Tag: sustainability

Wild Art Summer Camps with RuckusRoots!


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!





Mid-Program Progress: Still Life Drawings by Highland Park Youth

a student creates her still life drawing
A student creates her still life drawing

As part of our newest Urban Wildlife program, students first learn color theory, composition and still life drawing skills before moving on to the bigger, collaborative project. This video shows their mid-program progress.

We have some very talented students in these classes of 8th and 9th graders, and are so excited for the opportunity to offer them arts education, which they would not otherwise receive. Take a look at their skilled work!

This week we move on to urban wildlife education with local experts, planning our big art piece and writing about nature in Los Angeles. Each student will receive a template of a threatened Los Angeles animal that he/or she will paint. All these small pieces will be put together into one permanent art piece over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

urban gardening, RuckusRoots, Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles, non profit, art, sustainable

Spring Ahead with RuckusRoots

urban gardening, RuckusRoots, Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles, non profit, art, sustainable
Top: endangered wildflower, the Chocolate Lily, spotted in Griffith Park. Bottom left: seedlings from our urban garden sprouting. Bottom right: Behr’s metalmark endangered Butterfly spotted in Griffith Park

There’s nothing like Daylight Savings Time to really make Spring come alive. And with the Spring weather and extra sunlight, we here at RuckusRoots are feeling very inspired to get going with some amazing programs this year.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

–Moved office spaces; our new home base is in Glassell Park, Los Angeles, still in beautiful, bustling Northeast LA.

–Planted an urban garden in Glassell Park, Los Angeles, at our new home base.

Urban garden, Glassell Park, Los Angeles, art, sustainability, RuckusRoots
We planted lettuce, kale, carrots, tomatoes, basil, chives and more!

–Founder Christine Spehar got certified as a Kids Yoga Instructor through Adventure Yoga for Kids Teacher Training in Boulder, Colorado. This experience furthered her understanding of working with children of all ages and backgrounds, and of the important tie between body awareness and creativity in the young.

Here’s what’s in the works:

–So many new collaborations are in the works with great organizations like The LA River Revitalization Corp, Makerspace LA and the Friends of Griffith Park. More to be announced soon!

–Artist Mentor Rebekah Waites is planning a new school TRASHformation program with us, details coming soon.

–A new Chimes for Change program is in the planning stages, to be announced soon.

If you’d like to be involved in any of our programs, please feel free to contact us and Join the Ruckus!


This week during TRASHformation: Fabric Mache

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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!

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In Full Swing: TRASHformation in Highland Park


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.

AASHE 2012: We Came, We Saw, We Leafed!

Our mini trashformation was a hit!

We had a blast at the AASHE 2012 Conference, which, lucky for us took place in Los Angeles this year. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s annual event represents the largest convergence of sustainability and education professionals in the country! We had a spot in the expo hall, right next to some other very cool green-minded companies and organizations, like the Sustainable Living Roadshow. Back when I founded RuckusRoots in 2008, SLR was one of the organizations that provided a lot of inspiration for me, and so it was very rewarding and downright awesome to get to meet its founders and see more of what they do up close and personal.


For our AASHE installation, we decided to bring a mini version of TRASHformation, so participants could get a true sense of what it is we do. Instead of giving out more water bottles and reusable bags (not that there’s anything wrong with that), we had passersby add to our existing tree sculpture (which began as an installation for The ReCycle, the world’s most sustainable bike). Participants personalized our aluminum can leaves by scoring their names or a drawing on to the back of a leaf; we then drilled the completed leaves onto the tree.


It was fun to watch each participant embrace the challenge of writing backwards (for the name to show up correctly on the aluminum “front” of the leaf, we had to write our names backwards on the other side). We called it a little “test for the right brain,” and indeed, it was! More than anything, it got people laughing and engaged, and provided a good parallel (albeit in a much pared-down format) of the benefits of our programs. In case participants wanted to know more about our programs, we had the following flyer at the ready. It’s a good breakdown of what RuckusRoots can provide on any campus, check it out:

Much of what I said to interested AASHE-goers during the conference is that I founded RuckusRoots because, after volunteering at many other eco-non profits, I realized that outreach to non-sustainably minded people needed help. Many environmental organizations focus on the negative side of sustainability, the doom and gloom of the situation we’re in, and all the stuff we CAN’T or SHOULD’NT do. All of that stuff is valid, but RuckusRoots is different because it focuses on the positive side of sustainablity – what we CAN do with all this leftover trash, what we CAN do to improve our lives and communities in sustainable ways. I think art is a great way to engage people (everyone is creative whether they know it or not), and in my humble opinion, our educational systems don’t emphasize the power of creative, collaborative thinking often enough, if at all.


Our thinking at RuckusRoots is that if you create a positive emotional connection to sustainability through fun, interactive arts-based programs, the necessary shift in thinking will follow much more easily.

