The SolarPunk Imagination Studio is a vibrant, engaging space for our community to deepen their understanding and skills across various domains, including Food, Art/Music, Clothing, Technology, and Research/Development. The studio is a hub of transformative experiences, hosting exciting classes, 1-on-1 mentorship, and on-site and off-site workshops.
Our studio fosters innovative learning and robust leadership in a context of camaraderie, often thriving on multi-age learning groups, which provides a unique and enriching learning experience.
The Studio motivates visitors to tap into their creative potential, take risks, make mistakes, and explore freely. Regardless of the program - be it a class, camp, or workshop, or the participant's age - young or simply young at heart, there is always a profound emphasis on appreciating our natural capabilities and world. This rhythm-centric learning culture we guide at the SolarPunk Imagination Studio invites participants to imagine and craft projects that align with their interests, contributing to a sustainable and vibrant future.
Each of the projects below is currently active in our LA community, and if anyone wants to contribute to any of them, you are more than welcome. Contact us through our contact page, and we will get you involved.
🎋 Avos Bio Energy
Welcome to Avos BioEnergy, an innovative SolarPunk Park initiative to revolutionize biofuel production. Assembled in 2022, our expert team, including renowned figures such as Dr. Michael Timko and Dr. Eric Young from WPI, embarked on a mission to research alternative feedstocks for petroleum-based projects. Our exploration soon led us to an eco-friendly and efficient solution – bamboo. The discovery was a game-changer, prompting us to incorporate Avos BioEnergy in April of the same year.
A Symphony of Diverse Talents
Our team is a vibrant mix of talent, pooling in expertise from various fields including the music and entertainment industry, technology, and education. This unique amalgamation of backgrounds ensures an environment that is rich in creativity and innovative thinking, empowering us to approach the complex challenge of sustainable biofuel production from multiple angles.
Building a Sustainable Future
Passionate about environmental sustainability, we are committed to forging robust educational and agricultural partnerships, launching effective outreach programs in underserved communities, and collaborating with farmers, local governments, and external organizations. Our efforts are geared towards facilitating an inclusive, equitable, and beneficial green transition to all stakeholders involved.
Fueling Economic Growth with Science & Technology
At Avos BioEnergy, our ambition extends beyond the environmental realm. We envision using cutting-edge science and technology to stimulate micro-economies in economically distressed regions. Additionally, we aim to enhance the spatial visualization of 3-D structures on smartphones, transforming these experiences into engaging and educative adventures.
Pioneering the Biofuel Revolution
Standing at the vanguard of biofuel innovation, our excitement is palpable. We're on a quest to redefine the biofuels industry and create a more sustainable future. As we navigate this trailblazing journey, we are fuelled by the anticipation of the limitless potential that lies ahead.
With bamboo as our chosen feedstock, we're utilizing an efficient and renewable resource and promoting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. This innovative approach to biofuels holds immense promise, providing a greener alternative to traditional energy sources and contributing to global sustainability efforts.
More importantly, through Avos BioEnergy, we hope to impact more than just the energy sector. By stimulating micro-economies and promoting education and outreach, we aspire to foster positive social change. By empowering communities, enhancing technological literacy, and promoting sustainable practices, we're helping shape a world where progress and sustainability go hand in hand.
As we look towards the future, we're brimming with optimism. Our journey has been inspiring, but we believe the best is yet to come. We're excited to continue leading the charge in this biofuel revolution, and we can't wait to see what the future holds. Join us as we embark on this exciting adventure towards a greener, more sustainable world with Avos BioEnergy at the forefront.
Sean Underwood - Founder, COO, Managing Director. Biofuel Division Chief Underwood has 12 years of experience running Poist Gas Co., a fuel company, and grew a $3 million a year in 2013 into a $20 million a year company by 2021. Before founding Avos BioEnergy, Underwood was a member of the Executive Board of Directors for the Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce, and a board member of Mid-Atlantic Propane Gas Association. Underwood has led, worked, or assisted on some of the largest construction projects in the Mid Atlantic, including customers such as Google, Amazon, University of Maryland, and has provided fuel for some of the largest greenhouses in Maryland. Underwood’s extensive network in the region provides the proposed Project team expert insight and functionality, providing Avos with subject experts, engineers, and executives to offer insight and opportunity to accelerate innovation and upscaling.
Dr. Russell Hanson - Founder, CTO, and Chief Scientist Dr. Hanson oversees all technical and scientific aspects of the company, which includes software design, patents, intellectual property, licensing, AI, and scientific strategy. He is also a former faculty member of several prestigious institutions and an entrepreneur.
