Last summer I had the honor of creating limited edition bandanas for a fundraiser benefitting my favorite local conservation organization, the Kern River Parkway Foundation. Established in 1985, the Kern River Parkway Foundation is a volunteer-run nonprofit that works to protect, preserve, and restore the natural riparian and wildlife habitat of the Kern River in Bakersfield. Everything that makes my hometown beautiful and livable - the river, the bike path, the wildlife and nature preserves - I owe to a small handful of local heroes who fought hard to keep it that way. I'm so thankful that I was able to use my time and talent to help bring awareness to their amazing work.
I wanted the bandana designs to highlight some of the native plant and animal species that live among the riparian habitat that KRPF works so tirelessly to preserve and restore.
California Kit Fox and Jimson Weed
One design features two of our state's most iconic species: The California Quail and California Poppy. On the bandana, both the poppy flower and seed pod are depicted in various stages of development. The inspiration for this idea came after noticing how enjoying the parkway trails on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis has helped attune my senses to the subtle rhythm of the plants and animals all around me. I notice the first frilly, blue-green poppy plants emerge from the soil as the earth warms up after winter, and anxiously anticipate the very first "pop" of golden flowers in spring. As humans, this conscious connection to the land fosters a personal sense of belonging and appreciation for our home, and is vital to our wellbeing.
One of the best parts about the Kern River Parkway is the fact that it's a little slice of nature in an otherwise arid, (sub)urban environment. The Parkway is an oasis in the desert; a sanctuary within the city. But did you know that we almost never had a Parkway? Or a bike trail? Or any of our priceless open spaces and preserves that make life in Bakersfield livable?
California Poppies and Quail
Quail and Poppies Bandana Design
Kit Fox and Jimson Weed Design
If you have found refuge along the river, cleared your head with a bike ride along the trail, soothed your soul with a walk, a run, a family picnic at one of the many riverside parks - you understand the value of the Kern River Parkway.
The fact is that in order to thrive, the river needs our help. It needs our love and attention. It needs our voice. For over 35 years, the incredible volunteers at Kern River Parkway Foundation have been leading the way in this work. With your support, we will continue to protect and preserve the most beautiful part of this place we call home for many more years to come.