WHO WE ARE

Our Mission: Joshua Tree Living Arts is dedicated to empowering and strengthening our community through arts education programs and sustainable practices.

Our Vision: is to provide resources and programs that create an economically-viable, sustainable, vibrant, and interconnected living arts community for all generations.

At the core of JTLA’s mission is a commitment to arts and community.  JTLA is made up of artists, educators, and creative entrepreneurs from a range of artistic disciplines. We are dedicated to providing arts education to members of our community in an effort to empower individuals to express themselves through creative means. In our experience, the healing power of creativity is tried and true; a little instruction can go a long way in breaking down intimidation and promoting self-confidence.  

Joshua Tree Living Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization. Our programs are funded by donations, sponsorships, contributions, grants, and most importantly -- our membership.  


Our goals are to:  ~CREATE~

  • Create sustainable enrichment programs -- creative networks, art classes, multidisciplinary workshops, and educational retreats -- that fulfill our community’s educational and cultural needs. 

  • Create a reciprocal resource hub that offers local artists’ promotional, funding, and business assistance.  

  • Create a network of artists who have harnessed their energy and skills and are willing to share their talents and expertise with the community.

  • Create a Living Arts Center campus where living arts, culture, and health/wellness programs and facilities are easily accessible to everyone.


Over the last several years a special relationship has grown between the High Desert Living Arts Center (JTLA) and Joshua Tree Music Festivals.  Beginning with cooperation on a range of public benefit activities already part of the JTMF, HDLAC (JTLA) has become the primary vehicle for the continuing development of socially conscious and educational activities associated with the JTMF.  This has greatly increased the activities of the organization as well as exposure to the needs and goals of our community.   

Our Team:
JTLA is created and operated by volunteers with a passion for the arts and improving their community.  Our volunteers are committed to creating an environment and programs that empower individuals via the arts, and encourages our community to tap into its full academic, creative, and personal potential.  Join our team today to create a new program, volunteer for an existing program, or support a program.   

Our Crew:
Our dedicated crew has pledged a commitment to creating stability and sustainability in everything we do. We are financially responsible, develop programs that are in alignment with our mission, and ensure that our programs are accessible to the community at large regardless of economics, race, color, sex, national or ethnic origin, age, religion or religious creed, disability or handicap.

JTLA is a leader in defining
living arts
- arts for a better life.

Rhonda Lane Coleman - Executive Director
Rhonda Lane Coleman is an entrepreneurial arts professional with advanced degrees in business, art history, and museum studies and over 25 years in the art, design and nonprofit worlds. As a museum curator, educator, non-profit art director, creative strategist, and university instructor, she has held important positions at THREAD, the Henry Art Gallery (Seattle’s Contemporary Art Museum), the Corcoran Gallery of Art in D.C., the UW, and USC. She is most recognized for pioneering the art of unknown artists, experimenting with art accessibility, and developing sustainable arts models. Coleman has lived  in the Joshua Tree desert for over a decade, where she currently balances numerous roles – Executive Director of Joshua Tree Living Arts, acting Director of the 29 Palms Art Gallery, advisor to the Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts, and more recently a Cultural Economic Development Strategist for Joshua Tree Gateway Communities, and Director of Sand to Stone: Contemporary Native American Art.

Travis Puglisi - Administrative Director
Travis Puglisi is an Event Production Specialist with expertise in project management, systems development, collaborative efforts within cloud based communication platforms, and site management.  Travis Puglisi has been living in the Mojave Desert in and around Joshua Tree since 2001.  During his time in the region he has come to appreciate the value of community and the culture that drives the community.  During his 15 years in the High Desert Travis has worked with a number of local businesses, 501c3’s, civic groups, and grassroots organizations that strive to create both economic and environmental sustainability for a town with limited economic resources but vast cultural and environmental value. 

Lynne Thelen - Education Director
Lynne Thelen comes to JTLA with over 16 years of experience in education.  After graduating with a Masters in Education from UIC@ Chicago, she led a blended learning pilot program and was responsible for the implementation and development of the 4th, 5th, & 6th grade multi-age program.   In 2004, Lynne moved to Joshua Tree and began teaching  in the Morongo Unified School District.  She has taught 4th grade for most of this time, but continues to constantly change the curriculum and projects to keep things fresh. After 12 years, at Onaga Elementary, Lynne is starting a new chapter of her teaching career at Lander's Elementary teaching 5th grade. She co- facilitates the Family Involvement Program for over 700 students at Onaga Elementary where she creates a partnership with parents, teachers, and students through various outreach programs.  Lynne has been production manager since the inception of Joshua Tree Music Festival where she coordinates over 200 work exchange volunteers and also directs over 15 lead managers.  Lynne also co-founded and managed Transmission Joshua Tree, a non-profit that offered over 250 enrichment classes and playshops to the community of Joshua Tree.

