Los Angeles

La Tierra de la Culebra Park: Can Artists Heal Nature?

In Partnership with SOC(i)AL: Art + People
A series of discussions around LA about Socially Engaged Art, September to November 2012. Instigated by Anne Bray of Freewaves.org

By Sue Bell Yank

For the next in this series of interviews of organizers and participants in the SOCiAL: Art + People initiative, I had the privilege of corresponding with many practitioners engaged deeply in the relationship of art, nature, and social justice. The format of the event in La Tierra de la Culebra Park on Thursday October 24th, entitled Can Artists Heal Nature in LA? includes 10 people each speaking briefly for 5 minutes, accompanied by a potluck and generous open discussion. In keeping with this format, I asked the participants to respond to questions in a single sentence (and if possible, a 140 character tweet-size answer). Some participants adhered to this more than others, but all collated succinct and thoughtful responses that give some insight into their work and concerns. Janet Owen Driggs was an instigator and facilitator of this event's organization, and begins by explaining its underlying impetus and process of organization.

Janet Owen Driggs: The subject is such an enormous one, and one that I am wrestling with a lot at the moment. Not literally, I mean I am under no illusions that 'art' can 'heal' 'nature'. But because I believe the question, because it is crass, enables us to access some very important, elusive, other questions. It begins to pry open:

1) Access the ways in which we conceptualize, and (attempt to) experience, the environment as a thing apart from ourselves.
2) Consider ways of constituting "non-humans" as subjects.
3) Think about our practices as beginning to not only imagine and represent difference or change, but to perform it.

It might be useful to know the process by which this was organized. Anne Bray contacted me in June (or thereabouts) to see if I was interested in organizing something about the art/nature intersection for her conversation series, SOCiAL: Art + People. We talked it through a bit and, aware of my own limitations, I reached out to a small group of people whose participation I felt was crucial to avoid a stale, repetitive conversation on the topic.

As a group we identified a number of geographically, culturally, racially, and economically diverse initiatives that are operating at that art/nature intersection. Hoping to bring people together from a variety of these initiatives, we wanted a lot of voices in the conversation. We consequently decided on the 10-person/5-minute structure and started compiling a long list of potential presenters.

Sue Bell Yank: Why do you think you were asked to be part of this event?

Mark Lakeman: My theoretical focus, talents and creative work are a perfect match for this subject.

Janet Owen Driggs: Probably because I'm quite good at organizing things and I have some knowledge of the art/nature intersection? (Though I would refer you to Anne!)

Erik Knutzen: To provide a contrarian response. To ask how nature can heal art.

Jane Tsong: Temporary public artworks I've created look at how humans exist in urban space, and how natural phenomena manifest in these spaces. So the relationship between urban culture and ecological processes is really at the core of my work.

Jenny Price: Well, Ranger Jenny has been exploring the best and worst of LA with the LA Urban Rangers, & I myself lead tours of the LA River, where the revitalization is often seen as an art project.

Ron Finley: Cuz I'm the S***!! . . .Just Kidding. . Because I'm a Artist + Gardener

Tricia Ward: Working the urban trenches for social equity and justice...
founded La Culebra 20 years ago giving vision and voice to the power of collective intent and sharing.

Andy Lipkis: I've been a TreePerson for at least 42 years. The core of my work is to use my art to inspire, inform and support people everywhere in engaging in healing the ecosystem. I think of trees as acupuncture needles to be used especially for healing people, communities and cities.

Sarah Dougherty: Because Olivia (Chumacero, one of the organizers) loves how I love the land and its inhabitants.

Hadley Arnold: As a teacher devoted to design of the built environment in water-stressed lands, I might be considered likely to subscribe to the belief that 'art heals nature.' (But I don't.)

Allison Danielle Behrstock: Anne [Bray] and Jan [Owen Driggs] are familiar with my practice. Three years ago Anne introduced me to Tricia [Ward], and she heard me speak recently at the MAK Artists + Institutions event. Jan has hugely supported my writing on Transformational Gardens and participation in Occupy.

