Craig Anderson, Executive Director of LandPaths, was the speaker at the February 25th meeting of the club. Landpaths, an acronym for Land Partners through Stewardship, is a local non-profit. During the past eighteen year, the organization has worked with various groups to determine the outcome of lands within Sonoma County, finding ways to collaborate to protect and use county land. While many environmental organizations fight against the machine, LandPaths strives to be for something, finding ways to connect the community to the land and giving people a sense of place. Craig’s vision, developed in partnership with his wife, Lee Hackeling, the LandPaths assistant director, is to create opportunities for Sonoma County residents to spend time in nature, discovering in themselves a sense of belonging, and sharing the experience with others in various ways through programs started by the organization. The goal is to move beyond just recreation – to actually experience the land in fuller way.
Craig described some of the LandPath programs:
* In Our Own Backyard, started in 1999, takes roughly 1,000 students from urban areas in mostly Hispanic communities in Santa Rosa and Windsor to a rural site four times during the school year. Many of these children don’t have the opportunity to experience nature in their normal lives. The students keep a journal of the experiences.
* Inspired Forward takes at-risk high school students into nature four times during the school year, where the students do hard physical work with community mentors. This environment allows for an atmosphere of exchange which can expand the worldview of the participants. Many of these urban dwellers have only seen trees growing in the planting strips between sidewalks and roads.
* Bayer Farms, a partnership with the City of Santa Rosa, is a two-acre working farm in the Roseland area, started in 2007. The community garden has become a multi-cultural gathering place where people share the experience of working together, sharing food, and getting to know each other.
One can’t help but be very impressed by Craig’s positive approach of connecting the community to the land and to each other. Visit the website landpaths.org to find out more about other LandPaths programs. Special events, including hikes through protected lands, are also listed on the website.
— Barry Hirsch