Kali Poulin - Vice President/Treasurer
As a resident of Joshua Tree for the last 8 years, Kali Poulin is an active member in the community. She has worked with numerous local businesses and organizations that seek to promote and sustain the unique cultural and natural environments. Her passion to be of service began as a teenager, when she produced small benefit concerts. Recently retired as manager of Pappy and Harriet’s, one of the top music venues in California, Kali is now dedicated to the event production work she has been involved with for 8 years. Specializing in cohesion, organization, data collection, and developing new models of system structures, Kali works for events of up to 30,000 people overseeing budget allocations and procedural implementation. Pursuing an education in Ecopsychology, Kali aims to use her work in the world as a means of healing both the inner and outer environments.

Jennessee Rosenberg - Secretary
Jessica (Jennessee) Rosenberg, founder and CEO of Ganesh & Demeter Apothecarius, a nationally distributed herbal tea brand, has been passionate about arts and community empowerment since youth.  Jennessee has extensive experience organizing “environmental action days” (community litter removal projects) as well as food drives, donation drives, &  concerts to benefit various underprivileged groups.   These skills were honed through her completion of a bachelor’s program in Psychology and Art and her subsequent internship as an art therapist.  Over the past 7 years, Jennessee has spent her time helping a variety of clients, from entrepreneurs to music festivals develop more efficient personalized systems of protocol, data entry, & communication. She brings a dynamic skillset to the community by combining considerable experience in many facets of event organization with deep knowledge & passion of creative arts & art therapy.  

Meg Shannon - Youth Program Director
Meg Shannon has been an educator for over 20 years.  Having served as Principal of Riverside Garden School for 10 years,  she has most recently been an advocate for dyslexia and an active member of Decoding Dyslexia California. She participated in the effort to pass AB 1369 which requires school districts to implement program guidelines for dyslexia.  Meg serves on the boards of several local non-profits which benefit children in the Morongo Basin. In addition, Meg has worked extensively in volunteer positions helping children in all aspects of education.  She is the co-facilitator of Kidsville at the Joshua Tree Music Festival where hundreds of children participate in art and music programs over 3 days twice a year.

Ronda Mueller - President
Ronda Mueller is a lifelong resident of the high desert, entrepreneur for 17 years, with a passion for the arts,  travel, health, and sustainable business practices.  Ronda has been actively involved in local and international community service projects for over 15 years.  Past accomplishments include:  1999-2001 - Student and Family Resources Navigator for Healthy Start Program as a caseworker for  9 local elementary schools  providing comprehensive school-integrated services; 1999-2003 – Taught technology/computer science at Yucca Mesa Elementary School where she also cofounded the big brother/ sister mentor program at YMES;  2000  - Cofounder of the High Desert Living Arts Center, a 501c3 nonprofit arts org;  2002-2008 - Curator and organizer of Living Arts Cooperative Gallery;  Director of a HDLAC Kids Summer Arts Camp; and key organizer of Chuckwalla Music Festival.  EMT trained and certified, with specialized training in disaster and maternal care, Ronda spent the winter of 2014 working with Mercy in Action in Tacloban, Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.  Ronda currently owns and operates an international art distribution company and volunteers  with a variety of community groups.

Scott Cutler
Scott brings many years of experience with social service &  non-profit organizations. He has sat on the board of directors for two organizations (Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce; New Jersey Division of the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy) and has been employed by many others (Morongo Basin Unity Home, Morongo Basin Mental Health, San Diego LGBT Community Center, Family Intervention Services Inc.). He worked as a clinical supervisor for over five years at a community based family therapy agency in which he led a team of clinicians who provided in-home counseling services for youth and their families. He earned a Master’s degree in Counseling  from San Diego State University and received extensive post graduate training in the theory & practice of marriage & family therapy from the Family Institute of Westchester in White Plains New York. Formerly a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in New Jersey & California, Scott now owns and operates Sacred Sands, a bed & breakfast inn here in Joshua Tree.
  
