Tag: los angeles non profit

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 😉

Kites For A Cause: Clean-ups, Community and Creativity in Frogtown!

If our Instagram feed is any indicator, we’ve been having a blast with our Kites For A Cause workshop series this summer!

We’ve nearly reached the halfway point (don’t panic, you’ve still got time to attend a session if you haven’t yet!), so we wanted to drop in and share a little bit more about the program…

Kites for a Cause is a series of one-day, pop-up-style workshops and river clean-ups hosted through our Frogtown partner site, Spoke Bicycle Cafe ( right along the L.A River bike path!) During each session, we are inviting the public to help clean up a section of the L.A river, and then join local artists in creating art objects (kites, flags, etc) inspired by their immediate neighborhoods and surrounding environment.

We have been having a wonderful time meeting our neighbors as they stroll along the bike path, and inviting them to take a minute or two to speak with us about ways to protect the river habitat. So many wonderful ideas have been shared, and we’ve been really inspired by everyone’s unique visions of what a happy, healthy community can look like. 

By granting the public the opportunity to create alongside talented local artists Robin Banks and Sarah Farmer, we think we’ve found a really fun way to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our local waterways. And more importantly, what we are doing each Saturday is having a real impact…

Together with our participants, we’ve collected over 25 pounds of trash from the L.A River so far, and created more than 15 stunning works of art to display! 

 

The remaining Kites for a Cause pop-ups are scheduled for Saturdays August 17th and 24th from 10am to 2pm, and in the spirit of our mission to provide creative educational opportunities to all, every workshop is free to the public and accessible to people all ages and abilities. 

We hope to see your faces in the coming weeks! 

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!

How Does Educating Girls Help Heal the Planet?

In order to answer the question posed in the title of this blog, we’re going to walk you through the Community Listening Project, which wrapped up last week at Lifeline Charter School in Compton, CA. 

We were both challenged and inspired throughout this semester-long program, and learned a lot along the way! As you may know, RuckusRoots usually runs larger-scale programs and events, so this project provided a rare chance to work closely with a small group of young teen girls through our partnership with Girls, Inc .

Our focus in this program was to teach the girls about the power of listening, research and data collection. We wanted to explore the idea that when opinions are backed up by fact, your voice can be even more powerful! Artistically, the girls learned photography and graphic design skills, and used them to create protest posters about their research topics.

Our work began at the beginning of the spring school semester, and we launched right in with a film screening of “Little Stones” by rising filmmaker Sophia Kruz, which follows the lives of four women using their creativity to improve the lives of their peers and empower them to fight gender oppression. We spent hours talking about how art can be harnessed as a tool for social change, discussed some examples of this, and asked each other what we most wanted to see changed in our local communities. As this program was all about listening, we quickly learned through classroom interviews and surveys with the local community that the topic of SELF-LOVE was something the girls wanted to address as a theme. The idea of self-love encompasses many of the smaller issues and concerns that the girls wanted to explore, like bullying, gender stereotypes, body image and beauty standards. 

How does this relate to sustainability? We asked ourselves this same question. The concept of “self-love” is a complex social issue that speaks to happiness and quality-of-life, both of which are important factors in creating sustainable communities. And when we delved deeper into many of the issues faced by girls and women around the world today, we found some illuminating research.  When girls are taught to value, support and encourage themselves and each other, they are more likely to grow up into empowered young women. And guess what? Women like this are one of the most constructive forces to levy social change, according to environmentalist and best-selling author Paul Hawken. Research shows that educated and engaged women have greater economic independence, happier, healthier, more productive families, and contribute to lower mortality rates worldwide. They can be more effective stewards of food, soil, trees, and water. In fact, Project Drawdown rates the education of women and girls as the 6th most effective action we can take as a society to reverse the current climate crisis! 

We truly enjoyed seeing the participants come up with creative and insightful ideas on their chosen topic of self-love. Drawing inspiration from our class discussions of street art, photography and protest art, the girls learned to illustrate their thoughts visually. Working first on paper to sketch and lay out their ideas, they then worked with several design apps to create their finished posters. They turned out beautifully! We even drew inspiration from these designs and turned them into T-shirts!

 Scroll down for a sampling of completed student posters, photos from the program, and an info graphic revealing the results and discoveries of the girls’ research. We took these results and posters to local school leaders to address the identified issues of bullying and suicide among teen girls in Compton, and successfully advocated for a no-tolerance bulling policy at the school.

We will be sharing stories from the program and posters at Story Bazaar, on Sunday June 24th – join us! 

To learn more about this program, visit our Community Listening Project page.