Give Back Kick Back: Volunteering and Tropical Vibes Party in the Parks

I think everyone has those few places in their city that they run to for a mini-escape, and this whole park is that and more to me. Golden Gate National Recreation Area will always feel like home. This past weekend, the Parks Conservancy, the non-profit organization supporting Golden Gate National Parks hosted their annual volunteer event at Fort Miley. Formally known as FOGG Fest, Give Back Kick Back is a tropical-inspired volunteer day party. In the morning, you volunteer in the parks. After the hard work you put in, the afternoon is full of relaxation, good food, fun, and friends. Oh and your girl got to co-host the event! Ahh. 

Many of the current donors and supporters of the Parks Conservancy tend to be the generations that came before us avocado lovin' millennials.

By all means, I know we love it too, I see so many of us enjoying places like Fort Mason, Crissy Field, and Ocean Beach every weekend.  We just need to know the how's and why's we can be a part of the change. Well, that's where the importance of these events come in. In the recent years, The Parks Conservancy has turned it up with these experiential events to spread awareness, and grow the love and support for our natural lands. The proceeds from the event tickets go straight back to supporting Golden Gate National Recreation Area and it's education and stewardship programs. Now that I've let my heart sing a bit about why it's important... let's get to the fun details.  Here's how the day went down.


golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

Part I: Give Back

Bright and early on National Trails Day, over a 150+ attendees kicked off the day and geared up with gloves and picks. We were ready to get our hands dirty for the cause. With the help of the Conservancy Stewardship Team, we divided and conquered the trails along Land's End. Another group went to paint over graffiti in the batteries.

As we pulled invasive plants out of the ground, Abbie and I uncovered wild succulents that were THRIVING. They were completely hidden by the weeds prior to that, and it felt rewarding to see how our efforts were already making a difference.  And that was just our AH-HA moment for the day... imagine the impact we made with 150+ hands on deck! 

give back kick back ggnra
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

So many volunteers put in hard work that day... it truly was a labor of love. There was a sense of unity that we were working towards a common goal and it was motivating to keep at it. Even through the work, we were having conversations with the volunteers around us, laughing and enjoying ourselves.

volunteer golden gate national parks national trail day
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

Part II: Kick Back

Giving back was already a prize on it's own, but the kick back was a treat! ;)

Part two of the day was an all-inclusive event for the volunteers at Fort Miley, with a breathless view overlooking Ocean Beach. The Aloha vibes were alive and well, and we really lucked out with the weather. This event was supposed to happen back in April but had to be rescheduled because Karl the Fog was playing us. This time around the weather was warm, yet breezy and so refreshing after a long morning in the sun. 

We walked into the event, and we were warmly greeted by Nemenzo's Te Fare dancers with happy smiles and we got lei'd!

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
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Nemenzo's Te Fare

The same dancers that greeted us walking in also kicked off the afternoon and put on a show. They performed several routines, both Hawaiian and Tahitian. In true luau nature, Nemenzo's Te Fare got all the volunteers out of their seats to join in. Anjuli and I somehow got roped into that and were brought on stage lol. 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

THE GOOD EATS

The attendees worked up quite the appetite, and were all ready to grub. The food lineup did not disappoint. The spread was catered by ABC BBQ and included many fan favorites like Spam Musubi, Mac Salad and Kalua Pork and Pineapple Sliders. Additionally, my girls and I couldn't help but make extra trips back to the dessert bar, packed with Macadamia Nut cookies and Coconut Cupcakes. 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

As I geared up to get on stage to co-host and announce the afternoon performances, I made sure to visit the Deep Eddy Vodka booth first. You know, just to loosen the nerves a bit.  Deep Eddy Vodka was pouring free lemonade cocktails, and was a perfect pairing to our ono Hawaiian eats. For the beer enthusiasts, Fort Point Beer was handing out some cold brews too. 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event gabe bondoc

