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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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:
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!
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.
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.
Lora Jo Foo
Lora Jo Foo is an attorney, organizer, author, nature photographer, and aspiring organic farmer. She was an organizer in the garment and hotel unions and spent 9 years at the Asian Law Caucus representing workers in sweatshop industries. She stopped litigating in 2000 and returned to organizing. She has been the Organizing Director for the California Faculty Association, the union that represents the CSU faculty, and in 2004 and 2008 was the National Coordinator for the AFL-CIO’s voting rights protection program, launching coalitions in the battleground states to prevent disenfranchisement and protect the vote of people of color communities. She has been a life-long advocate for women’s, labor, civil, and immigrant rights and knowing the impact of climate change on these communities, has also become an environmental justice advocate. She joins the board of Planting Justice to contribute her skills to furthering the goals of the food justice movement.
Katrina is a change agent with a Masters in Organization Development from Sonoma State University and fifteen-years of experience in community development, facilitation, and sustainable event management. Currently she is the program manager for ACTION: A Creative Transformation In Our Neighborhoods with the Numi Foundation.
In 1999, Katrina fell in love with localization while working with City Repair Project in Portland, OR. While working with this renowned re-localization nonprofit, she collaborated with many community and governmental agencies to increase community benefit programs. In 2007, Katrina served as Co-Chair of the Built Environment committee with the HOPE Collaborative in Oakland, CA. Before coming to the Numi Foundation, Katrina worked at the Walt Disney Company to help develop their environmental policies company wide, including the most recent Paper Policy. Katrina has been a permaculturist for many years and loves stacking functions and beatifying spaces with a practical, edible touch - and loves learning about the incredible healing power of plants studying herbalism whenever she gets a chance to dive in.
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.
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 Oakland, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Boulder, Denver, Indianapolis, Orlando, Lancaster (Ohio), New Mexico, New York, Kentucky, Texas, Kabul, 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.
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. In her free time Alex loves to run, bake, read and sit in the sun. 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.
Dustin Mabry completed a masters degree in Sociology at Humboldt State University with focus on knowledge practices employed by food security and sustainable agriculture efforts in the North Coast region of California. For fun, he teaches Sociology classes at Berkeley City College, works with a Free Skool project, mingles in his cooperative house and makes art-like things. He's most at home interpreting and presenting information. He's super excited about Planting Justice and sees the educational programs as indispensable in efforts for justice and liberation.
Cora was born and raised in Oakland’s Laurel and Fruitvale Districts, among the city's large urban Indian community. She also has roots in North Carolina, where her tribal territory and ancestral homeland is. Cora has a background in community organizing, and is deeply passionate about food sovereignty. She holds an AA from Merritt College, and a BA and MA from Stanford University in Cultural and Social Anthropology. Cora and her wife live in Deep East Oakland, where they are nurturing a lovely plot of land in partnership with their two cats, Dylan and Lucifer, and their livestock.
Julius Jones is a Landscaper with the Transform Your Yard program and is happy to be apart of the Board of Directors. He was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Berkeley, CA. He enjoys long hikes, rockclimbing, and training Roller pigeons bred for color, speed, depth, and flying. Since he has been apart of Planting Justice, Julius has learned so much from his fellow staff members and he has lost an incredible 60 pounds! The more he works, the more energy he accumulates to do the job efficiently. He is a hardworker to the team and always wants to learn from others. As the years approach, Julius sees lots of progress from the community to want to participate in building gardens all over, knowing that it takes hard work and dedication to see the glorious outcome of having a garden for resident in our community. To have one of these glorious gardens put together in your yard means a lot of love and want to live healthier. :)
Carroll Fife is an organizer, educator and mother who has lived and worked in Oakland for the past 30 years. As founder and co-chair of Oakland Alliance, Carroll works to increase access to jobs, housing, and quality education for disenfranchised Oakland residents. As an educator, Carroll focuses on the impacts of race and income inequality on student achievement, developing holistic, culturally affirming curriculum to engage urban students in life saving education. As an activist, Carroll is a leader in Oakland Alliance, OaklandWORKS, East Side Arts Alliance, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and the NAACP Jobs Task Force, just to name a few. Last year, Carroll served as the Campaign Director for Dan Siegel's campaign for Mayor of Oakland, which ultimately became the catalyst for Oakland Alliance. Carroll is currently employed as an apprentice and paralegal at Siegel & Yee, a prestigious Oakland civil rights law firm that primarily represents whistleblowers and victims of police violence and employment discrimination.