A Living Library = A. L. L.

Everyone and everything on Earth and in Space is part of A Living Library of diversity: people, birds, trees, air, water, and all the things we create, such as - parks, gardens, schools, curricula, artworks, networks, communities, celebrations. A Living Library, or, A.L.L., for short, provides a way to understand that culture and technology are part of nature. It’s all nature.

A Living Library provides a powerful systemic framework, multiple methodologies and strategies for creating place-based, ecological change in communities and schools - locally and globally.

A.L.L. integrates local resources - past, present, future - and transforms them with community, to become vibrant, content-rich, art-filled, ecological learning landscapes; each Branch linked to another.

Updated by @alivinglibrary

Recent Updates


Bonnie Ora Sherk: Life Frames Since 1970 – Retrospective Exhibit at Fort Mason

We’re pleased to invite you to the opening of Bonnie Ora Sherk: Life Frames Since 1970 at Fort Mason Center for the Arts in San Francisco. This 8-week retrospective exhibit will showcase Bonnie’s life works in a heartwarming and inspirational view into the legacy and vision of A Living Library’s founder.

The opening is at 2 p.m on January 13, 2024. You can RSVP here.


Year in Review 2023: Rebuilding & Reconnecting!

A Living Library Think Parks and Gardens (A.L.L.) is continuing the work our founder Bonnie Ora Sherk started decades ago. Over the years, Bonnie engaged school children, gardeners and community members in creating acres of beautiful garden spaces. She created gardening curriculum for youth and programming that is thoughtfully interwoven with the ecological fabric of local communities.

The power of these gardens lies in their connection to public school sites, libraries and nature walks, thereby enriching the everyday lives of underserved youth and their communities. Bonnie’s legacy includes green infrastructure that we are re-activating into a sustainable resource for future generations, as well as places of learning, well-being and joy.


NYC Roosevelt Island Branch Think Park & Garden

  • Continued to build school-parent partnerships to collaborate on youth activities.
  • Taught the first Vegetables & Me Class for children under 7 years old in English and in Japanese. Next year, the class will be taught in three languages: English, Japanese, and Korean.
  • With the help and support of grants and the community, the NYC Roosevelt Island Branch is working to convert the garden into a Native Habitat for Monarch Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Local Birds.

San Francisco Branches Think Parks & Gardens

  • Resumed the after-school paid internship program into its second academic year with San Francisco School District middle and high-schoolers.
  • Developed a volunteer community that included college students from the Artist as Citizen class from the University of San Francisco, community volunteer days, and celebrations.
  • Organized our largest Summer Internship ever, consisting of 39 interns working 20 hours a week to renew the Think Park and Gardens.
  • Resumed work and funding on the Seneca Ecological Project in collaboration with community partners.
  • Collaborated with local schools and gardening clubs to maintain and improve the gardens.


  • Built team, board and community partnerships.
  • Resumed much of the funding that previously powered our programs and secured new and exciting grants.
  • The perseverance of our volunteer archive committee has enabled an 8‑week retrospective show on Bonnie’s life works this January at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. The opening event is Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 2 pm. We hope to see you there! More info

We Need Your Help in Continuing This Work!

Your donation bolsters our current programming and ability to maintain the gardens, helps us fund the Seneca Ecological Transformation, as well as help us re-establish our garden classes with the local schools. It will also help us with the much needed update of our website to share the work we are doing!

Please also fill out this form if you would like to connect or reconnect. We would love it if you are interested in volunteering or wish to develop a community partnership.

If you cannot directly donate funds or volunteer your time please share this email with someone in your network who can — any support you can share in spreading the word that A Living Library is still alive and looking to make new connections and build more community would go a long way.

Thank you!


Celebrate the Life of Bonnie Ora Sherk – NYC

Wednesday, May 18th at 5:30 PM
Roosevelt Island’s A Living Library Think Park & Garden
(in the rear of the garden)


Announcement of Bonnie’s Passing

The Board of Directors of Life Frames Inc. is sad to announce that Bonnie Ora Sherk, Founder and Director of Life Frames, Inc. and A Living Library, has died. Her life and work were acknowledged in a November 19, 2021 obituary in the New York Times. Our love goes out to her sisters Abby Kellner-Rode and Rachel Binah and her niece and nephews, Maija Kellner-Rode, David Kellner-Rode and Matthew Rode.  A Celebration of Life, open to the public, is planned for March 20, 2022, at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA, 94133. More details will be forthcoming by mid-January on the A.L.L. website.

