As part of a backyard community design, Tournesol was honored to donate products for a garden in downtown Los Angeles that was unveiled in February 2023. The project was for a non-profit organization called Las Fotos Project. “Las Fotos Project’s mission is to elevate the voices of teenage girls and gender-expansive youth from communities of color through photography and mentoring, empowering them to channel their creativity for the benefit of themselves, their community, and future careers.”
Landscape architecture firm, Studio MLA, in Los Angeles, reached out to Tournesol to see if we could help and we were able to donate beautiful Boulevard Planters for an outdoor garden plaza. The planters are thermally modified hardwood clad to a robust FRP fiberglass liner for a long-lasting outdoor planter.
The program at Las Fotos Project provides students with a complete, professional photography kit and camera to those who might not be able to afford it or have the luxury of learning about photography as a hobby or a career, so that they can explore photography on their own. In addition, they have various projects the girls can be involved in - one is self-expression; the girls take self-portraits, and photos of their families and communities, documenting their lives and those around them and learning how that impacts them personally.
We interviewed Lucia Torres, Executive Director of the Las Fotos Project, about the purpose and inspiration of the community garden space.
Was there a vision for the outdoor space in your new location?
“When we moved into our current location, we saw the outdoor space as a way we could continue to expand the avenues available for our students to occupy and utilize as they learn and grow. We modeled the idea after our Digital Promotoras program (Digital Advocates), which challenges youth to use photography as a way to advocate for their community. Now that we had this wonderful new outdoor space, we saw the opportunity for us to become the forum for our students and the community to hold roundtables to learn about our students’ work, a safe place to gather and be together. Everyone who visits us is just amazed when they see it.”
How did the garden design idea come to life?
“The landscape design was entirely thanks to Mia Lehrer and Studio MLA. Mia has been a long-time supporter of our work, so we were very excited when she offered Studio MLA’s services to help our vision come to life. We were so glad to work with a company spearheaded by a strong woman who was making great strides in an industry that has also seen gender inequities. The fact that Studio MLA is also dedicated to utilizing sustainable materials and native plants also aligns with our values to always be rooted in our local community.”
The outdoor garden has become an accessible space for the Las Fotos Project and the surrounding community members to use for their own personal celebrations, gathering space, and a beautiful exploration of togetherness.