Wildfires & Mental Health.
The wildfires are out of control, and it’s not just the forests they’re decimating. These disastrous burns are sparking a reaction of mental health crises in surrounding rural communities, and their local governments and services simply cannot keep up. Using immersive storytelling technologies, this project seeks to explore how climate change is already having a profound impact on human wellness.
Gabrielle’s project is based on a need to advocate against consumerist capitalist culture in a very DIY sort of way. She will create a sort of wearable fashion piece from recycled materials and take it into the public sphere to perform with it. She will document the interactions that take place from the interpretive dance and performance. Her goal is to create a loud statement to lead people to re-evaluate some of their choices particularly when purchasing single use products that contribute to climate change through landfills emitting fossil fuels and ocean pollution. The setting will be a beach for a more visually stark contrast between consumption and nature as an interpretation of the mother earth metaphor. Another iteration of this will take place in the ‘real’ world. Shoppers will be invited to contribute their store receipts to the wearable body art piece to prompt the thought of ‘how do our daily actions affect the earth?’ She will play the earth covered in receipts.
Project Drawdown for
Project Drawdown for Dummies (PD4D) is a seven-part video series that breaks down each chapter from Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. PD4D's short, digestible videos provide a visually engaging overview of the top 100 carbon-sequestering solutions for people who might not have the time to read the whole book. PD4D draws relatable connections and picks out the most salient points in energy, food, women and girls, buildings and cities, land use, transport, and materials. Between animations and fun stories, viewers might feel so entertained that they forget they're learning—like sneaking veggies into mac 'n cheese. PD4D hopes to combat the paralyzing feeling of climate doom and instead inspire the confidence to shape our future through climate solutions.
Prodigal Daughter is a short film about climate change, centering around drought and lack of water access. The film starts as the last drop of waterfalls in a small Central Californian town. A mother and daughter, Marta and Lena, lose all access to their water supply and must choose whether to migrate. Kelsey’s film tackles the tough decisions we may have to make, and a future that might not be so far off.
Seongjune (Andy) Cho
The UnwasteSeries is a collective of inventive artworks that shows the impact of waste accumulation. There is almost no one that is unaware of the detrimental scar waste leaves on the Earth. However, there has not been a significant effort in ending this crisis; we turn a blind eye. Understandably so as it is hard to suddenly stop the production of plastic-centric goods, potentially resulting in a global, economic turmoil. Despite the harmful footprint, Andy isn’t saying that we should completely rid the world of plastic. It improved billions of lives, not only for carrying water but in hospitals, lowering prices, and more. Furthermore, we must understand the complex nature of the waste that is produced as a consequence. Through mixed-media sculptures and other artistic means, Andy invents visually impactful artworks that allow the awareness of waste to linger in the subconscious of the audience.
Sacred Sites and Stories
This project calls for the advancement of indigenous leadership for climate resilience through storytelling and design, bringing traditional knowledge systems to the forefront. Indigenous cultures are highly dependent on their geographies; with their identities and cultures deeply anchored in place. Using landscape architecture skills to illustrate narratives, myths, and rituals, the intangible heritage inherent to the place is brought to light. This project aims to make the importance of indigenous sacred sites visible. In the process, they plan to form connections with tribal leaders, community members, and researchers to further embed traditional knowledge and form a network of collaboration and support.
Sage believes that making environmentalist art is the greatest way to inspire activism. Inspired by the works of Keats, Frost, and Thoreau, he's found a love for environmentalist literature. To share that inspiration, he will host workshops, speakers, and an environmental poetry writing contest, all focused on exploring and reflecting on the environment through poetry. It is his hope that students, young people, and anyone who wants to learn about the genre will cultivate a deeper appreciation for the natural world through writing their own work.
Regen is a garden-themed mindfulness and community-building platform. It supports decolonizing work, which includes 1) recentering Indigenous voices, 2) reconnecting with ancestral Indigenous practices, and 3) prioritizing self-care and nourishment for all beings. The gardener begins in their tree of life. They can traverse the branches or the roots, which lead to gardens and the trees of fellow gardeners respectively. Gardens are safe spaces to compost what is not nourishing and cultivate more of what is. The gardener can also visit their taproot, a space for nourishing ancestral connections. When the gardener leaves their tree, they enter the community garden. This is a map where they can fly around as a pollinator, visiting the trees of fellow gardeners who are proximal in geographical space. The map shows the land as it was before colonization, populated by information crowdsourced by Indigenous gardeners.
