We just want to take a moment to reflect on the past year, in all of its challenging, chaotic, and confusing lessons and glory. We’ve learned a lot, had some moments of doubt, ultimately pulled through and finished the year on a strong and promising note! That said – we won’t be sad to see 2020 fade into the past and we are overjoyed to ring in 2021 and all that it holds for RuckusRoots and the world at large!
From pivoting in the face of the pandemic to provide online programming to folks across the globe, to looking deeply at our organization and making internal changes to better reflect our core values and mission – we did a lot to be proud of this year.
✔️We expanded our digital offerings to include live, on-demand, and fully downloadable content.
✔️We wrapped up a Wild Art in-school program and successfully installed its culminating project – a mural with over 2,000 repurposed plastic bags on campus.
✔️We filmed our first-ever TV series with Hawthorne Community Television.
✔️We delivered more than 60 bags stocked with sustainable art supplies to families in need this summer and provided online art workshops to accompany these free supplies.
✔️We worked hard to support, employ and learn from artists of color all over the world and give these underrepresented and valuable voices a platform through our channels.
We’re certainly pleased to welcome a new year – don’t get us wrong. There’s A LOT we want to leave behind in 2020. But as always, we are so blessed by all of the support we received this year, and are able to go into 2021 feeling both inspired and awed by the resilience and innovation of the Angelenos we meet through our work this year. Onwards and upwards, as we like to say!
Here’s to a new year of empowering communities, deepening connections and making sustainable creative experiences accessible to all!
We ran our third successful Wild Art program this year, and finally wrapped up the final piece (mural installation) early last week! This 2020 program was such a labor of love, and a true lesson in perseverance, as our in-person programming with the students was JUST approaching completion as the coronavirus pandemic hit Los Angeles. We are immensely pleased to share with you now that this program has wrapped up, and show off our latest collaboration with some very creative and talented elementary school students!
By combining visual arts skills with sustainability and wildlife education, Wild Art provides young artists with a platform to creatively express themselves, connect to nature in L.A and to take an active role in their community. By providing students with a comprehensive introduction to local wildlife and conservation issues, this unique program is the first step in helping form engaged, creative citizens and stewards of the environment.
The 4th graders at Eucalyptus Elementary School began working with artist mentors, Julio Muñoz to learn artistic skills such as color theory, composition and still life drawing. They also received education from wildlife expert and biologist Miguel Ordeñana of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who taught students about the vast array of wildlife living in Los Angeles, and how their actions can help protect it. The students then combined these lessons by creating their own wildlife-inspired artwork on a sustainable substrate – a canvas made of fused plastic bags. These student-made canvases recycled nearly 2,000 plastic bags, thereby keeping these harmful plastics out of the local environment/landfills. Additionally, each student artwork is an homage to one of four threatened local species; the Steelhead trout, the Monarch butterfly, the Peregrine falcon and the Mountain Lion – conservation in action!
We would like to extend a hearty “thank-you” to the 4th-grade teachers, staff, and administration at Eucalyptus Elementary School. We deeply appreciate your patience, cooperation, and dedication to seeing this project to completion in the midst of a very challenging year! This program was funded in part by the California Arts Council and the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.
The video below was made for the 5th graders at Eucalyptus Elementary School in Hawthorne, CA who participated in our 2020 Wild Art program last spring. We completed the in-school portion of the program right before the coronavirus pandemic began and as of the publication of this post, these students aren’t back on campus yet. Nonetheless, we just finished installing a mural featuring their work in the school cafeteria – with nearly 200 animals made from over 2,000 recycled plastic bags! Since we can’t meet in person due to COVID 19, the program’s teaching artists put this video together to remind students of lessons from Wild Art and show them how much their hard work paid off! We hope these young artists can be back in school and see their lovely work installed on campus very soon!
We did it! Our fall program, Through Lines, was a great success! Combining efforts to fight food waste and single-use plastics, we worked with underrepresented community members in South L.A to make one-of-a kind artworks and come together in a virtual creative space.
This collaboration with our partner organization, FEAST, was offered as a series of free, online “family crafting classes” to their constituents by East L.A-based artist, Teresa Flores. Program participants learned to repurpose plastic waste from food packaging through a variety of creative techniques, such as weaving and sculpture. They then explored their own ideas, processes and materials to create unique and personal works of meaning. It was so amazing to see what this group came up with week after week!
After six weeks of workshops and idea exchange, we held our very first virtual (and bilingual) art exhibition to share the culmination of our work together! We had a wonderful time listening to our group of program participants share about their work and the process of learning to work with everyday objects and recycled materials.
If you missed the LIVE OPENING EXHIBITION, you can still see the virtual exhibit from the comfort of your own couch (stay home – be safe!). Don’t miss it – it’s a wonderful and inspiring collection of work! ♻️❤️🌟
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!
“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!