GOOD VIBES PROVIDED BY GABE BONDOC

The event soundtrack was full of favorites like J Boog, setting a laidback ambiance. If you saw on my IG stories, my girls and I sang our hearts out. To top it off, Gabe Bondoc came through for a live performance and headlined the event. The audience swooned. My co-host, Joyce, and I grew up listening to his music, so it was a pleasure to welcome him on stage. It was an intimate performance and I felt like we were all just hanging out rather than some concert. We listened to him sing a mix of his original songs from over the years with modern day favorites like Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You". 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event gabe bondoc

ALL THE EXTRA FUN

If the music and good eats weren't already enough to induce your FOMO, there were even more things to keep us all on our toes! From DIY Hats by REI to Lei making, temporary tattoos to lawn games; everyone there seemed to be living their best life.

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

WHAT'S NEXT?

The Park Conservancy Events will happen throughout the summer and I hope to see you there! Each month, they will be hosting themed trail mixers in different park areas. Here's the links to the tickets!

If you can't make it to the monthly events, they all lead up to the season's Grand Finale. Don't miss NightHowl: The Park Conservancy's Annual Gala After Party. It's a festival style event that supports the parks! They haven't announced the location yet, but I can tell you now... it's iconic. That's all I'll say for now. I'll get you guys more information soon. 😉

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FYI this isn't sponsored, just my nature-loving self who will always stand behind public land conservation... and of course, any good party that's worth recommending. Much love to the Parks Conservancy, National Park Service and all the event sponsors for pulling it off and putting this fun event together!

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Kitava, A Healthy Lunch in the Mission

kitava healthy food restaurant mission san francisco

Sunday mornings are usually for brunch, am I right? Instead of going straight to stuff our faces, Abbie and I have been using Sunday mornings to sweat it out and hang out over a good workout. This time, we went to Orange Theory Fitness and we were DEAD AF. We really needed some food to refuel and wanted to pick a place mindfully, even though we've got weak spots for mimosas. 

Along with fitness, we've been making mindful eating choices, and Abbie completed the Whole30 meal plan. For this week's Sunday eats, we needed to go somewhere that would accommodate that. We ended up at Kitava: a healthy eats restaurant that serves nutritious whole foods. And it tastes so good, you almost feel guilty about it. 

kitava healthy food restaurant mission san francisco

The small gluten-free restaurant is in the heart of the Mission and is right across the street from 16th Street Bart Station. Walk in and you'll be welcomed by minimal decor, natural elements and fun graphics on the walls. We went up to the main counter, ordered our food and sat at a table near the entrance. The staff was friendly and overall had a calm, relaxing vibe.

kitava healthy food restaurant mission san francisco
kitava healthy food restaurant mission san francisco

What we ordered:

  • Cuban Bowl: naturally sweet plantains, avocado, kale slaw, cilantro-garlic mojo sauce, white rice (or cauliflower rice) & beans (or extra kale slaw)
  • Butternut squash hummus with yucca chips
  • Fried Plantains: naturally sweet plantain slices sprinkled with sea salt, paired with chipotle aioli
  • Pinot Sage Kombucha
healthy eats san francisco mission district

Food with a purpose: Kitava's Food Philosophy

As we waited for our food something caught my eye. At our table, I saw a little card that talked more about their food philosophy. That's where I learned about where and how they sourced their ingredients: 

  • All the food is made from scratch
  • Kitava prides themselves in assuring the food is sourced consciously
  • They make sure to fill the dishes with veggies that are dense with nutrients. Bye bye iceberg lettuce! 
  • The meat they use are only grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and pork, and wild-caught salmon
  • The recipes only incorporate naturally occurring fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and sustainably sourced palm oil. 
kitava healthy food restaurant mission san francisco
kitava healthy food restaurant mission san francisco
kitava healthy food restaurant mission san francisco

Everything we ordered was a customer favorite, and we could see why! All food was flavorful and filling. I don't know if it's just me, but sometimes I feel like veggie heavy meals just don't always cut it and I get hungry shortly after. I didn't have that issue with Kitava.

