Spotlight on Los Alamos: Life is livelier outdoors

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By Roger Snodgrass

The path from the saw palmettos and Lobllolly pines of Florida to the high mountain meadows and Ponderosas of New Mexico is hardly a straight line.

For Branden Williman-Kozimore, program coordinator at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) in Los Alamos, there was a decisive detour into the wilderness of Colorado during her freshman year in college. As a participant in an Outward Bound program, she hiked, scrambled and found herself a long way from civilization.

“We climbed several fourteeners,” she said, referring to some of the 54 peaks in the Colorado Rockies taller than 14,000 feet.

Seriously smitten by the outdoor lifestyle, she decided to enroll at Fort Lewis College, where she majored in sociology.

“Durango, Colo., is very active,” she said, “Most people don’t just sit inside watching TV. They go camping and sleep in tents at weekend music festivals.”

After college, she lived in Santa Ana, the capital of Orange County and one of the poorest and most diverse cities in Southern California – and a long way from the wilderness.

What does a hardcore devotee of the natural world do in the suburbs? Looking around, she saw a community that really needed fresh produce, so she set about creating a farmers market.