It’s Alisha, Outdoor Afro Los Angeles Leader. This Saturday June 8th we had a Temescal Canyon Hike planned in the Santa Monica Mountains to support the first African American group to hike Denali. So our hike was in support of the 10,000 steps to Denali trek. Our hike also coincided with National Outdoors Day.
We started our day at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook where there were activities planned for the kids. They had camping gear set up to show how to set up a camp.
Along with camping gear lessons they also allowed children (and big kids like myself) to create buttons and bookmarks to show their support of 10,000 steps to Denali.
From BHSO, we met up with another group of teens from Watts and Compton inner city program who have had little exposure to the outdoors. We were paired with them through the Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory to encourage them to get outdoors more. Santa Monica Mountains Conservatory provided a bus and an amazing guide Anthony to take us on our hike and explore the canyon.
We got to Temescal and had a quick snack on the lawn, took a photo with both groups and paired off into two different groups to meet at the waterfall. There were so many of us we didn’t want to overwhelm the trail.
On our way up we saw caterpillars, lizards, a garden snake and a red-tailed hawk. In true LA fashion we also saw a film crew filming a movie, haha. When we reached the top we sat for a bit and let the kids play around the waterfall which was dry. Anthony explained we’re in a dry season. We had to watch out for poison oak. Quick tip: if its three let it be. If you see leaves in clusters of three leave them alone.
Many thanks to Kleen Kanteen and REI for keeping us hydrated. Thank you REI for keeping me warm and to Keen shoes for making my hike comfy. I also want to acknowledge Clif Bars for snack bars for the kiddos. We had an amazing time. Looking forward to many more collaborations with Santa Monica Conservatory, your rangers are amazing and knowledgeable. Thank you Anthony and Iann the volunteer.
Oh yes on our way down the canyon we came to a beautiful open field and my sister and the kids decided to jump and play.
“I tend to find a greater sense of calm in racially diverse groups that seem to cultivate an atmosphere of increased tolerance and lowered emotional reactivity.”
Guest Blogger Cindy Hopkins reflects on diversity in the outdoors below:
My husband and I enjoy spending time in our yard. It began simply as exercise and an interest in native plants, but as the landscaping matured, we discovered another wonderful benefit – we had birds! I honestly came to believe that the birds began to “speak” in response to our voices too. Or rather, they sang. The Costa’s hummingbird or the Verdin usually begin a song followed by the Black-Throated Sparrow. All together they create a delightful harmony of sound.
Having a diverse group of birds in the yard also creates a draw for even more bird species to join our “little oasis” where we see warblers and flycatchers flitting among branches, streaky sparrows hopping low in shrubs, and ground nesting California Quails.
Our backyard environment inspires me to contemplate our experience in campgrounds and parks. When my husband and I go camping, we wish we saw more people of color. Like many modern Americans, I have lived in urban areas and am accustomed to a diversity of ethnicities and cultures, but most often do not get to experience this same diversity in the outdoors. My husband and I tend to find a greater sense of calm in racially diverse groups that seem to cultivate an atmosphere of increased tolerance and lowered emotional reactivity.
While it’s so refreshing and rejuvenating to “get away from it all”, I know our outdoor experiences would be even more fulfilling if we were to experience everyone “singing” — just like the birds in our yard.
An important step to saving our natural areas is for everyone to appreciate them. I invite everyone to take a personal sense of ownership over public lands! There are wonderful benefits for us all, and I want more people to know how enriching, stress relieving, and restorative it is to spend time in the wild outdoors. So please consider coming to the mountains, and singing along with the birds!
Do white people care about diversity in outdoor spaces?
Guest Blogger Cindy Hopkins thinks so! Here is her reflection on outdoor diversity:
My husband and I enjoy spending time in our yard. It began simply as exercise and an interest in native plants. As the landscaping has matured, we discovered a wonderful benefit – we’ve got birds! Honestly, I think they like when we talk. They “speak” right back. Or, should I say, they sing. The Costa’s hummingbird and the verdin begin, followed by the black-throated sparrow. It seems that having a diverse group of birds in the yard creates an even greater draw for even more species to join our “little oasis”! While all the singing is going on, there are warblers and flycatchers flitting among branches, streaky sparrows hopping low in shrubs, and the California quail finally begin to relax.
I have a similar feeling about our campgrounds and parks. When my husband and I go camping, we wish we saw more people of color. Like many modern Americans, I have lived in urban areas and am accustomed to a diversity of ethnicities and cultures. My husband I find that we have a greater sense of calm in groups of mixed-race individuals. We feel the increased tolerance and lowered emotional reactivity.
It’s so refreshing and rejuvenating to “get away from it all”. This is why I enjoy Outdoor Afro and its efforts to share the fun of our great outdoors! In the same sense, my fun would be even more fulfilled if there was that experience of “everyone singing”, just like the birds in our yard. In fact, I think I can say this for a number of my fellow Caucasian campers!
An important step to saving our natural areas is to help EVERYONE appreciate them. This is my land; this IS your land, too. Enjoy it! I invite you to take a personal sense of ownership over your public lands! There will be wonderful benefits for us all, as more and more people understand how enriching and restorative it is to spend time in the wild outdoors. I see stressed-out people, and all I wish for them is to come to the mountains and sing along with the birds!