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

Bonnie Ora SherkThe 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.

Susan Meyer, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/ Nutrition Instructor

Susan Meyer

Susan has worked with A Living Library for over 12 years and is also a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine with 35 years of experience in private practice where she focused on Oncology, Women’s Health Care, Homeopathy and General Practice, Mental and Emotional Illness, Chinese Internal Medicine and Pain Management. Susan designed, coordinated and taught community education classes on Women’s Health Care. She was also responsible for initiating and organizing the Institution of Naturopathic Services for Outside Inn, a low income medical aid station.

Susan is drawn to teaching and creating gardens within the context of the school system. She is interested in how experiential learning offered through gardens can enrich and supplement the academic program within schools. Susan has extensive experience designing various edible, organic landscapes, with integrated pest management, crop rotation, compost area, cover crop, and irrigation. She was co-owner of Urban Organics, a business in Los Angeles that designed and installed urban organic edible landscapes. As part of this work, she also created curriculum and taught a training program on all aspects of organic gardening.

She received her BS in Acupuncture from Samra Acupuncture College, and holds a California Acupuncture License. She also studied Chemistry, Plant and Soil Science/Agriculture at University of Portland and University of Vermont.

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 InstructorColin 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!

Jessica Eutsler, A.L.L. Garden/Ecology/Multi-Arts/Literacy/    Nutrition Teacher

My name is Jessica Eutsler and I am one of the Garden Educators working with A.L.L. in both the OMI/Excelsior Living Library & Think Park and the Bernal Heights Living Library & Think Park during the school day and after school !  I am very excited about this opportunity to teach and work with our younger generation to help them cultivate a love for people and the world that they call home.  For as long as I can remember, I have always been surrounded by nature.  I was lucky enough to grow up on a small piece of property in Vacaville, CA where I raised chickens, horses, pigs, cows, while also having a garden growing year-round. I was a 4H and FAA Leader as a student.

It was the way I grew up that shaped me and lead me to be a person full of compassion for people and the environment that we live in.  I graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in 2018. During my time at UC Davis I decided, after being involved in the Kids in the Garden Program with the Student Farm, that I wanted to teach and share my love of agriculture with those around me. I started working with A Living Library = A.L.L. in the Fall of 2018, and I began teaching and gardening, working with Denman Middle School Science Classes, San Miguel Early Education School and Junipero Serra Elementary School students.  Soon I will also begin teaching the after school students from Junipero Serra Early Education School. I have been doing lots of garden maintenance at the Junipero Serra Annex preparing for the children to be able to have fun and learn in our varied garden Learning Zones. I believe that there is power in giving children the knowledge and agency to be stewards in their communities and find joy in knowing that they can create and grow too.

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 WriterA 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.

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

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