A Dream for the Bowtie Parcel

Intro: What is the Bowtie?

There is a shared dream in Los Angeles to turn a piece of neglected land — The Bowtie Parcel — into a vibrant space used and loved by the local community. The Bowtie Parcel, located  within Rio de Los Angeles State Park, has been part of the state parks system since 2003, but has not available to the public for over a decade. However, the dream for this space has started to take shape with the help of a collaborative group working together to bring new life to this overlooked piece of land.

The Bowtie Project is a collaboration between Clockshop, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, local artists and the community for the revitalization of the Bowtie Parcel. It is bringing together local artists, organizing community events and revitalizing this area of the park. California State Parks Foundation began supporting this emerging partnership with a Park Enrichment Grant in June 2014.

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The Bowtie Parcel’s Roundhouse Shines by Olga Koumoundouros. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Bowtie Project Update

GUEST BLOG BY STEPHANIE CAMPBELL, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION STAFF PARK AND RECREATION SPECIALIST, ON THE NEWLY-FORMED PARTNERSHIP AND HOW THE BOWTIE IS BEING TRANSFORMED AND REVITALIZED

 

Since early 2014, Bowtie Parcel “Outdoor Arts, Nature, and Learning Laboratory at Rio de Los Angeles State Park” has been an active and evolving partnership with Elysian Valley non-­profit Clockshop. So much so, that we’ve settled on calling the collaboration simply “The Bowtie Project,” which better captures the amorphous blend of art, environment, and critical inquiry occurring at the site. Inspired to apply for a California State Parks Foundation grant by the early success of Michael Parker’s “monument making” sculpture workshop atop The Unfinished, we have since partnered with artists Olga Koumoundouros and Rosten Woo on site specific installations and youth workshops. We’ve also hosted a second, wildly popular LA River Campout, shared an art and nature walk with local girl scouts, and  made connections for future projects with art teachers at the nearby Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academy and the non-profit Artworxla (formerly the HeArt Project) aimed at reducing high school dropout rates through arts education.

Olga Koumoundouros engaged local youth from the beginning of her project “Roundhouse Shines” by reaching out to those already using the roundhouse for artistic expression and an informal gathering spot. She encouraged their participation in the creation of her installation as well as in a provocative closing performance questioning the concept of land ownership as it relates to disenfranchised populations who have long used and occupied this fringe space along the Los Angeles River.

Reading the interpretive sign. Photo by Rosten Woo.

The LA River Interpretive Signage Program by Rosten Woo. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Similarly, Rosten Woo’s “Interpretive Signage Program” though seeming to fit the traditional model of State Parks historical and natural interpretive signage, addresses the question on gentrification head on by tracing the connection between public investment and private development, and the resultant effect on longtime neighborhood residents. Rosten presented the first phase of his signage program at the second LA River Campout and it was enthusiastically received by youth groups attending the event. They were particularly interested in his contrast of traditional camping, with the issue of homelessness, and criminalization of “outdoor sleeping” in urban areas.

An upclose view. Photo by Rosten Woo.

The LA River Interpretive Signage Program by Rosten Woo. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Mackenzie Hoffman of Clockshop and Ranger Keleigh Apperson from CSP led the Larchmont Village Girl Scouts Troop 459 on a nature walk, while also taking time to explore and discuss The Unfinished and Roundhouse Shines. The scouts were enthused and engaged with both projects and delighted in the rough‐hewn charm of the undeveloped site. Though, since receiving the California State Parks Foundation Discretionary Grant, we’ve outfitted our mobile classroom with custom made benches and worktables to facilitate more structured, yet still flexible classroom activities.

2015 is shaping up to be another eventful year with the third LA River Campout on the horizon this May and a new group of artists embarking on projects at the site. Currently, Rafael Esparza is presenting Con Safos, a collaboration with Self‐Help Graphics and a rotating roster of local artists. Muralists will transform his adobe wall over the course of several months and Esparza, along with a participating artist who is also a teacher, are currently planning workshops and youth outreach associated with the project. Artists Taisha Paggett and Carolina Caycedo are developing dance and storytelling projects, respectively, and are expected to share their process and disciplines with youth as they contemplate the past, present and future of the site and its connection to the Los Angeles River.

