FALL 2022 COHORT
This past year, Abbey developed a deep interest in the complexities of terminal illness and end-of-life experiences. A lack of accessibility to end-of-life healthcare options guided her creative and journalistic investigations. This set the precedent for the project she is now embarking on– a series of photographic audio slideshows exploring the relationship elderly individuals share with climate-related challenges in their personal lives and communities. This project intends to synthesize research, interviews, photo essays, and audio voiceover into intimate portraits of individuals reflecting on the impacts of climate change across their lifetimes. These stories will explore themes of community, aging, climate injustice, and resilience. Abbey hopes to generate meaningful conversations about the value of multigenerational engagement when building out ideas for a healthier and more sustainable future. As she has discovered throughout the past year, unique and rich reflections can be shared by people with an increasingly intimate understanding of mortality.
Our Unnatural Nature
My project includes installations of multimedia works around an overarching theme that prompts the audience to reflect on their own relationship with nature. How can we live more sustainably with the wildlife around us? How does wildlife displacement caused by pollution, whether that is noise, light, or habitat, create a domino effect rippling down the trophic levels? The project ultimately fundraises for the protection of ecological diversity in Los Angeles, partnering with various organizations to use art, a universal language, as a way to increase sustainable practices. In a walkthrough, the audience sees a transition from disharmonious interactions between humans and nature to successful co-existence. In the end, the audience is given the option to scan a barcode leading to fundraiser details and incentives, similar to the format of a Kickstarter campaign, as well as more ways to become involved through other organizations with the same values. Moving forward, my goal is to narrow the project’s scope to address a more specific issue, such as the impacts of medical waste on the environment.
Resilient SC Documentary
With climate change increasing both the frequency and severity of natural disasters, federal aid will not be enough to support the recovery of communities across the country. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Risk Index, Los Angeles County is the most vulnerable to its natural hazards out of every county in the United States. My film examines the increased impacts of natural disasters, the benefits of community-based resilience, and shares how the audience can become more resilient wherever they are. The world of disaster management is incredibly complex but it can be made more accessible through community initiatives and with the power of storytelling. Compassion is crucial to fighting the climate crisis. By telling informative, humanizing stories, we can create a network of support fueled by connection and resilience.
The Prescribed Burn of a Savanna Oak
Camille Remi Kirby
The Prescribed Burn of a Savanna Oak is a 20 minute eco-anxiety film that centers around when anxiety engulfs a woman as she cares for two children and a home in the path of a wildfire.
Below the Bunker
Below the Bunker is a photo series documenting the four public golf courses built on retired landfills in Los Angeles county. Golf continues to garner criticism for the resources it consumes, particularly in California where the demand for affordable housing continues to increase and record droughts deplete our water supply. Building a golf course on a retired landfill is a land use conscious strategy to provide golf for the public by repurposing land that is expensive to redevelop for housing or remote from urban centers. These locations can yield sustainability benefits, such as at Industry Hills Golf Course, which uses methane to heat and cool its facilities and effluent to irrigate the courses. However, building on retired landfills is not a perfect solution, and the photographs in Below the Bunker do not represent it as such. These courses can still occupy land in densely populated areas or drive up local housing costs, indicators of socially harmful urban planning. So, is golf just an inefficient use of land and resources that benefits a population of non-diverse, wealthy individuals with ample free time to hit a ball across a lush, sprawling lawn? Does a golf course built upon a retired landfill provide a counter to some of these issues? And lastly, how, or can a socially minded Los Angeles County golfer continue to enjoy the sport while acknowledging the social and environmental impacts?
I wrote my thesis on upcycling: it appears to be a solution in the fashion industry as something that truly can create sustainable garments, but in analyzing its feasibility in the business world, I found that it’s not scalable nor profitable as a means of creating on a larger, mass-produced scale.
As a designer and entrepreneur, this is a problem that I find great interest in. After attempting to start my own brand using upcycling as a means of creation (and realizing that the work put into it would never amount to a living wage because there’s not enough demand for these higher priced clothes) the creative side of me has realized that instead of trying to work around upcycling’s limitations, I should embrace them. So for my project, I’m creating a collection that highlights the craft required to make upcycled clothes, in hopes of inspiring an appreciation for these pieces, inspiring others to learn to mend and upcycle what they already have, and to convince people to support designers who make them. While large corporations may not find ways to make upcycling profitable for them, if more and more designers with large platforms begin to incorporate it into their practice even in small ways, we can begin to tackle the amount of waste that the fashion industry creates.
