24 Jul Midsummer on the River: Event Recap
By foot, on wheels, by night and by day, there are many ways to engage with the River. At FoLAR we love to share our passion for the River with others, and our summer events series have allowed us to enjoy the LA River with so many of you—nearly 300 in the first half of summer! We’ve connected at events that sent sleuths to the River to detect bats, stretched our legs on nature walks, and exercised our writing muscles at Writing on the River. Throughout all of our summer programs one thing is clear: the River excites our imaginations and fosters our love for nature. We still have lots of summer ahead, so read our in-depth review of the first half and see you on the River! The best way to keep current is by signing up for email updates, following us on social media (we’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!), and visiting our calendar.
Writing on the River
With her toes in the water of a flowing River, FoLAR’s VP of Programs, Shelly Backlar, soaked up the ambiance while writing her vision for the future of the River. Shelly wrote of her experience at Writing on the River, “Our guides really set the tone by starting on a reflection of the original inhabitants of the LA River, the Tongva. As we concluded the morning I noticed how the sun’s rays filtered through a willow, like light through a cathedral window. Listening to other participants’ writings brought new insight and created a shared experience that opened my heart and reminded me of why we love this River so very much.”
We’re thrilled by this new event series—which pays homage to FoLAR’s literary past and our poet-founder Lewis MacAdams—and love that facilitators Carmiel Banasky, author of the novel The Suicide of Claire Bishop, and Ellie Robins, a writer and translator whose work has appeared in major publications and also featured the LA River, brought great prompts that spurred creative writing on the River. We’ll continue to utilize the backdrop of the River to spark imaginations, and hope to share the inspirational writing samples with our supporters and as public comment to underscore the necessity for access and ecology to be front and center in our restoration effort.
Don’t miss the future iterations of this event. Your next chance to join will be August 18th!
Bats and Brews
There’s just something about bats that lead the mind on a flight of fancy! This highly anticipated new event series drew people out to the River to learn about its nocturnal residents. Shortly after sunset, bat activity increases as they wake up to eat. Bat enthusiasts ventured into the River channel and along the bike path armed with detectors to pick up the otherwise undetectable sounds bats emit to navigate. With two outings under our, uh, bat utility belts, we’re batting .500—after striking out in June, our July outing detected bats on the River to the delight of attendees! In the wake of the news from the LA Times that the fungus that leads to white nose bat syndrome has reached California, our continued search and survey of bats on the LA River is all the more important. We’ll go batting again on August 21. Be sure to stay tuned and sign up.
Slow Ride & Picnic
The River’s already a wonderful spot to gather and enjoy the outdoors, what could make it better? At our Slow Ride and Picnic attendees not only enjoyed the sights of the River but also accompanied it with food, a bike ride, and music by the talented folk rock band Old Time Machine. Our friends at LA River Communities for Environmental Equity (LARCEE) have been conducting a slow ride in Elysian Valley to promote awareness that the bike path is for ALL usages and must be shared among community members. Sharing is caring, people, and something FoLAR was happy to endorse as we partnered to produce this event.
What made this event so great (if the company wasn’t enough!) was the sustainable component of the activity: the Refillery LA was on hand to sell plastic packaging-free soaps. It’s always important to connect our events on the River back to our mission: we envision a River that’s clean, accessible and ecologically friendly. Daily actions like cutting down on plastic help make sure the River will be available for generations to come.
Full Moon Yoga
Starting this summer, FoLAR is hosting a yoga session on the River every full moon. FoLAR’s resident Yogi and Education and Outreach Coordinator Ilianna led the evening, starting with a Nature Walk along the River. Attendees enjoyed a calming sunset stroll, and, as often happens when you venture onto the Riverside path, took in the sights and sounds of an evening River teeming with life. During the yoga class, participants took in the energy of a moonlit River and left feeling energized and limber. The next yoga night will fall just after the next full moon, on August 29—and we hope to see you there!
The River is home to an abundance of flora and fauna. The best way to witness the plants and animals of the River is up close—and that’s exactly what participants got to experience at FoLAR’s first Nature Walks of the summer. It’s not difficult to be surprised by the sights and sounds that exist by the River’s edge: verdant trees spreading along the border of the water, great blue herons flying across a blue sky, bustling water flowing over rocks and plants. Those who tagged along for the walk were able to say hi to our riparian neighbors and connect with the River FoLAR works to protect and improve.
At the Frogtown Comedy Show, people came out to support FoLAR and laugh while doing it. A star-studded lineup included BJ Novak and was hosted at Spoke Bicycle Cafe by local twitter stars Los Feliz Daycare, ensuring there was no shortage of humor on this evening. Development Manager MJ Jackson reported, “As a longtime fan of The Office, touching BJ Novak’s hand to hand him a raffle ticket was the highlight of my night (life?).” Laughing along with the hosts and comics felt even better knowing that the money donated will fund FoLAR’s work. The programs, events, and River advocacy that FoLAR does is impossible without its supporters.
FoLAR’s strength resides in the community of stewards and neighbors who share our aspiration for an accessible and enriched River. We can’t do it alone—so we regularly conduct trainings to cater to the eager stewards.
For those wanting to take the next step in representing FoLAR and advocating for the River, our docent program trains applicants to be the voice of the River and connect people to its resources. At FoLAR’s two docent trainings in late July, 23 new docents learned about the history and mission of FoLAR and prepared to take the lead in River advocacy. Docents commit to volunteering once per month for at least six months, where they bring their knowledge to the field by leading Nature Walks, assisting events, and spreading our message among their networks. FoLAR is lucky to have a team of docents doing what they can to ensure everyone has access to a thriving, healthy River. The next docent trainings are projected to be held in October, so if you’re interested in updates about future training opportunities, sign up here.