“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly,” wrote Dr. Maya Angelou, “but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” In south Los Angeles, this legendary activist and author has inspired a group of students, guided by a local environmental leader, to bring more of both to the community.

The Maya Angelou Community High School is bringing butterflies to its campus, and in doing so, hopes to inspire change and spread beauty. For Mike Meador, founder of the environmental nonprofit California Greenworks, this project has been a long time coming. In 2002, Meador created California Greenworks, Inc. out of a passion for nature, a desire for environmental education in youth, and a mission to revitalize south Los Angeles. The proposed garden – officially titled the Maya Angelou Butterfly Native Garden and Water Conservation Demonstration Project – will accomplish all of these goals.

“We wanted to create a living, learning laboratory for students to develop deeper knowledge of local solutions for one of our community’s most pressing environmental problems – drought,” says Meador. “More than that, we want the garden to remind visitors about the lessons and legacy of the legendary Maya Angelou. Dr. Angelou stood for social equity, for resilience, for collaboration, and for hope. Those are the values we want to honor with this garden.”

The garden at MACHS will begin a long and multi-faceted partnership between California Greenworks and the students of Maya Angelou Community High School and Synergy Quantum Academy charter school. The school, the first charter school of its kind in south L.A, already has a strong track record of developing student leaders, and will continue to lead the way into environmentally-focused projects. The MACHS Environmental Club is leading development of the garden, under the direction of science teacher Melissa Naponalli, Math Chair Matthew Duncan who head community programs for Synergy Quantum Acedemy and with the assistance of California Greenworks.

The garden will use water-conserving construction methods, feature drought-tolerant plants, and will serve as a drought resilience educational tool to visitors. The Maya Angelou garden will be the centerpiece of this youth development program’s pilot work.

We are so delighted to have various community supporters participating. HOME DEPOT has been a major donor of this project since its inception. Council Member Curren Price CD 9 office has lead the way to provide city support, LADWP, Metropolitan Water District, the Water Replenish District, Kellogg’s Garden Center to name a few.

The students will break ground for the inaugural planting day from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on October 18, 2014 at Maya Angelou Community High School, 300 E. 53rd St. Councilman Price will be present for the planting ceremony, and the day will feature booths where students can learn more about the charter school, the garden, and Dr. Maya Angelou herself. By energizing students, creating leaders, and beautifying a neighborhood, the Maya Angelou Butterfly Garden can be a project that its community can delight in.