The collection is inspired by equestrian/horse motifs, which attempts to create a nostalgic element that would encourage the practice of holding on to clothes and passing them down. Horse themes are inherently sentimental to many, thus and would incite an emotional connection to the clothes. Equestrian inspiration is also often used associated with luxury, and in attempting to elevate the practice of upcycling in the eyes of the consumer, such a theme does well. The pieces are uniquely tied to this motif with the intent of being distinctive but not kitschy. The materials used are all second hand, deadstock, or vintage, and include: scrap leather swatches that are excess from the footwear industry, vintage trims and laces, as well as a linen tablecloth handed down to me from my grandmother.
While the majority cannot support an industry where upcycled clothes are created for the masses, the wealthy can. Therefore, we just must convince them that these pieces are desirable. This is the intention of Elevate.
Katya Urban and Aaron Abunu
Emotion House is an installation project, meant to serve as a cathartic space for people to express their feelings in a communal environment, encouraging self expression, vulnerability and emotional well being through sustainable environmental practices. It will be built in the back of the new USC Peace Garden, which is a cooperative gardening space that shares the project's values. The space itself will consist of one main room and 3 smaller rooms, all designated to a specific emotional release - Rage, Joy and Love. The space will be stationed to have ongoing, self led activities. There will be workshops held in the space, to learn how to actively incorporate sustainable practices into our daily lives. Emotion House will serve as a “home” where people can come and practice both emotional and environmental sustainability in a communal, safe way.
Kiko, Sarah, and Lucca's Project
Kiko Torres-Velasco, Sarah Hsiao, and Lucca Cidale
This project is a call to our personal reconnection with nature, in the form of an outdoor classical music concert featuring original compositions from USC music students and a guided meditation. Throughout the event, the audience will find various ensembles scattered throughout a large natural landscape, and will be able to walk through live performances of existing and original classical compositions, guiding their own experience. A group meditation will be held as a space for personal reflection and acceptance of our present role as humans on this earth.
Five Days on the LA River
Leslie Dinkin, Nina Weithorn, and Hannah Michael Flynn
In June 2022, Geosyntec, OLIN, and Gehry Partners, LLP published the Los Angeles River Master Plan, a 500+ page document that outlines a framework for potential development within the Los Angeles riverbed. The Master Plan envisions a different future for the river: one that still manages flood risk while also providing essential recreational resources for surrounding communities. On a single page dedicated to cultural assets along the river, the Master Plan states, “In order to realize a 51-mile arts and culture corridor for the LA River and to understand where gaps in these assets are, a methodology should be developed for the inclusive mapping of arts and culture adjacent to the river” (LARMP, 65). In response to this call to action, Leslie Dinkin, Hannah Flynn, and Nina Weithorn, partnered with Camille Shooshani, filmmaker and USC alum, plan to walk the entire Los Angeles River. The 51-mile five-day excursion will document and index the Los Angeles River’s current conditions with a particular focus on arts, culture, human access and experience of an ecological industrial landscape through mapping, photography, film, and narrative ethnography.
Once the core backbone of an extensive riparian ecosystem, the Los Angeles River is at an important crossroads with multiple entities and stakeholders considering its future and rethinking its current outdated single-solutionist condition, as identified by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in their LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study (also known as the ARBOR study) (2015). Objectives in the ARBOR study include habitat restoration, neighborhood connectivity, and increased recreation, which would be invaluable to the communities adjacent to the river. Still, in its current industrial state, through both ecological and human adaptation, the concrete waterway is a Los Angeles landmark in its own right, host to countless public and underground art events and installations, each serving as a site or moment of human resistance in a landscape designed to keep people out.
The Chronicles of Wonderland
How do we combat nihilism when our environmental landscape rapidly descends toward a harrowing future? How do we remain hopeful when all efforts of activism seem to be in vain toward a losing battle against unfettered free-market capitalism? And perhaps, the question is should we remain hopeful? My photo series seeks to address all these questions by combining seemingly antithetical concepts: fantasy and photorealism. Through this photo series, I am trying to combat hopelessness by stimulating creativity and whimsy. Let us flirt with escapism, daring to imagine the most fanciful environmental future. In returning from the world of the imaginative, how shall we maintain virtues of curiosity and perseverance in interacting with our environmental landscape for the better?
