Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

The city is an amazing resource if one has eyes to notice. Nance Klehm is one of those people. She's taking people on a tour of the city as a food source. 

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Alice Short
Published: 13 Feb 2015, Los Angeles Times

Horticulturist Nance Klehm will lead a walkabout to discuss wild edibles in Los Angeles. (Jason Creps)

A fifth-generation horticulturalist, Nance Klehm has always been attuned to the great outdoors. "I grew up on 500 acres of rural northwest Illinois. We had an orientation to land, animals and plants as part of our world. It's never been something I've been separated from," says Klehm, who is also an urban forager and self-styled "radical ecologist." Over the years, she's led foraging tours around the world, and on Feb. 22, with the support of design shop Otherwild and the feminist art practice Women's Center for Creative Work, she will lead an urban walkabout designed to help Angelenos identify edible plants and learn about their botanical histories. [read more]

I didn't think it would happen, but I developed a serious design crush on British designer Thomas Heatherwick. The curiosity and process showcased in his exhibition is a great place to get an appreciation of his work. 

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Anna Fixsen
Published: 24 Feb 2015, Architectural Record

Heatherwick's UK Pavilion. Photo © Iwan Baan.

Just in time for Chinese New Year, the Hammer Museum made two resolutions of sorts, unveiling an architectural addition, and a traveling exhibition.

Thursday, the Los Angeles museum inaugurated the John V. Tunney Bridge, a sweeping concrete pedestrian bridge by local architect Michael Maltzan that stitches together the museum’s second floor east and west galleries.

The structure forms a dramatic backdrop to an equally thrilling survey exhibition chronicling the work of London-based design and architecture firm Heatherwick Studio. Organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and curated by Brooke Hodge, deputy director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio dares viewers to let logic guide them to creative solutions to even the most pedestrian of problems. [read more]

LA is an amazing place that attracts all kinds of people, and animals too, apparently. Here, I write about a strange neighbor, the endangered green sea turtle making their home in Los Angeles. 

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Yosuke Kitazawa
Published: 26 Feb 2015, KCET

Turtle swimming close to shore | Photo: Hugh Ryono
Crush may have almost stolen the show in "Finding Nemo," and with good reason. Green sea turtles are true nomads of the water, able to make a home in waterways around the world, including -- surprisingly -- the most urban of places like the San Gabriel River in Long Beach. [read more]

When people make use of a space for their own purposes, you know you've got success on your hands. Every morning, a group of smart folks have taken to having coffee by the LA river even on a weekday. It's a recipe for sanity and serenity. :)

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by:  Yosuke Kitazawa
Published: 04 Feb 2015, KCET

Photos: Errin Vasquez

Waking up in the morning can be abhorrent, especially if you're startled out of bed every morning by the sound of an angry alarm, which then triggers a mindless sequence of getting to work. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Each Wednesday morning from 7 a.m. until about 9 a.m., coffee enthusiasts and cyclists gather at the recently opened Sunnynook Park, a 3.4-acre park just north of the Glendale Hyperion bridge, to take some time out of time. In a Zen-like attempt to achieve a piece of sanity in a crazy, busy world, these early risers have committed themselves to be present in the moment, by the river. [read more]

There are so many good things to say about the Philippines right now and one of them is the work of Gawad Kalinga. Here, I cover an amazing incubator for agriculturally-based businesses. It's helping the many people of the countryside find a good living without having to leave their families for the big city. 
Can an 84-acre hub for social entrepreneurship successfully grow the local economy?
Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Celeste Hoang
Published: 18 Feb 2015, TakePart

A Gawad Kalinga village in the province of Aklan, Philippines. (Photo: Gawad Kalinga/Facebook)
When a country with acres of farmland imports an overwhelming majority of its dairy, chocolate, and coffee, you know there’s a problem—or a golden opportunity.

That’s exactly what Antonio "Tony" Meloto Jr. saw in the Philippines when he founded Gawad Kalinga in 2003. The foundation, which has a specific program supporting local social entrepreneurship, aims to help end poverty by growing products for the country, within the country.

“Why can’t we create our own businesses and own the brand?” the former Procter & Gamble manager asked, having grown up in Bacolod City and witnessing firsthand the poverty that mires his country.

Meloto’s answer lies about an hour and a half’s drive north of Manila at the 84-acre Enchanted Farm, an incubator for social businesses located in the province of Bulacan. For the past four years, the program has been bringing together veterans from multinational corporations around the country and converting them into entrepreneurs tasked with building strong local brands that manufacture Filipino products for Filipinos—a tall order for a country whose more than three centuries of colonial rule have entrenched it in a preference for foreign brands. [read more]


The Return of Broadway

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

In downtown Los Angeles, there's a stretch of road that when lit reminds me the good ol' days as depicted in black and white movies. Broadway was LA's first important street. It's now getting a second chance at life. 

Text and Photos by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Drew Tewksbury
Published: 18 Feb 2015 Artbound

The Globe | SoCal Connected
On a recent festive night, the 104-year-old Palace Theatre, the oldest Orpheum theater in the country, presided over Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, sparkling like a grand dame from the last century miraculously rejuvenated.

Its polished marble finish gleamed; its ceiling murals glimmered; intricate detail abounded, leaving onlookers agape. Inside, a parade of red velvet seats unfolded amid multicolored terra cotta swags, flowers, and fairies. Depending on the hour, guests were treated to the soothing strums of the ukelele by the Honolulu Avenue Strummers or the buoyant folk style of Skylarks. For one night, the once lonely madam became a belle of the ball.

"Every person that walked in would pause with big eyes and jaws dropping. I wish you could have seen the look in people's faces," says 14th District City Councilman José Huizar. [read more]


Cold War Culture

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

The Wende Museum is a treasure in LA. Their holdings of cold war design objects are pretty staggering. I'm glad they've finally come out with a tome that attempts to capture the breadth of material culture from this still fraught era. 

A new book exhaustively examines life and design in East Germany.
Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Avinash Rajagopal
Published: Feb 2015, Metropolis

Communist East Germany developed a vibrant design culture of its own, with products like this Rema Trabant T6 radio from 1964–1965. The Wende Museum in Los Angeles has the largest collection of such objects in the country. Image courtesy of: Wende Museum/Taschen
History is a tale constantly revised depending on the circumstances of its telling. And no modern tales are as fraught with multiple meanings as those of the Cold War era, which spanned more than four decades from the end of World War II in 1945 to the fall of socialist regimes in Europe from 1989 to 1991.

In an ambitious effort to illuminate this period’s multifaceted nature, Taschen Books published Beyond the Wall: Art and Artifacts from the GDR, a 904-page volume that offers readers over 2,500 objects from the Los Angeles–based Wende Museum’s more than 100,000-piece collection of items from the Eastern Bloc—the largest in the country. Since the museum was founded in 2002, it has become a repository for remnants of a fast-disappearing culture, repudiated by the former Soviet state that’s uncomfortable with its history. [read more]

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