James Walters - Founder and CEO, Bioremediation division Chief James Walters oversees the Education, Agriculture, and Biofuel divisions of the company Avos BioEnergy. His background lies in consulting, strategy, and education, providing a unique skill set to the team.
Dr. Michael T. Timko - Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering, at Worcester Polytechnic Institution (WPI), Principal Partner, Chief Collaborator, and Separations Specialist Timko has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Ohio State University, a M.S. in Chemical Engineering Practice from MIT, a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT, and a Postdoc from Harvard University. His research interests include clean energy technologies.
Dr. Eric Young - Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, at WPI, Chief Collaborator Young is an expert in yeast, genetic engineering and synthetic biology, with a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin. His research uses machine learning, directed evolution, gene editing, metabolic engineering, and genetic circuits to produce yeast cell factories for medicines, biofuels, and materials.
Dr. Robert Dempski - Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, at WPI, Interactive Media and Gaming SpecialistDempski has a B.S from Bucknell University and a Ph.D. from MIT. He has been instrumental in bringing inclusive mixed reality tools to WPI’s educational mission and to Avos BioEnergy, and has a full-service, immersive technology group that can build and customize programs to fit specific needs.
Dr. Lynn Clark - Interim chair of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology (EEOB) at Iowa State University, Bamboo Specialist Dr. Clark is the world’s foremost expert on bamboo and its evolution. She has named and published more than 130 new species of bamboo and has authored several books and chapters on grasses, bamboos, and native Iowa plants.
Pashon Murray - Founder of Detroit Dirt and Biofuel Ambassador Pashon Murray, a 5-year MIT fellow, was recently featured in Netflix's “Kiss the Ground,” documentary. With over a decade of experience, she co-founded Detroit Dirt, a local composting and waste collection company providing sustainable options for the metro Detroit community. She collaborated with GreenWorks on workforce development programs to reduce recidivism. Her environmental work earned recognition from Modern Farmer Magazine, Forbes, and Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards. In 2021, she was honored by the United Nations and named one of its Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Heroes. She testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in February 2022. Currently, she serves as the City of Detroit Green Task Force Climate Equity Advisory Committee Co-Chair.
Dr. Lewis Ziska - Associate Professor at Columbia University and Agriculture Advisor Dr. Ziska has contributed to over 100 peer-reviewed research articles on climate change, agriculture, food security, invasive species, plant biology, and public health. He was a contributor to the 2014 International Panel on Climate Change report, the 2014 National Climate Assessment, and The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. A Smithsonian fellow, he as the project leader for global climate change at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. His work has been featured on several prominent news platforms, including CNN, MSNBC, CBS Nightly News, CBS' Sunday Morning, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Currently, Dr. Ziska serves as an Associate Professor for Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.
Dr. Joseph Sullivan - Associate Dean at the University of Maryland and Agriculture Advisor Dr. Sullivan is an expert in forest ecology, ultraviolet radiation, ecophysiology, plant physiology, and environmental science. His research concentrates on the responses of plants to various forms of environmental stress, both natural and anthropogenic. This includes studying how human activities such as stratospheric ozone depletion, global climate change, or urbanization impacts plant and agricultural productivity, ecosystem productivity, or ecosystem structure and functioning. His primary research is around understanding plants' physiological and ecological responses to ultraviolet-B radiation and other elements of global climate change.
Dr. Mark Czarnota, Professor at University of Georgia, Bamboo Specialist, and one of the authors of Bamboo Control Dr. Czarnota is an expert in weeds, invasive species, bamboo, and horticulture. Having spent a lifetime gardening, he hails from Cochranville, PA, a small town with diverse agricultural systems. His work encompasses all aspects of weed control in ornamentals, orchard floor management, small fruits, and Christmas trees. He holds a BS degree from The University of Delaware, an MS degree from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. His weed science career started in high school under the guidance of Robert Beatty, the founder of the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA). His research interests center on applied weed management systems. Over his career, he has authored or co-authored 26 refereed journal and book chapters, published 50 extension publications, made over 250 presentations at professional, extension, and master gardener workshops.
🐝 BeeWild Collective: Embracing Bees and Empowering Communities
At BeeWild Collective, we are passionate about the incredible importance of bees and their vital role in our ecosystems. As a collective of like-minded individuals, we are dedicated to providing sustainable and ethical agricultural practices to our local communities and food systems. Our focus lies in urban beekeeping practices and promoting regenerative farming methods that enhance pollination and enable individuals to cultivate their food sources.
