Linzi Lewis

Linzi Lewis starts every weekday morning with a 15km bicycle ride to her work in the Maboneng Precinct. It is by simple but powerful acts like this ritualistic ride that she contributes to a healthier relationship between humans and the Earth. It’s also her way of slaying the fear that she believes is bred into South Africans: a fear of the unknown that constricts our ability to live freely. Motivated by this desire to break through her comfort zone, after matric Liliana Transplanter, as she is also known, embarked on a three-month solo backpacking tour of Africa. Among many other lessons, the trip taught her how to be brave and to trust both herself and others. On her return to Jo’burg she began her studies in Environment and Conservation. Lewis won the prestigious European Union Erasmus Mundus scholarship, which enabled her to study Sustainable Tropical Forestry and complete two MSc degrees, one in Copenhagen, the other in Montpellier. During this time she visited and studied the forests of the world. As a thirdgeneration dancer, 27-year-old Lewis works constantly to uncover ways in which art can be employed to communicate within science. In 2011 her musings culminated in the formation of the AMbush Eco-Art Collective. The members of the fledgling organisation were commissioned to be resident artists on the Climate Train as part of COP17, creating gardens in 17 South African towns. Since then, they have grown guerrilla gardens in cityscapes throughout South Africa. The basis of the AMbush approach is to involve the community in the entire greening process. This “promotes agency and local responsibility and ensures that the intervention is relevant and sustainable”, says Lewis, who choreographs the artistic and scientific in her bid to create more socioecologically resilient societies. — Taryn Mackay