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Contact: Lauren Newman, 805-370-2343
On Saturday, busses pulled into Los Angeles neighborhood community center parking lots and then, filled with excited children and families, headed for the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in the heart of the Hollywood Theatre District. An event put on by Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, City Project, PBS, and many other partners, urban families gathered for the telling of The Untold Stories Project, associated with the upcoming Ken Burns documentary National Parks: America’s Best Idea, premiering on September 27th on PBS.
Walking through heavy theatre doors, over 500 audience members left the hustle and bustle of Hollywood and were greeted by the sounds of singing crickets and what appeared to be a crackling campfire on stage. Over the next two hours, they watched short documentaries chronicling the experiences of city kids in national parks and the story of Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers, highlighting different things that the National Park Service and its partners are doing to engage diverse communities in the protection and enjoyment of the nation’s public lands. Audience members sang campfire songs about the Santa Monica Mountains, and heard from three L.A. students about their work with a program called Departures which is a partnership between PBS-KCET and the L.A. River Project.
After the event, audience members flowed out of the Broadway style theatre into the Saturday afternoon sunshine and boarded awaiting yellow school busses. An initiative spearheaded by the City Project, the busses represent a new pilot program called Transit to Trails, which addresses a critical transportation challenge when trying to share wild public lands with people who live in urban areas.
In fact, later this month, audience participants will once again have the opportunity to get on the bus, venture beyond the L.A. city limits to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and engage in one of five different projects ranging from a beach trip at Leo Carrillo State Park to a stewardship project in Zuma Canyon.
“This was an opportunity to celebrate our parks’ history with audiences who haven’t necessarily ever visited but care deeply about these national treasures,” said Woody Smeck, Park Superintendent. “Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is Los Angeles’ closest national park. We invite all who live in our area, especially those who have never been to a national park before, to come, explore, have fun, and find new meaning in these special places.”