Migration is Beautiful

I drive to work every morning down a long straight open road, passing by huge silos of grain, vast expanses of fields, combines and semis full of cows blanketed by an enormous sky. Fort Larned is a remote, middle of nowhere and everywhere sort of place. It is like being in the middle of the ocean but without the seasickness. I love the space.


I usually love it. But then, I started getting anxious the day before my LCW event. I wasn’t nervous at all up until that point. I simply loved designing the day, promoting it, and meeting all different types of people all over Central Kansas.


The day before I started to think, “What if no one comes? What if I convinced a mariachi to come two hours from Wichita, a taco truck from Great Bend, dancers, so many beautiful Latino people, etc. to come out to this 19th century Fort and no one is here to see them in all of their gloriousness? What if I convinced the Chief Ranger to buy $300 of Butterfly Weed Seedballs, convinced the maintenance guys to build me a giant slingshot, and no one is here to launch them?” 


But then people came! Despite my anxiety and the extreme heat, maybe around a hundred amazing people showed up. The thing that really struck me was who came. I’ve never hosted such a community feeling public event before. People came out from everywhere, from Garden City to Hutchinson, an over three and a half hour radius around the Fort, not even including my precious mentor Jan Elder, who came from way eastern Kansas to interpret the historic garden. Tons of families came who believed in the theme of our event “Migration is Beautiful” and wanted to support the mission of Latino Conservation Week. We had over 25 new Junior Rangers! It was truly beautiful!


One of my favorite rangers (ok they are all my favorites) told me afterwards that this was one of the most successful small events they had hosted in a very long time. And all of the performers and musicians who came were so enthusiastic about the event and the history of the Fort, they promised to come back next year to perform at the upcoming grand opening of the new museum exhibits. 


The event started out with the idea of Kansas being in the Central Flyway, the airborne animal highway between Canada, the US, and Mexico. I started thinking about Monarch Butterflies who have one of the most epic and unimaginable multi-generational migrations in the world and their connection and symbolism to the local Latino community. Then, I found out that the Fort’s previous Butterfly Garden had been uprooted because a lot of the plants weren’t native. I can’t wait to see our newly created Monarch habitat when it matures a couple years from now (yes, the grasslands are all about patience). I deeply  enjoyed the mixture of history and nature, Hispanic and Anglo, young and old at our event Saturday. I love the beautiful perfect mess of migration and settlement and coming and going and I think we hit the nail on the head with this program. 

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