Hami’s Green Hero
December 7, 2022
Paula Waxman, a founder of the Hamilton Garden, has a passion for gardening and environmentalism rooted in her work with students. As head of the South Robertson Neighborhood Council’s Green Team, Waxman proposed to implement a garden at Hamilton 12 years ago. Waxman continues her acts of service today, by contributing 4 hours weekly to Hamilton’s garden on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Waxman’s work has kept the Hamilton Garden thriving for over a decade.
Waxman worked in the art world for 20 years before teaching art history at University High beginning in 2008.
“What got me started in the environmental movement were 6 students of mine,” Waxman said. “They invited me to the 6-night seminar, each seminar was devoted to a different environmental issue. I had some of the best students ever.”
These seminars were hosted by Sustainable Works and ranged from water conservation to chemical waste management. A year later, she was elected head of South Robertson Neighborhood Council’s Green team. With the aid of a Los Angeles Beautification Grant, Waxman’s Green Team installed the Hamilton Garden.
“Art history is the study of people who are creative,” Waxman said. In art history, “I would connect the seller with the buyer so there wasn’t a lot of creativity. Here, there is more, designing gardens and deciding what looks nice. Here, I am much more the artist and creator.”
Waxman says that seeing a lack of awareness of the ongoing crisis of climate change also contributed to her transition to environmental advocacy.
“When I first started working in the environmental movement in 2012, a lot of people just didn’t know about it,” Waxman said. ‘We’ve come a long way, and unfortunately, it’s because we have droughts and violent storms. You can’t ignore that. Placing a garden in Hamilton seemed to be the most ideal because this is a place 2,000-3,000 people show up to every day!”
Waxman has worked on several projects at Hamilton to bring awareness to the topic of climate change. For many events, she worked in collaboration with science teachers. Waxman has hosted tree-planting activities, E-waste drives, and rain barrel giveaways alongside these teachers in the past. Waxman credits her student discussion panel which brought in experts to have an open debate on Proposition 37 to be her best event ever hosted due to the integration of student leaders.
Waxman believes that students hold immense power and are our future leaders. “ After all, students are going to be the next presidents!” Waxman stated.
Brenda Carrasco, Co-Student Garden Manager states: “The Hami Garden has become a safe space for many students at Hamilton due to Paula’s commitment and hard work. Paula’s focus on helping the Garden flourish into the beauty it is today has inspired many students, including myself.