Based in Echo Park, Biocitizen LA offers field environmental philosophy courses that bring students to outdoor classrooms where they investigate the unique natural and cultural history of the city and its marine, chapparal and mountain “South Coast” bioregion.
We give students the tools and inspiration they use to deeply know and feel at home in LA. We channel the good and healthy feelings, and friendships, that come from being “placed” into acts of caring for where we live, through student involvement in citizen science and public art, education and conservation projects.
We teach, and we learn, in the field—and that means we walk through neighborhoods, forests and brownfields, on beaches and railroad tracks, in malls and in rivers. We read the world like a book and learn its stories while we’re in them. We encourage students to revise it—the story, the place, our lives—in accordance with Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic”:
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
The education Biocitizen LA provides its students enhances everything they learn in traditional classrooms. When they call forth background knowledge and use it to interpret the natural and cultural history of the place we are investigating, they are no longer in the audience of history. They are actors, active, in it.