Planting Justice Board of directors
Haleh Zandi is a co-founder and the Educational Director of Planting Justice. Her approach towards the food justice movement particularly draws connections between the United States dependence upon fossil fuels within the industrialized and globalized food system and the unjust militarization of the Middle East and South Asia. She believes the modern colonial food system is in a paradigm of war, and she is dedicated to the ways in which diverse communities may build alliances and practice strategies that collectively resist the violence of the industrial food system and structurally shift the United States towards more ecologically sustainable and socially just methods for growing and sharing our food.
She has taught over 200 workshops in our community gardens using Planting Justice's self-designed curriculum in food justice, culinary arts, and permaculture design. Haleh received her MA in Postcolonial Anthropology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Haleh is the proud mama of baby Azadeh.
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Leah grew up on a ranch in the redwoods of Arcata, CA and moved to the Bay Area to pursue degrees in Environmental Policy and Spanish at UC Berkeley. She has lived in South and Central America as well as in Bangladesh working on behalf of social, environmental and food justice initiatives. Thanks to her work experience abroad she gained further insight into international agriculture systems and the value of socio-ecologically mindful practices and unconventional multi-stakeholder collaboration. Leah currently serves as Program Director for the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA). Founded in 1994, MESA is a non-profit dedicated to supporting seasoned and emerging small-scale farmers to strengthen resilient, local food systems worldwide through cross-cultural exchange and hands-on training in ecological production and innovative marketing. MESA advances a new generation of agrarian leaders, linking current innovations with global traditions to promote land stewardship, localized economies and cultural awareness. Leah’s prior work experience includes program development for the International Institute for Bengal Basin to address water rights and pollution mitigation as well as fund development for the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant to provide advocacy for indigent refugees. She currently serves on the board of directors for Planting Justice, an Oakland non-profit transforming the Bay Area food system by creating green jobs and democratizing access to affordable, nutritious food. She deeply enjoys: teaching and practicing yoga; being outside on rocks, waves and trails; growing food and befriending bees.
Paul Sheldon serves on the Planting Justice board of directors, in part because of his extensive connections within the “Sustainable Corrections” movement, nationally and internationally. An internationally-recognized authority on sustainable food planning, natural capitalism, and local community organizing, Paul is well-known in the fields of "greening corrections"; neighborhood planning; energy, water, and resource efficiency planning; sustainability; fund raising; and board development. Through his articles, publications, and conference presentations, Paul has existing connections with correctional institutions and associations, as well as community-based support organizations in communities in around the US, as well as in the Czech Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, and beyond. His work on energy efficiency in Alaska, economic and energy alternatives to coal plants on the Navajo Nation, and his background working on sustainable agriculture, energy, and water systems at Natural Capitalism Solutions (with his older sister, Hunter Lovins) prepared him well to support the work of Planting Justice. Paul's recent Greening Corrections Technologies Guidebook, published by the National Institute of Justice, included Planting Justice as an example of successful, self-funding re-entry programs for formerly-incarcerated people. Through his participation in such organizations as the American Correctional Association, the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents, and the American Jails Association, as well as his extensive background with neighborhood development programs such as the Los Angeles-based TreePeople, and Boulder, CO's community energy planning process, Paul complements PJ’s existing fund raising, board development, and outreach to community-based organizations and leaders in providing resources and planning for continuing success as well as replication of PJs ‘s programs and activities in other regions. .
Andrew grew up in Ohio and got his BA in Environmental Studies from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, he was exposed to a variety of Midwestern agricultural systems, both conventional and organic. Andrew's degree in Environmental Studies led him to a job with the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming where he researched the recession of Aspen stands, whose disappearance across the Western US has been poorly understood. After the completion of this assignment, Andrew moved to Boston where he co-founded ConsumerConscience, a wiki-based website devoted to ethical consumerism. Soon thereafter, Andrew moved to the Bay Area and began working with the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture. After working with MESA for 3 years, Andrew changed jobs in favor of more hands-on work with Planting Justice. For the last 4.5 years, Andrew has been working with Planting Justice as a Permaculture Designer, designing and installing edible gardens for clients all over the East Bay. And for fun - Andrew loves to play ultimate frisbee, climb rocks, windsurf, and play with his dog whenever he can!
