Bonnie Ora Sherk, A.L.L. Founder & Director, Chief Designer, Head Teacher
The Founder & Director of Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Library is Bonnie Ora Sherk who developed this systemic approach to environmental transformation and education. A.L.L., for short, integrates interdisciplinary, standards-based, hands-on learning, community ecological planning and design, and state-of-the-art communications technologies like Green-Powered Digital Gateways.
Sherk, who is trained as a landscape architect, planner, and educator, is also a professional artist who exhibits her work in museums and galleries all over the world. Her work has also been internationally published in art books, journals, and magazines. She has been creating and implementing systemic design processes and Life Frame, Living Library, Think Park plans for sites around the country for over 25 years. Everything that she has done in her life has lead her to create A Living Library. Her dream is to have Branch Living Libraries all over the world, linked through live interactive broadcast, showcased in Green-Powered Digital Gateways.
An early and successful Life Frame was also one of the first Alternative Art Spaces in the country funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. It was one of five “Alternative Arts Education Programs” in California funded by the California Arts Council, and also one of the first “brownfield” projects of the Trust for Public Land called Crossroads Community (the farm). Located in San Francisco next to a major interchange, The Farm inspired the transformation of seven acres of derelict land into a new City Farm Park. Sherk was the Founding Director and President beginning in 1974 to the end of 1980. Click here to read Bonnie Ora Sherk’s resume.
Susan Meyer, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Instructor
Susan is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine with 25 years of experience in private practice where she focused on Oncology, Women’s Health Care, Homeopathy and Genral Practice, Mental and Emotional Illness, Chinese Internal Medicine and Pain Management. Susan designed, coordinated and taught community education classes on Women’s Health Care. She was also responsible for initiating and organizing the Institution of Naturopathic Services for Outside Inn, a low income medical aid station.
Susan is drawn to teaching and creating gardens within the context of the school system. She is interested in how experiential learning offered through gardens can enrich and supplement the academic program within schools. Susan has extensive experience designing various edible, organic landscapes, with integrated pest management, crop rotation, compost area, cover crop, and irrigation. She was co-owner of Urban Organics, a business in Los Angeles that designed and installed urban organic edible landscapes. As part of this work, she also created curriculum and taught a training program on all aspects of organic gardening.
She received her BS in Acupuncture from Samra Acupuncture College, and holds a California Acupuncture License. She also studied Chemistry, Plant and Soil Science/Agriculture at University of Portland and University of Vermont.
Kristen DeRose, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Instructor
Kristin DeRose is a garden educator with the Bernal Heights Branch of A.L.L. She teaches garden classes at Junipero Serra Elementary School, as well as at the OMI Excelsior after school program. Kristin says that she greatly values the opportunity to work with such amazing students who are genuinely excited by their experiences in the garden.
Prior to working with A Living Library, Kristin worked as a farm manager growing vegetables at Frog Hollow Farm. She loved farming, but missed working in education, a yearned to be back with enthusiastic youth. Kristin moved to California from Vancouver, B.C., where she studied at the University of British Columbia; graduating with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Spanish. In Vancouver, Kristin worked at a non-profit called Earthbytes- an organization on the same mission as A.L.L. Her time with Earthbytes strengthened Kristin’s passion for garden education, as she experienced the value of hands-on learning.
Kristin has been working in the world of gardening and farming for the last 10 years. She worked for many years as a residential landscaper, she is a Certified Arborist, and has four seasons of farming under her belt. She currently works part time for an edible landscaping company. Kristin grew up in Bellingham, WA. Regardless of her lack of experience, her first job after graduating high school was at an organic salad green farm near her hometown. The job clicked, and she quickly realized she was born to work outside, on the land, with soil between her fingers.
Alex Grubb, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Arts/Health/
Alex Grubb joined A Living Library in January of 2016. She’s currently the after-school educator at the Chinatown Branch of A.L.L where she works with T-K, Kindergarten, and First Graders at Commodore Stockton Child Development Center and Gordon Lau Elementary School. Alex graduated from Smith College with a degree in Latin American Studies and a concentration in Sustainable Food and Environmental Science.
Prior to joining A.L.L, Alex worked as a native plant gardener in Northwest Washington, taught high school students Spanish in Santa Cruz, worked as an environmental educator teaching snow science to students in grades 6-12 in the Cascade Mountains, and spent a summer working as a project supervisor in the Dominican Republic. Alex was born in Vancouver, Canada but grew up in a small town (4 square miles) known as Point Roberts, Washington. Cut off from the rest of Washington State by the 49th parallel, the international boundary between Canada and the United States makes it difficult to access fresh, organic produce in Point Roberts. Alex’s older brother, Andrew and several community members decided to address the issue of food sovereignty in Point Roberts and started an organic garden cooperative on a small plot of land. This movement was eye-opening for Alex and led her to a growing passion for gardening and community collaboration. Alex believes that the key to a sustainable future where food and the environment is respected and nurtured depends on children. When children experience a seed that becomes a plant, and that plant becomes something they can see, and taste, and touch, and smell, a sense of awareness is born. Helping to create a sense of place, culture and understanding is what Alex strives for as a teacher. One of the best things about her job is how much she is constantly learning from her students. Alex’s other interests include riding her bike around San Francisco, crafting, playing music and exploring the California Coast.
