Staff

Bonnie Ora Sherk, A.L.L. Founder & Director, Chief Designer, Lead Teacher

Bonnie Ora SherkThe 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 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 35 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 Meyer

Susan has worked with A Living Library for over 12 years and is also a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine with 35 years of experience in private practice where she focused on Oncology, Women’s Health Care, Homeopathy and General 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.

 

Erika Garcia, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Teacher

Erika GarciaErika joined A Living Library in August 2017 and is based at OMI/Excelsior Branch. Erika is fascinated with the intricacies and beauty of the natural world and hopes to translate her passions about nature to inspire youth to continuously fuel their curiosities of their environment.Much of Erika’s upbringing consisted of vacillating between a border town in San Diego and Mexico, where her parents taught her the value of education, opportunity, and hard work. Erika graduated from San Diego State University with a BS in Zoology and fortuitously received several research grants geared towards helping low-income, first generation, and underrepresented students prepare for graduate level research. Her passion of science and nature has lead her to focus on arachnid (spiders and kin) research.After graduating from San Diego State University and graduate school applications were submitted, Erika left on a one way ticket to Mexico with a backpack and a surfboard. During this journey, Erika stumbled upon a down to earth family, with an extensive garden in a sleepy beach town in Baja California. Erika learned the health values of a high plant based diet, how to look for pitaya and jicama in the barren deserts of Baja, the invaluable resource of gardening, and the importance of carrying this knowledge to the local denizens.While touring the Northern states of Mexico, Erika received word of her acceptance into graduate school. After months of traveling, Erika finally returned to San Diego, where briefly worked for a sailboat rigging company prior to attending a graduate school program with San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Sciences to conduct arachnid research.
Upon graduating from SFSU with an MS in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, Erika has been an educator in: biological diversity, conservation biology, genetics, and urban gardening. Erika values the give-and-take pedagogical style of teaching in several different settings and looks to maintain those rewards as an educator to better future generations.

Jennifer Brandel, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/    Nutrition/Health Teacher

Jennifer Brandel: A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/Nutrition/Health Teacher Jennifer is an Artist, LEED Architect and Educator in the Bay Area. Currently working on a Masters in Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts where her practice revolves around relationships of greening and creating natural spaces. Recently relocated from Minnesota, she also has a background in farming, gardening, transformation of space, and instruction in the ceramic arts. She engages students in using observational skills along with instruction and encouragement for hands-on making, and transformation in the Living Library &Think Park Gardens. She is teaching the AL.L. Green Futures Program for middle and high school youth at the OMI/Excelsior Branch Living Library

 

 

China Bushell, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Instructor & Gardener

I grew up in a world of food and plants. My mother and Dad are both prominent chefs, restaurant owners and gardeners. They have owned and operated several restaurants in different cities across the United States. At an early age, because of the mixed ethnicities of my parents (my Mom is half Chinese and half Trinidadian; my Dad’s mother is from Spain and his father is from Puerto Rico); vegetables, fruits and plants were always fascinating. Our home was always filled with dozens of house plants. For instance, Mexican Mint, now know as Spanish Thyme, is an oregano-like herb that my Mother’s family used as a main ingredient in creating blood pudding, while my Dad’s family used it to create Sofrito. Early on, you couldn’t find it anywhere in this country, so my parents would sneak it into our suitcases when we visited Trinidad or Puerto Rico. And, each parent called it something different. There were many such vegetable/ fruit stories in my family. As a result, the Sustainability of Food – how it’s created, grown, utilized and recycled, has always peaked my interest.

Prior to gardening, I operated and owned a quaint Restaurant serving the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The ongoing construction of the Second Avenue Subway, forced me to close it after thirteen years of service.

After my restaurant closed, I moved to Harlem where I started gardening. During the first three years, I grew everything in containers on a balcony. And it all grew! Three years into gardening, I started volunteering at the garden in the public school near me. It was there that my love for gardening with children began, and developed. Five years later, I continue to teach children how to garden. Because a garden represents so much of what life is, and being able to share these experiences with children, this creates wonderful access and developmental skills for the children, and a thrilling experience for me.

I look forward to sharing my knowledge and love of gardening with the community on Roosevelt Island. So please, come by, visit, volunteer, or access A Living Library behind 504 Main Street in Roosevelt Island, New York ~ And, Enjoy !

One last thing! There is only one thing better than having my hands in soil – it is having many little hands in soil!

 

Metzali Andrade, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/    Nutrition Teacher

 Metzali Andrade; A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/Nutrition TeacherI am a descendant of the Nahua Pueblos in El Salvador and Purépecha peoples of Michoacán. I am also an excited gardener, herbalist, and teacher with A Living Library at the Junipero Serra Elementary School and Annex for pre-k, kindergarten, and 1-5 grade students. Outside of work, I am a musician, a traditional Aztec-Mexica dancer, artist, and organizer with People Organizing to Demand Economic and Environmental Rights (PODER) Urban Campesinx, a youth action cooperative organizing towards community, food, and seed sovereignty in the South East neighborhoods of San Francisco. During my free time, I enjoy participating in and facilitating community gardening days at PODER’s El Jardin Secreto in the Mission District and In Chan Ka’ajal Community garden, and exploring the geological phenomenon in the Bay Area. I am also a full-time student at San Francisco State University majoring in American Indian Studies and Latinx Studies, while minoring in Political Science and Earth Sciences.

Manisha Dhar, A.L.L. Marketing & Communications Manager

photo-2A software engineer by profession, Manisha moved to San Francisco around 3 years ago. Prior to joining A.L.L., Manisha worked on her own startup in the eCommerce space back in India.
She loves to travel, experience new places and meet new people. She is drawn towards nature and it’s beauty and she strongly believes that we all are the sole caretakers of our environment, and that we cannot continue taking from it without giving back.

 

Pushpanjali Roy, A.L.L. Media Associate

Pushpanjali Roy, A.L.L. Volunteer, Web Content WriterAs a former banker-turned-content writer, Pushpanjali loves to read, write, and doodle. Making canine friends and watering potted plants are her favorite pastime. Before moving to the U.S. in early 2016, she lived in India, her native country; staying across different states and appreciating the cultural diversity. Coming from an academic background in Zoology and Agribusiness, she tries to connect the dots that make her feel closer to the nature.

 

 

 

Fang-Ju Chou, A.L.L. Website Design and Social Media Volunteer

Fang-Ju came to the unnamedU.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).

 

Caiseen Kelley, A.L.L. Website Design and Social Media Volunteer

Caiseen-Kelley-250x167Caiseen Kelley is a sophomore at Miramonte High School. She enjoys swimming, playing the piano, and traveling with her family. Through her travels as well as her work locally teaching children to read and write she has come to appreciate all the diversity and culture the world has to offer. Although she loves spending time outdoors, her favorite place to be is by the computer learning to code and working with people on website & social media development.

 

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A Living Library, Life Frame, Think Park, & A.L.L. are registered trademarks

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