Looking forward. Photo by Gina Clyne.

Looking forward. Photo by Gina Clyne.

SoCal Edison Supported Park Programs in 2014

As we kick off a new year, we want to reflect on some of the great work that happened in 2014. We want to express a big thank you to Southern California Edison for their support in 2014 for two great projects: Park Champions and Summer Learning.

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Park Champions
Southern California Edison supported 33 Park Champions projects across the Southern California Edison territory in 2014. Their generous financial assistance helped provide tools, plants, building materials and lunches for many volunteer projects including: 10 workdays at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (habitat restoration & landscaping), 9 workdays at Rio de Los Angeles State Park (habitat restoration & landscaping), 7 workdays at Chino Hills State Park (trail building), 4 workdays at Mount San Jacinto State Park (trail building), and one workday each at Carpinteria State Beach (invasive plant removal and general clean-up), Channel Coast State Beach (repainting lifeguard headquarters), and Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park (painting and carpentry).

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Summer Learning
Southern California Edison also helped expand the day and overnight camping opportunities to youth in the Summer Learning program through the purchase of much needed outdoor equipment and teaching aides for park interpreters.

The expansion of the day and overnight camping opportunities was possible in four of the Summer Learning program locations in Southern California: LA,  Whittier,  San Bernardino and Santa Ana. The grant also paid for four bus trips for LA’s Best to go camping at San Clemente.

Thanks for a great year, Edison!

Our Heritage, Our Parks: Meet Raul

RAUL MACIAS

“You can’t just create a park and then leave it. No. You have to care for it and improve it for the future. This park, our park, has a plan for the future.” – Raul Macias

Raul-MaciasRaul Macias is an affable man with an easy smile and an engaging laugh. But when it comes to Rio de Los Angeles State Park and the future of Los Angeles’ youth, he is intense and serious. Raul grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, moved to Los Angeles some 30 years ago and became a successful businessman. He also founded the award winning Anahuak Youth Sports Association, a non-profit children’s sports organization dedicated to providing underserved youth with active recreational opportunities to keep them healthy, engaged and away from gangs.

“I started getting involved in 2002 because my business is next to what is now the park,” says Macias. “When they started planning factories and industry for the site, I worked with my community to take a position on these proposed developments. And after a lot of work, and a lot of meetings, State Parks took over the site and told everyone they could help design it.”

At one point, Macias recalls while laughing, “My wife and daughter said, ‘Why bother coming home? Just take your pillow so you can stay longer at the planning meetings!’”

“You know, Rio de Los Angeles State Park is one of the most important—if not the most important—urban parks in the city,” he said. “It benefits the entire city, but especially the local community. And yet, we have a lot of work to do. I want to get my community back to being close to nature. Many of them work hard all day, maybe play some soccer, go home, and do that all over again. Some of them take this park for granted. I tell them no, don’t do that. Every day you have to do something for this park. Every day you have to learn a little bit more about not only this park but also other parks and open spaces. If you have the right to vote, you have to pay attention to these things in your community.”

Our Heritage, Our Parks: Meet Irma

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IRMA R. MUÑOZ

“My love and deep appreciation for parks comes from the wonderful childhood memories of having a paradise where I could play, dream, run, laugh and explore nature. I want the same ‘paradises’ to always be available, especially to children and youth.”
–Irma Muñoz

Irma Muñoz is a community builder, activist, advocate, and instiller of confidence and hope. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Irma is one of seven sisters. She was brought up in a home with strong family values, an unwavering commitment to education and a deep respect for their Mexican heritage and cultural traditions.

She is the Founder/President of Mujeres de la Tierra, a non-traditional environmental non-profit in Los Angeles.

Mujeres de la Tierra inspires and teaches women and their children to take ownership and leadership of neighborhood issues and challenges. One of the main goals is to identify holistic and practical approaches to solving local environmental issues by balancing efforts to address environmental woes with the needs of family survival.  Mujeres supports the building of healthier and sustainable neighborhoods through public engagement and individual participation.

