“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!
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 😉
This summer we had a blast leading some wildlife and art-based workshops with local kids. Based on our middle school-aged program Wild Art, these workshops were geared towards younger kids and held in Northeast LA at Heartbeat House Dance Studio. We taught our participants about local wildlife, like the mountain lion, trout, falcon and monarch butterfly. Then the children got to decorate paper animal templates with fun recycled art supplies and paint. As always, it was a great way to get creative and start the learning process about nature and sustainability for these youngsters!
Last week saw a lot of progress made in our TRASHformation program at Academia Avance middle school in Highland Park. Since the students had recently learned how to create a small 3D sculptural model, it was now time to think about how we will create the “skin” of our piece. Besides mentoring the students, Rebekah Waites and some very dedicated volunteers (thanks, Doug!) are simultaneously building the large structure. With the overabundance of fabric materials the community donated we thought it best to put those to good use. We introduced the students to a new art method known as “fabric mache”. “Fabric Mache” is in sense very similar to paper mache, it is the cross-stitching of strips of fabric that have been dipped in a solution of glue and water; once dry it becomes a stiff shell that can be painted and/or drilled.
In these upcoming weeks we will begin working towards designing and “stuffing” the interior of the sculpture, ensuring the strength and durability of the bear. We are still searching for a suitable home for this art piece at a Highland Park art gallery. Let us know if you have any leads!
With our TRASHformation program in full swing at Academia Avance middle school, we decided to push the flow of creativity and excitement by having each student prototype their original sculpture ideas. We did this so each student could gain a greater understanding of the process to creating their own large-scale art piece; from drafting art proposals to making miniature scale models, each student is contributing to and making progress towards our final large-scale sculpture. In our previous class we had each student build the body and form of each work, this week we moved on to painting the exterior with a base coat of white. Soon the students will have their own piece of art to take home, along with the large sculpture, which we will display in the community.
With the miniature projects nearly done, we had eager students help contribute to building the base and structure of the sculpture. We composed our base from recycled bed frames and had already formed its structure from recycled wood and chicken wire. While working with the dangerous tools was a task left to the artist mentors, many students helped out where they could, whether it was painting the base or helping form the body with chicken wire. It was a rewarding day! We closed shop with great hopes for the next week.