create / 2019

Perfume Garden at GrowGood

Perfume Garden at GrowGood

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The Institution for Art and Olfaction

We will plant and maintain a garden devoted to botanical aromatics, serving the community of homeless men, and women (many of them veterans) housed at the adjacent Bell Homeless Shelter. This Perfume Garden will be activated by a rich slate of workshops on topics relating to scent as an accessible and meaningful creative practice. Garden and workshops alike will serve GrowGood’s mission to provide green space, work opportunities and a beautiful space for the shelter’s population.


What does your organization do?

The Institute for Art and Olfaction is a 501(c)(3) non-profit devoted to advancing public, artistic and experimental engagement with scent through education, experimentation and advocacy.

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • GrowGood

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

In LA, it often feels like we live at the proverbial end of the line, the far reaches of (Western) expansion. But being on the edge of the world at the can afford great opportunities, and Angelenos have worked hard to create an inclusive, heterogeneous civic identity through innovation, synthesis, diversity, and egalitarianism. We can break patterns, and break molds, here, in every field.

Used for medicine and worship in ancient societies and considered a vital aspect of daily existence, for most of the 20th century perfumery has been perceived as a luxury product; something to be consumed by the elite. We launched The Institute for Art and Olfaction to help revisit and subvert the exclusionary narratives that dominate how we interact with a very vital (and very human) sense. Our aim, then, is to bring perfumery into the bigger world, and in so-doing to provide access to a new form of creative expression. This effort is fueled by the simple belief that - in the same way that people with no access to oil paint will never make a painting - people without access to the materials of perfumery will never engage in this vital creative practice. We empower people to learn a new medium with which to create by providing access and information.

In encouraging different groups of people to experiment with a heretofore inaccessible medium, we have facilitated new projects in fields as diverse as fine art, music, performance and more. Since 2012, we’ve hosted over 6,500 people in our experimental laboratory in downtown LA, and with our institutional partners, we’ve created public installations, workshops and creative possibilities on an international scale.

The Perfume Garden at GrowGood, feels like the most impactful next step we could engage in. By imagining and building a space to learn about, produce and enjoy aromatics in the public domain (plants), we hope to empower the adjacent homeless population to work with and enjoy aromatic materials. This will foster personal creativity in a very badly impacted population, allow connection with the natural world in an otherwise urban environment, and quietly celebrate the small joys that being human - and having a vital, sensitive body - can allow.

Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)
  • Unemployment (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA

How will your project make LA the best place to create?

The Institute for Art and Olfaction and GrowGood teams will execute this program with a series of volunteer planting days, as well as quarterly scheduled maintenance days. Further to that, we will provide ongoing workshops and participatory opportunities for the homeless population at the adjacent shelter. These workshops and activations - in partnership with creatives across the LA area - will be free for the Bell Shelter residents, and will provide opportunities for personal growth, rest and relaxation, and creative development.

With regards to suppliers and tools: The GrowGood team has connections to plant suppliers, and together we have created a list of aromatic botanicals, including flowers, herbs and many more, with a bias toward plants native to Southern California.

Our combined team will provide administrative support for events, garden maintenance, as well as public outreach and social media blasts to provide awareness and opportunities for assistance. Finally, we will reach the shelter population though direct one to one outreach and - of course - work with shelter staff to make sure we’re reaching the populations that would most benefit from participating in this program.

GrowGood already makes good impact with this population through their existing programs, including temporary employment, meditation and yoga and other soft skills. The perfume garden will extend GrowGood’s already impactful programming by providing an additional engagement point, as well as a dedicated space for relaxation and enjoyment.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Lateral application (testing feasibility of a proven action/solution to a new issue or sector)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The measures of our success:

  • Are we creating a comfortable, friendly, safe space for the homeless population at the shelter?

  • Are we creating learning opportunities and resources for the homeless population at the shelter?

  • Are we effectively providing a space where homeless people can engage with and learn about scent-making as a creative practice?

  • Are we consistently providing empowering opportunities to create without our input or oversight?

  • Are we consistently providing educational and creative events for the shelter population?

  • Are our respective teams effectively scheduling and using our time to maintain the Perfume Garden?

  • Have we provided the material goods outlined in our brief? (i.e., plants, benches, shade structures)

  • Are we providing part-time work opportunities for the homeless population at the shelter?

  • Are we using the opportunities and resources we provide in a way that can support the program as an ongoing and more permanent infrastructure?