Bonnie Ora Sherk: 1945 - 2021

Bonnie Ora Sherk, 76, of San Francisco, CA, died on August 8, 2021. Daughter of Eleanor and Sydney Kellner, she was born on May 18, 1945, in New Bedford, MA and raised in Montclair, NJ. She received a B.A. in Art from Rutgers University’s Douglass College, an M.A. in Environmental Sculpture from San Francisco State University, and certifications in Landscape Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and Oomoto School of Traditional Japanese Arts in Kameoka, Japan. She lived in San Francisco, New York City and Lake Gerard, NJ.

Bonnie was a brilliant, pioneering visionary, internationally acclaimed American artist with a career spanning over 50 years. She was a landscape architect, environmental educator and founder of Crossroads Community, San Francisco, (1974-1980). Known as The Farm, it was situated under a freeway interchange in the Mission District. In 1981 Sherk founded and directed A Living Library - Life Frames, Inc. with locations on Roosevelt Island, NYC (2001-present), and in San Francisco at the Bernal Heights Living Library & Think Park Nature Walk (2002-present) and OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park (1998-present).  A.L.L. brings community members and youth together to restore native habitats, create educational gardens, plant thousands of trees, and daylighting San Francisco’s Islais Creek watershed. The theme that ran through all her work is the interdependent relationships between humans, animals and nature. Well-known for her performance work in the early 1970s, one of her most iconic was Public Lunch, where Sherk, elegantly clad in black velvet and leather boots, consumed a meal while caged in the San Francisco Zoo’s Lion House, with tigers and lions in adjacent cages being fed simultaneously. She created temporary “Portable Parks”, bringing animals, grass and palm trees to sites around freeway interchanges and other urban settings.

Her work and lectures were featured in exhibits throughout the US, Europe, Asia and elsewhere including the Venice Biennale 2017 and the Liverpool Biennial 2021, in United Nations and Smithsonian publications, and in many art books and magazines.

Bonnie is survived by her two sisters, Rachel Binah of Little River, CA and Abby Kellner-Rode of Bend, OR, niece and nephews, Maija Kellner-Rode, David Kellner-Rode and Matthew Rode.  A Celebration of Life is planned for March 20, 2022, in San Francisco.

A team has coalesced to continue her work. For more information please contact Robert Croonquist, rcroon2022@icloud.com

Her life was acknowledged with an obituary in the New York Times on November 19, 2921 and in the Roosevelt Islander and Ecoartspace.


Networked Knowledge: Bonnie Ora Sherk Plants A Living Library Seeds in Liverpool Biennial in UK

Bonnie Ora Sherk will Present an Illustrated Talk, June 15 - 10-11am PT/1-2pm ET/6-7pm BST - on A Living Library and the A.L.L. Toolkit she conceived for the Liverpool Biennial, to create a place-based Branch Liverpool Living Library & Think Park in Liverpool, to be interconnected with other A.L.L. Branches - globally. 

A Living Library facilitates ecological transformations in communities. Pictured: Before & After Views into Chinatown Living Library & Think Park:  2004-2010, San Francisco, California

Her Presentation will expand on a feature she created for Enzyme 2: Life Systems, a creative Magazine developed by Brazilian artists Jorgge Menna Barreto, Joelson Buggilla, and German Art Historian/Curator, Sarah Kristin Happensberger, for the Liverpool Biennial.

Registration for Bonnie Ora Sherk's Presentation and the rest of the Enzyme 2 Event Series is completely free.  Reserve your space today with link – here.  Once you’ve registered through the Eventbrite system, you’ll receive a follow-up email with detailed instructions for accessing the event on the day with a Zoom link.

The June 15th Zoom Presentation will take audience members on a water-based journey, with Bonnie Ora’s site-sensitive and life-framing artworks encouraging an exploration of local watersheds and other resources.

An excerpted version highlighting Bonnie Ora’s contribution to the Magazine is linked here.

The Magazine situates Bonnie and her work as a point of connection — between the early ecological art movement and emerging artists, between different cultures and communities, and between bodies and the earth.  A.L.L. Native Seed Packets included in the printed Magazines are a metaphorical and literal invitation into greater ecological awareness and a transformed way of being and doing for the local community.

The full publication Enzyme 2 is now also live online !  This Magazine collaboration between editors, curators, designers, and artists — including our own Bonnie Ora Sherk —  is part of a commissioned program of works for the Liverpool Biennial 2021.

Enzyme 2:  Life Systems is available for digital download, link here.

Celebrating its 11th year, the Liverpool Biennial is the UK’s largest festival of contemporary visual art. Centered on the body and its varied ways of connecting to the world, this year’s festival brings together 50 international artists and two collectives.

© 2024 Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Library

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

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