Ballona Creek Renaissance: CCHS Students Making A Difference for the Environment


Ballona Creek Renaissance members sorting trash during a creek cleanup. (From left to right: Abby Cregor, Miles Griffin, Claudia Lowey, Eve Mott)

Lily Maxson, Media Editor & Publicist

Ballona Creek Renaissance (BCR) is an environmental club at Culver City High School that aims to revitalize La Ballona Creek, making an effort to remove trash and pollution from aquatic habitats. The club balances education and action– passionate students discuss climate change along with the nuances of environmental issues and show up at the creek with sunscreen, buckets, and gloves. 


Sofia Layne, president of Ballona Creek Renaissance said,  “The goal of BCR is to spread awareness through art, community, and action-based services to help nature.” The club utilizes creative forms of activism and provides a safe space for students to get involved and take part in helping the environment around them.


Monthly creek cleanups are an integral part of the Ballona Creek Renaissance organization and their mission to revitalize local freshwater environments. Once a month, highschool students collaborate with the larger BCR non-profit organization, which is run by adults, to remove trash from the water and surrounding foliage at various creek locations. Participants devote three hours of their Saturday morning to redirecting as much trash as possible, which will otherwise flow into the Pacific Ocean. 


These regularly occurring cleanups allow a wide variety of community members to bond, working together to reach a common goal. “My favorite part about BCR is the cleanups because they are so rewarding and it feels nice to get together with friends and members of the club to improve Culver City,” said Sophia Lowey, who has been a member of the club for two years.


During the September event, 116 individual buckets of trash and debris were collected, which filled an entire dumpster and accounted for around 580 pounds of trash in total. Considering the fact that this was only one singular cleanup, BCR volunteers have collected thousands of pounds of trash throughout the years.  


Ballona Creek Renaissance club meets in room 64 every Friday to plan a variety of activities. In the past, the club has fundraised and participated in the Grades of Green program by selling tote bags and hand-printed art that was created by AVPA visual art students. Over quarantine, BCR partnered with Pasta Sisters to help them become a sustainable restaurant. Students raised $1,300 to help the business adopt eco-friendly practices such as switching plastic takeout bags to paper and disposable utensils for reusable ones. Plastic water bottles were permanently switched to glass materials. Additionally, water and energy conservation appliances were either renewed or added.


 This year, the club plans on raising money to support Native Americans by donating to the organization Land Back, which is a campaign by Indigenous peoples in North America that want to encourage decolonization and respect for the natural environment. 


“Something I find valuable about BCR is the fluidity of ways to aid our environment, as it allows for so much art and interconnectedness, which helps us bring awareness to environmental injustices,” said Layne. 


Ballona Creek Renaissance is led by a powerful and inspiring group of teenagers that continue to demonstrate the need for innovative solutions to complex issues such as climate change, littering, and pollution. “Our club plays a huge role in how the youth perceives the power they hold to create a better world,” said Layne. “I hope that more students realize they are capable of enacting many forms of change through art, environmental rhetoric, fundraising, and cleanups.”