Irma is an avid supporter and advocate of open space and a state park advocate; inspiring hundreds of park users to take an active role in restoration and beautification efforts. As a member of the Latino Coalition, her advocacy work contributed to the passage of the statewide ban on plastic bags, an accomplishment finally realized after eight long years. She also serves on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Board of Directors, serving as Board Chair in 2013. Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board where she serves as Vice Chair.

In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Irma was named a “community champion” by the Annenberg Foundation for excellence in leadership in Los Angeles County and honored by Senator Curren Price as a “SheHero” for her role in improving the health of families in Senatorial District 26. In 2011, the California State Parks Foundation named her “Park Hero” in their 2011 Annual Report.

Her work with Mujeres de la Tierra has been featured in Newsweek Earth Day 2009, the November 2008 issue of O, Oprah Magazine and was named in Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Influential Hispanics in October 2008 and La Opinion’s Mujeres Destacadas 2007 community award for leadership.

Irma Muñoz attended El Camino Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.

Catch a State Park Documentary

There are some new opportunities to catch two awesome documentaries about California state parks in person or in the comfort of your own camper. Be sure to check them out!

1. Mile … Mile & A Half

See a screening of a new documentary by The Muir Project, Mile … Mile & A Half. The screening is June 15 at the Guild Theater in Sacramento. See a screening of the film, see a musical performance by Opus Orange, and do a Q&A with the film crew. Half of ticket proceeds from the screening with be donated to CSPF, so double bonus! More info on Facebook, and direct ticket sales here.

Beautiful shot from the film Mile ... Mile & A Half

Beautiful shot from the film Mile … Mile & A Half

MMAAH_Press_2About Mile … Mile & A Half

A group of artists leave their daily lives behind to hike the John Muir Trail & bring back their experiences and inspiration. From Yosemite Valley to the highest point in the contiguous US – Mt. Whitney. 219 miles in 25 days.

Along the way, they are joined by musicians, painters, teachers and other adventure-seekers. In the midst of the grandeur and daily grind, they discover what matters most is the opportunity to seek adventure wherever and whenever you can.

What began as an adventure to see – let’s be honest – if they could complete the trail, became the need to capture the experience in order to share the trail with others. Come see how life on the trail shapes the lives of artists and individuals.

2. The First 70

You’ve heard us talk about this film before (because we love it), but now The First 70 is going to be widely available for everyone to enjoy in a new DVD box set and on digital platforms.

The new DVD has lots of cool extras, including behind the scenes, cutting room floor, photo gallery, and a special download from CSPF!

TheFirst70_busimagethe-first-70-3d-box-lrAbout The First 70

When they heard the state of California wanted to close a quarter of its state parks, three young filmmakers set out to visit the 70 parks that were doomed to close.  Along the 3,000 mile trek, they capture both the majesty of the state’s parks and the outrage of local community members, park rangers and environmental activists who are confounded by the State’s financial logic, yet determined to keep these wondrous expanses of beauty open to the public.

The First 70 is a about Californians banding together to enact change and develop solutions in the face of a glaring bureaucratic oversight. Volunteers have been forced to lend even more of their time and effort to support the already grossly underfunded state park system. Independent organizations and nonprofits have become obligated to step up to the challenge of keeping parks open, supporting them financially while working within the state’s guidelines. Due to these citizen-led efforts, the 70 parks were not closed on the July 2012 deadline, however their future is still hazy.

Art Sale for State Parks

Treasured Places art show is going on now and is donating proceeds of art sales to CSPF! The show features beautiful paintings and photographs of California’s stunning state parks created by artists of The Oak Group.

If you live in the Santa Barbara area, please visit the art show at the Faulkner Gallery at the Santa Barbara Central Public Library located at 40 E. Anapamu Street. The show will be on display until March 30.

If you can’t make it to the gallery, check out the show right here! We have the pieces on display below. Click on an image to see details such as artist, size and price. If you are interested in a piece, please contact Allison See, Special Events Coordinator, at allison@calparks.org or (415) 262-4409 for more information.