Humanizing Water is a production that will combine visual and performing arts to bring an interactive experience with different concepts of water on a local, national, and global level. Oftentimes, conservation and management policies do not reflect this diversity. Therefore, the main objective of this physical installation is to generate a space where people can take a moment to engage with images and expressions of water that perhaps were never considered; they are invited to reflect upon their own relationship with local water. The intended location of the production is the Fisher Museum courtyard: Around the courtyard, there will be visuals (photos of water-related narratives (personal, communal, global) that lead up to encompassing live performances, such as skits or dance. The overall larger vision is to exhibit how water is interpreted, respected, on different scales, around the world (Local, National, Global, by bringing the spirit back to our relationship with water, one of the earth’s most beautiful resources.
Eytan’s project is a collaborative multimedia effort to illustrate the relationships between power, space, ecology, and community on and near the USC campus. The culmination of the effort will be a living sculpture: a 14’X14’ replica of the fence surrounding USC containing a garden within. The fence creates a new spatial typology that is neither within the USC campus nor within the surrounding neighborhoods. In this new space, a garden of seeds sourced from local community gardeners will be sown. Eytan hopes that the stories associated with these seeds will spur healing dialogue between local community members and USC students. By playfully reframing the gated campus of USC, sowing a living garden as a means of storytelling, and providing educational material to contextualize the project, Eytan hopes to cultivate awareness, empathy, and action within the USC community to address the often violent relationship USC has with its neighbors.
By comparing the waste of food on college campuses with the food scarcity on Indian reservations, Eid aims to encourage sustainability at USC while spreading awareness about the struggles that Natives face. She plans to use recycled materials like wrappers and bottles, as well as more conventional materials, to create portraits of those affected by food scarcity.
Despite all the displacement they’ve caused and pollution--of both air and noise--and congestion they’ve exacerbated, the sweeping monoliths we know as the Los Angeles freeways seem to just keep getting wider. Stella’s project will explore the destructive nature of local freeways through a multimedia zine that highlights the communities directly impacted by them and the organizers pushing against this construction of spatial injustice. Guided by a through-line that emphasizes the importance of mutual liberation, the zine will string together archive materials, data visualizations, community narratives, and oral histories and aim to creatively communicate not only how freeways have cemented oppression into the built environment, but also how we can organize and leverage collective power to undo some of that structural harm.
It can be easy to forget Los Angeles is named for a river, and that despite its concrete channel, the L.A. River is still an important natural waterway, an integral emblem that shapes the city. To make its heritage and presence more visible, Chen will build a multimedia website incorporated with immersive and spatial elements, which explains, critiques, and celebrates the L.A. River. She plans to conduct a mile-by-mile survey of the river, through satellite, on foot, and via drive, pinning stories of people and communities along the way that echo with climate change, sustainability, and the identity of Los Angeles. She also hopes to design a series of map-themed postcards to feature hidden gems, architectural icons, community symbols, and activities to do, etc. along the waterway, encouraging more people to explore and engage with the river.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, increasing temperatures, and rising sea levels have devastated Puerto Rico and disproportionately impacted low-income and coastal communities. Laura’s project focuses on families and individuals who have struggled to get back on their feet as a result of the climate crisis. As someone who has practiced painting most of her life, she found that art was the most effective way to help advocate for climate justice by telling the stories of disadvantaged communities through imagery. This project consists of three abstract paintings made from natural materials and recycled products to depict the narrative of environmental racism in Puerto Rico. By creating paint made from discarded makeup and using wooden panels from fallen trees, not only does Laura create a sustainable work of art, but a series of paintings that encompass all things environmental.
Super Stewards of Los Angeles
The aim of Hannah’s project is to uplift and highlight the people who care for our natural areas and the communities that surround them, who address park equity and climate justice in the city of Los Angeles. This city is brimming with natural resources to discover. However, many of the city’s residents suffer from “plant blindness” and are disconnected from the land in the city and the work that goes into caring for and maintaining it. Taking a personal narrative approach, she will conduct a series of interviews to celebrate and record the labor needed to care for our most valuable resources. Her hope is that by shedding light on these stories, she can foster a greater level of investment in and respect for our public spaces. This project is an extension of Test Plot, an existing experiment in community-based land care run by USC Professor Jen Toy and Terremoto.
The Resilience Project
The Resilience Project unites USC composers, musicians, dancers, and storytellers to demystify and engage audiences not only with the scope of sustainability challenges but also tangible solutions. In pondering critical facets of sustainability, the project breaks down the overwhelming climate crisis in a digestible and engaging way through spoken word poetry that informs choreographic interpretations, accompanied by a world premiere from composer Quenton Blache, performed by Cam Audras and Elise Haukenes. Audiences will be encouraged to craft their own climate action pledges to take tangible steps towards climate resilience, with the potential to engage students across USC and beyond.
The project focuses on field research along with several hands-on experiments towards the production of sustainable textiles. The research involves the symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment. Thinking of the environment as a catalyst for successful change and the re-innovation of design. This experimentation will explore the human connection to sustainable design and the internal/external transformation of the individual when wearing clothing made solely from the earth. Research in cultures that historically became a part of nature by designing with the earth creates an opportunity to compare the industrialized western way of life to these cultures and to further explore a more ecologically responsive lifestyle. A critical outcome of this research is a current and ongoing project - developing a bio textiles made from food waste for utilization in clothing.
