Bonnie Ora Sherk, A.L.L. Founder & Director, Chief Designer, Lead Teacher

Bonnie Ora Sherk

The Founder & Director of Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Library is Bonnie Ora Sherk who developed this systemic approach to environmental transformation and education. A.L.L., for short, integrates interdisciplinary, standards-based, hands-on learning, community ecological planning and design, and state-of-the-art communications technologies like Green-Powered Digital Gateways.

Sherk, who is a landscape architect, planner, and educator, is also a professional artist who exhibits her work in museums and galleries all over the world. Her work has also been internationally published in art books, journals, and magazines. She has been creating and implementing systemic design processes and Life Frame, Living Library, Think Park plans for sites around the country for over 35 years. Everything that she has done in her life has lead her to create A Living Library. Her dream is to have Branch Living Libraries all over the world, linked through live interactive broadcast, showcased in Green-Powered Digital Gateways.

An early and successful Life Frame was also one of the first Alternative Art Spaces in the country funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. It was one of five “Alternative Arts Education Programs” in California funded by the California Arts Council, and also one of the first “brownfield” projects of the Trust for Public Land called Crossroads Community (the farm). Located in San Francisco next to a major interchange, The Farm inspired the transformation of seven acres of derelict land into a new City Farm Park. Sherk was the Founding Director and President beginning in 1974 to the end of 1980. Click here to read Bonnie Ora Sherk’s resume.

Marius Samso, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Instructor

My name is Marius Samso. I am a Biologist and experienced Educator and Gardener, with two Masters Degrees in Agriculture for Development and Ecological Agriculture.  I am from Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, and I was working in a gardening school before moving to California. I have always loved to work in the countryside with my family, and that’s how I got into gardening and agriculture.

I can speak five languages fluently (Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, French, English), and it has been very useful to interact with the diversity of children I have been teaching in different schools in San Francisco. I like to teach all science classes while bringing ingenious practical experiences.

I am happy to be working at the OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park and also in the Bernal Heights Branch Living Library.  I look forward to interacting with diverse classes of middle school and school age students during the school day, after school and summers, and help young people have fun while learning.

Colin Withers, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/ Literacy/Nutrition/Health Teacher

Colin Withers, ALL Garden Instructor

Colin is originally from upstate New York, where he received his Bachelor’s in Journalism and Media Studies from the State University of New York at Geneseo. After his move to the Bay Area in 2011, he began teaching preschool with the Berkeley Head Start program. During this time, his passion for plants was reignited, discovering that gardening is a wonderful therapy!

He began classes at Merritt College’s Landscape Horticulture program, and a year later was accepted to a six-month apprenticeship program through the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz. There he studied organic farming and food justice along with forty other students from around the world. After the completion of the course, he left for a two year trip throughout the Americas and Europe to independently study different world farming systems through a permaculture lens. His trip included visiting his fellow apprentice alumni to help start their farm in Puerto Rico, managing a team of volunteers to revive a permaculture garden in Portugal, and working to help indigenous communities develop native food plant nurseries in the Ecuadorean Amazon.

Colin has recently returned to California and is looking forward to building teaching experience with different age groups, and focusing on California native plants, as he works with A.L.L to regreen and revive watersheds of San Francisco. He is also proud to work in an area that really needs it, and firmly believes that social systems of privilege and oppression can be righted in a large part by equitable education; knowledge is power! Colin is choosing to look at the world’s climate crisis as an opportunity for us to redesign a just future for all (including the plants)!

When he is not gardening or teaching, Colin can be found cooking, fermenting, camping, biking, embroidering, dancing or teaching himself any number of interesting skills.

China Bushell, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Instructor & Gardener

I grew up in a world of food and plants. My mother and Dad are both prominent chefs, restaurant owners and gardeners. They have owned and operated several restaurants in different cities across the United States. At an early age, because of the mixed ethnicities of my parents (my Mom is half Chinese and half Trinidadian; my Dad’s mother is from Spain and his father is from Puerto Rico); vegetables, fruits and plants were always fascinating. Our home was always filled with dozens of house plants. For instance, Mexican Mint, now know as Spanish Thyme, is an oregano-like herb that my Mother’s family used as a main ingredient in creating blood pudding, while my Dad’s family used it to create Sofrito. Early on, you couldn’t find it anywhere in this country, so my parents would sneak it into our suitcases when we visited Trinidad or Puerto Rico. And, each parent called it something different. There were many such vegetable/ fruit stories in my family. As a result, the Sustainability of Food – how it’s created, grown, utilized and recycled, has always peaked my interest.

Prior to gardening, I operated and owned a quaint Restaurant serving the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The ongoing construction of the Second Avenue Subway, forced me to close it after thirteen years of service.

After my restaurant closed, I moved to Harlem where I started gardening. During the first three years, I grew everything in containers on a balcony. And it all grew! Three years into gardening, I started volunteering at the garden in the public school near me. It was there that my love for gardening with children began, and developed. Five years later, I continue to teach children how to garden. Because a garden represents so much of what life is, and being able to share these experiences with children, this creates wonderful access and developmental skills for the children, and a thrilling experience for me.

I look forward to sharing my knowledge and love of gardening with the community on Roosevelt Island. So please, come by, visit, volunteer, or access A Living Library behind 504 Main Street in Roosevelt Island, New York ~ And, Enjoy !

One last thing! There is only one thing better than having my hands in soil – it is having many little hands in soil!

