Thanks to decades of collaboration between dedicated teachers and school garden support organizations (OAEC, Life Lab, Edible Schoolyard, Center for Ecoliteracy) as well as former CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin’s Garden in Every School initiative in 1995, we see school gardens throughout the state’s public schools. Now, California is ready for the next step: Living Learnscapes.
What are Living Learnscapes?
Living Learnscapes are community-designed natural systems that envelop academic environments, providing interdisciplinary education, essential ecological services, healthy physical engagement, career skills development and inspirational beauty.
In this moment of historic drought, climate disruption, increased attention in healthy local food access, and a nationwide shift to Common Core Standards, Living Learnscapes meet the ecological, economic and academic needs of public schools. The design, implementation and ongoing development of Living Learnscapes provide an authentic platform for young people to cultivate the leadership and problem-solving skills necessary for resilience in the face of an uncertain future.
OAEC is dedicated to creating the conditions conducive to a vibrant next generation of leaders. Seeing the need for Living Learnscapes, our Resilient Schools Program is reimagining educational institutions as resiliency hubs for the wider community. At our inaugural Resilient Schools Training (June 13-20), we gathered leaders from public school districts throughout California to collaboratively design their Living Learnscapes from facilities through curriculum.
Participating districts in our first Resilient Schools Training:
- Los Angeles Unified School District
- Sacramento City Unified School District
- Calaveras County Unified School District
- Carmel and Monterey Unified Schools Districts
- Several districts within Sonoma County
In preparation for this summer intensive, we visited K-12 feeder schools, attended community forums, met with district administrators and leveraged community partners. The enthusiasm around campus transformation from impermeable blacktops to vibrant Living Learnscapes is gaining momentum!
With a focus on food, water, energy and waste, school leadership teams (comprised of teachers, administrators, students, school board members, government officials, business leaders and non-profit partners) are working together to design a Resilience Action Plan that provides a framework for physical campus transformation through deep community relationships and support.
What can you do to promote Living Learnscapes?
- Take our new Living Learnscape Design course at OAEC in 2016!
- Engage with your local Resilient School and encourage their dedication to meeting the community’s academic, ecological and economic needs.
- Encourage campus commitments to dramatic water, energy and waste reduction, and embrace bold visions of perennial gardens, rainwater harvesting and outdoor classrooms.
- Adopt Farm to School policies that strengthen our local economy and provide “SOUL” food to our youth: Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed and Local.
- Offer your professional skills to the movement — schools need community partners!
Contact Resilient Schools Program Director Vanessa Carter to work with your district or to sponsor participating schools to receive ongoing facilitation from OAEC!