Sue Bell Yank: What do you think is the main problematic being addressed by this forum?

Mark Lakeman: At first, we may focus on larger-scale patterns of development, historical processes such as westward expansion and "manifest destiny", how western cities were aggressively imposed. Paradoxically, it may end up being a critique of ourselves and the emphasis of our own creative subcultures.

Erik Knutzen: I'm problematized by the word problematic.

Jane Tsong: A trend in Landscape Architecture is to evaluate designed landscapes for their performance in the larger environment, according to criteria that are measurable. A challenge is to balance the "ecosystem services" provided by a designed landscape against its use of other resources.
What happens when we hold up classic works of environmental art to this standard? Over the last weeks, I've been moderating an email conversation among a small group of scientists and environmentalists on this topic, and I will present highlights from this conversation as my contribution to the evening.

Jenny Price: Well, I personally love the question, What special powers does art bring to the table, to envision and enact sustainable cities?

Ron Finley: ME!!. . . I think Unity & Building community.

Tricia Ward: LA is detached from the vast environment that encompasses it¹s whole...precluding a sense of shared public accountability, identity, or a sense of belonging to a holistic humanity.

Andy Lipkis: The natural resources consumed by people in cities and the pollution and waste they generate are destroying the life support systems on which we depend for air, water, food and health. 50% of the people in the world now live in cities and they are mostly unaware of their destructive impact and their power and options to turn things around.

Sarah Dougherty: Can the Art World interface with eco-heroism?

Hadley Arnold: At a moment in history when candidates for the highest office choose not to discuss atmospheric chemistry, the world may be listening for alternative forms of public leadership.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: How are artists, all of us, able to serve the web of life through creative participation in regenerating and transforming social and environmental processes, as a means to challenge and shift tired, brutal hierarchies.

Photo: Courtesy Jane Tsong.

Sue Bell Yank: What does "nature" mean to you?

Mark Lakeman: Nature can be defined variously depending on context, but for our purposes it could be taken to mean living ecologies in which intelligence is localized and feedback loops are able to be closed.

Erik Knutzen: Nothing, since it's impossible to stand above and comment on something that you can't step out of.

Jenny Price: Nature, as Raymond Williams has said, is the most complex word in the English language--so that's a big question!--but I think the most dead-on definition should make the word obsolete. One day.

Ron Finley: Order. Things in their natural form. Inline with the planet.

Tricia Ward: Nature is the composition of our collective holistic world...
embodying the physical environment, i.e land, climate, plants, as well as the principles that guide humanity...we are a unit = nature.

Andy Lipkis: Nature is the living ecosystem...the fully interactive community and game of life and all its living characters and the systems, chemicals, minerals and gasses on which they depend, that work together energizing, recycling, renewing, informing, supporting, balancing and sustaining all life on the earth.

Sarah Dougherty: La Pachamama is everything; it's such a gift to exist in this physical world.

Hadley Arnold: It means all of creation, humans included, in all of space for all of time.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: An ecosystemic whole that supports and nourishes all of life, which allows for growth and renewal, and honors death within the cycles of creation.

Sue Bell Yank: How does this notion of "nature" relate to the context of the city of Los Angeles?

Mark Lakeman: Per the National Land Ordinance of 1785, LA is laid out as a colonial grid designed to organize aggressively colonized territory. The ordinance was developed to organize the expansion of the nation and ensure resource extraction processes would occur.

Janet Owen Driggs: If you mean the notion of nature as an entity separate from human culture, then LA is a triumphant construction of our paradigm's simultaneous defiance and exploitation of "nature". At once hubristic and idealistic, a perverse concretization of the notion that human life is perfectible on earth, LA is like a fried egg on a greasy plate. Ready to either dry up or slide off.

Erik Knutzen: When Los Angeles thinks that it's outside of nature.

