South Pasadena, CA
Born in China, Lily came to Southern California with her family when she was ten. In seventh grade, Lily began what became a four-year crusade to protect and restore the last remaining undeveloped area in the city. The four-acre site was part of the ancient Arroyo Seco, the largest tributary of the Los Angeles River that over the years was filled for development. By telling the story of the land—from its original inhabitants, the Gabrielino Indians, to Teddy Roosevelt’s proposal in 1911 that the entire Arroyo Seco be made a nature park, to its now imperiled plants and wildlife—Lily was able to arouse public interest in keeping it wild. When the Arroyo Field Science Club she founded began clearing trash from the site and restoring native plants and wildlife habitat, local residents were inspired to join them. Their lobbying led the South Pasadena City Council to rescind development on the site in favor of creating the Arroyo Seco Woodland and Wildlife Park, which then opened to the public.