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The Bugs are Buggin' at Debs Park
Colorful array of city activities: food truck, cyclist, vintage car, barber, girl in quinceanera dress; 6th street bridge in the background with purple gradient overlay
(Dan Carino
/
LAist)
Episode 12
9:35
The Bugs are Buggin' at Debs Park
Los Angeles has a lot to offer when it comes to the outdoors. But here's the thing: if hiking or camping wasn't a part of your world growing up, it can feel a little intimidating to make the plunge. HTLA host Brian De Los Santos is one of those Angelenos that didn't grow up exploring the outdoors... But that's all about to change at Debs Park, just east of the 110 near Montecito Heights. Guest: Maricela (Marci) Rosales, Program Associate Director at the Conservation Lands Foundation

Brian De Los Santos 

I am at the Audubon Center at Debs Park. I've got trees in front of me, in back of me, on the left and right. Beautiful flowers blooming. The sun is sunning. (How to LA intro music plays.) Okay, guys, time for a confession. I don't hike. I know, I know. I live in LA, I'm from LA. But outside the social hang out at the beach-I'm more of a city girl. The outdoors, it's just not my thing. But as we know by now, this show is about what makes LA special, and helping you explore it all. You're listening to how to LA from LAist Studios. I'm your host Brian De Los Santos. Today, I'm going on a hike and you're coming with me. (Birds chirping in the background.) I'm out here wearing black sweats, a black T, and a bright-ass green jacket.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

That's okay. As long as you've got some comfy shoes and a water bottle, and a hat.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

We got-we ready for this.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Yes.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

That's Maricela Rosales, Marci for short. She's an Associate Director for the Conservations Lands Foundation. And she knows Debs Park like the back of her hand.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

This I think like 143 different species of birds here.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

There's signs around the visitor center that list ALL the different animals that live here.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Desert cottontails coyotes, bobcats, California ground squirrels, gopher, snakes, Western fence lizards...

 

Brian De Los Santos 

And then there's the plants:

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Deer grass, teyan, laurel, samak, purple melic grass...

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Again. We're in the city. The 110 is right there.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Sticky monkey flower. I like that one. Coffee berry, elderberry, white sage, and mugwort. Smells great, doesn't it?

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Yeah. I smell that walking in. I'm like, Oh, I could hang out here often. You know,

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

I love LA because of its unique spaces, and in between are parks. Debs Park, for me, this is my favorite place to go. And I like that they've done so much restoration work here, that more people are coming in and using these spaces because the other side of this park is like soccer fields and basketball courts. This feels like we're out in the mountains. It kind of helps you stay close to home but far enough where you can just go ahhh (exhales).

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Alright, quick note. The reason we're in Debs Park today is cuz of you, our audience. I may not be an outdoorsy person, but we know some of YOU are. Before we launched his podcast, we asked you to share your favorite outdoor places in LA. There was so many responses, and this was one of them. FYI, we will try to hit all the places you noted. So keep the ideas coming. All right, back to the show.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

We're in one corner of Debs Park.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Marci's like pointing at the map. But, I noticed she wasn't actually reading it.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

There's the Butterfly Loop Trail. Then there's the Scrub Jay Trail.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

She's got this place memorized. Like, I was a little nervous this morning. But, I think I'm alright. I'm in good hands.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Oh, it's getting hot. We're finally hitting a trail- trail. We just left the center of the Audubon Center.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Just because we were on the trail didn't mean that the nature lesson was over.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

So I think this is white sage.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Can I smell it?

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

You can smell it. And you can also rub the leaf and then smell your hand.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Oh my god, it's delicious! I mean, I wouldn't eat it right? But this is lavender, right?

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

This is lavender.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Out here it just feels different. (Music plays underneath.) I went to the local park and the beach as a kid. But living in the middle of the city, I wasn't really exposed to all this nature that surrounds us. I mean, I didn't know Runyon Canyon existed until I was like 22. Marci says it was similar for her.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Growing up for myself-I'm from Los Angeles, I lived in Korea Town. We had a backyard, and we had a lot of fruits and vegetables. To me that was nature. But, I learned that later on in life-rather than seeing that as an opportunity to explore.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Why does it matter for people to get outdoors?

