The Earth Arts Initiative is a non profit organization which brings environmental education to community through the arts and wellness, as an alternative approach to combating climate change. The three components of our mission are environmental advocacy, community healing, and the arts. By synthesizing these elements, we aim to make environmental education more accessible and relatable to a variety of communities. This approach is meant to foster a deeper sense of reverence for the planet, and facilitate awareness around sustainable living, especially within urban areas. In order to manifest our mission, Earth Arts works at the nexus of ecological justice, wellness & creativity. The ... read more The Earth Arts Initiative is a non profit organization which brings environmental education to community through the arts and wellness, as an alternative approach to combating climate change. The three components of our mission are environmental advocacy, community healing, and the arts. By synthesizing these elements, we aim to make environmental education more accessible and relatable to a variety of communities. This approach is meant to foster a deeper sense of reverence for the planet, and facilitate awareness around sustainable living, especially within urban areas. In order to manifest our mission, Earth Arts works at the nexus of ecological justice, wellness & creativity. The Earth Arts Center for Environ(Mental) Wellness is the physical manifestation of this mission, a 2,000 square foot environmental education and healing center, opened November 2017 and majority funded by ticket sales community participants. The space is founded on the notion that the way we treat our planet reflects upon how we treat our own bodies, and each other, and thus it is a responsibility of all humans to be mindful of our environmental impact. For this reason, in addition to offering environmental & agricultural education, we also offer a local organic farm share to advocate for environmentalism through nutrition & access to healthy foods. We also offer a variety of healing modalities available regularly and by sliding scale in order to facilitate individual and community healing. These offerings include massage, yoga, acupuncture, movement therapy, dance instruction, and consultations with holistic practitioners. In addition to providing these services privately and by appointment, we offer these services to the community by donation. In terms of our art curriculum, we host monthly open mics & regular art shows to highlight local talent and give marginalized groups a voice. Our most current art show has been a showcase to highlight the work of undocumented individuals. Moving forward, we hope to partner with local gardens and public schools to create environmental education curriculum around regenerative agriculture, nutrition, and fostering mental & physical well being. We further envision creating a replicable model for increasing environmental awareness to all communities, based on the ideology that the state of the environment directly affects the individual. Personally, I have always been frustrated by the lack of reverence for the environment, and had a desire to improve the quality of life for all beings. After the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, I initiated a service trip to teach English using arts and music, for orphaned children, adopted by a Catholic foundation, "Les Petites Freres." During this time, I realized that the inherent disconnection between humanity and the environment, led to its continued degradation, resulting in increasingly extreme environmental catastrophes, and thus, the increased suffering of people, especially marginalized communities. For this reason, I decided to commit myself entirely to environmental protection, hoping to advocate for the Earth & raise awareness to as many individuals as possible. Since, I have completed a BA & MA in Environmental Policy & Science from Barnard College, and Columbia University, in order to best advocate for environmental issues. These experiences culminated in the foundation of Earth Arts. Earth Arts is ultimately a solution to what I believe to be the most dangerous issue facing humanity at this defining moment in the Anthropocene, the inherent lack of understanding of ecology. Defined as "the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings," ecology focuses on mapping networks of species and the systems which they create. These complex webs of relationships are finely tuned by millennia of evolution, and thus sensitive to change. However, the lack of general understanding around their complexity, has resulted in their continued exploitation, pervasive on agricultural, political, social & economic levels. This has jeopardized associated "eco system services," upon which all life depends, for example, deforestation affecting the production of oxygen by plants, and thus the Earth's ability to sequester CO2. Often, the public is not educated enough to make informed efforts to protect these systems and their associated "services," and if they are, many of the most dire environmental transgressions are subsidized by governmental agencies, as in the case of industrial agriculture. This creates a daunting picture for educators to paint for rallying the public, as the issues seem "too large," to address. The Earth Arts Center for Environ(Mental) Wellness, serves as an alternative space for environmental education, where individuals can realize their personal ecological relationships to the Earth, and work to repair them. When it is clear that the state of the environment directly affects the quality of human experience, environmental protection becomes a personal issue, rather than an abstract concept. Earth Arts appeared as the most viable solution to the general lack of public ecological literacy, as during my undergraduate years of Environmental Policy and Science at Barnard, I felt a disconnect between academic definitions of "sustainability" and reality. After graduation, I worked on several organic farms, to better understand environmental stewardship in practice. From this, I saw how farmers were struggling with the same disconnect, between Academic conjecture and the pressures of surviving. This influenced me to pursue a MA in Public Administration in Environmental Policy and Science from Columbia, in order to advocate for sustainability on larger, more structural scales. However, it was yet more clear that these efforts would be futile, if environmental education was still inaccessible to the masses. My solution was founding Earth Arts. Since, the center has not only served the public, but has inspired two retired farmer patrons to lend access to their land, in order to serve as occasional off site environ(mental) centers based off the original Brooklyn model.
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