The Halfway Point
This year, due to COVID, I have only been able to visit my Abuelito y Abuelita once. It makes me a bit sad to not have seen the Painted Hills much this year, but, even more so, that I have seen so little of my grandparents. I am super thankful to still have them alive, but I know that will not always be the case. As long as I have a reason to go to Kimberly, I will continue my tradition of stopping at the Painted Hills.
For me, the outdoors and places in general are special because they remind me of something or someone. The Painted Hills remind me of my grandparents. My sense of connection to these places is built on my sense of connection to people I love.
As I mentioned earlier, traveling to places like the Painted Hills was just something we never did, but once I made the stop, it was easy for me to care deeply about this and other spaces. I mention this only as a way to hopefully inspire people to think differently and creatively as we try to expose more people to the outdoors, especially folks in marginalized communities.
When we engage with communities at a human level and listen, we can connect their experiences with public lands to the need to conserve these places in a relatable way. As we foster that connection, we then have all people who care about the outdoors continually advocating on behalf of places, such as the Painted Hills, in a positive way.