Kai UnEarthed: Tending the Wildness of a Healing Planet
Kai UnEarthed (kaiunearthed.com) is a video game about young people in the future going through a coming-of-age ceremony to become wildtenders, people who help Earth heal from climate change. The game is set in the reclaimed ruins of youth jails and toxic waste sites that are healing through mycoremediation and other forms of symbiosis. Players guide the main character Kai as they face their anxieties, fall in love with their crush, and learn about their ancestors - including players themselves. To complete the coming-of-age ceremony, Kai must decipher artifacts left behind by people alive today. The game comes with an analog journal with its own minigames and reflective writing and art prompts. It features queer, non-binary, Black, and indigenous characters. The project emerged from abolitionist movements against a toxic youth jail in Seattle, and it is informed by Afrofuturist aesthetics and psychological research. It is a collaboration between Matthew Coopilton (formerly Hamilton), Olivia Peace, and Claire Hu, with Kaitlin Bonfiglio (KB) and Devonte $errano contributing music and sound design. It has been supported by USC professors Brendesha Tynes, Andreas Kratky, and Tracy Fullerton. It is also part of an emerging Abolitionist Gaming Network and has been featured in workshops hosted by the USC Abolition group as well as international conferences.
The project aims to help young people overcome despair about climate change by collectively imagining a future worth building and fighting for. Young peoples’ critical imagination is curtailed by apocalyptic news stories conveyed through social media algorithms that capitalize on sensationalism; many of them conclude that it is too late to do anything about climate change. We aim to counter this with a playful vision of a future where Earth is thriving, where characters in the game are looking back on people alive today and asking what we did or did not do to make that new reality possible.
A text-based prototype of the game can be played at kaiunearthed.itch.io. We also have a playable version of the full video game that is getting close to release but still needs some polishing and minor debugging. Screenshots from that prototype and a short film showing a player interacting with it can be found at kaiunearthed.com. We have invited people in their teens and early 20s, mostly Black and queer folks, to play the prototype. They found it engaging, and it helped some of them imagine taking action; one player said it helped them imagine how to connect Black liberation movements and ecological movements around climate change. They also gave us excellent feedback about what we can do to enhance the player experience.
We will use the Arts and Climate Collective grant funding to implement that feedback as we finish and release the game. Matthew will also seek additional funding to expand their critical game literacies research, incorporating Kai UnEarthed and other abolitionist worldbuilding games into critical game jams where young people use game design to prototype futures rooted in climate justice.
A Long Reflection
Ryu and a crew of ragtag filmmakers have an eccentric goal: sending the longest heliograph message in human history. While summiting the largest mountains in Hawaii equipped with custom mirrors, they must battle the elements to send a coded message over 200 miles. Why you ask? To be the best in history. The film makers are telling this story in an hour long documentary titled “A Long Reflection.” The original record was set in 1805 when a group of surveyors in Colorado and Utah sent a message 183 miles. Today, this will be significantly more difficult to accomplish due to the increased pollution, decreasing the visibility. The documentary will feature interviews with NASA scientists and climate change experts, describing our effects on the planet and the effects of climate change.
Fruits of Our Labor
The Fruits of our Labor is a 10-minute-long short film with family at its center. Inspired by the very real consequences of climate change that we are already facing, this story is a wake-up call with a beating heart that focuses on emphasizing the fact that although the present is bleak and scary, if we join hands with one another, the future can be bright. It tells the story of Jana and the tree in her backyard that provides fruit for her family’s infamous dessert. As her father grows ill due to worsening pollution, Jana turns to the tree to try to save him. But when the tree’s health becomes jeopardized due to local forest fires, she must figure out a solution to save both her father and the tree - quickly.
A creative documentary exploring the damaging impacts of microplastics on the environment and human health. Researchers have found evidence that due to plastic overconsumption and lack of waste oversight, there are microplastics in our air, food, and water. Everyday, we breathe microplastics, we drink microplastics, and we eat microplastics. Previously we were unaware of the impact of this “Plasticene” but now evidence is emerging that microplastics are affecting our immune systems and may be contributing to the rise of autoimmune conditions. The same microplastics that are wreaking havoc on our ecosystems are also wreaking havoc inside our bodies. Bringing a personal lens to the subject, I want to investigate the connection between hurting the planet and hurting ourselves.