Jane Tsong: Designers and artists should be leading the way to brand a truly sustainable urban lifestyle. We can be branding the low impact way of life as the default option, and the most aesthetically pleasing one.
Culture is like food. Do we always choose the shiniest reddest and biggest apple? Or do we like the complex taste of local organic produce? We need look to other models of beauty besides the slick and quick ones. Beauty that is complex, resilient and a little unknowable-- like a healthy ecosystem.

Jenny Price: LA is the American city that has made nature most invisible--so it's a fantastic place to make it visible, and then to ask how to inhabit nature well.

Ron Finley: It doesn't! Maybe if you tilt your head to the left and close your right eye 24%, I guess it could, in a Hollywood kinda way. I don't see concrete and asphalt as "nature."

Tricia Ward: LA was founded on a modality of everyone¹s private yard. No civic gathering in an urban natural context; absent from DNA. Wild, you can live outdoors most of the year, yet there is a preponderance of detachment from nature¹s embrace.

Andy Lipkis: In building modern Los Angeles, the city and its infrastructure systems were placed on top of the Nature systems--watersheds, air sheds, nutrient and energy systems that were already here sustaining life, including human life, for centuries. In so doing, Nature's renewing cycles were broken, hemorrhaging the water, energy, and nutrients. We in LA pay the price in compromise and diminishing safety, economy, health...and the health of other cities and natural areas around us. This can easily be reversed.

Sarah Dougherty: Although I first fell in love with nature age 12 in the fruit trees of Las Yungas, Bolivia, I fell even more for her when I arrived to the metropolis of Los Angeles 3 years ago. Plants are so alive in LA.

Hadley Arnold: In Los Angeles, as anywhere: nature is as alive and well in the jail cell as it is in the garden: both whole and damaged.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: Our ecosystem has been mauled by human's willful indiscretions and pompous impositions. Looking at access to healthy food in the inner city, the drop-out rate in our public school system, or our contribution to bolstering the prison-industrial complex, we may observe that the inherent fluidity and receptivity of life to life has been harmed, discredited and tarnished. Luckily, a lot of people are working to change such and hold themselves accountable to our shared destiny.

Sue Bell Yank: What do you think is meant by "healing" nature, particularly in an art context?

Mark Lakeman: I feel that such a term is broadly understood to refer to ideas such as habitat restoration, brownfield restoration, projects undertaken in the aftermath of events such as forest fires. In our case it will likely include our un-ecological urban landscapes and how they were never generated as a place-based expression to begin with, as well as our own damaged social fabric.

Janet Owen Driggs: The title question is intentionally provocative - particularly in its (arrogant) assumption that human culture has any capacity to heal nature - I would hope it prompts questions about the "natural" and constructed relationship/s between humans and nature.

Erik Knutzen: Art has become the search for novelty. Thus "healing nature" could just be another bandwagon to jump on only to be abandoned later on.

Jenny Price: I think to heal nature is to heal the places we live--and to do that, we have to reimagine nature. And that's a job for art.

Ron Finley: Nature is ART! So if you apply the principles of both, you would have the systems fix themselves. Like letting your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. A lot of times the problem is the solution.

Tricia Ward: It is a reciprocal collaboration; one informs the other as an intersection of life¹s order. Art & culture are teaching & healing tools to seek a healthy fusion & balance with shared awareness.

Andy Lipkis: One definition of "healing" is to restore or complete the circle. That's exactly what will heal LA: restoring Nature's functioning systems and cycles. ART overcomes the oppression of logic and crosses socio-economic boundaries to inspire all of us to imagine, see, hunger to learn and then participate creatively in the healing process. Art enables people to see, imagine and re-engage with Nature.

Sarah Dougherty: As messengers, artists are adept at learning, carrying and communicating across borders.

Hadley Arnold: Practicing compassion--whether through contemplation, witness, companionship, labor, prophesy--rebuilds right relationship with creator, creation, neighbor, and time.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: In moving beyond representation as a symbolic conductor of vision, art may act as an ally in "healing" or generate change that strengthens people, place, and memory, and affirms vision in deed. This is a holism that does not separate art from any other affirmation of life.

