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.

 

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.

 

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

 

 

Premilla Dixit Nag, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Teacher

unnamed-2I 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.

 

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.

 

Cecilia Frisardi, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/  Nutrition Instructor

FullSizeRender 3Cecilia 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.

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.

Farzana Patel, A.L.L. Media Associate

Farzana Patel, A.L.L. Volunteer, Web designer

Farzana joined A Living Library as a  web designer/ developer in July 2017. With a Master’s degree in Economics, she worked as an office administrator in her previous assignments in India. She enjoys traveling, hiking, adventure rides, and visiting new places. She also loves to explore her creative side through web designing and arts & crafts projects. She moved to the U.S. in 2016 and appreciates the freedom and opportunity the country offers to her.

 

 

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.

 

© 2017 Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Library

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

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