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The Nature Observer 

Suzanne Guldimann is the editor of the Topanga New Times, and also TNT’s resident naturalist. She was recently asked to give a talk on being…

The Bear Truth 

We have a new neighbor in the Santa Monica Mountains. On April 23, National Park Service biologists captured and radio-collared a 210-pound black bear in…

Butterflies: Mythic Beauty 

Backyard Butterflies Fly, white butterflies, out to sea, Frail pale wings for the winds to try, Small white wings that we scarce can see Fly….

The Malibu Railway War 

From the moment the first transcontinental railroad steamed across the county in 1869, the nation had train mania. In California, that mania reached a fevered…

Skateboards & Butterflies

Skateboards & Butterflies 

Cover: Skateboarding is a uniquely Californian invention that—in just the last 50 years—has become a lifestyle, a cultural revolution, and an Olympic sport, while retaining its roots in local surf culture. Lost Canyons LA creator Emmeline Summerton catches the concrete wave in this issue of TNT, with a look at the history of this revolutionary SoCal creation. Cover photo credits: Jason Gardner and Tom Morbey on Unsplash, cover design by Urs Baur.

We are celebrating our third anniversary this week at Topanga New Times. The first issue of TNT was published on May 8, 2020. It featured Mariachi Tierra Maya on the cover. The band was brought to Topanga by the Topanga Community Center for Cinco de Mayo. They were here to lift spirits and bring joy during the panic-filled first phase of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, and it was a welcome diversion at a time when everything had suddenly changed and the future was uncertain.

The band, with their colorful costumes and joyful performances, provided a touchstone for a first issue of TNT that focused primarily on coronavirus resources. We showcased imaginative Mother’s Day ideas for a year when it was impossible for most families to be together in person; we published meal take-out and pick-up resources, and profiled Canyon residents who were finding inventive ways to weather the isolation. We forgot to include a masthead with our names on it in that first issue but we put our hearts into it, and we still do. 

I wrote in that first editorial that: “Topanga New Times is meant as a lifeline during one of the most difficult times in living memory. We hope it will be a way to bridge the gap and provide essential community information, a calendar of online events, and coronavirus emergency resources. This is a way to give our neighbors reassurance, support our local businesses, give advertisers the reach they need, recognize the efforts made by many, and share a little canyon spirit to help all of us cope with the fallout of this global disaster.”

Coronavirus is still with us, but as the coronavirus crisis continues to recede, TNT has grown from being an emergency resource into a magazine that showcases life, nature, art, history and environment, but remains deeply rooted in our Santa Monica Mountains. 

TNT continues to be committed to service journalism, as we evolve. We had our first live salon series event last month, and are planning the next in June. We are also rolling out New Times Radio—a series of podcasts and original audio content. And we still provide resources, community support, and an online calendar of events and activities. We couldn’t do any of this without the support and encouragement of our readers and advertisers, who are also our friends and neighbors. Thank you for being there for us. We look forward to bringing you, dear readers, another year of information, entertainment, and 12 more months of wonderful things.

In this issue, we are celebrating the fourth annual Topanga Butterfly Day (May 7 at the Mountain Mermaid) with a guide to some of our most loved native butterfly species. Also in this issue, Lost Canyons LA creator Emmeline Summerton takes us on a wild ride through skateboard history; TNT historian Jimmy P. Morgan revisits the Milagro Beanfield War, and we receive a fascinating update from the field from novelist and TNT contributor Diana Mathur, who is in Latvia, doing research for her next book.

Mother’s Day is May 14. Many are traveling to visit a mother or mother figure for the first time this year since the coronavirus crisis began in spring of 2023. Being able to travel freely to visit a loved one, or to once again be able to take them to a favorite place to celebrate is a blessing, one that we perhaps didn’t fully appreciate until it suddenly wasn’t possible. The mask mandate was lifted a year ago. The federal Public Health Emergency will be lifted on May 11. Although COVID-19 is still active, it has become more manageable, less lethal—something in the background instead of on the front page—for now, at least.

Mother’s Day can be painful for those who have experienced a loss or who are estranged from family, but it should be a day to celebrate not just mothers but mother figures: sisters, aunts, godmothers, daughters, nieces, friends, teachers, mentors, leaders—the women who make a difference in our lives. Happy Mother’s Day! 

Stay safe, be well, and thank you for reading TNT!

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