Honoring Land

A page dedicated to the many who have a story to tell about their relationship with the land at the Anabolic Garden.

Diane Valencia shares:

“I am deeply thankful to have been able to take care of this land & thankful to be given freedom to develop a relationship with the land. I am a native resident of LA, born nearby at the LACounty from immigrant parents, immigrant family from the Philippines. Raised in the Los Angeles metropolis, my family has lived our entire lives renting a unit on a small apartment complex. Luckily with a small balcony we have only a small limited space available for my family to grow plants. Our landlady always threatens & complains for us not to be growing plants on the balcony as well.

I learned about the Anabolic garden because i work in the Chinatown community. I was amazed to hear about the Anabolic garden being an open space where I can volunteer & work with the land, especially native plants that have cultural, medicinal, and healthy food benefits. My family, my ancestors come from a long background of people that were farmers and loved and connected with planting and nature. So for my family’s living situation in our apartment, i was happy finding the Anabolic land. And i’m happy that I have a place where i can exercise, learn, and practice taking care of flora & fauna that is not just for growing a bush of tomatoes &kale like a typical manicured garden- but fostering, caring, developing a relationship to native flora & fauna that is naturally what Los Angeles was made of. I also have been amazed and excited that because of helping tend to the land alongside other community members, there is a resurgence and growth of the endemic biodiversity of the area. I was in awe to have seen nano hummingbirds.

To this important space has given me access to connect with the land and my ancestors, that has improve my health, and help build community -I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have work on this small parcel of land. I hope I and my community can continue to work and connect to this land.

Janie Olivas shares:

There are so many thoughts and emotions that run through my mind and in my heart, when I think of what the land (the Anabolic Native Garden, in the Los Angeles State Historic Park) means to me. This Land has offered me freedom, sanctuary and a home away from home. This is the perfect place to get away from all the stress of a city within a city and connect with nature. I have built an everlasting relationship with this land. I have spent many hours with the flora and observing the fauna. Both day and night dedicating my heart and soul, to heal, nurture and help this incredible place flourish for the community to enjoy. This is a place where we can reconnect with our ancestral roots. Everyone is invited to come volunteer and remember the paths that humans and nature share. Humans and Plants/trees are a balance, a duality, which creates harmony and togetherness the things we should not neglect or take for granted. This land has helped me find my path in life, made me realize what my destiny is and what I must full fill with this gift of life. There is no better gift to yourself then feeding your soul with the presence of nature in your life.

Eugene Lopez shares:

The time comes in one’s life, when one must make a choice. A choice to do what is better for the greater good of the self and of others.  For we are all one, woven into this exquisite tapestry of existence we comprehend as life. Every human being unique, yet surprisingly similar. The experiences we share with each other on this planet are beautiful and undying.  A very faint ripple in this water basin of lore we swim within. There is an old saying, “The teacher comes when the student is ready.” The park and it’s monuments, it’s community, it’s teachers, it’s love has come to me in this most dire moment in my time. To illuminate and empower the path I know to be true to who I am. Given today’s standards and trials, it can remain out of reach for many for years to come. Though, with the right attitude, perception and respect of oneself, it is then, that the uncanny ability we all possess to adapt and overcome truly radiates.  I met my partner Yajaira almost a year ago. Since then my life has undergone sweeping changes for the better. I quit the old band I was in, found work in the field of teaching (which I have a natural affinity to), reconnected with myself and my family and discovered the Anabolic Native Garden in the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The experiences I have had while giving my time to the space have been nothing short of miraculous. The veil of deception and incertitude to my fellow human beings has been forever lifted. Peace, love and harmony have been given their first and just positions within my perspective. Working in the garden and getting to know the Earth with like­minded individuals has given us all a strong sense of community. I am jovial to be able to share this with my loved ones and with this, we have moved many others with our dedication to the land and it’s healing as a whole.

Tirelessly it works

Spinning in cycles

Endlessly

Within space and time

Far from reach

Reaching far

Touching stars

Bringing scents

Solidifying essence

Emanating consciousness

Living, breathing, nimble, wholesome

Love

Sarita Dougherty shares:

A 2-acre parcel known as the Anabolic Monument in the Los Angeles State Historic Park might be redesigned even though rare and endangered native plants to Southern California have established deep roots unwilling to transplant, and even though the space is culturally activated by many communities with land-based cultural practices in and around downtown Los Angeles. These human practices also have deep roots not easily transplanted because they, too, are place-based and exist in a complex ecosystem of histories, herstories, healing arts, seasonal and elemental observances, life-cycles and teachings. These relationships take years to flourish.

