The bison of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park just entered their winter pasture by the time I visited. These creatures are a big draw for many of the park’s visitors, who trek twenty minutes or so out of Columbus proper to Galloway, Ohio. Yet, as Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks Naturalist, Ricardo Granados explains, there’s more to this 7,103 acre park than roaming furred mammals. Battelle Darby Creek boasts a variety of educational programming, trails, and picnic sites – and Granados wants Latinos from throughout Central Ohio to visit and take ownership of the park that belongs to them.
Metro Parks seek to provide safe and clean access to nature with a total of 19 sites throughout Central Ohio. For the past three-and-a-half-years, they’ve made more specific attempts to increase their accessibility to Columbus’s growing Latino community. Ricardo Granados is spearheading these efforts, and during our conversation, we talked about his approaches to reaching Central Ohio’s Spanish-Speaking population.
Granados pushes against the dated perception that outdoor spaces and activities are popular amongst Anglos only. He cites the influential work of José González, founder of Latino Outdoors, as one educator pushing to diversify outdoor and conservation projects. To achieve that mission here in Central Ohio, Granados provides much needed translation services with Spanish-language page Descubre Metro Parks and is growing the Spanish-language programs the park offers. He stresses that the diversity of Metro Parks’ visitors should reflect that of the community that surrounds them.
A native Buckeye and nature enthusiast:
🎧 Listen (3:14)
“I’m a Columbus native… raised here since I was three months old and I come from a family of Buckeyes.”
“Growing up in an immigrant family… we were kind of lower income at that point in time, but that meant that we spent a lot of time outside… we would go to parks… go to the metro parks.”
Two turtles sit atop a rock in the living stream at Battelle Darby Creek’s Nature Center.
The skull and pelt of a bison are accessible to visitors.
A furry taxidermy beaver smiles at Nature Center visitors.
A “living stream” runs through the Nature Center.
Providing outdoor education for a growing community:
🎧 Listen (2:11)
“Being able to provide an opportunity for people in a language and environment they feel comfortable with … giving them [Latinos] an opportunity to engage is what Metro Parks has been doing for the last three and a half years.”
Children stand with park ranger during Granados’ free Spanish-only nature camp, Summer 2016 (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Granados).
Adults learning in one of Granados’ free programs Spanish-Speakers (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Granados).
Children scope out a creature during one of Granados’ nature programs (Photo courtesy of Ricardo Granados).
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks welcomes Latinos:
🎧 Listen (1:50)
“The message I have for the Latino population is that this space is for you, so come enjoy it… this is all here for you… and 99.9% of the time it’s going to be free.”
One of the signs promoting Granados’ Spanish activities at Battelle Darby Creek.
A piñata pole stands near the Overlook Trail in the park.
A testament to Granados’ work, this sign features a Spanish translation.
Ricardo on embracing nature and culture:
🎧 Listen (2:50)
“Latino culture is about community – how do we interact with each other and build each other up as a family unit or as a culture or community – and I think so much of that can take place in a space like a metro park. A clean, green, open space that is safe and people are welcome to come to.”
Ricardo Granados stands in front of the Nature Center at Battelle Darby Creek.
The park is famous for the bison that roam the grounds.
A picturesque view from the popular Overlook Trail.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos and text are copyrighted to Leticia Wiggins. Music for introduction & interlude by The Original Soundtrack (thanks, guys!).