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Sorry, I'm like I'm trying to process because there's so many ways that I can answer this.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

She got this reflective look on her face and looked around and took in all the nature around us. The trees, a light breeze, the beautiful smells, all that good stuff.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

How can I say this? We're not separate from nature. We are nature, and nature is not separate from us. Climate change is happening, and the impact to green spaces-it hurts me because this is how we keep air quality better than how it was before. This is how we keep wildlife still living in the places that they call home. And then also, mental health and just peace and quiet, and being away from concrete jungle or wherever they reside. Or, are you going on a date with somebody, or you're going to be out with friends and you're just able to be somewhere where it's not so busy. It's like nature-busy; you know, birds are flying, bugs are bugging, you know, but it's like you are HERE.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

As you can probably tell, Marci's whole mission is to get people outside. And she's done a lot of advocacy work with organizations like Latino Outdoors. They teach everyone from little kids, to abuelitas how to get outside in a sustainable way.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

I'm always thinking about what's the best ways that I can help the community. And just having those "aha" moments with them. Like, this reminds me of my childhood in Mexico, or in Guatemala-Salvador. The access barrier, slowly but surely is becoming less and less. Now you're starting to see a shift in communities, like, Debs Park is in my backyard. Let me go check it out.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Running up there?

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Do you want to run up there?

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Yeah.

 

Maricela (Marci) Rosales

Run! Go!

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Yes! We made it. We finally made it to the top of one of the hills. And you can see downtown from here. There's a pretty big tree. It has really nice shade. And it has a big ol a one person swing. There are like, fellow city girls, just hanging out with a dog.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

How long did it take you to get up here?

 

Josie

From that site?

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Yeah.

 

Josie

Like, five minutes.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

We met Josie and Rosalie, two childhood friends from East LA, who love to spend their free time outdoors.

 

Rosalie

Go to Elysian Park, and Griffith Park cus there you have like the mansions and stuff. And then you have like, what I can relate to. You see like, paleteros and all that, you know. You see more of the Mexicans on one side-I don't know. I think LA is really diverse.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

What is your favorite thing about LA?

 

Josie

My people. You know, feeling like there's no place like home.

 

Rosalie

I would just say East Los Angeles. Period. Like she said, there's no place like home (laughs). East Los Angeles that's home.

 

Brian De Los Santos 

(Exhales deeply.) Honestly, seeing these two Latinas enjoying their day off on a swing, under a tree at the top of a hike overlooking the downtown skyline. THAT was the moment it clicked for me. I mean, if they made time to come out here and enjoy it. So can I. (Music starts playing.)

 

Brian De Los Santos 

You can get to the outdoors in LA. We came to Debs Park because I am not an outdoors person. I more of a city girl, I say. Yes, you have to worry about transportation-how to get there. But, what is special to me is that there's an effort to conserve all this-to make it a space for people to enjoy it, but also for the animals to just be animals. The takeaway for me is: everyone can enjoy the outdoors, but yes, there is work behind it-to conserve it, to treasure it, to explore it. Even just the smell, I kind of had a bad morning, and I'm like driving up putting on my SZA songs-cus I was like, going through it. And then, I opened the door to the car, and it just even the fresh air took me to another world. And I'm like: "Oh, I'm in LA still".

 

Brian De Los Santos 

To me, this is LA. We got the cars, we got the nature, we got the sun. (How To LA theme song plays.)

 

Brian De Los Santos 

Okay, as you probably can guess I'm starving by now. So I'm going to change out of my hiking shoes, and go get some food. Thanks to Marci Rosales for taking me outside. Our producers are Evan Jacoby and Caroline Champlin. Our fall intern is Olive Bieni. Chris Farias runs our social media. Check us out on Instagram @LAistPics and on Tik Tok @LAistvids. Hasmik Pohosyan engineers the show. Our theme music is by Donald Paz. Megan Larson is our Executive Producer. Shana Naomi Krochmal is the Vice President of LAist Studios. I'm your host Brian De Los Santos. Catch us Tuesdays through Thursdays wherever you get your podcasts. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live. This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.