“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."
"I am out here today because I volunteer with Friends of the L.A. River every year. I’ve been doing this for seven years now. And I’m here in this area because this is my neighborhood so I am really excited they are out in my own neighborhood and of course I am going to be out here. I actually wish they would do this more than once a year because it’s really great to bring the community together and to get so many people out to see what the city is all about and how they can help to cleanup. I am out here to do something, to just help beautify the environment. For the dumpers, look at where you’re dumping; Look around you. Let’s keep it clean. It’s where we are at. It’s our own neighborhood. It’s our own place. Let’s keep it beautiful."
"I am with the Center for Spiritual Living out in Granada Hills. There’s a group of us out here. We’ve brought 12 people out from our church of 150 people because we just want to support the environment. This is something simple and easy we can do. This is our second year. I am a reverend and so God and Nature to me are synonymous. I think it’s important all of us are out here being good stewards of the Earth in this simple way and I feel good doing it. The other part of it is I suppose that we don’t think of having a river in Los Angeles and yet before the channel went in there was serious flooding around here. So this is a cool thing to be doing and also to be on this end, the upper end of the river, where we can really see where the waters collect up here in the Tujunga area. One of the things we teach at the Center is mindfulness. We just have to be more aware of how we effect our environment, particularly those of us that live in urban areas. We have to be mindful. If each one of us picked up five pieces of trash with the four million we have in Los Angeles, that’s 20 million pieces of trash of every day. So the change begins with simple things beginning with the way that we see, move, and operate in the world. Every little piece of trash that we knowingly or unknowingly let get away from us becomes a huge problem down the road, particularly in the river where everything collects. Everything flows downhill, as every plumber knows, and that’s no different with trash. The main thing is that every little bit that we do or every little act of carelessness as well as every act of mindlessness or mindfulness has an effect. My biggest hope is that we no longer need river cleanups because it wouldn’t be necessary. We could then just do nature hikes or take our attention somewhere else."
"Any opportunity to play music outside for people is always a joy especially to be a part of the community beyond music and entertainment. I’m closer to something deeper which is that we need to be mindful and take care of our community and the impact we have; The footprint that we leave behind. I think in a city like Los Angeles - I live in Koreatown - it’s very hard to get people to realize every little bit counts. I think we feel a lot of times among the millions of people we don’t matter or that our causes are lost amidst the fray and the busyness of life and the challenges we face day-to-day to live and thrive in a city. And sometimes picking up trash and caring for the beauty of our space seems like a luxury or like something that isn’t worth our time. So to get out in the public, in public view to be visible, to let people know that there are those of us who do care and are willing to spend the time, take the time, to make sure that our city is able to be beautiful; That’s what I think we are seeking in life. That’s what we are seeking when we play music. We are seeking beauty and if we can help by not leaving our junk behind then I think we’ve done our job."
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