What is the Native Plant Project?

 
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Last year, coincidentally during tax season, I made the abrupt decision to stop designing stationery as my full-time gig. For those of you unfamiliar with my creative journey. I started calligraphy and watercolor as a hobby in late 2014, launched my business a year later and started working for myself full-time in the summer of 2016. I originally launched my calligraphy business with the goal of designing stationery and paper goods for weddings and events. After a full year of doing just that, I changed my mind. Not because I didn't enjoy designing stationery, but because I wanted more time and space to explore watercolor beyond what I was creating for my clients. It was a huge relief when I finally made the decision to pivot, but soon afterwards, I felt directionless and lost. I finally had the time and space to do what I wanted, but I was out of ideas as to how I wanted to move forward. I knew I wanted to keep painting, but I had no idea how to combine my love for watercolor with a viable business plan. I even considered dissolving my business and exploring watercolor as a hobby. 

Fast forward a few months, when I had an epiphany sitting in my film photography class.

That very evening, I was sitting in my office when I suddenly remembered something. I had gone to Hawaii only a few weeks prior, and there, I learned how so many of the tropical plants and fruits we naturally associate with Hawaii were not native to the islands. They were brought and planted by the many settlers and explorers over the years. I was shocked to learn how a native landscape can be so drastically changed by human intervention over time. This got me thinking about native plants more specifically. I remembered learning about native plants when I volunteered at a local garden a few years back. There, I had learned how native plants are the perfect choice for landscaping because it will seamlessly adapt to the soil and climate. This was particularly a hot issue a few years ago, when California was experiencing a severe drought. Landscaping with drought tolerant, native plants in California meant, less water was needed to keep them alive.

The more I looked into native plants, the more I felt the desire to incorporate native plants into my artwork. After watching Salgado's Ted Talk, I knew I wanted to create with more intention and my growing interest in native plants aligned with my desire to do my part to increase awareness about environmental issues and inspire action, especially from the creative community. 

So what is the Native Plant Project?

Currently, it is a three-prong process. First, it's all about educating myself. I've been reaching out to local gardens and state parks in an effort to learn more about native plants in the San Diego region as well as the issues that affect their preservation. All the while, I am creating a series of content and artwork inspired by native plants, in an effort to present the information I am receiving in a beautiful art form that can inspire others. The third component is to give back to the many organizations that tirelessly work to protect the environment, whether it is in the form of volunteering my time, or collaborating on a project, or even a monetary donation of a portion of my sales. You can read a bit more about the project here.

I am only just starting this journey, and I'm sure the parameters of the Native Plant Project will evolve and adjust over time. But just like a first hike in a new location, the unknown parts of the trail make the journey all the more exciting!