Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day Planting

Congratulations Friends of Colorado Lagoon. WE have completed our first successful planting season at Colorado Lagoon. WE have established new coastal habitat in the City of Long Beach. WE have reached a new level. WE are now the proud care takers of a 50,000 squarefoot piece of restored California coastline.
What an opportunity for a young restoration ecologist like myself to be involved with such a holistic and successful project. I have made so many new friends and colleagues. Since November 2008, people from all over the greater Long Beach area came to the Lagoon and sunk their heart and sole into 2 hours of restoration and education. Many people returned again and again, and got to watch the eastern Bank of Colorado Lagoon transform. People became my friends...friends to each other and friends of nature.
And WE all learned so much! From tree removal debates, to smoldering mulch piles, barking dogs and exodus from the WAMSEC. Through all of the challenges that come with any project, we always kept on learning. WE improved our techniques. WE accepted criticism and performed at higher levels. WE learned our native plant names. WE worked together.
I really want to thank everyone for helping me be a better restoration ecologist. Most of what I did for this project was based on my passion for nature, however a good percentage of what I did was for you, it was for people. I lead this project not only to install some of my favorite botanical species, but also to reconnect people with plants and natural living. To reconnect people with natives of California. And to connect people to their home...Long Beach, California, USA, Planet Earth. FOCL built something permanent. WE built pride in our community.
It will be so great to have conversations with all of the people that will be walking the FOCL Champions Trail along the east bank for years to come.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Reflection of the Creative Arts program and Looking Forward


In keeping with the oral/written tradition of the Colorado Lagoon I thought I would lend my hand in sharing the story of the Creative Arts program.

A few years ago no one would have thought the Colorado Lagoon would have its very own Creative Arts Department. At the time we did not know what a Creative Arts department meant or what roll it would play among our other programs. Through the use of art and music events, a web Blog and documenting the Lagoon from a unique perspective, the Creative Arts program strives to help bridge the gap between the Colorado Lagoon and the local community it serves.

The idea came out of a late night brainstorming session along with a passion for art, music and giving back to the community. As we huddled around a kitchen table, I talked with Taylor Parker and Eric Zahn from Tidal Influence who oversee the education and restoration programs respectively. I expressed my vision of bringing the arts to the Lagoon to help achieve our goals as a community organization. As a photographer I felt like the Lagoon should be documented and shared with everyone. Of course, Taylor and Eric were very supportive of the idea and told me to look at the Lagoon as a creative canvas. If I could dream and plan it, than we should do it!

And so it began...

The beginning of the Creative Arts program was marked with the launch of This blog is dedicated to the Lagoon restoration, its habitants and all the great people who volunteer. It quickly became the go-to site for all things Lagoon. The community can see photos of volunteers restoring the East Bank or maybe a snapshot of Least Tern diving for food. The blog showcases photographs of our beautiful estuary taken with a unique perspective. Various volunteers have also lent their hand in writing an article or two. While the blog has continued to change over the last year it stills serves as a resource for the community.

In early 2009 the Lagoon’s education program was approached by a local restaurant owner. Aside from his successful restaurant he also owns a small gallery space in Long Beach. He believes in what we are doing for the Lagoon and opened the gallery doors to us; the space was ours to use. We had great success with our first International Wetlands Day Art show. We quickly realized the opportunity we had with the gallery as it helped pave the way for future shows and gave confidence to our Creative Arts program. To date, we are the only group the owner offers the gallery space to use, a testament to the great work we are doing for the Lagoon.

The Creative Arts Program was heading straight into our summer event, Acoustic Tidal Artwalk: A night of Art and Music in the sand. With the help from Taylor, Eric and dedicated volunteers, ATAW was the biggest public event any of us had produced and it came together beautifully. Visitors saw the work of five local photographers with pictures hung in the sand along the tide line of the Lagoon. The air was filled with musicians playing acoustic guitar, violins, bongo drums and singing. There was a hands-on education area, face painting for kids and we even had live ‘grafiti’ artist creating masterpieces on the spot. There was something for everyone, kids and adults alike.

The participation we saw from the community was unprecedented. Our goal was to reach the Lagoon’s immediate neighbors and draw folks in to let them know about the programs available at the Lagoon. Throughout the evening I met many of the 300+ visitors who attended, most were from the surrounding area and were so thankful we were taking action. I had a number of people tell me they had never seen an event like this done on the beach of the Lagoon. Needless to say, our efforts were working; the word was getting out and bridges between the community and the Lagoon were being built.

As we entered 2010 we saw the success of our 2nd Annual Wetlands Day Art Show: Our Urban Wetlands and Wildlands. It was the first time we complimented a Creative Arts event with a fundraising aspect. Over the two night show, we offered visitors an opportunity to support the local wetlands group of their choice and the response was wonderful. People truly believe in what we are doing in the community and the environment. This type of fundraising not only allows the Creative Art events to be more self sustained but continues to gives local artists and volunteers the opportunity to participate.

Now, in the midst of construction, we push on with the Colorado Lagoons summer event, 2nd Annual Acoustic Tidal Artwalk (ATAW). This is certainly an exciting time to be involved with Creative Arts as we are in the planning stages of this year’s event. We are working closely with the City of Long Beach to achieve our goals and hope to provide another large scale community event. Due to construction, the Lagoon’s South Beach will provide a new venue for its very own acoustic artwalk. This two night event, July 9th & 10th is not to be missed and will mark another great summer event at the Lagoon.

We have had over 600 folks attend our different events, an example that Creative Arts at the Colorado Lagoon has become a vibrant and fun program. For those who may not come to trash clean-ups or native plantings, this program offers volunteers and community residents a way to engage the Lagoon not previously available. Whether at a nature walk or Acoustic Tidal Artwalk I encourage everyone to experience the Lagoon from their own unique perspective.

Many Smiles and Thanks,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lagoon Earth Day Planting!

I am extremely excited about this Earth Day! For the first time in a while I will actually be organizing an Earth Day event on the actual Day of Earth which some people forget is always April 22nd. This actual Earth Day next Thursday I will be hanging out with my Colorado Lagoon Friends from 2pm-sunset helping people plant native wildflowers along the Lagoon's East Bank!! People are welcome to come and go as they please and I look forward to seeing people throughout their days and offering them the opportunity to pay homage to Mother Earth. It is also exciting because this is our last public planting event at the Lagoon for the season. It will be a nice conclusion to a very successful restoration project.

For you plant dorks. Here are a few wildflowers we will be planting on Earth Day:
Blue-Eyed Grass: Sisyrinchium bellum
Coast Goldenbush: Isocoma menziesii
Yerba Mansa: Anemopsis californica
California Poppy: Eschscholzia californica
Deerweed: Lotus scoparius
Sticky Monkeyflower: Mimulus aurantiacus