CSPF Says Goodbye to Huell Howser

It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to Huell Howser. Huell was a great friend to California state parks and CSPF.  He brought enormous enthusiasm and skill to the telling of state parks’ stories.  Huell showed California’s state parks to millions of viewers, and we are grateful for his many years of support for our parks.

In addition to “California’s Gold,” Huell ran a series from 2002 to 2010 called “California’s Golden Parks,” which showcased different state parks each month. You can read more about the “California’s Golden Parks” episodes here: calgold.com/goldenparks or watch them here: parks.ca.gov/video_parks.

Here’s an excerpt from a classic visit to Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve:

 

We will all remember him with great fondness.

Travel the World with CSPF

As you know, we at CSPF love our California state parks. And while we are experts on the amazing sites California has to offer, we also believe the rest of the world is worth exploring, too. That is why we have partnered with Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to provide you access to some amazing travel tours that will take you around the world.

These UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) tours go to locations like Cuba, Belize, Guatemala, Tanzania, Holland, Spain, France, Alaska and China.  Each tour offers unique educational, cultural and historical experiences that we think you will really love.

View our available tours now.

Now you can take the trip of a lifetime, and help CSPF at the same time. For everyone who books a trip and mentions CSPF at booking, our organization receives a percentage of the proceeds. You’ll also receive a special CSPF Travel Kit. It’s a new, unique way to help support our work for state parks.

Where in the world would you like to travel?

Murmurs of Generosity

We at CalPark Voices love sharing the stories of those artists who use their creative talents to help state parks in unique ways. Today we have a new artist to add to the Awesome Artist Hall of Fame.

Katherine Kean is a painter who was inspired to donate the proceeds of her newest art exhibit to CSPF.

As an environmentalist, I believe in promoting the protection of birds and other wildlife through education, art, and restoration, as well as promoting a sustainable future for California while re-connecting people to the intrinsic beauty of the environment,” said Katherine.  “My contributions to the California State Parks Foundation will continue as work from this series continues to sell.”

Her exhibit, Murmuration, is a series of paintings exploring the kinetic character of birds and nature. First exhibited at TAG Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, CA this spring, a portion of the exhibition has moved on to be a part of a group exhibition at The Modest Fly Art Studio Gallery in Tujunga, CA.

SIDENOTE: If you don’t know what a Murmuration is, watch this and this!

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To depict the beauty and sensation of the flock’s aerial choreography, Katherine paints the birds, glazes them over, then repaints. She repeats the process several times to allow the edges to blur and, when appropriate, disappear into the background. As a result, what first appears as a smudge in the evening sky gradually takes shape, forming and reforming, occasionally allowing a wing, beak, or tail to stand out from the fluctuating chaos.

Extending the idea and organization of flocking birds, many of the paintings in this exhibition also form parts of a whole. Among the paintings are two triptychs, a two-piece modular painting, and a series of small squares that can be re-arranged to form various patterns of bird flight.

“At a particular time at the end of the day birds gather in large numbers and swoop back and forth across the sky, emerging from the dusk like a dark cloud and creating elegant patterns against the fading light,” said Katherine. “How and why they do this is a mystery, but whatever the reason this behavior is compelling to observe as individual birds disappear into the whole and become part of something larger.”

Thank you to Katherine for choosing CSPF as a beneficiary of your beautiful artwork!

Read more about Katherine’s work on her website.

Kids Do the Darndest Things

We were very excited to receive a package in the mail last week from some awesome third and fourth graders at Kid Street Charter School in Santa Rosa.

The manila envelope was bursting at the seams, stuffed with several hand-painted canvases (click above to see full size), a poster that says “Save Our State Parks” in magic marker, and a letter that read:

“Dear California State Parks Foundation,

After visiting a local state park, Sugarloaf, in Sonoma County, our class decided that we wanted to help keep the parks open in our state. So, we painted some pictures of the landscape that we saw at Sugarloaf and we sold them to raise funds to support your cause! We are very happy to present you with the enclosed money. Thank you for working to preserve accessibility to the parks!

Warmly,

The third and fourth graders at Kid Street Charter”

How awesome is that? A big thank you to these awesome kids for caring about state parks and finding a really creative way to help! It’s good to know we have a generation of kids who will grow up to love state parks so much.