(Click the image to watch the video.)
How This Started - A Boy's First Sunset
This story begins with a six year old boy I met in a South L.A. homeless shelter, when I volunteered to tutor in a great program called School on Wheels.
He is now thirteen and his homeless days are long gone. Last year, I took him to the Griffith Park Observatory. It was a beautiful afternoon and we stood in a crowd and watched a show-stopping sunset. It was the first time "watching the sun go all the way down." After it was all done he said, "Man, I feel so good inside. All over my skin. I want to see that again, every day and more. Have YOU ever seen this before?
I was shocked.
Taking this boy to watch his first sunset was so thrilling, I wanted to do it again.
We Took 13 Homeless Kids from Skid Row to Watch the Sun
So, a few months later I took thirteen homeless kids, aged of 7 - 16, from L.A.’s Skid Row to the Santa Monica Pier.
This time, I had help from a lot of talented, soulful, intelligent, and vibrant people, including folks from the Union Rescue Mission, which provides temporary shelter to the one of the largest skid rows in the country.
Some of the kids had never been to the beach before, or seen the sun go all the way down. One girl had only seen a sunset on TV and was floored by the real thing.
He stood at the water’s edge. “Where are we?”
“This is the Santa Monica Bay,” I said.
“What’s a bay?”
He was intelligent and curious. I liked him instantly.
I pulled out my phone and showed him the map.
We toggled between the screen and the real thing.
He stared at the ocean.
“Have you ever been to the beach?” I asked.
Where the Ocean Meets the Sky - Malibu
The experience so amazing and positive, I decided to do it again on a slightly larger scale. This time we went to where the ocean meets the sky along the spectacular cliffs of Malibu at The Wright Ranch, generously made available to us by The Wright family.
We worked with children and families from The Midnight Mission and Homelight Family Living. Again, the outpouring of enthusiastic support and participation from the poets and drummers of the Street Poets and Rhythm Arts Alliance, artists, photographers, and other extraordinary people was staggering.
On November 6th, 2016, we explored the surrounding forest and mountains of the Reptacular Ranch near the Angeles National Forest and be introduced to Reptacular's resident animals, including alpacas, zebras, camels, donkeys, horses, lizards, large snakes, giant toroises, exotic birds, and many more.
Our next event is March 11, 2017 where we'll be participating at the Los Angeles Environmental Education Fair at the L.A.. County Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
For me, this is a story about connection - connecting to each other and our planet through sharing impactful experiences in nature. It's also a journey in expanding one's horizons. I'm adventurous and love to travel, whether it's into the heart of a person, a new neighborhood in L.A., or around the world and into the wild. The peak experiences of wonder, awe, and discovery that I seek for myself are more meaningful when I have the opportunity to create and share them with others. I'm currently exploring ways to do this through this project.
Feel free to contact me or sign up for our email list if you're curious about what's happening next.
- Colby Devitt