TreePeople is filled with amazing volunteers, but every so often, one of them shines bright against the crowd. That’s why we’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to sit down with one of our star community members, Paola Baraccia before she left the TreePeople family to move back home to Italy.
What do you do?
I teach Italian since I am originally from Italy for my day job. For fun, I enjoy spending my time outdoors and volunteering here at TreePeople. Art is another passion of mine– especially drawing and printmaking.
Where are you from? How long have you enjoyed our city?
I was born and grew up along the central eastern coast of Italy but moved to Southern California 22 years ago. I originally lived in San Diego for six years before moving to Santa Monica– my home the past 16 years.
What brought you to the city?
Love! It was only supposed to be temporary, since my boyfriend at the time was only supposed to work at the university for a couple of years– but a couple of years turned into another couple of years and we eventually ended up staying here and starting a family.
What has been your favorite thing about living here?
Nature– it is the most beautiful thing here– especially the landscape. The hills and ocean remind me of my home in Italy since we share a similar Mediterranean climate and landscape.
We heard you’re moving back to Italy. Why is that?
It’s just time to move back. After 22 years of living abroad, Italy and my family are calling me back to my hometown of Pesaro, Italy– the same hometown of the famous opera singer, Rossini! It is very similar to Santa Monica.
How did you first hear about TreePeople and how long have you been involved with us?
TreePeople actually came and did a workshop at my son’s elementary school years ago!
But I didn’t volunteer until about three years ago, after my friend told me about visiting the park. So I came up to see it myself and immediately fell in love. Not long after that I found my place here helping Jim for his Park Work Days.
What did you enjoy most about volunteering?
I loved having a chance to interact with nature and to get my hands dirty. It was a great workout too! Above all though, I loved working with the people here. We all had the same kind of values and work ethic– it was the lighter side of LA that not everyone sees.
What’s it been like working with Jim and the Park Operations team?
He is amazing. I have nothing but wonderful memories with the Jim and the team.
What’s been the most meaningful thing you’ve done or experienced while volunteering with us?
Planting and dedication of my own tree here in the park, of course!
But in all honesty, every time I came I had a great experience– everyone was respectful and devoted to the cause. We were all trying to make a difference and tried every day to make a change.
What is your favorite hike you’ve ever done?
TreePeople’s Moonlight Hikes where my favorite in the park!
How would you like to see people get involved to make a difference against climate change?
I want people to get involved as much as they can. It should be the priority in the world– this is our habitat and home!
What do you hope to take away from the experience here at TreePeople and in LA as you start your new life?
I will always remember the emotional warmth and the love I felt while discovering the “other side” of LA. People usually think of concrete, but Coldwater Canyon Park is a sanctuary in the city. It helped me fully enjoy and treasure Los Angeles.
Back in Italy I plan to plant more trees– I’ll be the Italian ambassador for TreePeople! Nature is and always will be my passion.
Thank you, Paola for your wonderful dedication to creating a climate-ready LA. Your tree will be a constant reminder of the joy and love you brought to our park.
You truly embodied our favorite motto:
Trees need people and people need trees.
Ready to dig in? Join us to help keep Coldwater Canyon Park beautiful. Volunteer at a Park Work Day!