Alternative Grants: Growing a Movement

When you start something new—plant a garden perhaps—you begin with fertile ground to grow your idea. Just like a seedling that needs water, sunlight and good energy to grow, a new project needs that same nurturing to come to life.

So, it was an especially proud moment this month when Alternative saw its new initiative Alternative Grants come to life and bearfruit in the form of a super fun launch party at its Abbot Kinney store in Venice.

Inspired by our brand values of Empowerment, Play and Impact, Alternative created the program to bring communities together to select grant recipients for neighborhood improvement projects; and for a kick-off event, we couldn’t have asked for a more charismatic crew to share in the excitement.

Hundreds of agriculture enthusiasts, Venice locals and friends of Alternative came by to mingle, meet renegade gardener and our host for the evening Ron Finley, plus cast their vote for the winner of our first Alternative Grant. Dart DJ set the musical tone while everyone sipped cocktails and coconut water, conversing about compost and how they’ve seen gardening change people’s lives.

“After I watched your TED talk, I planted a garden at home with my wife and our two kids… Now our kids have watering cans, we’re eating a lot healthier, and we’re going to start more gardening projects in our community, too,” Justin Milrad of Alternative told Ron Finley. “I love to hear that shit,” Finley replied with a big grin.

Our first Alternative Grant was inspired by Finley, a South Central Los Angeles-based renegade gardener who fights to transform “food deserts” into “food forests.” In partnership with Finley, Alternative asked the local Venice and westside community to propose gardening and urban agriculture projects they would like to see realized in Venice.

Then, the five finalists were selected to share their projects at the party: Guacamole Gardens, Abundant Gardens, WE Gardens, Community-Supported Agriculture and Ocean-Friendly Gardens. After all five presentations were made and votes cast, WE Gardens was announced as the winner, a project focused on student gardens in school parking lots.Speaking on behalf of WE Gardens, Katie Laurie invited all of the finalists to work together and collaborate, since everyone shared the same passion.

Just as Alternative’s design director Orondava Mumford explained in his opening remarks, “we partner with people like Ron Finley because they inspire social change and empowerment. Because they inspire us, all of us.”

And that same warm and welcoming energy continued the entire evening, everyone inspired and enthusiastic about collaborating and creating positive change in their communities. You could feel it growing and blooming, right then and there, and you knew it was something you wanted to be a part of.

Shannon Flaherty Randall
Shop our new graphic tees benefitting the Ron Finley project to grow neighborhood gardens.

Many thanks to everyone who made the event a huge success: Imprint Projects, Newcastle, Bushmills, CocoLibre and more!


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