What we're about


Grab your sketchbook, bring your curiosity, and let's hit the trail! Nature journaling is about slowing down and waking up to the natural world, taking time out of our busy schedules to look, listen, and feel; an opportunity to study where we live and to be in our world mindfully. We record observations, questions, perceptions and feelings about the natural world through sketches, paintings and words. But it's not about being an artist or a writer or a poet. It's about being present and connected. There are many benefits of nature journaling, including greater appreciation of nature and sense of place; increased creativity, mindful awareness and observation skills; stress relief and relaxation; self confidence and ability to express oneself; and shared family experience. Another bonus is that over time, we generate a visual diary of these precious moments in nature. All skill levels and ages are encouraged. I am a novice nature journalist but can offer some suggestions for beginning a nature journal for those new to nature journaling and some book resources.

I imagine a fun and supportive community that periodically convenes in various local open spaces to motivate each other and shares ideas, techniques, and resources for additional inspiration. In the future, we may also wish to include nature drawing exercises or writing demonstrations by skilled teachers to enrich the experience (hopefully tapping into the talent in our group!).

Beginning in the Fall 2018, Meetups will be scheduled on the second Saturday of every month.


The Santa Cruz area as many microclimates and the weather is changeable, so wear layers. Bring an outdoor chair, your favorite sketching tools, water, sunscreen, good walking shoes and binoculars if you have them.

If you're not sure what journaling tools to bring, start simple: I suggest several sheets of copy paper and clipboard or a sketch book, pencil & eraser; colored pencils or water color if you have them. See "Helpful Resources" below.

Being outdoors can be uncomfortable. It can be hotter or colder than our usual standards, it may be buggy or windy, and you may get dirty or damp. For me, getting a bit out of my comfort zone is part of the nature experience. However, when it rains or is extremely hot on our meetup day, I will either cancel or suggest an alternative location (in Winter, it is likely to be a museum).

When the circumstances allow, we will do our first drawing somewhere near the specific Meetup location so those who arrive a little late can find us. However please don't plan on this, and instead plan to arrive a few minutes before the scheduled time. In anticipation of someone (naturally) asking me to provide my phone number so they can call to get our location when late: I don't give out my phone number for several reasons. One of them is that during the field trip, I don't take calls so that I can fully immerse myself in the pleasure of being untethered from technology. In that spirit, and for everyone's enjoyment, please remember to turn your cell phones off during the field trip if you bring one.


The journal club is free and is supported by donations offered by those who participate in field trips. A $1-5 contribution for each event is suggested to help offset the Meetup hosting fee; but please do come and enjoy even if a contribution for you is a hardship at this time!


There are inherent hazards in being outdoors and participating in field trips. By participating in the events hosted by this Meetup, you take full responsibility for your own safety and release the Host and other members from any liability for damages, injury or loss. The Host is not responsible for damage, injury or loss incurred as a result of member's participation in the field trip activities, by the acts or omissions of any member or visitor during field trips, or during commutes to or from them.


I’m a transplant from the Midwest who has dabbled in nature-based art for as long as I can remember. I grew up exploring the local deciduous woods where I discovering the peace, wonderment and a sense of belonging in nature. That experience lead me to a 30 year career in ecology developing and implementing programs to assess, monitor and restore the heath of wetland and riparian ecosystems. Along the way, I added a second beloved career as a Marriage and Family Therapist, where I specialize in mindfulness-informed trauma treatment. Nature journaling is a natural nexus for my two passions, since mindfully engaging in nature elevates our heath and well-being, enhancing our sense of connection, curiosity about the world and meaning in life. And as a global climate change informed therapist, I have a mission to provide easy opportunities for supported immersive and creative experiences in nature. Some of my other joys include birding, playing Celtic music, studying human evolution, getting my hands dirty in the garden and romping with my two furry girls Willa and Roxy.

You should also know that I am (perhaps more than) slightly technically challenged and have a happy aversion to being tied to my electronic devices. So, if I am slow to upload pictures or use some of the app functionality offered by Meetup that would enhance your experience, I hope you will forgive me or even offer to help.


-John Muir Laws Nature Journaling Club: Jack's website for his nature journal club is a treasure of information, including nature journaling video lessons, suggested equipment, and information on his monthly workshops and field trips in the San Francisco Bay Area. http://johnmuirlaws.com

-The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws

-Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie

-A Trail Through Leaves: The Journal as a Path to Place by Hannah Hinchman

-The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature

*Fox and Daffodil Image: Fox sniffing daffodil is an image captured by photographer Matt Binstead in Spring 2010 and posted as Sweetmart {Flickr)

Past events (7)

30-Day Nature Journal Challenge

Needs a location

Nature Journaling at Natural Bridges State Park

Needs a location

Nature Journaling at Neary Lagoon Park

Needs a location

Quail Hollow Ranch County Park

Needs a location

Photos (5)