During my last few weeks of school I was writing papers and studying for finals and overall completely stressed out. The one class that stood out from all of this was my American Indian Studies class where we were listening to guest speakers discuss sustainability. Of course towards the very end it would begin to stress me out too because I had to write a lengthy essay on the speakers, but the class time spent listening to them was very enjoyable. Of all of the speakers one stood out, Craig Torres.
Mr. Torres is an elder for a local Indigenous community and has a wide knowledge of native plants. He spoke to us about the different plants native to Southern California. He discussed their uses, their dangers, and where to find them. Some were medicine plants, others could be used in ceremonies, some could be used to weave baskets, and many were edible. It was a constant surprise to me when he took out a new plant and was actually able to explain where I could get it. In my mind Los Angeles is filled with cement and concrete; every possible place that could be developed has been. In this large city Mr. Torres, along with many others, are valuing the native plant life. This is different from the people who push the go green movement and the people who say they fight for the earth. Those people are working towards sustainable energy and many are so focused on other things that they forget about the things that need protecting right here in Southern California. Mr. Torres is creating a focus on native plants and working towards protecting them. He is fighting for an environment that many people forget actually exists in Los Angeles. It isn’t about clean air or green energy, although those are extremely important, it’s about the plants that we so often forget about. Every day now I look around at the plants. Many I know are not native to the area, some I know are, and most I am left wondering about. I have come to realize that there are many little things that exist in Southern California that we forget about. It isn’t all big city and sunny beaches, there are little plants all along the highway that sustained people for generations. The land has grown and changed and been developed on, but these native plants have survived and are still be used by native communities today.