Advisory Board

Barnett English - JTMF/JTLA Relations Director
 Barnett English,  a Joshua Tree resident since 1993,  is the founder and organizer of the renowned Joshua Tree Music Festival.  JTMF is held twice a year over 4 days in May & October, with 25 festivals to date.  JTMF organizes over 200 volunteers to bring together arts, music, yoga, and children, and is consistently rated one of the top family friendly festivals in the country.   Past accomplishments include: 1986 - BA in Business from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business;  1988 to 1993-Booking Agent and Event Specialist for Wayne Foster Entertainment; 1993 to 2017 - Founder and CEO of JavaGogo Coffee Co, a mobile concession company that has serviced over 3000 events;  2010 to 2013 – Co-founder and Organizer of the Living School in Joshua Tree, a successful parent led educational cooperative that offered both academic school sessions and workshops to children of the community;  2010 to 2013 - Co-Founder and Organizer of Transmission Joshua Tree, a non-profit entity offering over 250 enrichment classes and playshops to the community of Joshua Tree.  Barnetts continuing activities in both the arts and philanthropy have served as a leading force in the development of Joshua tree culture.  

Aaron Mueller - Advisor
Aaron is a lifelong resident of the Morongo Basin, artist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.  Aaron has started multiple successful businesses in the arts industry and has a background in global service with work in Poland, Yugoslavia, Albania, Haiti, and China. His work has included personal counseling, micro financing, clean water resourcing/well drilling for the developing world, and economic/environmental sustainability projects.   In 1998 Aaron created the base charter, goals, and methods that were to become the HDLAC/JTLA.  With the official founding 1999, Aaron served as President for the HDLAC’s first 10 years and continues to serve as advisor and one of several visionary agents for the organization.  With the perennial philosophy and a core interest in human social development as guide posts, the JTLA’s goals of community development, economic liberation, and personal education towards these ends continues.  




Teaching Artists:  Musicians, Painters, Performers, Sculptors, Thinkers, Movers, and Creatives all take on an important and powerful role as a teacher.  Our teaching artists share their talents and expertise in a local school, workshop, music festival, or production. These events benefit individual lives and enrich the community as a whole.  

Volunteers:  JTLA has over 200 volunteers that are at the core of making our community-built arts programs possible. We have many ways you can get involved and better our community today.   Join the team now!



History of the HDLAC- In a nutshell…
 
The High Desert Living Arts Center was founded in 1999, with the goal of finding sustainable solutions to and educating our communities about the complex social and economic needs facing us all today.  By fusing small business facilitation, classic fundraising, and traditional grant writing, HDLAC has been able to turn a small resource into a long history of public benefit activities in our area.  Beginning with the Living Arts Gallery, a cooperative gallery and educational space, which operated for 7 years, and the Chuckwalla Music Festival, a 3-day local music extravaganza, HDLAC’s focus on art and music as a primary vehicle became evident.   Our ongoing classes, annual Summer  Arts Camp, and Artists-in-Schools program closed the loop connecting the interests of our local artists and the musicians with the children of our community, helping ensure the growth of the arts in our area.  During this first phase, 1999-2006, we watched our community grow from one art gallery, ours, to a dozen, and from one music venue to 6.  Multiple music festivals and emergent arts organizations confirmed as well the success, and in some ways, the completion of our first phase.   Even as need was relieved in one area, the next movement was already underway.  Over the next 7 years HDLAC sponsored, facilitated, and co-organized for a succession of public benefit projects brought to us by the community:  Sawtooth Fire Education response, Higher Ground (Hurricane Katrina Relief), SoPae Alternative Energy Conference , Transmissions Educational Resource Center, and The Living School are among the highlights from this period.  Over the last several years a special relationship has grown between the HDLAC and Joshua Tree Music Festivals.  Beginning with cooperation on a range of public benefit activities already part of the JTMF, HDLAC has become the primary vehicle for the continuing development of socially conscious and educational activities associated with the JTMF.  This has greatly increased the activities of the organization as well as exposure to the needs and goals of our community.   With this new phase, comes a new name, Joshua Tree Living Arts.  JTLA represents the combined efforts of HDLAC and JTMF and marks the beginning of new exciting opportunities for Joshua Tree and our surrounding communities.