students’ songs and statements will be available on our Chimes for Change page in the next week. We are excited to continue Chimes for Change with several community organizations across Los Angeles, and can’t wait to share the results with you!


Thanks to Monching Flores for the images

Find us at Soundwalk!

Soundwalk, here we come!

All the cool kids are doing it! And if you’re one of the cool kids, you’ll be joining us this Saturday in Long Beach for the 10th Annual Soundwalk Festival, where students from Loyola High School, our first ever Chimes for Change participants, will be showing off their amazing wind chime work.

Chimes for Change is our latest project that explores the vital role that art plays in guiding us towards more sustainable lifestyles, through the creation of wind chimes out of recycled and found objects. Students have been busy all this week and last building their chimes, each focusing on an issue personal to them or their community.

After the students complete their chimes, they are recording the sounds and creating experimental digital music out of them using a mobile application called Yellofier. Not only will the Loyola High School students’ chimes be on display at SoundWalk, but also their music; you’ll be able to download and listen to their songs via a QR code next to each chime.

SoundWalk is one of the largest sound art installations in the country, and unfortunately this will be its last year. So, come check out the inspiring art that RuckusRoots’ students have created, plus all the other amazing artists included.

Find us on the map! Here’s where our wind chimes will be at Soundwalk this Saturday: we’re number 27.

soundwalk map

Chimes for Change Begins!


This week we began the pilot community art program ‘Chimes for Change,’ a music-based variation of TRASHformation. We’re working with students from Loyola High School to fabricate mobile sound installations, or wind chimes, made from found and recycled materials.

Unlike TRASHformation programs in the past, Chimes for Change participants have the opportunity to create their own personal art piece–a wind chime–that aims to explore the relationship between sustainability and the arts. The chime might represent a personal theme or one of which that addresses an issue the artist sees in his/her own community regarding sustainability.

Artist James Peterson of Art & Contraptions, is helping students with the construction and fabrication of the chimes. As an experienced artist who has worked on small to large scale art pieces made with found or recycled materials, he will guide students in the hands-on process of constructing their art pieces.

Using sounds derived from recordings of the chimes, the students will also create experimental, electronically-based songs and audio-visual art pieces. Both the chimes made in this program as well as the collaboratively composed songs have been accepted to show at Sound Walk 2013, one of the country’s largest sound art exhibitions, held in Long Beach on October 5th.

As opportunities for Chimes for Change continue to manifest we are constantly discovering new ways this program could be used to explore the vital role that art can have in guiding us towards more sustainable lifestyles.

 “Far from being irrelevant to social change, the arts is the only way through which we may gain an appreciation of our common humanity, it is the only thing that can teach us to love the world enough to protect and defend it.” Clara Fang

Off the Grid for a Greater Good


Not many people can say that they’ve even traveled across the country, let alone cycled across its entirety. And that’s not even the impressive part. Rob Greenfield set out with a mission to ride across the US living entirely off the grid. Meaning he would eat locally produced, organic, and unpackaged foods, use water solely from natural sources like rivers, wells, and rain, use electricity generated purely by portable alternative energy devices, create near zero trash​, compost all food waste, and shop at businesses that are committed to creating a healthy planet.

And on August 2nd, after 104 days, 4,700 miles and 18 states, he did just that.

His trip began in San Francisco in April  and ended in Waitsfield, Vermont. That’s the location of 1% for the Planet, Greenfield is promoting the alliance of businesses that donate 1 percent of their revenues to environmental organizations.

Greenfield, from San Diego, decided to make the journey because he was  determined to demonstrate that it’s possible to live more sustainably, also to encourage people to decrease their impact on the environment. And to get peoples attention (even biking naked at times!) and not only thinking of living more consciously, he wanted to show it was actually possible. 

During the trip, Greenfield would often dumpster dive for food that was still good or fill his water bottle with leaky faucets or half empty water bottles he found. When it came time for cleaning up, he bathed in rivers, oceans and lakes. While he claims that biking wasn’t about his message at all, even the bamboo bike he rode was used to promote the elimination of deforestation.


For more on his adventure and pictures from  his trip check out the GreenfieldAdventures website.

 Photo by Brent Martin