Sue Bell Yank: What relationships to nature and its repair do you nurture in your practice?

Mark Lakeman: In our work, "repair" begins with human choices. Do we continue to damage the world by going along with normative patterns, or do we decide to embark on different, more satisfying behaviors? This is always a fascinating dialogue since it reveals that western cities have not been generated by participatory culture, but rather by ordinance and land
development imperatives.

Janet Owen Driggs: None. All. We live in it, we are it. I organize conversations like this.

Erik Knutzen: I'm problematized by the problematic word "practice."

Jenny Price: I like to focus on inhabiting nature well--so I try to reintroduce Angelenos to the nature that's long been invisible, and to nature as essential public space that's long been inaccessible to the public.

Ron Finley: When I plant a garden I think about how the garden will affect the community.

Tricia Ward: Human relationships are the greatest tool to nurture the full spectrum of the natural world!

Andy Lipkis: I practice Qigong meditation, which seeks to cycle and cultivate universal energy and use it for healing. I sit in Council with my community. I imagine and restore bits of the watershed around my home and neighborhood by harvesting rainwater, mulching, composting. I make it possible for TreePeople educators to share info and invite others to play. My art seeks to provide a means for people to see nature and the city different, to see their role, impact and potential, as the co-manager of the ecosystem, and then participate in changing something that they may have believed was un-changeable.

Sarah Dougherty: I listen to the places I'm drawn to work in, meditate and mediate their lessons through paint, and disseminate them through education.

Photo: Courtesy Sarah Dougherty.

Hadley Arnold: I try (poorly) to practice stillness, observe Sabbath, write the occasional poem, walk the hills with a friend of 25 years, show up in difficult places, celebrate communion with any species I can, speak honestly without losing my temper, and be fully present to the light of my students' minds.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: I approach my work with a propensity to repair and mend what is broken (Tikkun olam). The cauterization of the wound, if you will, is beyond my reach, yet the minimal ways I address these realities provides me some balm amidst the tumble. Sharing the vision in collaboration, or imaginative kinship, is very gratifying.

Sue Bell Yank: What are your thoughts on the brevity of this event's format?

Mark Lakeman: I'm concerned about the format. I find that even when someone makes a good point, the next series of brief talks tends to obscure the previous. While it may force some amount of concision and hilarity, I am not sure that much ends up being communicated. It leaves little time for reflection and absorption.

Erik Knutzen: I'm not a fan of brevity. A hundred years ago speeches used to go on for hours. Now we're down to five minute feel good Ted Talks.

Jane Tsong: The evening will be about exchange. The brief presentations are meant only to open up discussion, so we'll have plenty of time for dialogue.

Jenny Price: Let's have fun!

Ron Finley: I think that it's a great Idea.

Tricia Ward: I recognize it as an excellent tool to edify the essential points of your intent and delivery. Great discipline for verbose artists!!!!!

Andy Lipkis: It creates a frame that enables and leaves room for others to think for themselves and participate.

Hadley Arnold: Brevity is a gift. And difficult.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: It's a challenge for me. I would prefer a long conversation at a dinner table, or a picnic. This gathering strives for inclusivity and the location and potluck are important to the topic itself.

Sue Bell Yank: What would you like people to walk away with?

Mark Lakeman: An expanded sense of context, a deepened view their own relationship to place, and high motivation.

Janet Owen Driggs: A sense of the paradigmatic water we swim in, which determines that we perceive ourselves as separate from "nature". Knowledge that, though the challenge of developing alternatives is enormous, there are tangible things that can be done, and intangible thoughts to explore, now, today, that will contribute to change. That changing the appearance of things is not enough. As artists we need to address relationships.

Erik Knutzen: Free food. Or your mattress is freeeeee.

Jane Tsong: Many brilliant creative people are paid to do nothing but mystify our actual relationship to the natural world (i.e. drinking of Coca Cola = saving polar bears). Artists are sometimes just as guilty of this-- even when we're not being paid by corporations (!)--it's just the basic fabric of our consumer culture.
Often, even when an artwork (or building or designed landscape) aspires to have an environmental ethic, there are hidden impacts that we might easily 'forget' to see. The scientists I interviewed about land art were good at reminding me of these hidden impacts!