Also, I want to note the portion was generous. Even with the big bowl, the taste was so satisfying that it made me savor my bites anyways. 

I'm already thinking about the butternut squash hummus with yucca chips again. If I could take some of that home, I'd be snacking on it all day!

If you're looking for healthy nourishing food and find yourself in the Mission District, this is a spot you don't want to pass up. Hope you enjoy!

big bowl food healthy eats san francisco
kitava healthy eats san francisco

Together We Bloom at Femme Fair

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After a few months of a creative slump, I am inspired, fired up and reignited. That's the type of energy and community that's nurtured at Femme Fair, and this is a reason why I'm a day one supporter. 

Femme Fair sets itself apart in so many ways. Behind all the female empowerment-themed instagrammable decor is a tribe of women who assure that their mission is seen in every detail. With the intentional event design, Claire Xue assured that no corner was left untouched. 

 Art Install by Pansyco, Representing all shapes, sizes and colors.

Art Install by Pansyco, Representing all shapes, sizes and colors.

Here's a round-up of all the different elements that make this an SF event you won't want to miss in 2019. 

 Walking into Femme Fair

Walking into Femme Fair

THE VENUE

In partnership with Peerspace, Femme Fair held this year's event at The Archery: a spacious venue in the Mission District with glass ceilings filling the room with sunny lighting. It was so pretty!

femme fair san francisco blogger event lady falcon coffee club

I had a bit of time before the panels began, so I took a lap and the first thing I scoped out was caffeine. I came across the coffee which was served by Lady Falcon Coffee Club, a local women's owned mobile coffee shop. Coffee: check. Ready to start the day!

femme fair san francisco blogger event lady falcon coffee club

In addition to the shopping, food & drinks and photo experiences Femme Fair attendees know and love, the team expanded on the day's agenda for VIP Ticketholders. And FYI, this isn't exclusive to creatives/influencers. 

With the VIP ticket, I took home a goodie bag full of amazing full-sized beauty, health and style goodies but even better... I took away so much more than just that.

femme fair san francisco blogger event
 The Femme Fair Team

The Femme Fair Team

 Female Empowerment cookies by  @ xobakes

Female Empowerment cookies by @xobakes

This year we named our event Together, we bloom. ...because together whatever you do in life, you can’t do it alone.

MORNING SESSION

Co-founders Stacey, Christina and Mel kicked off the day and welcomed the attendees with a heartfelt message of gratitude. Along with introducing this year's theme, Together We Bloom, they also explained how the brand's abstract shapes and multi-colored aesthetic was inspired by their idea of beauty... in diversity.

Beauty is in diversity. It comes in many shapes, sizes and colors.
femme fair san francisco blogger event

THE PANEL: BLOOMING TOGETHER

After the welcome, Mel moderated a panel of three female entrepreneurs & content creators: Shah Zareef (@bossmomnation), Arnelle Lozada (@arnelle) and Mandana Ansari (@girlandthebay). They spoke about vulnerability, facing fears and finding your voice, especially as a creative in modern society. You should see the amount of notes I have from this session... that alone could be its own post. Instead, I'll share one quick quote that stuck with me since. During the panel, Mandana made us all laugh while also making a solid point about grace.  She said "Every time I go to see landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, it's are always under construction! See, you can be a masterpiece and a work of art at the same time. Give yourself the same grace". That was a wake up call, especially for myself. I thought about how free I use to post in real time, but feel pressured to hold back and make sure it "fits the grid". This inspired me to let loose a little, enjoy the imperfections and work on that.

These women warmed up the room, spoke from an authentic place and created a safe understanding space for deeper dialogue. 