 The following is the process of growing a native garden whose soil health is established after many years of personalized maintenance without chemical additives; organic soil touched by the hands of many happy volunteers. Once rooted, it’s very damaging to remove this collective biodiversity not just surviving but thriving in our contaminated city.

She hears us honoring her

                                                She hadn’t heard it in a long time

                                                She housed a brownfield, a trainyard

                                                Living as this liminal zone allowed her to remain uncemented                                                 and undeveloped

                                                A place loses health when it loses open land

                                               Since everything is medicine, we continue to honor her, again                                                  and again.

Thank you A 2-acre parcel known as the Anabolic Monument in the Los Angeles State Historic Park might be redesigned even though rare and endangered native plants to Southern California have established deep roots unwilling to transplant, and even though the space is culturally activated by many communities with land-based cultural practices in and around downtown Los Angeles. These human practices also have deep roots not easily transplanted because they, too, are place-based and exist in a complex ecosystem of histories, herstories, healing arts, seasonal and elemental observances, life-cycles and teachings. These relationships take years to flourish. The following is the process of growing a native garden whose soil health is established after many years of personalized maintenance without chemical additives; organic soil touched by the hands of many happy volunteers. Once rooted, it’s very damaging to remove this collective biodiversity not just surviving but thriving in our contaminated city.

She hears us honoring her

She hadn’t heard it in a long time

She housed a brownfield, a trainyard

Living as this liminal zone allowed her to remain

uncemented and undeveloped

A place loses health when it loses open land

Since everything is medicine, we continue to honor

her, again and again.

 SCROLLS OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Thank you

mallow, yarrow

sweet feather-leaves

deep-healing root

for a sore throat,

precious petals to induce

a woman’s bleeding

powerful

leaf medicine

to stop a cut-flow

Thank you

Black Phoebe,

Hummingbird,

rogue duck, her nest with eggs nestled in

thank you deer grass

thank you

ceanothus, for your bloom and sudsing properties

Thank you white mountain sage.

Thank you for hearing our songs and responding with exponential growth. Thank you for the gift you give when dried and burned, strong enough to induce deep womb cleaning when

the brothers moved you with owl wings

Thank you

native pollinator

thank you salt bush

you are my soul-sister plant because

we carry a similar chispa energy

we are both cheerful and enthusiastic

Thank you Sandra,

for giving me language

to express why I am distraught about

the possibility of a closed-door decision by few taking away the collective agency of many,

 of changing our abilitiy to relate, respect and honor the land here

Thank you Olivia Chumacero

Thank you Lauren Bon

Thank you Cindi Alvitri

Thank you Lorraine Sisquoc,

and her partner, thank you

Thank you Craig Torres

Thank you grandmothers,

thank you elders

Thank you Tongva

thank you Toypurina

Thank you for being brave

even if it backfired

it worked because we have gathered warriors

today of a different sort

who will also defend their beliefs

by practicing them.

Thank you cottonwoods,

you have warmed so many hearts- 200 youth-

With your joyful wave,

your greeting me

when I arrive weary of a city,

when I lay my head underneath

on Los Angeles land

with free-growing,

 reseeding lupine and poppy.

Thank you Sycamore

and your medicinal bark tea.

Thank you bladder pod and

the love Sophia has for you.

Thank you, land, for accepting a teenage

Steph who needed

to pull your invasives

to pull her alientation

manifested as crystal meth

out of her heart and into the soil.

Thank you soil

TO BEGIN, OLIVIA CHUMACERO, MY TEACHER, LAUREN BON’S METABOLIC STUDIO AND YOUTH FROM SOUTH LA PULLED OUT THE NON-NATIVE PLANTS

There is nothing inherently wrong with non-native plants growing, only that left unchecked they inhibit native biodiversity. If they are tended to, then some can be harvested for medicine and food and their removal disturbs the soil, allowing seeds for local habitat to recreate good health- on a microbal level, on an insect and plant level, and on an animal level, including humans.

POWER POLITICS ARE INVASIVE

Who gets to decide how space is used?

Who decides what it becomes?

Who controls people’s ability to root themselves in a place? Their agency in a place?

Who’s interests decide how people can participate in a space?

How much money does Los Angeles make off of “native-chic” telas; leggins, backpacks, rugs and jewelry are cool with

pseudo-authentic patterns and why, if the aesthetic is so popular, is it not reflected in community spaces?

Why, if there are Native Cafes, and native afgans can there not be 2 acres left to continue growing in its current state as a native LA garden and gathering place, ceremonial space?