Our landscapes continue to be altered so drastically that most of us only have vague cultural mirages of a 'Nature' we think is out there. Many of our local 'wilderness' areas have the appearance of being 'natural' but their ecological functioning has been degraded. Meanwhile, contemporary culture encourages us to surround ourselves with cheap products made elsewhere, and we end up exporting environmental degradation to places with little enforcement of regulation, while our carbon footprint increases in size.
Artists can provide alternative visions to cycles of meaningless consumption and exported environmental degradation--but to do this meaningfully we need to look face to face at the actual environmental impacts of our own practices.

Jenny Price: A song in their hearts--and optimism about LA, and about the key role that artists can play to legitimize that optimism.

Ron Finley: Tool To Change The World!

Tricia Ward: A sense of collective accountability & personal recognition of their power as an individual within a measure of collaborative action. It is up to us ALL!

Andy Lipkis: Hunger to find and be in Nature, in or adjacent to the city, learn and listen and then creatively share broadly their visions, projects, invitations for connecting and healing.

Sarah Dougherty: Inspiration to share conversations and actions with others in their socio-environmental habitats.

Hadley Arnold: Silence.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: I want people to feel empowered to think creatively about their ability to effect change. It would be wonderful if the terms "art", "nature" and "healing" became linked and generative: a roving triptych.

Sue Bell Yank: So, can artists heal nature?

Mark Lakeman: The role of artists in this case, as ever, is to integrate, fuse, and then communicate. The rest of humanity rightly depends upon artists to be seers, translators with the ability to symbolize our condition and motivate us to see and feel. Artists are not supposed to heal nature alone, but their "job" is to inspire us all to see, feel, care, shift, and do it together.

Erik Knutzen: No.

Jenny Price: I don't see why not--in collaboration with engineers, activists, policy makers, scientists, scholars, communities...

Ron Finley: Hell Yeah! They Do EveryDAY!!

Tricia Ward: As I said before it is a reciprocal collaboration where one heals the other! You cannot Stop your vision and/or imagination...it is a necessary revolution!!

Andy Lipkis: You're darn toot'n!...They can, they do, they must!

Sarah Dougherty: Artists can perform, parade and promote both new and ancient worldviews and ways of living in balance...so YES!

Hadley Arnold: Sometimes: when art --light, matter, word composed by humans--stops us, disturbs us, reorders things, and reminds us of who we were meant to be.

Allison Danielle Behrstock: Artists may help to heal nature through supporting nature's inherent collaborative intelligence, which has been marginalized through colonialism and capitalism. Nature includes the incredible cultural and biological diversity on the planet, seen beyond the narrow confines of commodified resource or a disposable labor force.

Sue Bell Yank: Anything else you want to say?

Mark Lakeman: I'm glad that you are hosting this dialogue and will give it my full energy.

Erik Knutzen: Despite my crankiness about the title of the panel, I'm looking forward to the discussion. I have a great deal of respect for my fellow panelists. They've all accomplished a lot.

Ron Finley: You Still Want Me To Come??

Tricia Ward: The social, economic and political condition of our collective environment all but insists that we address the disproportionate inequities in the twenty (20) definitions of Nature, the thirty-six (36) definitions of Natural and the sixteen (16) definitions of Art!

Andy Lipkis: Nah. I'll save it for the event.

Sarah Dougherty: I AM SO EXCITED!

Hadley Arnold: This was a valuable exercise for me. Thank you for bringing us together.



Mark LakemanMark Lakeman is a national leader in the development of sustainable public places. In the last decade he has directed or facilitated designs for more than three hundred new community-generated public places in Portland, Oregon alone. Through his leadership in Communitecture, Inc., and it's 501©3 affiliate The City Repair Project, he has also been instrumental in the development of dozens of participatory design projects and organizations across the United States and Canada. Mark works with governmental leaders, community organizations, and educational institutions in many diverse communities.