Logic McDaniel, A.L.L. Garden and Ecology Teacher & Gardener

Logic McDaniel

Logic is a gardening and ecology educator at the OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park. Aside from A.L.L., she works as a biologist, specializing in biological monitoring, bird surveying and habitat restoration here in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an avid birder and spends much of her free time identifying birds, plants, and other wildlife (she can make for a very slow hiking partner!) She grew up on the San Francisco Peninsula and the greater Sacramento Area — mostly along the American River, which allowed her to experience and explore the many beautiful habitats of Northern California. As a child, she was often outside where she would inspect and observe insects, frogs, plants, rocks, and anything unusual she could find.  She is fortunate that this passion has developed into something meaningful and she is grateful to be able to contribute and share her knowledge with young people as a way of giving back.

Stefan Marti, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/    Nutrition Teacher

Stefan is a teacher, writer, gardener, landscaper, and outdoor enthusiast. He has taught at all levels from elementary to college and enjoys empowering students through active learning. Emphasizing creative and critical thinking and personal accountability, he inspires students to respect and take care of their community, their environment, and the planet as a whole. Equity and environmental justice are continuous themes in his work. If not in the garden, he loves to spend time by the ocean, either surfing or playing with his kids on the shore. He has an MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Arts.

Manisha Dhar, A.L.L. Marketing & Communications Manager

A software engineer by profession, Manisha moved to San Francisco around 3 years ago. Prior to joining A.L.L., Manisha worked on her own startup in the eCommerce space back in India. She loves to travel, experience new places and meet new people. She is drawn towards nature and it’s beauty and she strongly believes that we all are the sole caretakers of our environment, and that we cannot continue taking from it without giving back.

Pushpanjali Roy, A.L.L. Media Associate

Pushpanjali Roy, A.L.L. Volunteer, Web Content Writer

A former banker-turned-content writer, Pushpanjali loves to read, write, and doodle. Making canine friends and watering potted plants are her favorite pastime. Before moving to the U.S. in early 2016, she lived in India, her native country; staying across different states and appreciating the cultural diversity. Coming from an academic background in Zoology and Agribusiness, she tries to connect the dots that make her feel closer to the nature.

Karthik Patange, A.L.L. Volunteer Coordinator / Organizational Strategist

Karthik Patange

Karthik’s hobbies include recreational running, reading non-fiction, hiking and camping in national parks, finding new sandwich spots, and being a professional mentor through several non-profits. When he isn’t enjoying a book, mentorship, the outdoors, or food, he focuses on gaining a business perspective in the tech space as a management consultant, trying to find better approaches to help people and processes come together. While having been born in India, his identity has been shaped in Northern California, having lived for over 25 years in the Bay Area. He majored in Business and Economics at U.C. Berkeley and did his M.B.A. at UCLA. His goal through A.L.L. is to find fulfilling ways to give back to his community and understand more about opportunities that can bring people together to generate impact.

Xiaoying Liu, A.L.L. Graphic / Web Designer

Graduated from Zhuhai College of Science and Technology in China with a degree in Japanese, now living in the USA, Xiaoying loves cross-cultural communication. She loves traveling at home or abroad, enjoying meeting new people and feeling the power of nature. Oceans, High Lands,  Deserts, Mountains – all the creations of nature are great attractions for her. Since she was born in a very hot city, she is also very fond of snowy places because of the fresh whole white world. Currently, she is exploring her career path as a web designer and developing her coding and design skills. Sometimes she will also do some digital paintings. Helping A.L.L. as a volunteer with its meaningful work, Xiaoying is excited to bring A.L.L. to more communities and let more people to learn about the value of the environment by applying her skills in web design for A Living Library. 

Natalie Avellan A.L.L. Content Writer

Born and raised in San Francisco, Natalie enjoys walking the Golden Gate Park trails, journaling, drawing, and catering to her two cats. She studied at SFSU with a concentration in Literature and Humanities and at CCSF with coursework in Natural Sciences. With 1+ years’ experience in content marketing, blogging, and copywriting, she has done freelance writing in fashion, health, and technology. Natalie has always been a deep thinker with a precocious curiosity to learn the origins of things. Through her volunteer efforts, she hopes to expand her knowledge in the environmental space. As a keen advocate for mental health, Natalie is inspired by A.L.L.’s focus on transforming desolate landscapes with lush greenery to enrich the mind and spirit.

Michelle Kim, A.L.L. UX/UI Designer

Born in Korea and raised in the United States, Michelle is a growing designer with a passion to empower people and communities through design. Coming from a design and marketing background, Michelle focuses on delivering digital experiences that inspire learning and meaningful engagement. When she’s not working, she’s listening to Oprah’s SuperSoul podcast and experimenting with disposable cameras to capture the fleeting moments. As a volunteer at A Living Library, Michelle is excited to grow her understanding of the environmental space and connection we all share.

Junaid Badat, A.L.L. IT Support Associate

J Badat

My name is Junaid Badat. I am an IT professional from Australia and I have worked a corporate IT Enterprise support engineer and infrastructure support engineer for over 3 years. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Information and Communications Technology from the Western Sydney University and a Major in Networking. Before moving to the United States I was based in Sydney, Australia.  My hobbies include reading books, gardening and hiking, I am also an amateur aviation enthusiast. I would love to utilize my skills and experience to contribute towards the noble initiative being undertaken by A Living Library. I have always loved nature and I want to explore a broader horizon of sustainable use of desolate landscapes in a way that brings people and the community together.

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

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