“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 😉
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!
It’s a perfect way to spend Earth Day, if you ask me. We are starting our second week at Academia Avance today, where we are running a community art program focused on sustainability and endangered urban wildlife. Today, I asked the students to think about what sustainability means to them, and then we learned color theory with artist mentor Nino Alicea. The students created their own color wheels, making them in any shape they could imagine. The program will continue for the next seven weeks. We’re very excited for what’s in store, stay tuned!
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.
–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!