Janet Owen Driggs.Janet Owen Driggs is a writer, artist and curator who, along with Matthew Owen Driggs, frequently participates in the collective identity "Owen Driggs". Her interests focus on those physical sites where one meets the other, and their relationship to life experience and social organization. Janet has exhibited her work internationally, including in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia and Brazil. She has curated exhibitions and screening programs in the United Kingdom, United States, People's Republic of China and Mexico. Janet is co-author of Preserving a home for Veterans (w. T. Lyons, L. Bon, R. Fox), Les Figues Press, 2012, and Something More Than Just Survival (w. J. Rochielle) Proboscis 2012. Her writings have been published recently by: Artillery, Art Review, ArtUS, and Emergency Index, as well as in How Many Billboards? Art In Stead (Verlag F'Ur Moderne Kunst); Hammer Projects 1999-2009 (Hammer Museum); and Heike Baranowski - Kolibri (Revolver).


Erik Knutzen.Erik Knutzen, along with his wife Kelly Coyne, grows food, keeps chickens, brews, bikes, bakes, and plots revolution from a 1/12-acre slice of Silver Lake. Erik is the keeper of the popular DIY blog, Root Simple, and the co-author of The Urban Homestead, which the New York Times calls "...the contemporary bible on the subject." He is also the co-author of Making It, a project book for the DIY lifestyle, released by Rodale in 2011. In addition to writing and blogging, Erik teaches and speaks on the topics of self-reliance, urban gardening and sustainability.


Jane Tsong.Jane Tsong's public artworks bridge landscape, art, and everyday experience. Recent commissions include no beginning no end /circle the earth/blessed water/blood of life..., blessings for air, water, and biosolids treated by the Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Plant in Seattle (collaboration with poet Judith Roche), and Age of Amphibians at Reseda Pool, which transports swimmers to an ancient swamp landscape when they bask among shadows cast by Carboniferous plant forms looming above. Her proposals for radical gardens, each growing out of extensive research into local cultural history, have been finalists for public art commissions in Los Angeles, Astoria, Oregon and the City of Ventura. myriadsmallthings.org


Jenny Price.Jenny Price is a writer and historian, Los Angeles Urban Ranger, and Research Scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Author of "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A." and Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America, she's written also for Believer, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, and writes the Green Me Up, JJ not-quite advice column on LA Observed. She leads frequent tours of the concrete L.A. River, and as a founder of the L.A. Urban Rangers art collective, she has co-created such projects as Trail System: Downtown L.A. and Public Access 101: Malibu Public Beaches. She is currently working on a new book, Stop Saving the Planet!--& Other Tips for 21st-Century Environmentalists.


Ron Finley.Ron Finley: FASHION INNOVATOR. MANIC COLLECTOR. RENEGADE GARDENER. VISIONARY. COMMUNITY ACTIVIST. Raised in South Central Los Angeles, Ron showed an early passion and talent for fashion, and started his innovative clothing company, The DROPDEAD Collexion, in his family garage. The DROPDEAD Collexion featured Ron's unique design vision expressed through top quality workmanship and materials. When Ron found that it was impossible to buy healthy produce in his neighborhood he started growing his own! This turned into a passion for the art of gardening and the study of permaculture. As one of the founders of LAGREENGROUNDS.ORG, Ron Finley leads the fight to transform neighborhoods currently identified as "Food Deserts" into "Food Forests." LAGREENGROUNDS installs gardens in homes throughout South Central Los Angeles free of charge. Bringing healthy fruits and vegetables to families that want to partake in growing their own healthy food is a passion of Ron's. Now with members of The Urban Arg. group of the LA Food Policy, and City Hall Finley is working to change the face of Parkway Gardening in Los Angeles County.


