Category: TRASHformation

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 😉

Latest Update from Wild Art

Our recent Wild Art program took place at Eucalyptus Elementary School in Hawthorne, CA during the fall semester of 2018. Our Artist Mentors worked with 200 4th graders over a six-week session – each teaching a total of 12 integrated art/ecology/sustainability lessons we developed especially for Eucalyptus Elementary students. We even brought in wildlife expert, Miguel Ordenana, from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to teach the students about urban wildlife right in their own backyards and how to help protect their local environments. For their culminating project, students made a canvas out of recycled plastic bags and created a painting inspired by LA wildlife – connecting their lessons about conservation methods, ecology and creativity together in one piece. 

We are so excited to share the video below – featuring our artists at work in the classrooms and highlighting students busy making art!  As you can see, a single canvas is made from 20 recycled plastic bags, and this with this canvas-making process, we were able to divert 4000 plastic bags from local landfills, river and streets! 

The final step in for this program is to create a mural from the student’s individual canvas paintings. It will be a great way for the students to see their work displayed on campus and share our work with the larger school community. We are currently in the last stages of this and hope to install the mural on campus mid to late March 2019! 

Stay tuned – we’ll be posting lots of pics as the mural comes together. But for now, please enjoy this Wild Art video and feel free to share with your friends via our YouTube channel!

WILD ART PROGRAM AT EUCALYPTUS ELEMENTARY

We are so pleased to be offering our Wild Art program to almost two hundred 3th and 4th graders at Eucalyptus Elementary in Hawthorne, CA this semester. We are already halfway through our session there – time is flying by!

If you aren’t familiar with Wild Art – here’s a little about the program…

Our curriculum is specially designed to blends visual arts lessons (color theory, composition, drawing, and painting techniques, etc.,) with ecology and conservation education – all focused on local wildlife. Participants are each working to create a final “project”:  a painting of a threatened wildlife species that will be part of an on-campus installation. They are responsible for not only designing and painting their final project, but also creating the canvas upon which it is painted. Here’s the really fun part – these canvases are made from REUSED PLASTIC BAGS! Yep, we developed a system of fusing together old plastic bags collected from around the community so that each student could truly see the ecological impact of their project – start to finish – and become more aware of their plastic use. Also, the plastic material is durable and waterproof – which will come in handy when these final paintings are installed as community mural on campus at Eucalyptus Elementary next spring.

Our participants are working with young, professional artists to learn artistic skills and theories, and we hired three amazing new Artist Mentors especially for this program! You can learn more about them all here. The students also receive environmental education from a wildlife expert courtesy of our friends at Natural History Museum Los Angeles to learn about the incredible biodiversity that exists in their own backyards, parks, schools, and neighborhoods.

We hope that Wild Art will be the first step in leading young people to engage in their local community and possibly beyond Los Angeles. More than anything, we believe in the importance of allowing young students to see the direct connection between their creative work and local conservation efforts. These young people not only creating a platform to creatively express themselves and connect to nature in L.A, but to take ownership of and create change in their community.

Follow us on Instagram for updates & pics from inside the classroom, and click here to see footage from our 2017 Wild Art installation at the LA Zoo!  

Here are some recent pics of the program! Stay tuned for the mural install in the spring!