Thanks to everyone who came and made leaves with us! I was truly touched and thrilled by many of the conversations I had with so many students, teachers, administrators and organizers. It reinforced my belief that there’s a large community of creative, enthusiastic and brave people out there willing to forge the path to a happier, more sustainable and more creative society, and I am proud and happy to be a part of it.

Thanks to everyone at AASHE for allowing us to bring a TRASHformation to the conference. It was a great experience, with many new relationships fostered! Check out our gallery pics below!


2012 London Olympics the most sustainable yet

The 2012 London Olympics skip the gold and go straight for the ‘green’

London boasts the most energy efficient Olympic arena to date


The summer Olympics are upon us and that means that millions of people will travel to London to attend the games. And while this ritual takes place every four years, there is something different about the games in London. For the first time, the Olympics are taking the ‘green’ initiative head on and aiming to make this years London games the most sustainable yet, according to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the organization responsible for constructing London’s Olympic venues.

In the past, the Olympics have taken a huge toll on the city in which they occur, and mostly at the expense of the environment. Often seeing a significant spike in energy usage and constructing huge sports arenas leaving a carbon footprint that takes years, decades even, to erase. The push for the first sustainable Olympics is no small feat, and London has set the bar high for the future of  Olympic games. To clearly explain just how impressive the sustainable initiatives put into place for London’s 2012 games are, I referenced Earth 911, and listed them below:

-The 80,000-capacity stadium was constructed with less new material than any other Olympic stadium by using unwanted pipelines, recycled granite and concrete, and other reclaimed materials. The venue is the lightest Olympic Stadium ever built – minimizing the use of steel and reducing carbon footprint. To make the stadium easier to reuse after the games have come and gone, designers also incorporated easily-deconstructable components. The permanent lower tier, with a capacity of 25,000, can be utilized for future events in London, while a temporary steel and concrete upper tier, which holds a further 55,000 spectators, can be dismantled after the games.

-Five soil washing machines from Belgium were installed for the construction of Olympic Park, which will contain the athletes’ Olympic Village and several of the sporting venues including the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre. By cleaning the soil on site, 95% of it has been reused, transport costs have been cut and less material has been dumped.

-The ODA reclaimed 99% of waste generated from the construction of the Olympic Park – beating its already lofty goal of 90%. To top it off, 98% of demolition waste was also diverted from landfills. The ODA further lightened the footprint of construction by opting for sustainable timber, recycled-content concrete and other eco-friendly and upcycled materials.

-The London 2012 Olympics aims to be the first zero-to-waste landfill games ever. The 2010 winter games in Vancouver also committed to zero-waste but fell slightly short of their goal – diverting 77% of waste from landfills. To help event-goers understand proper disposal, the ODA instituted a color-coding system for event waste – with colors and icons representing recyclables, food and compostable packaging, and non-recyclable waste.

The Velodrome in Olympic Park

-The Velodrome is not only the most iconic venues for 2012, but also one of the most sustainable. The bicycle-racing arena incorporates a 100% naturally-ventilated system that eliminates the need for air conditioning. The structure also lets in an abundance of natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. Overall, the Velodrome is more than 30% more energy-efficient than similar buildings constructed to current regulations, the ODA said. The arena also boasts rainwater harvesting systems on its roof, which reduces fresh water consumption by 70%.

-In addition to over 300,000 wetland plants, organizers have planted more than 4,000 trees and 130,000 plants and bulbs in East London 500-acre Olympic Park. The ODA’s Biodiversity Action Plan includes a commitment to create new habitats for otters, amphibians, invertebrates and other rare wildlife, and construct a total of 525 bird boxes and 150 bat boxes in venues, buildings and bridges.

-London will be the first true “public transport games,” meaning the ODA has committed to enabling all ticketed spectators to travel to venues by walking, biking or using public transportation. All ticket-holders will be given a Games Travelcard to use on London’s public transport on game-day. Discounted fares have also been negotiated with train and coach operators from all over the U.K.

-Adding to the sustainable spectacle at the London Olympics, a walkway leading to the Olympic Park will be lit round-the-clock by the footsteps of spectators. The 12 energy-harvesting floor tiles along a walkway are expected to receive more than 12 million impressions, generating 72 million joules of energy – enough to charge 10,000 mobile phones for an hour, the ODA said. Power will be used to illuminate the walkway for 8 hours at full power at night, along with 16 hours at half-power during the day. The walkway will also produce an energy surplus of about 35%, which is stored in on-board batteries within the units.

The walkway leading into Olympic Park that's lit using energy from spectators footsteps

The 2012 London games have implemented some of the most remarkable and cutting edge ‘green’ technology in an effort to strive to be the most sustainable Olympics ever.  And while the verdict is yet to be seen, organizers of London’s games have most certainly set a precedent for future eco-friendly games that is sure to effect the world of professional sports as a whole.


Photos courtesy of Olympic Delivery Authority and Earth 911