The USC Solar Car Team is currently building a solar race-car to compete in the Formula Sun Grand Prix this summer. Sue’s short film will document the last stages of the building and testing of this vehicle to showcase the talents of these USC students and their engineering skills, as well as their unbridled passion for sustainability. The Futures in Transportation (FIT) program, which encourages under-represented high school students to pursue transportation STEM-related fields, will include the film in its Clean Fuels segment. The film features directed interviews with team members as well as technology explanations geared towards inspiring high school students.
Jordy’s two-part podcast will explore the relationship between climate change, air pollution and homelessness in Los Angeles. Unhoused residents face the direct impacts of climate change—extreme heat, extreme weather events, and inhospitable air quality from wildfires—in addition to the direct impacts of urban air pollution. The podcast will explore this intersection by interweaving the perspectives of individuals with lived experiences of homelessness who are adapting to and enduring environmental degradation, the efforts of organizations that support unhoused residents, and the views of climate and air pollution experts.
The act of divesting from fossil fuel is bold. For decades, activists have called on schools, unions, and local governments to actively remove their investments in dirty energy and reinvest in clean energy. This used to be a political act. But now it also makes financial sense. William’s short documentary tells the story of DivestSC, a group of students and faculty at USC who've spent the past year and a half encouraging USC to divest from fossil fuels. This documentary opens a window into the hurdles DivestSC and its members had to overcome to achieve their goals.
Eco Alarm is a student-run podcast whose mission is to share the stories of environmental change-makers and their success in the USC and greater Los Angeles community. Eco Alarm was created to combat a sense of hopelessness with regards to climate crisis by connecting those who want to make a difference to the companies and organizations that are already taking action. Launching in fall 2021, Eco Alarm will provide its audience with weekly podcast episodes on a diverse range of environmental topics.
Line 3 Short Film
Three pipelines, three different communities, one fight. Jelina’s short documentary film will follow community members of the indigenous community in Minnesota as they battle the Line 3 pipeline, the Black community in South Memphis, Tennessee as they battle the Byhalia pipeline, and the white Appalachian community in the mountains of West Virginia as they battle the Mountain Valley Pipeline. All three of these contrasting communities are on a deadline as their respective oil companies plan to complete construction within the next year. The film follows their activism while also showing how these communities have all built solidarity and are united by their hope for a clean future.
Crisis and Campaign
Jaime’s current documentary follows two individuals: one in Paramount, CA and the other in Commerce, CA. The story focuses on their involvement with environmental injustices in their respective communities and how their awareness factored into their motivations to run for local office. The documentary captures these individuals executing their local political campaigns, interacting with community members, friends and family, and sharing their personal stories.
At the onset of the pandemic, Catelin had to return to Houston, TX to continue her studies virtually. While there she stumbled upon a documentary subject whom she felt embodied a sincere investment in the nutritional and environmental health of one of the most systematically forsaken communities in the Southwest. Ivy is an overworked and overwhelmed infection control preventionist who quits her job to promote health and wellness in one of Houston’s most food insecure areas, starting with what she has on hand - her family’s uncultivated farmland. An escalating food swamp, one unprecedented winter, and a grant from Beyoncé later, “Ivy” unearths the storied history of her family and the land as her first spring harvest depends on it.
Natasha’s short film “Our Garden” explores the trauma and hardships that cause eco-paralysis in young activists through the eyes of a couple, Melody and Teo. Their personalities and socio-economic differences lead them to deal with the same crisis in different ways, introducing conflict into their relationship. The film seeks to show the paramount importance of compassion and unity in the service of saving the places and people that we love.
Gwenan’s The Voyager is an animated short film set one hundred years into the future, revolving around climate change and its increasingly troubling effects on marine ecosystems, from melting glaciers and rising sea levels to ocean acidification and the effects of rising greenhouse gases. All of this is experienced through Arwilda, a 10-year-old girl living on one of the fringe settlements within a flooded zone, as she navigates daily life caring for her ill mother on the island while trying to learn more about the ocean and where its many mystical creatures went. Through Arwilda, the film will be a message of hope that one person’s dreams and passions can create a domino effect of change.
Arabella & Cassandra's Project
Arabella and Cassandra’s project is a historical and contemporary study of environmental racism and the climate crisis in Boyle Heights, focusing on how environmental change in Los Angeles affects the daily lives of Boyle Heights residents. Partnering with Las Fotos Project and the Boyle Heights Museum, the pair will combine archival research and youth photography submissions to explore the historical roots of the neighborhood’s environmental activism alongside its current day manifestations.