Gavin Raders is a co-founder and Executive Director of Planting Justice, a social justice activist, and a permacuture demonstrator/teacher. He dedicates his time to practicing permaculture wherever he can, having gone through extensive training with some of the most inspiring and effective permaculture teachers in the world: Geoff Lawton, Penny Livingston-Stark, Brock Dolman, Darren Dougherty, and Nik Bertulis. Before his stint as an intern at the Regenerative Design Institute, he studied cultural anthropology at UC Berkeley, and organized on a range of anti-war, anti-nuclear, environmental and human rights issues both on campus and off. He has knocked on nearly 30,000 doors in California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada as a community organizer with Peace Action West.
He comes to permaculture and ecological design through a social justice framework which recognizes the right of all people to peace, security, housing, healthy food, clean water, jobs and healthcare, and the rights of future generations to a just and livable world. For this to happen, he believes that Americans need to understand and respect the intimate connection and the shared fate we have with all people and all life on this planet, and organize effectively on the local level to come up with replicable and effective solutions to the range of hardships and oppressions we currently face. When families, communities, bio-regions, and nations work with nature instead of against her to provide their own sustainable food, water, and energy, this not only makes us more resilient, but also makes us less likely to violently take what they need from someone else. He is still riding on the inspiration and jolt of passion he experienced in India, studying and advocating for the right to water and against its privatization by massive water corporations (such as Coca-Cola). You can read the paper he published on the subject here:
My name is Anthony Forrest and the first time I went to prison I was 26 years old. I felt like that wasn't going to be my last time, so at the age of 45 I decided to make a change in my life. My mom and dad had passed, and I felt all alone. Having kids and not being in their lives made me feel like I needed to make a change. So after going in and out for over 25 years, I decided to do something about that. I drew a circle around myself and worked on change, which comes when you do something, and I did. First I wanted to get spiritually filled and physically fit for the fight of my life. I got into the Insight Garden Program at San Quentin State Prison, I did a little N/A, a lot of meditation, and came home with a job and a wife. So I've been home 6 years working with Planting Justice, and started my own mobil detail for cars and a gardening service with 10 people working for me. I stay changed by staying grounded to God's word, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." Also, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me". So I lean on something bigger than me. Having a support team keeps me from going back to prison, keeps me from drifting off the path that I'm on, and helps me to shine at work because I look forward to being with my peers.
Kelly Curry is an author, publisher and social justice activist. She brings over 20 years of frontline, on the ground support of lower income communities of color through her development of life enhancing, ground shifting programs that promote health, well being and love. A veteran of public and private foundation work in New York City, Kelly was influential in ushering in change around public children's after-school programming at the city level, which included development and successful operation of a living arts program for NYC Parks and Recreation Centers in Harlem. Through this program, Kelly worked with community kids to plant Harlem's first children's gardens. Kelly continued this trajectory by delivering a living arts program to the the children of farm workers and homeless children in Southern California via The Living Love Foundation, where she acted as Director of Programming and Development. Kelly is currently focused on engaging committed, creative, sustainable change around food access for the citizens of East and West Oakland. She does this work in partnership with Planting Justice where she is a proud member of the Education Team.
Marcelo Garzo Montalvo
Marcelo Garzo Montalvo (Mapuche-Anahuaca, Chilenx) is a transnational cultural activist, musician, ceremonial dancer, educator and PhD Candidate in Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. His art, research and activism focuses on decolonization and inter-generational, inter-cultural healing. He previously served on the Board of Directors for Planting Justice from 2010-2014 and worked on staff as part of the Education team during the same period. He also worked for People's Grocery in West Oakland as the Food Justice Allyship Coordinator and Pie Ranch in Pescadero, CA as the Youth Programs Manager. He has facilitated numerous popular education workshops in the food sovereignty and environmental justice movements over the years, collaborating with groups like Phat Beets Produce, Canal Youth for Justice and the Decolonize the Food System Collective.
Erica meta smith
Erica Meta Smith is a native to rural Northern California, and is dedicated to sustainable systems of design. She works in Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) carbon development - linking communities to carbon markets through carbon off-set creation. She received her undergraduate degree in Forestry and her Masters of Forestry from the University of Caliornia, Berkeley. Erica's respect for living systems is based upon her family's practice in Forestry and their dependence upon natural resources as their income. She believes global climate change affects all parts of society and she is committed to helping communities through the creation of alternative livelihoods.
"Gramma" Rachel Resnikoff is a singer, gardener, cook, philanthropist, retired typewriter mechanic, and of course a Gramma to three plus whoever else is in need of sage advice and comfort. She tries to bring the wisdom of her years to the Board, but sometimes forgets and launches into her stand-up routine.