Bees are not just ordinary insects; they are unsung heroes of nature. These remarkable creatures play a crucial role in our environment by pollinating plants, ensuring the reproduction of numerous species, and contributing to the growth of our native flora. Without bees, our world would be devoid of the vibrant beauty we so often take for granted.
To further raise awareness and appreciation for bees' incredible work, we host Beekeeping Workshops where participants can witness bees in action and actively engage with them under the guidance of professional beekeepers. These workshops offer a unique opportunity to learn about the intricate workings of a beehive, understand the importance of hive management, and experience the awe-inspiring world of bees firsthand. By working directly with these industrious insects, individuals gain a deeper understanding and respect for these remarkable creatures, fostering a sense of stewardship for their well-being.
Did you know that beekeepers have the longest life expectancy of any occupation? It's a testament to our symbiotic relationship with bees and their positive impact on our lives. By safeguarding bee populations, we are ensuring our survival and protecting the delicate balance of our ecosystems.
At BeeWild Collective, our mission is clear: conserving, defending, and increasing bee populations across Southern California. We collaborate with local communities, organizations, and farmers to promote sustainable beekeeping practices, create bee-friendly habitats, and educate the public about the significance of bees in our lives. By empowering individuals to become beekeepers and advocates for bee conservation, we believe we can make a substantial difference in preserving these essential pollinators for generations to come.
Through our collective efforts, we aim to create a future where urban environments and agriculture can coexist harmoniously and where the beauty and abundance of our natural world can flourish. Join us in our journey to save the bees, and together, let's help save the world.
Our Bee Team
Evan Froewiss - Chief Bee Keeper
Evan is a dedicated beekeeper with five years of hands-on experience, backed by a diverse 20-year background in hospitality, urban agriculture, and farmers' markets. His passion for conservation is manifested in his leadership role at the beeWild Collective, a group committed to the preservation and proliferation of bees. Born with a love for nature, Evan's interest in urban agriculture was honed over two decades working in hospitality and coordinating farmers' markets. This led to his discovery and love for beekeeping, which became essential to his life and advocacy.
Evan leads the BeeWild Collective with a mission to conserve and expand bee populations, believing that these tiny creatures play an integral part in our ecosystem. His dedication goes beyond maintaining hives; Evan takes pride in sharing his knowledge with others, teaching aspiring beekeepers the importance of their roles and how to perform them responsibly. His engaging teaching methods and comprehensive beekeeping courses have inspired many to take up the mantle of beekeeping and contribute to their local ecosystems. A steadfast advocate for bees, Evan continually researches and implements new strategies and techniques to increase their populations while educating others about bees' integral role in our environment.
David Nunez - Beekeeper and Advocate
David is a lifelong nature enthusiast with a profound commitment to sustainable living, reflected in his diverse pursuits across Southern California. An accomplished urban farmer, beekeeper, and educator, David channels his passion for nature into nurturing chickens, cultivating fruits and vegetables, and teaching the wonders of beekeeping on a weekly basis.
Growing up amid the diverse landscapes of Southern California, David developed a deep appreciation for the richness and complexity of the natural world early in his life. This appreciation evolved into tangible action as he ventured into raising chickens and growing a variety of fruits and vegetables. His efforts showcase not only his green thumb but also his commitment to promoting sustainable, local food systems.
David's fascination with bees extends beyond his role as a beekeeper. Recognizing their indispensable role in our ecosystems, he made it his mission to spread the word about their importance. Through his weekly classes, he helps people discover the magic of bees, sharing his knowledge and sparking enthusiasm in others about the vital art of beekeeping.
His teaching style, deeply rooted in his personal experiences, is both engaging and informative, making the complex world of bees accessible to people of all backgrounds and ages. Students leave his classes not only equipped with the knowledge to start their own hives, but also a newfound respect for these industrious pollinators.
But David's commitment doesn't stop at education. He actively contributes to local food security through his efforts in urban farming and raising chickens. His plots across Southern California yield a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables that he shares with the community, simultaneously encouraging healthier eating habits and local sourcing.
David's lifelong love for nature extends beyond a mere hobby or occupation; it's a way of life. Whether he's tending to his chickens, tending to his thriving gardens, or sharing the magic of bees, David's passion for sustainable living is truly inspiring. As he continues his efforts, he aims to instill in others the same love and respect for nature that have guided his own journey. Through every plant he grows, every egg collected, and every new beekeeper he mentors, David works tirelessly to leave a positive impact on both his local community and the broader environment.
🏡 Gratitude Garden
Welcome to the Gratitude Garden!
We are a groundbreaking school and creative studio dedicated to fostering a powerful culture of gratitude. At the Gratitude Garden, we are revolutionizing how children, students, and families perceive and interact with gratitude in their everyday lives.
