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Earth Day Latino 2013: Camping Out in Downtown Los Angeles

Linda Escalante

Posted April 15, 2013 in Environmental Justice, Living Sustainably, Saving Wildlife and WIld Places

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The William C. Velazquez Institute, and its coalition of conservation and environmental partners, which include REI and La Onda Verde de NRDC, continue the annual tradition of Earth Day Latino at the Los Angeles Historic State Park (formerly known as Not a Cornfield), just north of the Olvera Street and sandwiched by Chinatown’s Metro Station and Lincoln Heights. 

Earth Day Latino brings people of all ages and ancestries together for an afternoon of family friendly fun, environmental education, outdoor activities, urban camping, art, wild animals, and earth talks by environmental and conservation professionals, local elected officials and candidates for elected office. It also marks the completion an eight week WCVI Eco-Intern program where several dozen LA-area high school students learn about our watersheds health and water quality, stormwater capture, environmental justice, urban wildlife, and green careers. Slideshow from lescalante

This unique urban state park is very rich in cultural, archeological and ecological history. The park is part of the area where a robust and vibrant Tongva (Gabrielino) village thrived by the riverbank for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. Just a couple of blocks away lies “Placita Olvera”  which is the site of the original Pueblo de Los Angeles or birth place of the city back in the late 1780s when the Spanish settled next to the Rio Porciuncula (later called Los Angeles River). The first LA aqueduct built to divert river water for crop irrigation was built soon after the Spaniards arrived and called the open ditch “Zanja Madre”.  In the late 1800s the ditch was turned into a brick tunnel. Some parts of the Zanja Madre were unearthed by archeologists a little over a decade ago and can be seen on the western side of the park.

This year’s event will be a perfect way to celebrate Earth Day in LA for the young, old and every one in between. There will be activities for everyone’s taste. REI will start registration for camping overnight at 3PM on Saturday April 20.  REI tents will be available for rent but quantities are limited.  If you come on your bike, the tent rental is free.

California State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez will set off the festivities with his welcome remarks at 4PM.  Then we’ll move into the different activities led by our partners and sponsors.  Kids and adults can partake in a high-tech treasure hunt with REI’s Geo Caching equipment or they can stay in one place and fly a kite. 

For the first time, Earth Day Latino will be collecting electronic waste. Isidore Electronics Recycling in Lincoln Heights is a socially responsible company that not only provides recycling services for electronic waste, but trains and employs formerly incarcerated residents of LA, who often face a lot of difficulty getting jobs. This is an easy way to reduce water and air pollution that occurs when the electronics are thrown into municipal landfills.

Bike enthusiast will be given extra attention this year.  REI will be conducting bike safety checks while Raices Roots will be giving a talk about how to plan long trips on a bicycle.  They should know since they’ve traveled to Guatemala several times on their bikes!

Sustainability principles will be incorporated in dinner at Earth Day Latino.  Vegetarians and omnivores alike will be thoroughly enjoying deliciously grilled fresh food (donations are appreciated) and COBA will be quenching our thirst with their famous all natural Aguas Frescas sweetened with 100% organic agave nectar.  Delicioso!  While folks eat, they can listen to green career advice Forest Service Rangers and Solar City. 

This year we expect new beautiful billboards created by UCLA professor of Digital Arts, Mr. Fabian Wagmeister and the 2013 Class of WCVI EcoInterns.  Then our friends at Wild Works will bring some wonderful animals to talk about our rich urban wildlife.  In the early evening we anticipate LA Mayoral Candidate Eric Garcetti and CD 1 Running Candidate Jose Gardea to tell us a bonfire story. Then a drum circle will wave us off into the night so we can settle in our tents to sleep right under the gaze of the high-rises in Downtown Los Angeles. 

We’ll wake up to breakfast truck, yoga and a Tongva Blessing of the Grounds ceremomy.  Our bicycling lovers can safety-check their bikes with experts at Earth Day Latino before they speed off to CicLAvia.  

For more visit our Facebook/EarthDayLatino page.

* SATURDAY – APRIL 20TH *

3:00 PM Registration 
Tent Rentals by REI (while supplies last)

4:00 PM Welcome Remarks 
Why Celebrate Earth Day with Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez
Leave No Trace with REI 

4:30 PM Geo-Caching throughout entire park! 
Fly a Kite with the LA Skyline behind you
Bike Safety Checks by REI mechanics
Bike Touring 101 with Raices Roots

5:30 PM Healthy BBQ & Green Career Presentations by 
US Forest Service Department of Agriculture Rangers 
Solar City

7:00 PM Wild Works Presentation - Urban Animals Up and Close! 

7:30 PM Story Telling around Bonfire with 
LA Mayoral Candidate, Eric Garcetti
& CD 1 Running Candidate Jose Gardea

8:30 PM Drum Circle under the Moonlight

12:00 AM Lights out


* SUNDAY – APRIL 21ST * 

7:00 PM Breakfast Truck Arrives

8:00 AM Indigenous Land Ceremony

9:00 AM Morning Yoga BYO Mat

10:00 AM Closing Remarks - Special Thanks

10:15 AM Turn in Borrowed Tent

10:30 AM Stage your CicLAvia contingent and join the ride!


Earth Day Latino event rules and regulations: 

*REGISTRATION REQUIRED TO CAMP OUT
*MINORS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT
*LEAVE NO TRACE ENFORCED
*NO OPEN FIRES 
*PLEASE RESPECT QUIET HOURS

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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