This past spring, as part of an article for Popular Mechanics, OWS got the opportunity to do a little community outreach: building and installing redwood planter boxes at the lovely Augustus F. Hawkins High School in South LA.
Nick, Matty, and I trekked down the 110 with a truckload of redwood and tools, and soon we had a whole crew of eager high schoolers under our command. Needless to say, we were stern taskmasters, and we whipped that project out with ruthless efficiently and in record time. Hold on, that never happens! Instead, we had a lot of fun and went just a teensy bit over schedule, but what’s an hour or two among friends?
Soon, the high school was the proud owner of six lovely redwood planters filled with rich loam and two cubic yards of leftover dirt. Augustus F. Hawkins, which is a far cooler high school than any of us at the shop attended, has big plans for the planters this year. Here are the main projects, courtesy of Assistant Principal Ashley Englander:
— Shovel Buddies- A group of four students who helped install the beds are in the process of founding a gardening club called Shovel Buddies. Their mission is to help their peers and themselves transform their relationship to food, their environment and to enjoy the mediative and healing aspects of growing food.
— Our Community Health Advocates School students will incorporate the gardens into their Re-build Health LA Project. This urban planning project integrates geography, biology and English in order to give students an urban planning experience. They will learn about how public health interacts with design and the significance of green space in urban environments. As part of this project they will grow food and native plants and include this knowledge in their culminating activity of redesigning an intersection in their neighborhood.
— Our Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship students will garden as a part of their urban ecology unit. This unit asks them to understand resources in urban environments and innovate solutions to common social issues such as food deserts, environmental racism, pollution, and poor health and nutrition. Their garden will inform their understanding of how to use urban assets to solve urban problems. They will also be responsible for designing entrepreneurial uses for the food and plants they grow.
— Our Critical Design and Gaming Students will combine Biology with Design in designing sustainable school gardens. The raised beds will make their ecology studies real, and they will be challenged to design the use of space in a way that is sustainable, viable and aesthetically engaging.