Weird Beard Joel: Welcome to the Future Grizzly Bear National Monument in the Santa Ana Mountains
|Mountain Man Joel with his grizzly pal.|
I have a life-size homemade grizzly bear head on a post to catch everyone's attention. If somebody pulls over to inquire about my activity, I hand out a corresponding brochure and business card about my effort to preserve the Santa Ana Mountains with a new national monument designation.
|Joel next to Grizzly Bear National Monument Banner|
Pretty soon, I recognized regular commuters and they recognized me. Instead of confusion, I received smiles, waves, peace signs, thumbs-up, pointed fingers, headlight flashes, and honks of support. Even big rigs honked! A few months went by and 90% of the drivers reacted with overwhelming enthusiasm. Some drivers even took photos or videos of me with cell phone cameras. I was fueled by a mutual flow of positive energy. A joyous friendship blossomed between us.
|Joel waves at drivers|
I promptly answer their questions, play a tune, and wish them on their merry way. One woman with a bubbly personality commented, "I look forward to your infectious smile and wave. It makes my day before I go into work." I was so moved by her comment that I replied, "Mission accomplished!"
Once in a while, someone flips me off, frowns, or shakes his or her head in disapproval. Apparently, some folks don't appreciate undeveloped rural places or characters that smile and wave on the side of the road. I don't expect everyone to agree with my agenda, but it still hurts inside when I receive a negative reaction.
When I think about my time on the side of the road, I am redeemed by the willingness of strangers to be happy and interact positively with one another. Even if I am not successful in designating our Santa Ana Mountains as a new national monument, at least I am helping to create positive memories for most of the visitors who enter the range.I am part of a growing coalition of citizens, non-profits, and businesses working to preserve the mountain range as a new national monument in honor of the last known grizzly bear that was killed in Trabuco Canyon area in early 1908.
At almost 200,000 acres, the Santa Ana Mountains remain the largest intact natural and cultural resource in Orange County. Suburban sprawl is rapidly encroaching on Orange County's final frontier. Threats include residential development, monastery expansion, dams, roads, energy infrastructure, pollution, altered fire regime, and misuse. The most dangerous threat to the range is the disconnection and apathy of the millions who dwell at its feet.
For more information about the Grizzly Bear National Monument designation: http://www.santaanamountains.org/vision.html
To fight recent development threats, please visit: Saddleback Canyons Conservancy - http://www.saddlebackcanyons.org/ Canyon Land Conservation Fund - http://www.canyonland.org/ Rural Canyons Conservation Fund - http://www.ruralcanyons.org/rc/ Santa Ana Mountains Task Force, Sierra Club - http://angeles.sierraclub.org/sam/ You are invited to the Wild-Canyons Benefit Show
Fundraiser at The Shadybrook Open Mic on November 2nd at 6PM - http://www.facebook.com/events/111084062383393
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