Looking at & Entering & Inside the Swamp
This is a series of oil paintings that mimic a zoom-in viewing perspective. Starting with how the past experiences construct my perception of swamp in the first painting, a strange and mysterious natural landscape, each painting experiments with different methods while zooming in on a corner of the swamp. Inspired by David Hockney's collage artworks, the illusion of space brought by the dislocated perspective makes me think of the impact of one's past experience on present feelings. Just like the twisted branches in the swamp remind me of the form of a stream, the cascading vegetation evokes the impression of terraces fields. Under the influence of literature, movies, and other media, the swamp was given a sense of danger and sinking; but with the study of biology and anthropology courses, new experiences awakened in me a new definition of the meaning of the swamp. The way people perceive the world is based on the association of things that bring similar feelings when faced with something new, and this way of thinking determines the attitude and perspective we adopt to see the world.
Understanding our individual responses pushed me to consider the countless, independent organisms within, so, I picked the left corner of “Looking at the Swamp” and zoomed in to create “Entering the Swamp” and then “Inside the Swamp.” I experimented with painting an oil painting like a collage, giving it more of a sense of motion than a complete landscape in “Looking at the Swamp”. Inspired by the method of screen printing plates, I carved various patterns in my paper sculpture and then permeated the ink through engraved plates to my painting in “Entering the Swamp.” For “Inside the Swamp”, I got the inspiration from Chunk Close and painted the zoomed-in snake with grid patterns.
Nature is sometimes “unfamiliar” to us because we are isolated in the city. But once we enter nature, we can discover the inextricable connection we have with nature as an individual. This emotional resonance will help us better understand the meaning of nature to our existence and inspire a deep-seated reverence and love for nature. I try to use this series of paintings to provoke people to rethink the relationship between individuals and nature, and to call on people living in the city to try to find their own position in nature. The lack of experiences in nature leads to a break in our emotional connection with it. We need this kind of thinking to value that human beings originate from nature, have always existed in nature, and will eventually return to nature. Nature is not an opposing object, but a vast, diverse, dynamic being that embraces our existence and deserves to be revered.
“Mud Kin: Mapping (contested) spaces of belonging”
“Mud Kin: Mapping (contested) spaces of belonging” is an investigatory research mapping project on unearthing adobe, earthen and land-based projects as an indigenous and Latinx-led agent of transnational activism, creative belonging, knowledge-building, and indigenous resistance and preservation models along the Southwest U.S / Mexico borderland region. This participatory research empathetically documents and contextualizes the ongoing relationships, artistic participatory strategies, and issues of gentrification, capitalistic, and settler colonial tensions of indigenous and Latinx communities residing in the Southwest borderland space occupying indigenous spaces of belonging and dissonance. As a native Tejana and born and raised in the El Paso and greater West Texas rural area, my personal / family relationships to the borderland will be a guiding narrative for this project, as well as discussing the complexities of borderland natives facilitating these land-based projects and earthen-based activations. Adobe and earthen materials are an artistic thread supporting the overall narrative as a form of documenting the legacies of queer, indigenous, and BIPOC land-based, ecological interventions in participatory and experimental art strategies of land-back initiatives documented throughout the Southwest. The comprehensive “Activating adobe'' collective research project will take two forms - digital and a short-term interactive exhibition presented at USC Mateo Gallery in July 2023. The ongoing online land-based and adobe mapping project will present a first series of interactive short interviews of 10 Latinx and indigenous artists and land-based activists residing in LA and broader Southwest. The map will be featured in the exhibition alongside works of the participating artists.
FALL 2021 COHORT
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.
Jack is currently working to create a documentary about access to natural spaces around LA and how people in marginalized communities often don't have access. This project is for his master’s thesis and will most likely be broadcast on the spectrum.
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 Dummies
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
Nehali Doshi & Daniela Velazco
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.
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.
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.
Super Stewards of Los Angeles
Hannah Flynn & Dani Velazco
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.
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.
SPRING 2021 COHORT
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.
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.
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.
Arabella & Cassandra's Project
Arabella Delgado & Cassandra Montano
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.