After almost six months being closed, I am so proud of the work our team has done to get us ready to reopen later this week. Like everybody, we’ve been through a tumultuous spring and summer, and though the pandemic is still upon us, I’ve been reflecting on the year so far. In my last blog post, just after I started as Executive Director at TPF and just before the Coronavirus turned the world upside down, I wrote about our 60th anniversary with great excitement. We expected a celebratory year, with the opportunity to recommit to our mission and bring new communities into our cause. Though 2020 has turned out much differently than anyone expected, I still feel hope and excitement about the future.

One point of hope for me is that amidst all of the sorrow that we’ve lived through this year, there have been signs of coming change and progress towards a better world. The protests against systemic racism and the accompanying outpouring of support from many sectors of society are to me an example of the development of a new, more enlightened public awareness.

At TPF, we spend most of our time thinking about plants, gardens, and nature. Even in this space of relative serenity, the past months have illuminated inequities and historical injustices that run deep in some of our most cherished people, places and ideas. I am personally committed to listening and learning, and doing everything I can to address inequities in the environmental and horticulture fields. I know that my colleagues at TPF are as well. 2020 is a year for uncovering and evaluating unseen and destructive assumptions and biases to build a better future.

We are listening and acting to address environmental justice issues at TPF. You will be hearing a lot more about this work and these issues in our upcoming season of Poppy Hour. This season will be hosted by Community Engagement Coordinator Brenda Kyle and Outreach Manager Erin Johnson, who work across the greater LA region to bring native plant landscapes and education to diverse communities. They are putting together a fantastic roster of speakers who will push us to think deeply about the work we do and how we can do it better. These conversations will be contemplative, but will also embrace humor and lightness, and of course celebrate our local flora and fauna. The first episode airs on September 24th at 5:30PM with guest Hop Hopkins, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Sierra Club.

As we head towards the fall planting season, I’m looking forward to the annual cycle of growth and renewal that we gardeners and plant lovers experience each season. This cycle will be one where we think beyond the garden or the trail to see how they connect with our culture, and how we can do our part to make the world a better place not just for the plants and animals, but also for people. On that note, this fall will bring the opportunity to reconnect in person, in the non-virtual world (with masks of course.) We’ve missed the casual conversations and plant nerd talk that happens at our headquarters and are so excited to welcome you back. I’ll see you here in Sun Valley, or online for Poppy Hour!