Wanted: African-American Campers

A Seattle Times article from 2005 explores why blacks are not camping in this Pacific Northwest region with 250, 000 acres of parkland.
"One former ranger, who worked at Deception Pass and other state parks that each hosted up to 400,000 visitors a year, reported seeing fewer than 50 blacks over a 10-year period"

National Parks: Hidden Historical Treasures

I wish I could tell some folks to simply throw on some hiking boots and GO, but there are historical and social influences that keep many African Americans estranged from the natural environment. So why is it that African Americans consider the outdoors for others and not for themselves?
I came across this National Parks site that does a decent job of describing the different relationship people of color have with the natural world. While African Americans may appreciate the majesty of the Grand Canyon, or the sublime beauty of Yosemite, it is a challenge to view these spaces as our own and make them a priority to visit.
Another page of the site tackles this issue head on and lists a number of preserved sites that are designated because of people of color. One site local to the Bay Area is The San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park that memorializes the heroic, late 19th Century African American seaman William T. Shorey, (pictured above) who eventually lived out his days in Oakland.

Carolyn Finney: Bringing blacks into the Environmental Conversation

I saw this article over a year ago on the Berkeley website and just remembered it as an appropriate share for this blog.
Like myself, Berkeley geographer Carol Finney took the non-traditional path to an undergraduate education and was deeply influenced by both her parent's relationship to land and her own extensive travel.
Finney believes that contemporary environmental values are not new for African Americans, who have had long agricultural and familial ties to land in this country. She believes that America's environmental stories, such as those told by John Muir and others, "edit out" the African American experience, and the current environmental movement continues a tradition of leaving African Americans out of the conversation.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Antionette Cooks sent me the following note and picture:
"...pictures were taken in Elk Grove, Ca from my balcony over looking Laguna creek. The rainbow stretched above the creek.
Rue the creek is wonderful... I will take other pictures and send you the trees in bloom on a sunny day... maybe I can even catch the beavers ..."
Here is fine example of nature appreciation right in your own backyard. Thanks Antionette!

Local Redwood Forests

Cooling off and calming down with the family (or your honey) could not be easier this summer than taking a stroll in a shady, local Redwood grove, where temperatures can dip 10-15 degrees lower than their nearby urban centers. Our local Redwood beauties have been around for hundreds of years and are now protected to ensure their survival and service to the local ecology. Their austere presence is found amazingly close and accessible from the craze of metropolitan life.
In the valley just beyond the Oakland Hills is Redwood Park, which is a part of the East Bay Regional Parks District. Trails are paved and mostly flat for walking or casual bike riding. There is also a fantastic play structure as well as reservable spots for parties.
Across the bay in Marin County is the stunning Muir Woods, which is a designated monument of the National Parks Service and named after conservationalist John Muir. Here, you'll likely run into people from all over the world who come to take in the breathtaking diversity of local fauna. Look for the "Cathedral", a tight cluster of trees noted for inspiring people to lower their voices as though they were in church!
What to bring: money for parking, some food/snacks, water, and comfortable shoes with good traction

Feather River Camping

Some people feel that the hard work of camping doesn’t translate into a real vacation, especially if you have young children. I want to point families to Oakland’s Feather River Family Camp, which has been around for about 80 years. The camp is situated in the Plumas National Forest located 5 hours away by car, north of the bay, and outside the darling town of Quincy.
Yes, tarp sleeping and outdoor food preparation can be tough, especially for parents. And while I want people to get outdoors, they need not be martyrs for it. Feather River Family Camp does all the hard work for you. There are platform tents with cots (so no pitching!), or cabins with electricity, and a dining room that produces hot, delicious, all-you-can eat food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Each morning, small children can go to the “Tot-Lot” for childcare until lunch while older kids can do hikes or crafts.
There are theme weeks throughout the summer season and this year, they have added an African Dance theme week with dance instruction each day and night. In addition, there are regularly scheduled outings off site, or you can stay and cool off in the swimming hole. What I like most are the relationships my family developeds with other families as we all return year after year. We have already signed up for Folk Dance Week and will overlap with the African Dance week for a couple days. Registration is per day and is less expensive for more then 5 days or Oakland residents. Overall, it’s a terrific value and a lot of fun. Hope to see you this summer!

Bicycling in the Bay Area

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where the weather is a reliable average of 65 degrees year-round and there are trails and paths with sweeping views just minutes away from wherever you live.

If you are thinking about riding a real bike in the Bay Area, instead of a stationary bike at the gym, try riding with the Oakland Yellow Jackets. Their first ride of the season is this Saturday! The first ride is traditionally a completely flat 10-mile ride that starts at Lake Merritt, goes to Alameda then heads back to The Lake where a potluck awaits! You can also join the club for only $30 for the year for guided rides that are planned at least once per week.
I love the Yellow Jackets because you don't need an expensive bike and fancy gear to ride with them. They also organize group rides based on ability and stamina, so you can ride an easy flat ride if you're a beginner or take on a more challenging ride if you're a stud.
Check them out!