Exploring Ruins and Playing in Waterfalls

Outdoor Afros in Los Angeles explored local African American history and nature over the weekend – read on!

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Alisha Pye here, I’m the Outdoor Afro Leader for Los Angeles. This week we decided to celebrate Spring by hiking at Solstice Canyon in Malibu which is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s a beautiful hike with flowers in full bloom, waterfalls to enjoy, valleys and canyons to climb and picnic areas. We started on the stairs and continued on a steady incline until we came to an area of ruins that we felt compelled to explore.
If you look closely between the trees you’ll see the ruins of a burned out house. It’s now a historic park of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area. According to the story this house was built by a renowned African American Architect Paul R.Williams in 1952. The area is susceptible to many fires so Paul designed the home for his clients with a fire protection system that would protect the home against fire damage. The waterfall and pool were designed to pump water in case of fire as a protection to limit damage. Unfortunately after the owners death the pumping system wasn’t maintained and the home was damaged by fire in 1982.
The backyard of the home was a beautiful waterfall that was breathtaking. We decided to stay and climb a little. We ended up staying for 45 minutes exploring, climbing and playing in the waterfall. At the very top was an outdoor fireplace the family used.
The view was so amazing we decided to take our group picture there along the rocks. If you look at the picture you’ll notice we had a very diverse group ranging from an 11 year old to a grandfather with a cane who served as motivation for us to keep climbing.
Getting to the top we were able to see exactly how far we’d come. It was a great sense of accomplishment to get out explore and enjoy the ruins of the Santa Monica National Area. We plan on doing more exploring in the coming months so join us in our adventures.

David Lindo: The Urban Birder

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes – Marcel Proust

David Lindo, also known as The Urban Birder came to the San Francisco Bay Area yesterday to do a talk about his experiences birding around the world in urban centers, most notably in his hometown of London, England, where he is a well-known featured bird expert on television and radio. Lindo spreads the gospel of practical nature. Meaning, you don’t have to travel to exotic locations to find rare and delightful bird species. Instead, birds are wherever you are, and “all you have to do is look up”, he says.

David Lindo - Male Varied Thrush in San Francisco

David Lindo – Male Varied Thrush in San Francisco

As I briefly stood before the audience to help introduce the program, and looked out into the diverse faces of attendees, it provided a deeply satisfying glimpse into a not-so-distant future Outdoor Afro envisions, where all people engage with the nature all around.

Generously sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon Society , an organization also committed to help more communities connect to conservation, the gathering proved to be a fun, fresh perspective on birding. David shared his personal story of growing up birdy as a youth, begging his working-class mother for his first pair of binoculars. A luxury his family could barely afford. He described the wonder of his special patch of woods, where he spent hours as a child getting to know his local bird species and making up intuitive names for each one. He went on to share through photos, examples of the variety of birds spotted in urban centers. He helped us imagine a skyscraper as a face of a mountain, where one might spot a Peregrine Falcon on its peak, and his humorous use of the Jedi-like “Force” to manifest rare bird species in some of the most improbable places.

Today, I was delighted to take David to see some more of our local birds. The previous day, Audubon staff treated David to a full-day of birding, where he found the male Varied Thrush pictured above, and our famous and rare Clapper Rail. Clay, an Outdoor Afro leader and ecologist joined us on the brief tour of Oakland’s Lake Merritt and Middle Shoreline Harbor Park with panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline and bridge.


David Lindo, A Red Winged Blackbird and San Francisco skyline

Hanging with two people who share deep experience observing birds was a kick for an intermediate like me. David and Clay debated the nuances of plumage to determine species. Is that a Golden Bellied Plover, or an American Plover? (they saw both). Yes, these are two black men from different parts of the world having this conversation, I mused.

While David has observed several hundreds of bird species with all types of people from many walks of life, remarkably, he admitted today was the first time he had ever birded with other black people outside of Africa!
It certainly won’t be his last.
Learn more about David Lindo The Urban Birder and Twitter @urbanbirder

We did it again, this time with a challenge…

By Alisha Pye, Los Angeles Outdoor Afro Leader
So we went hiking above the Mountain Gate Country Club again, but this time we decided to mix it up a bit. So we decided to go off the fire trail and hike the hills. This was a great hike although we had fewer people we had a very diverse group, ranging from a mom wearing her 6 month baby, to a 9 year old cross country runner.20130303-194553.jpg
This hike was particularly challenging for me because I’m very afraid of heights and cliffs, both of which we encountered. I would love to post pictures of the cliff but I was nearly paralyzed with fear. So here’s to embracing fear and moving forward! Because of the challenge that I experienced, I think I enjoyed the hike more.
Overall, we hiked 11.3 miles, every time I even thought about complaining about the distance I looked up and saw this mom wearing her baby, a 9 year old and a grandmother or two chugging along. The diversity in this group was motivating to say the least. We didn’t get a chance to stop and take a group picture, but we had a great time. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the weather amazing and the scenery was breathtaking.