Who’s values insist on the removal of an established native garden and sacred place for many local communities in order to follow a design determined by landscape architects with no relationship nor practice in its management?

And why would those making these decisions avoid a public hearing and response to their non-public plans?

We celebrate and represent the following; we must advocate for their existance:

ANCESTORS’ RIGHTS, CEREMONIAL SPACES’ RIGHTS, BIODIVERSITY’S RIGHTS, NATIVE PLANTS’ RIGHTS AND HEALTHY SOIL’S RIGHTS, HEALING RIGHTS, COMMUNITY EDUCATION RIGHTS, WATER’S RIGHTS, UNDEVELOPED SPACE’S RIGHTS, THE RIGHT TO TEND THE WILD IN A CITY, THE RIGHTS TO PRACTICE NATIVE CALIFORNIA WAYS OF TENDING THE LAND, THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN-LED SPACES, THE RIGHTS OF THOSE WHO’S ANCESTORS TENDED TO THE LAND HERE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS AND WHO’S RELATIVES STILL DO; TONGVA RIGHTS

After the invasives were pulled out 8 years ago, native plants came back as volunteers

There are many incredible occurances we have observed about how the land has responded to our care. After the invasives were pulled out 8 years ago, rare native plants appeared without being planted; they voluntarily reseeded themselves for the first time on this soil in well over 200 years.

Six Other Remarkable Observations:

-Wildlife has returned to the middle of downtown Los Angeles: native pollinators, birds including chaparral scrub-dwellers and waterfowl, engandered local species are thriving like the Big Berry Manzanita, the soil can host mushrooms again.

-For 8 years now the land has hosted Tongva cultural practices for the first time since 1785

-There are over 50 volunteers regularly tending to these plants, practicing low-impact stewardship of natural resources and California flora

-Native plants are reseeding themselves; extremely rare, hard-to-propogate species such as the bladder-pods and salvia apiana, deer grass and elderberry are following their natural life cycles under our care

-This place is community gathering space for over 500 people; specifically from underrepresented communities with marginalized cultural practices such as the Tongva, the Filipino, Maya, Chinese, Japanese, elders with land-based spiritualities, queer youth of color, and visiting indigenous communities from all over the world including Tlinkit, Bolivian

-The Anabolic Monument, the circle in the middle of the native garden, is a teaching space for collectives who reconnect their communities to the land. They pass on knowledge of native plant maintenance throughout their networks, increasing the resiliency of the Los Angeles people against smog, food deserts, soil depletion and drought.

THE SPACE IS ORGANIZED BY SEASONS AND CULTURAL PRACTICES IN CONJUNCTION WITH NATURAL CALENDARS WE SEED AND HARVEST, PLAY AND GATHER, HONOR THE LAND

Here seeds are sung to in fact I learned how to sing here,

nestled in the fava beans I found the same voice my Bolivian ancestors sang with.

Parks are ready for relationship-building and communal care-taking;

the flora and fauna respond very well to these practices, as do

the community of humans tending to them

mainly because these patterns of relating

remain in our ancient or recent blood memory (DNA).

All of our ancestors lived tribally

we respond well to intimacy with the animate nature of everything.

Would you believe that every major friendship I have in Los Angeles sprung from this place?

That the sensations of anxiety, loneliness, depression and self-effacement I experienced since childhood were all healed here? Would you believe that my friends experienced the same?

After we sang to a white sage she tripled in size in the span of a month.

I think of the garden,

I lay down on the land,

I feel the Tongva ancestors,

Sitting with us beside the fire

I meet my ancestors

in front of my ancestor pole

I hear my great-great-great Aymara grandmother, my Louisiana grandmother, my Bolivian grandmother

I honor them

Everything is Medicine

is the ability to feel

the most connected in a city often cited as the most alienating

I honor the soil’s capacity to regenerate

when ancient models of care-taking are re-introduced

a seed

continues to thrive in

open space in the middle of urban sprawl

in the middle of a draught

Water drips as dew from a mother plant’s petals

to continue producing sustainable collective life

in a two acre, 8 and 2000 year old native garden

This is the State of the Los Angeles Park with Herstory

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2 Responses to Honoring Land

  1. Yajaira says:

    I went to Ceanothus L.A. and brought along some friends in which we danced, heard beautiful stories shared by Sweet Water and, did I mention, dipped our feet in the mud pit. The vibe of the event was like an energetic wave that radiated and illuminated everyones face. And the abundance of joy shared, oh, that evening at Ceanothus L.A., left me feeling connected with mother earth and all its inhabitants. This event was truly magical!

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