Reconnecting with Nature at Kuruvungna Springs


Norine Holguin

8/29/20232 min read

green trees beside river during daytime
green trees beside river during daytime

In the heart of the Gabrielino Tongva territory lies a hidden gem, the Kuruvungna Springs, a sacred site that has been a source of life for the Tongva people for thousands of years. Bob Ramirez, a devoted caretaker of the site, shares his insights and experiences at this magical place, also known as 'the place where we are in the sun.'

A Sanctuary for Native Plants and Wildlife

Kuruvungna is not just a source of water; it is a haven for native plants, which are considered sacred by the Tongva people. These plants, perfectly adapted to their environment, require minimal care, yet they provide essential habitats for pollinators, birds, and other creatures that are being reintroduced to the area. From lizards to arroyo chub, tree frogs to birds, all these creatures coexist harmoniously with the native plants.

Designing with Nature in Mind

The design and layout of Kuruvungna were carefully planned to understand the site's elevations and hardscapes. A professional surveyor was engaged to map out the entire area, providing a clear understanding of the site's infrastructure. This knowledge allowed for the introduction of a palette of native plants, many of which may be unfamiliar to native plant enthusiasts. The focus was on riparian and aquatic elements, and the removal of invasives and pond muck was transformed into nutritious compost. Almost nothing leaves the site; everything is recycled and used to nurture the soil.

Fostering Deep Connections

In today's urbanized world, people often find themselves disconnected from nature. However, at Kuruvungna, there is an encouragement to foster a deep, ancient connection with non-human relatives – the animals and plants. Volunteers help cultivate and maintain the gardens, creating relationships with the plants they put into the ground. This connection, developed over time, fulfills a deep human need to reconnect with the earth.

A Sacred Space

For Bob, Kuruvungna is more than just a place; it is a sanctuary, a garden, a temple, a church, and a sacred burial ground for ancestors. It is an honor, a privilege, and an obligation to be the caretaker of this magnificent site. His favorite part is the spring, the source of pure, clean, unpolluted, and sacred water – the essence of life itself.


Kuruvungna Springs is a timeless sanctuary that offers a deep connection to nature and a sense of peace. As the caretaker of this sacred site, Bob Ramirez feels fortunate and blessed to be able to maintain and preserve this magnificent place for future generations. Let us all be inspired by the legacy of Kuruvungna and find ways to reconnect with the earth and honor the natural world.

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