Colene Turner, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Health/
Colene Mary-Francis Turner grew up in a bicultural family (Mexican/German) in the San Francisco Bay Area, where her ancestors have farmed and ranched for several generations. Since childhood, her strong interests included gardening, native plants, and natural history. In college at SFSU, Colene earned a B.A. in philosophy with a focus on philosophy of science. Elective courses including oceanography,
marine biology, ecology, astronomy, sailing, dance, and sculpture. While working in the publishing industry after college, Colene earned an M.A. in creative nonfiction, with an emphasis on science journalism. She did research, writing, proofreading, fact-checking, and developmental editing, as well as production work — mainly in scientific and technical fields, especially energy, but also including social science and history books for young adults.
Colene discovered Waldorf education in 2001 and finished teacher training in 2010, birthing two babies in that time and establishing a forest kindergarden called Monkey Flower. She worked as a Waldorf grades teacher from 2010 – 2014, including 3rd grade (farming) and 5th grade (plant biology). In 2014-15, Colene took a sabbatical year to focus more deeply on outdoor and environmental education, exploring games/movement modalities, biodynamics, and permaculture methods. She started teaching environmental education with A Living Libraray in fall of 2015.
Colene has served as a mentor in the LifeWays Early Childhood program at Rudolf Steiner College, and has presented workshops in Anthroposophical Speech and Storytelling at the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education conference in Fair Oaks, 2010, and at the 2013 AWSNA Southern Regional Conference in North Carolina. She and her husband live in San Francisco where they grow food, uphold a tradition of activist education, and are raising four children ages 7, 10, 13, and 15.
Premilla Dixit Nag, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Teacher
I was born and educated in India for my first 20 years on earth. My real education started when I left school, college and country. At 21, in Afghanistan, my freshly minted Calcutta University BA degree,with an English Major/Political Science Minor, found me employed teaching English to agriculture and engineering students at Kabul University and scholarship scholars at the British Council, my students, about my age and older. I joined the international drama society of Kabul, and continued my love of theater. My new horizons stretched limitless as my journey continued westward. I learned – always food first – in the living library of human culture and civilization as I journeyed through them in wonder.
My love affair with earth started in the nurturing gardens, landscapes and sky-spread of my birthplace, as had my love of nurturing food as medicine. Both my parents were botanists; my dad a leading geneticist in agriculture. In my travels earth-love deepened, widened and took over. I matured, a conscious earthling in bone, blood, marrow, soul and politics, my parents’ daughter. My thinking became exponentially critical, my reading wide and obsessive, pondering questions I had hardly pondered before. When America smacked me with its over the top consumer culture and tipped my world upside down, I reached for graduate school in mass communications at Temple University to study propaganda, joined an organic food coop, fetched my water at natural springs, started community living, emerged as an active citizen and discovered thrift shops for recycled seconds. In my subsequent back and forth between India and the USA, I have remained close to the grass roots, sold on the idea of social justice and sustainable living.
In the USA, I taught English to migrant farm labor and registered them to vote. I helped new immigrants and war refugees find jobs and learn English. I worked with the elderly to retrain and find them work after retirement. I organized conferences for progressive politics, produced music, poetry, and current affairs radio shows, did press work and organized mass mobilizations for social justice causes. In India I worked with cohorts in the Delhi school district to set up a pilot literacy program for urban poor. The pilot was later adopted throughout school districts in India. I edited social movement journals, researched and wrote scripts for documentaries and joined several street theater companies, as writer, actor, director, producer working for womens’ rights in India . Over the years I “came out” as a performance poet. In the past five years, with my sister I set up a women led NGO in Udaipur to drive a city/district-wide mobilization for a (model) 21st Century Sustainable Heritage City/District. Towards that goal we have organized seminars for the Udaipur School District on Green Schools, held Udaipur’s first Green Festival, pushed for a zero-waste paradigm, built international cultural exchanges between Udaipur and sister cities we developed with New Paltz/USA and Kyoto/Japan, and are presently pushing for an all organic farming Udaipur district. In the USA for the past five years I live and work within an organic farming community doing community supported agriculture. And, for the past two years, I have been the A.L.L. Garden / Ecology / Multi-Arts / Literacy /Nutrition Teacher for A Living Library in New York City on Roosevelt Island.
