Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It's a given that we run, bike, hike, ride our horses and walk our dogs in the Arroyo Seco. We also park our world-famous football stadium, our childrens' museum and our aquatic center there. And around those popular people magnets, we park our cars.

The parking lots need occasional maintenance, and I joined a clean-up last weekend. Wilson Lau, Watershed Coordinator at the Arroyo Seco Foundation (ASF), put out the word on the Arroyo Seco chat list ("What better way to show love for your country than to clean up the Arroyo?...Gloves and trash bags will be provided...") and I posted about it here on PDP.

I expected the turn-out to be small, but it was small. Besides Lau and Tim Martinez, a college student, native plant expert and one of the ASF's top volunteers, the only person to show up besides me was a PCC student who shuns the spotlight, so to speak. The four of us cleaned several large islands in two hours. 15 or 20 people could have done the whole parking lot in about 90 minutes, but I doubt they would have had more fun.

Our parking lot islands are populated with black sage, little red berry and California rose. The latter's hips shimmy in the photo above and its thorns wrote their tale on my forearms. I got an excellent upper body workout. 

The islands, and the spaces next to them that look like they're paved with beige bricks, are a permeable filtration system that removes trash and impurities from storm water before it runs into the Arroyo stream bed. I never knew a parking lot island could be an engineering marvel, but in Lot I they are marvels indeed.

Another marvel is the number of cigarette butts down there getting filtered out of our water. An amazing amount of cigarette butts. I said to Wilson, "Are these things major polluters? Or do they biodegrade?" He said "Oh, they biodegrade if you give 'em a hundred years or so."

If you'd like to be informed about Arroyo volunteering opportunities, you can fill out the ASF's volunteer form. There's always something to do. It's likely you'll meet Wilson and Tim in the process. Big plus.


Bellis said...

Gorgeous photo - I've never seen a rose with a bundle of hips like that before. Thanks for helping to clean this area up. I'm looking forward to joining in next time. I think it was the artist Joel Tauber who inspired the City to remove more asphalt from around the trees in the parking lots, though using the area around the trees to also keep the Arroyo Seco river clean was the City's inspired idea. Tauber's delightful project, Sick amour, led to an art show and movie, trailer here:


His beloved tree is still thriving in Parking Lot K.

Bellis said...

Here's the Sick-amour website, though the links don't work any more.


This is a great example of how an artist can make a huge impact on improving the environment, don't you think?

dive said...

What a shame about the low turn-out, Petrea. At least those of you who did go had a fun time and did lots of good work.
Those rose hips are gorgeous.

Virginia said...

A good deed and sounds like you got more than you gave. Isn't that always the way? GIving back to our communities is so important. Great post P. Love the photo too!

Petrea Burchard said...

Bellis, that's a great site and story. It sounds like Tauber had a lot of influence on the islands I worked on the other day.

I got pictures of bright red hips, too, Dive, but it was a smaller bunch and I thought this one was darned good looking.

To be honest, Virginia, if I hadn't announced publicly I was going I might not have gone. It was hot on Saturday! If you find you're not motivated to do volunteer work, try publicizing your intent on your blog.

Then I enjoyed it and I learned something, so I'm glad I went.

pasadenapio said...

We love the Arroyo Seco Foundation! I served on the board several years ago.

Shell Sherree said...

It is a good looking bunch of hips, Petrea. You're wonderful to help the clean-up and I hope they have many more volunteers next time around. Those ciggie butts are an enormous blight on the environment. We have the same issue here, curses.

Petrea Burchard said...

Well, as I said, Shell, I might not have gone had I not announced publicly I was going. But I'm glad I did. As for the butts, it really surprised me. They're so little and easy to throw away. Cars have ashtrays.

Susan Campisi said...

I remember Tim from the Hahamongna Walkabout. I was so impressed with his knowledge of native plants.

Maybe all the local bloggers can post about the event next time, so we're all committed to going.