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SPEAKER: CHLOE VEGA ON SEX TRAFFICKING AWARENESS

Not all events will dare to break glass ceilings and take a whole room to speak through difficult dialogue... but Femme Fair did and they used their platform the best way possible. They created a space that not only brings a community of women together but also weaved in something bigger than ourselves. This year, they shed light on Sex Trafficking Awareness. Chloe Vega, a Prevention Coordinator of Selah Freedom came to speak with the attendees to share her story. Pulling from personal experience and her professional journey in advocacy to end Sex Trafficking, Chloe captivated the room. She kept it real and raw and intrigued us with ways we could spread the awareness and get involved. 

  Shah ,  Stacey  &  Arnelle : Women of Color, Juggling Life and Chasing your Dreams

Shah, Stacey & Arnelle: Women of Color, Juggling Life and Chasing your Dreams

LUNCH HOUR MENTOR SESSIONS

After the morning sessions came to an end, I wandered and mingled to explore the space with a few of my new friends for a few minutes. I grabbed some food and hopped in to join one of the more intimate mentoring conversations with the Femme Fair Fam and speakers. The caffeine caught up with me, so I might have been stuffing my face while listening to Christina and Mandana speak on Business, Career and Social Media Strategy. 

 Photo by  Zoe Larkin , Headshot Photography by Zoe Larkin and  Praise (ComePlum)

Photo by Zoe Larkin, Headshot Photography by Zoe Larkin and Praise (ComePlum)

Mini Photo Sessions

Another great part of the experience was getting to shoot mini photo-sessions led by Praise (ComePlum) and Zoe Larkin. They created a relaxed environment which made me very comfortable to get shots like this one. The two of them captured photos of so many diverse women that day, and loved seeing how each shot was unique to the girl in front of the camera!

 Gorgeous flowers from  le bouquet sf

Gorgeous flowers from le bouquet sf

 Flower bracelet tutorial by  Le Bouquet SF

Flower bracelet tutorial by Le Bouquet SF

DIY CRAFTS

There were several fun craft and beauty experiences spread throughout the event. I love crafts, so one I quickly gravitated towards was Le Bouquet. They hosted a DIY station and taught us to craft our own flower bracelets. I made mine with grey-blue thistles. Felt like prom all over again!

 Free Blowouts by Dyson Hair

Free Blowouts by Dyson Hair

BEAUTY TOUCH-UPS

There were several stations for beauty touch-ups. I didn't get a chance to visit all of them, but I did get squeezed in for a blow out appointment with Dyson Hair! I got a late afternoon slot, so it was perfect timing after a long day. I was feeling BRAND. NEW. 

SHOPPING CLOSETS & GOOD MUSIC

There were so many beautiful pieces in all 15 of the blogger closets! DJ That Girl made sure we were feelin' ourselves while sifting through the clothes. A highlight of this shopping session: a pair of hot fire black platform boots from Jayme (@thehellajam). Pictures to come in a future shoot. ;)

 Reunited with my childhood girls from Middle School,  Samantha  and  maicA !

Reunited with my childhood girls from Middle School, Samantha and maicA!

 Meeting new blogger friends in person!  Nerrissa  and  Brianna  taking a cute mirror pic.

Meeting new blogger friends in person! Nerrissa and Brianna taking a cute mirror pic.

Community over Competition

At events like these, it's always nice to have a buddy but this time I walked into the event with the intention of meeting up with friends, new and old. I immediately felt comfortable to be myself and warmly introduce myself to fellow creatives in the room. My RBF wasn't going to get in the way this time around! lol. Seriously though, I'm so grateful to have the connected with many wonderful, hard-working, friendly women at this event. It really was a catalyst for new friendships and motivated me to get more active in content creation and joining in local events again. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I had taken a step back for a few months, but now feel revived and inspired. I felt positive and empowering vibes from those all around and I'm so happy I came back for the second time around.

 Event Design by  Claire Xue

Event Design by Claire Xue

 Femme Fair Poster Wall by  Nailah Ali

Femme Fair Poster Wall by Nailah Ali

 Floral arrangement by  Freckled Floral

Floral arrangement by Freckled Floral

Thank you to the Femme Fair team for another wonderful year!

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