Cecilia Frisardi, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Instructor
Cecilia is a garden and arts teacher at the OMI/Excelsior Branch Living Library & Think Park. She dreams of a world where salamanders are considered as valuable of a natural resource as gasoline and cheese isn’t fattening. She takes joy in seeing plants and children blossom together in the garden. Hailing from Massachusetts, she is grateful for the mild climate in San Francisco that allows for outdoor education every day of the year.
She earned a degree in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked as an educator for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, a teacher at a creative arts program, and on a number of environmental outreach projects from coast to coast. She currently volunteers at the California Academy of Sciences and spends her free time exploring the coasts, mountains, and forests of California and experimenting new ways to tap into her creativity.
Kent Anderson, A.L.L. Assistant Program Director and Assistant Lead Teacher
Kent Anderson serves as the Assistant Program Director and Assistant Lead Teacher for A Living Library, joining the organization in the spring of 2016. A native Californian, Kent was raised in the Sacramento Valley, spending the majority of his childhood knee-deep in local waterways, dip net in one hand and guide-book in the other, or exploring the alpine meadows and granite peaks of the high Sierra. Passionate about flora and fauna from an early age, he spent the majority of his formative years in the outdoors, discovering the wonders of the natural world in a first-hand, place-based and ecologically focused manner, studying animal behaviors, eating wild-grown foods and interacting with the natural world as a component of it, rather than a temporary visitor. Raised on a tradition of farm-gardens, Kent has many fond memories of watering, harvesting and caring for his families strawberry patches, kitchen veggie garden and herb gardens, including frequent meals made up of freshly collected harvest.
After graduating from Christian Brothers High School, a college prep private school in Sacramento, with the Brother Ambrose Award for Outstanding Loyalty and Service, the only non-academic award conferred during graduation, Kent joined the California Department of Fish and Game to pursue his dream of becoming a Fish and Game Warden, working on the front lines of conservation, while also attending college full time. With a Natural Resource degree from Chico State and a plethora of professional experience from a variety of positions within the Dept. of Fish and Game, from wildlife management and enforcement to hatchery maintenance and interpretive services, Kent determined to change his focus; he realized that the greatest opportunity to change the world for the better was through education, not enforcement. This turning point truly came when career Fish and Game employees said to him, “You don’t have the right attitude to be a Game Warden; you aren’t mean enough.”
With this shift in focus, Kent moved entirely into the education realm, working for a variety of non-profit organizations, government agencies and entities and other groups, focusing on environmental education, animal conservation and natural resource management, and LGBT rights and education. Kent has over 11 years of work with the Boy Scouts of America, at 3 different summer camps throughout northern California, to thank for his passion for backpacking, camping and other outdoor exploration passions. He has worked for an assortment of other non-profits, from the STAR Ecostation Children’s Museum and Exotic Animal Rescue to the Maidu Interpretive Center and Native American Museum and Historic Site with the City of Roseville’s Parks and Recreation Department. He has served as the Vice Principal of Sierra Nevada Journeys Outdoor School and as the Education Director for Turtle Bay Exploration Park in far northern California. He has also worked in after-school education, as a site director with the Boys and Girls Clubs, a pre-K Science Teacher, a curricula developer and in teacher professional development.
In addition to his work assisting with A Living Library, Kent currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of a major LGBT non-profit in San Francisco and in an advisory role with a local Bay Area animal rescue, handling rescued native wildlife and educating the public. In his free time, Kent and his partner care for their two dogs and other critters and spend as much time as possible outdoors, exploring nature, traveling around northern California and being active. A life-long-learner, Kent is passionate about education and takes continuing education courses, volunteers with education and animal welfare programs and spends what time he has left visiting museums and parks, reading and learning all he can.
Caiseen Kelley, A.L.L. Website Design and Social Media Volunteer
Manisha Dhar, A.L.L. Website Design and Social Media Volunteer
A software engineer by profession, Manisha moved to San Francisco around 3 years ago. She loves to travel, experience new places and meet new people. She is drawn towards nature and it’s beauty. She strongly believes that we all are the sole caretakers of our environment, and that we cannot continue taking from it without giving back.
She is also a social media enthusiast and enjoys writing about food and travel.
Fang-Ju Chou, A.L.L. Website Design and Social Media Volunteer
Fang-Ju came to the U.S. two years ago from Taiwan. She is a UX specialist and a product manager. Drawn to the mindset of A.L.L., she thinks that we, as human beings on this planet, should be humble as part of nature and appreciate the distinctiveness of every life and object in A.L.L..
Fang-Ju loves to learn and is always open to new ideas. She loves hiking in the mountains and playing racket sports (and basically any kind of sports that she hasn’t tried before).