Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Author: Karen E. Klein

Today's guest author, Karen E. Klein, is the Smart Answers columnist for as well as the LA Times Small Business columnist. That would seem to be plenty, but Karen is also much more. Please welcome Karen E. Klein.

Thanks to Facebook, I’ve recently reconnected with elementary school classmates that I haven’t heard from in nearly 40 years.

The experience has taken me back to Los Angeles’ westside in the 1960s and early ‘70s. Our neighborhood, Ladera Heights, was located near vast tracts of open space owned at the time by the Hughes Aircraft Company.

This area, where we occasionally caught tadpoles, was referred to as “swampland.” Adults hoped these ugly mudflats would soon be put to good use, like the “beautiful” Marina del Rey development, that had been built in the 1950s.

Surely something was wrong with me, I thought as a grade-schooler. To me, the Marina, with its dense tangle of masts and thick, concrete high-rises, was the ugly monstrosity.

And the deepest yearnings of my heart were for natural places. I dreamt of flowing streams and open water. Whenever we drove by the Hughes property, I would look for glimpses of meandering creeks and shorebirds, tall grasses and slender cattails. They took my breath away.

No one else seemed sorry that all of it would eventually be paved over, dredged out and channeled under. I concluded that I must be some kind of weird throwback.

Life went on; we moved to Orange County and eventually to the San Gabriel Valley. I almost never revisited my old stomping grounds. But I couldn’t have been happier when I read that a group was dedicated to saving the old Hughes holdings. And it wasn’t a mud flat after all (somehow, I’d known that all along), but an estuary, The Ballona Wetlands

It is one of the main things that make me stubbornly optimistic about the future, this ecological consciousness-raising that has taken place during my lifetime. Up and down the coast, plans to fill in and pave over wild places are being scuttled and damage done by commercial developers is being remediated.

The fight goes on, even here in our own backyard. I’m happy to be part of a new group, Friends of Peck Park, that aims to restore and revitalize a little gem located where Arcadia, El Monte, Temple City and Duarte meet. My husband, Steve, and I first stumbled onto this area, formally known as the Peck Road Water Conservation Park, on our bikes nearly a decade ago.

The 200-acre park, an abandoned rock quarry, houses a beautiful lake that attracts hundreds of species of local and migratory birds. The views of the San Gabriel Mountains are stunning. Yet right now, scruffy, run-down Peck Park is best known for gang crime by night and a county prison work-release program by day.

This Saturday, July 2, our Friends group will be hosting tours and an “open house” for the park, with the help of nonprofit Amigos de los Rios. Come over at noon, bring your own picnic lunch and enjoy a presentation about the park's restoration and potential, with tours to follow. You'll get a look at this jewel of the SGV’s “Emerald Necklace.” It's at 5401 N. Peck Road, Arcadia. Look hard for a small sign off Peck Road where you'll turn right (coming south on Peck) into the parking lot. You’ll learn about restoration and I promise you’ll be inspired.


dive said...

What a great post.
It makes me want to play Big Yellow Taxi really loud and dance around the room in an embarrassing fashion.
A big hoorah for ecology movements around the world. Good luck with Peck Park. I hope to see a follow up post celebrating its protection and restoration.
And yay Petrea for the excellent idea of guest authors.

Bellis said...

Hi Karin, how nice to find you on P's blog this morning! I visited this park a few years ago to look at the birds, and was amazed at how many different waterbirds were swimming in the lake. It could be a lovely park with some tidying up and more planting, and I'm full of admiration for your initiative. Sorry to miss the Open House - hope it is well attended.

Petrea Burchard said...

Good morning, early risers!

And/or, people across the pond.

Guest authors was Margaret's idea, which she gave to me. I love Margaret for many reasons, guest authors being one of them. Margaret is brilliant.

But let's talk about Karen. I love the fact that she took this opportunity to write about Peck Park. From Steve's photo, it looks like a beautiful place, certainly worth the effort.

altadenahiker said...

I love some good news on this front. Great post, Karen, and I'll be there.

Margaret said...

Apparently, only the weak among us will worry about the heat.

Petrea Burchard said...

See, Margaret, I always think I'm the weak one because I like heat but I'm a wimp when it gets below 75 degrees. You are a strong one and can wear a hat to protect you from the sun. Plus there will be trees and water. And see all that shade in the foreground?

Karen said...

Thanks for reading, everyone, and thanks to Petrea for allowing me to reach her wonderful readership today!

We hope to see you on Saturday. Yes, there is shade at the park, but if the weather keeps up like today we'll hardly need it.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I went by a park not to long ago that got my curiosity (looking for a Lowes in that area). I was curious and now I'm thinking this is it. It's beautiful from the angle of this photo. Good for you Karen

Petrea Burchard said...

It's downright cool today. We walked Boz just now and I had to wear a sweater.

PA, you get around. I think you and Bellis know all the good places.

Karen said...

I'm amazed at Bellis and PA for actually having found this place.

As you'll see if you come by on Saturday, it's a true hidden treasure. It's like the powers that be have gone out of their way to keep it isolated and hidden from public view.

But they wouldn't do that ... right? Nah ...

Steve Scauzillo said...

Nothing beats restoration. Well put, hon. I once wrote a column about why I liked ironing. It was a sweet moment of restoring an old, wrinkly garment. With a few swishes of the hot iron, it could be made new. That's the idea behind green restoration. My favorite botanist Ann Croissant is supposed to be there. She used to say: "Save the rain forest? Why don't we save our own creeks and rivers here in SoCal first?" Right on! Think global, act local.

Susan Campisi said...

I just wrote an email about how depressed I am at the sad state of the environment. Reading this post gave me a ray of hope. What a wonderful restoration project. And your optimism, Karen, is a breath of fresh air.

John Sandel said...

Great story, Karen. Welcome to PasDaPho!

Petrea Burchard said...

I had so many problems with Blogger last night, I couldn't comment on my own blog!

Karen, thank you for your post. As Susan says, your optimism is a ray of hope. I sometimes feel there's nothing we can do, and our open spaces are all doomed to development. So thank you. I'll come back to your post whenever those thoughts get me down.