Making Preserving A Home For Veterans

Preserving A Home For Veterans is an adaptation of the Metabolic Studio’s January 2011 position paper detailing how the Department of Veterans Affairs uses its largest land asset—the West Los Angeles VA campus.

In June 2010, artist Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio launched Strawberry Flag, an aquaponic sculpture that employed homeless veterans to tend rescued strawberry plants on the West LA campus.

The project was a tremendous success, precipitating several other projects, including the Veterans Print Studio, which provides free silkscreening workshops for veterans. The print studio also began publishing the Strawberry Gazette newspaper, covering veterans’ issues and more. Meanwhile, Strawberry Flag had become the second largest employer of homeless veterans at the campus.

Yet in October 2011, the VA shut down Strawberry Flag. The Studio’s position paper, informally published 11 months earlier, had provided legal research used by the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the VA, alleging that they were in violation of the original 1888 deed which designated the West LA VA campus as a permanent home for veterans. Lauren Bon, the Metabolic Studio, and veterans involved with Strawberry Flag continue to pursue these issues, organizing events and publishing the Strawberry Bulletin, a newsletter covering veteran-related land issues and art projects, produced at the Veterans Print Studio.

In 2011, Les Figues Press began working with the studio to edit and design the original position paper as a pocket-size book, re-imagined in the long slender format of our TrenchArt series. We also worked with the Veterans Print Studio, which had acquired an offset printer, to see the publication through production. Preserving a Home for Veterans is the Print Studio’s first book-length print job, printed by veterans in an edition of 2000.

Map of VA in West LA, Land Use

Strawberry Flag, Deed of 1888 Website

Online archive of Strawberry Gazette and Strawberry Bulletin

For more information:

Ongoing | The Gopher Plan, Official Tour Site

Ongoing | The Gopher Plan, regular updates and posts on Facebook

03.25.2013 | The Nation, Homeless Vets vs. the VA: An LA Story Continues

11.11.2009 | USA Today, LA Project Strawberry Flag helps veterans through rough patch


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