Born and raised in Oakland, Alisia has been working with Planting Justice for over 5 years. Alisia is passionate about serving disenfranchised youth in the Bay Area, empowering them with the tools to lead a healthy lifestyle, and mentoring them in living well and following their dreams. She is a mom to Dashanae, age 9, and hopes to open a Planting Justice Youth Center one day in the future.
Alex currently serves as Admissions Manager for Citizen Schools, a national education reform non-profit. At Citizen Schools she works to expand the learning day, promote student achievement and re-imagine education in the United States. After receiving her BA in East Asian Religion from Bucknell University, Alex spent over two years as an early childhood educator with Teach for America in an undeserved community of San Francisco. After teaching, Alex moved to Colorado where she received an MA in International Human Rights from the University of Denver. In Denver, she worked with the Human Trafficking Clinic as well as with the Morgridge College of Education on the development of a comprehensive human rights and human trafficking curriculum (K-12th grade) and supplementary teachers’ compendium. She also spent time working with Denver non-profits as a consultant in non-profit administration, program development and financial management. Alex has worked with local Bay Area non-profits such as SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) and Deer Hill Ranch on creating educational resources, tool-kits and models that work to go beyond traditional academics. She is thrilled to be a part of a dedicated team of individuals who are passionate and determined to transform the food, education and justice systems in this nation.
A long-time local food activist, Joy Moore played a key role in community efforts to reform school lunch in the Berkeley Unified School District, co-founded Farm Fresh Choice, and is a member of the Berkeley Food Policy Council. She has lived and worked in Berkeley since 1969 having migrated from New York city. Retired from the City of Berkeley Chronic Disease Prevention Program in 2007, she attended UC Santa Cruz's Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. She was also instrumental in the campaign to tax soda in Berkeley. Joy currently teaches a garden based nutrition program to high school students and their families in the Berkeley Unified School District and McClymonds High in Oakland. She has served on many non-profit boards and councils, including the Ecology Center, Women of Color Resource Center, Berkeley Food Policy Council, Satellite Affordable Housing Associates, Pie Ranch and the local station board of KPFA/Pacifica Radio. Joy strives to provide access to low resource communities to be able to grow and eat organically.
Jennifer brings 25 years experience in high tech and non-profits to the board at Planting Justice, along with a passion for permaculture and the vision of creating a just, thriving, and sustainable world for everyone. Over the years she has landed at many rapidly growing organizations including Apple, Cisco Systems, Saleforce.com, and a handful of non-profits, collaborating and managing a diverse array of multi-national programs, people and software implementations. Currently she also serves on the board of directors at the Dharmata Foundation. Jennifer lives in the East Bay with her family and a menagerie of animals at the edge of Tilden Park. She is excited and honored to serve alongside all the inspired people at Planting Justice.
Alexis Stavropoulos received her M.A. in Geography at California State University, Fullerton. Her research focused on local food production, famers' markets, and homegardens in Irvine, CA. During this time she worked at Orange County Produce, which led her through a world of conventional and organic agriculture. Her experience introduced her to the wasteful system of large-scale industrial agriculture. This inspired her to receive a permaculture design certificate from the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Her support for food justice comes from years of watching people give their lives to fields of strawberries, moving from county to county following the harvesting schedules of the central valley, and being underpaid and under respected. Her central mantra is let food be your medicine. Her life pleasures include yoga, photography, running in the rain, and travel.
Cora Lee Garcia
Nicole Wires was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, where she made a promise to the mountains she loves to swim in every mountain stream, creak, river or lake that she comes across. While her paid work does not define her, she loves working with the Transform Your Yard Team at Planting Justice as a permaculture designer, designing sustainable, California native, and edible landscapes for clients all over the Bay Area. Her unpaid work includes organizing with the White Noise Collective, exploring the intersection of white privilege and gender oppression in the struggle for racial justice, and working to dismantle the prison industrial complex with the #DefundOPD working group of the Anti Police-Terror Project. She also loves to garden, read, dance, climb, hike, play guitar, drum, and explore.
Amy Butler is a Berkeley resident, mother of two, gardener, aspiring permaculture designer, and a client of the Planting Justice Transform Your Yard program. Professionally, Amy leads program management with the web team at Adobe Systems, where she facilitates inclusive, collaborative teams to design and build web experiences that inspire creativity. Outside of work, she is obsessed with organic gardening, native habitat restoration, permaculture principles, community farmers' markets, and the promise of green jobs turning our paved, polluted, and wasted earth into food-producing public spaces and community farms. Amy is very excited to be working with Planting Justice to bring technology, community, and the food justice movement together and to discover the magic that happens in the process.