Tricia Ward.Tricia Ward has created various forms of collective public art as a catalytic force for over 30 years in places as diverse as New York City, Houston, Detroit and Los Angeles . Through integration of life's disciplines.....the organic, responsive and traditional art forms manifest in a site specific process. In 1992 she founded La Tierra de la Culebra, a one acre community youth artpark, encompassing a 500 ft long serpentine sculptural centerpiece that includes: an amphitheatre, Ziggarat and pond, fruit trees and terraced gardens. In LA's overcrowded inner city, the Culebra provides daily activity as well as a place for visits and repose among intergenerational community members. ACLA...art...community...land...activism; formerly ARTScorpsLA created additional community specific sites; Spiraling Orchard in Temple Beaudry Studio Chinatown and Francis Avenue Gardens in Koreatown. Seasonal and thematic celebrations have been an interdisciplinary offering at the sites since they were developed. Additionally, she has taught and guest lectured at graduate programs in Public Art Studies and Urban Cultural Planning at USC, San Francisco Art Institute, UCI, Harvard and UCLA.


Andy Lipkis.Andy Lipkis founded TreePeople at age 18 in 1973, and serves as its President today. TreePeople's work in LA provides a model for environmental, economic, and social sustainability in cities everywhere. Andy has been named an Ashoka Fellow in recognition of his social entrepreneurism in helping to solve some of the world's most urgent problems. He is the recipient of numerous local, national and international awards, and has appeared in television and films, most recently Leonardo di Caprio's "11th Hour" and "Dirt! The Movie." Currently, Andy is working with TreePeople and numerous partners on a ten year plan to scale urban watershed management solutions. The goal is to accelerate Los Angeles' transformation to a climate resilient, safe, healthy, and sustainable city.


Sarah Dougherty.Sarah Dougherty earned her BA in Latin American Studies from the UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 and received her MFA in painting from UCLA in 2012. As a site-specific teacher, painter and activist she documents and disseminates the beauty between creativity, decolonization and learning. In 2010 she founded and currently co-teaches in the Art & Nature Artist Collective based out of LA. She lives and works in San Jose, CA creating "Classes without Walls" and teaching Spanish through Art to Middle School students at Escuela Popular. Sarah is currently showing work at Aran Cravey Gallery in a solo exhibit called A Home is Medicine.


Allison Danielle Behrstock.Allison Danielle Behrstock is an artist, organizer and educator. Her creative practice addresses social, environmental and cultural sustainability. Allison has collaborated on durational projects in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Amsterdam, and been exhibiting her work in LA since 2006. A graduate of the USC Public Art Studies Program, her Masters focused on Transformational Gardens and a vision of equity. She is currently a teaching artist at the Armory and active with Amnesty International, Project Food LA and Netiya.


Hadley Arnold.Hadley Arnold serves as co-director of the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University. ALI's mission is to inspire design excellence in the face of water scarcity and climate change. With her husband Peter Arnold, she has led drylands design studios, seminars, research, and field study for 12 years. She studied architecture at SCI-Arc and art history at Harvard. She has lived in Los Angeles for most of the last 25 years, and with her daughter Josie runs a small animal shelter from home.

Other Organizers of the Event:

Olivia Chumacero is a member of the Raramuri tribe from the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico. Currently she is a consultant for the California State Historic Park in downtown Los Angeles and teaches a philosophy of life derived from her indigenous cultural background titled EverythingIsMedicine. Ms. Chumacero is a grant recipient of the Metabolic Studio's philanthropic activity and artist, Lauren Bon. EverythingIsMedicine
is encapsulated in traditional knowledge imparted to her by Elders and family relatives, which focuses on the medicinal, edible, and cultural uses of native plants and all life supporting systems in our mother planet.

Anne Hars: http://www.annehars.com/home.html



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Top Image: 'Food is Art, Art is Food' Village market, outside of Chaing Mai, Thailand, 2008. | Photo: Courtesy Andy Lipkis.

About the Author

Sue Bell Yank is the Assistant Director of Academic Programs at the Hammer Museum. She graduated from the Masters of Public Art Studies program at USC, and completed her thesis on the role of contemporary art in rebuilding efforts...
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