We've had the immense privilege of working with families from across the globe, including those caring for children with diverse health conditions. Through this journey, we've witnessed a transformative connection with gratitude, revealing itself as a strong foundation in even the most challenging circumstances.
Our Philosophy: We staunchly believe that each of life's challenges carries a hidden gift from the universe—a gift waiting to be unveiled through the spirit of gratitude. With every step we take, every breath we inhale and exhale, there exists an opportunity for gratitude.
Our Approach: At the Gratitude Garden, we deploy creativity to instill the beauty of gratitude in our young learners. We orchestrate engaging puppet shows featuring over 75 unique puppets representing animals, people from varied occupations, and more. These captivating stories imbued with lessons of gratitude leave lasting impressions on young minds.
But our efforts don't stop with the children. We guide parents to embrace gratitude meditatively, encouraging them to dedicate at least 15 minutes each day to count their blessings before their day unfolds with their children. Additionally, we empower parents with the art of using puppets as interactive storytelling tools, creating a playful, yet profound path to nurture gratitude within their families.
Join Us on Our Journey: Currently nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, Azmarah welcomes all students, children, and families yearning to explore the world of gratitude. As we dream of spreading our wings and establishing Gratitude Gardens worldwide, we extend our hands to you for support.
Your generous donations fuel our mission, enabling us to touch more lives with the essence of gratitude. We've already made a difference in hundreds of lives around the globe, but with your help, we can do so much more.
Come, be a part of the Gratitude Garden family. Together, let's foster a world overflowing with gratitude!
Reuven Korenstein is a beacon of positivity and an inspiration to all those around him. A Yale-educated educator and a lifelong student of gratitude, Reuven's journey is a unique testament to resilience, empathy, and unwavering optimism. His profound understanding of gratitude's role in the human psyche is built on a solid academic foundation and fueled by a deep, personal experience.
A scholar and a master puppeteer, Reuven was inspired to create the Gratitude Garden by his son, Noam, who has severe autism. This inspiration led Reuven to recognize the transformative potential of puppetry as a communication medium. He realized that puppets provide a comfortable, accessible avenue for children to connect, regardless of their individual circumstances. His belief was later backed by a scholastic study proving that puppets unlock heightened emotional empathy in children, thus enabling them to learn and grow more effectively.
As a songwriter, Reuven channels the power of music to further his teachings of gratitude. His songs, just like his puppetry, reach out to children in a way few other mediums can, unlocking an array of emotions, from joy and hope to empathy and understanding.
Reuven’s teachings are strongly anchored in scientific findings. He cites a study from the University of California, Berkeley that indicates gratitude activates both hemispheres of the brain, promoting healing and the sustenance of mental health. This knowledge is at the heart of his mission, as he strives to foster gratitude and resilience in young minds.
Reuven Korenstein is not just an educator, a puppeteer, or a songwriter. He is a tireless advocate for empathy and gratitude, using innovative methods to promote mental health among children. His life's work—rooted in personal journey, academic knowledge, and creative skill—is a testament to the transformative power of gratitude. With every puppet string he pulls, and every note he writes, Reuven continues to sow seeds of gratitude in the fertile minds of young learners.
Johnny Rapp is a compassionate educator and a vital member of the Gratitude Garden team, working tirelessly to instill a sense of mutual appreciation in children and guide parents towards better understanding the powers of gratitude.
Raised in a hospital environment, Johnny's empathy and understanding for the pain of others has been shaped by his mother, a dedicated nurse caring for children with severe diseases such as cystic fibrosis. His unique upbringing made him intimately aware of the struggles and challenges faced by those in severe pain from a very young age. It is this empathy and firsthand exposure to pain and resilience that Johnny brings to the Gratitude Garden.
Under the mentorship of Reuven Korenstein, Johnny has further honed his skills and developed a deeper understanding of the role of gratitude in healing and personal development. With Reuven, he has learned to harness the power of gratitude and use it to bring comfort and solace to the lives of the children and families he works with.
Johnny is particularly adept at communicating and connecting with children in a meaningful and impactful way. He guides parents to understand their children better and reveals gratitude's extraordinary power. He believes that fostering an attitude of thankfulness can lead to significant improvements in mental and emotional health.
With his combination of personal experience, empathy, and a deep understanding of gratitude, Johnny Rapp brings a unique and heartfelt perspective to the Gratitude Garden. His commitment to helping children and parents appreciate the power of gratitude reflects his selfless dedication to promoting healing, understanding, and positivity.