“I am out here on behalf of my company, Apple. They coordinated this charitable effort to celebrate Earth Day. So I thought it was a great opportunity. I love nature. I love the landscape L.A. has to offer. I go hiking all the time and I wanted to give back and plant a tree. This is the first time I ever planted a tree so it’s a new thing to learn for me. I forgot to consider how many bugs live in the earth. There were a lot that came up and surprised me when digging up those holes, but it was a very rewarding experience. To know that trees can live for centuries, if you think of it that way, you are contributing to the earth for decades and centuries to come. What humans can do to the earth can be so destructive and as a society we are not completely conscious of it. So I think the challenge is really just awareness. I didn’t think to seek out an effort like this. It was presented to me through work and I am really grateful that it came by that way. So the first step is letting people know there are organizations like North East Trees that exist and it’s just so easy to get started. We have so much nature around us that we just don’t realize it. Planting trees is fun. Putting on gloves and getting dirty and being handed a shovel and digging a hole is fun. Just give it a chance.”
“In this part of the city we really have a great population or group of communities that have chosen to live in Northeast L.A. specifically because there’s still a lot of natural space around them. And a lot of the young people we work with are really into and love being up here in the hills. They’ve grown up in this sort of green, culture of green awareness and I think it’s pretty amazing what this new millennial generation with their heightened awareness of all things environmental is great. It’s not that challenging to get them out here and sometimes we have over a hundred high school students when we have our monthly volunteer events. It’s pretty cool. I know it’s hard to describe verbally, but if you’re standing out here you feel this wind going over and across your face, you smell sage in your hand, you look up and you see nothing but sky, and we’re only five minutes from Downtown L.A. standing here. I could be literally in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s if I were dropped there. It’s literally that natural and peaceful. There’s no sign of human built structures anywhere. It’s just hills, grass, trees, and birds. I love being out here. It’s incredibly convenient. I invite anyone, especially people that live in this part of the city who don’t know about it to come out to Ascot Hills Park and enjoy the nature here.”
“In a big metropolitan area there’s very little nature left, but Los Angeles has more open natural space than probably other big cities like New York and Chicago. But still, people who live in areas that are densely populated, largely developed, with everything concrete and asphalt, it’s rare to find this kind of a big opportunity, so people are drawn. I think it’s a natural and innate thing for people to be drawn to nature and open space. It’s a place like a refuge. It’s a place to come for relaxation, for recreation, to get one’s self grounded and connected, and it’s a lot cheaper than therapy (laughing). No, I think people have this natural need to connect with nature. So when people come up here to Ascot and they actually have the chance to get their hands in the soil and put new plants in the ground and smell the plants and see the bugs and hear the birds, I think it’s something people really enjoy doing. So we are happy to provide this opportunity. We use the park in a way as a vehicle just for that; for people to come out and learn, to experience, to be aware of or just to connect with nature here in the city.”
"We’re out here doing this because many of these tributaries drain into the ocean. This is the Haines Canyon Channel and it’s a major tributary that drains into the L.A. River. This drains into the Tujunga Wash and the wash is a 13 mile long tributary that goes into the L.A. River. It goes through Hansen Dam and passed Valley College where the Judith Baca’s “Great Wall of Los Angeles” mural is painted and then it meets the L.A. River. If we don’t clean this trash up before it hits the ocean it all becomes a part of that giant floating island of plastic. We want to make a dent in that. I think the biggest thing is educating people that it’s your street and it’s your river. So whatever is on your street is going to end up in your river. We want people to know that when you clean up your street, you’re cleaning up your river. You don’t even have to come out to the river cleanup. You can just cleanup your front yard and it makes a difference."
The Friends of the Los Angeles River are hosting their 27th annual Great LA River CleanUp: La Gran Limpieza, this April.
There are three Saturdays – April 16th, 23rd, and 30th – and fifteen sites to choose from along the entire course of the LA River.
Dates and Locations
Upper River | April 16 | 9:00 am – 12:00 noon
Mid River | April 23 | 9:00 am – 12:00 noon
Lower River | April 30 | 9:00 am – 12:00 noon