Already running late from a delayed train, I spotted the massive line. Once I saw the group of volunteers and LA Urban Rangers, I "reported for duty." The long crowd that waited were about to participate in walking either of two trails to the LA River. My assignment was to help at the Backcountry Riverside Station, which was located next to SciArc. I passed out Backcountry Permits to various walkers/participants, helping guide them to the trail of their choice.
The event went on for a few hours. Waves of "trail users" approached our station at various lengths, and I asked which trail they wanted to use. The different responsibilities of a trail user were listed on each Backcountry Permit, which read:
*I understand that I am entering a major public space.
*I understand that the LA River is a river and not a flood control channel.
*I understand that I can ask my federal, state, county, or city representatives
at any time to open this essential public space for safe and consistent public
Some trail users understood what this last part meant, and others briefly looked at their access permits and walked on. As it got dark, users at the Public Access Trail borrowed flashlights to walk through the 6th St. access point to get an up-close and personal view of the LA River. Others experienced a shorter, quicker trail from the top of the 1st St. bridge along the East-West Connector Trail.
Once we arrived to the river we listened some more to Ranger Joe. It was hard to believe that the concrete-ridden canal was filled up high with water, where his grandfather once fished and swam. Ranger Joe asked us what we wanted to see out of this river and encouraged us to write or draw a response back at the station.
One day I would like to be an Urban Ranger. The qualities of an Urban Ranger are many-fold: competent, friendly, nerdy, non-partisan, respectful to others and to the environment, the Urban Ranger has the ability to guide and inform others of the wonderful existing resources in their landscape. To me, this is a step beyond community service. I wonder what "Rangers" in Isla Vista could do to help promote civic engagement which thrives on its local resources.