The first week of August we kicked off LASA 2016-2017 by mapping, scavenger-hunting, touring, and floating! On Monday, August 1, we welcomed this terrific class and created maps of our Los Angeles(es). Check out our varied and creative renderings of Los Angeles here. We devoted Monday to thinking about the scale of Los Angeles – geographically and demographically. After searching for hidden gems across the grounds of the Huntington Library and interviewing visitors about their trips to the Library, the students discussed race, demography, and the seismic realities of the ground beneath us with guests Allison Varzally (Cal State Fullerton) and Bob De Groot (USGS).
Tuesday we started at the Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library – the perfect location for the theme of the day – Los Angeles’ built environment and architecture. We learned about the future plans of the library (and how its numerous and diverse branches serve the surrounding communities) from Head Librarian John Szabo. Eager to move about downtown, Christopher Hawthorne, the architecture critic of the Los Angeles Times, led us on a walking tour after talking about his personal career journey and future work with Bill. We shared lunch in the shade of the Broad and then divided into groups to check out LA’s architecture in Plaza Los Angeles, Union Station, and City Hall. After what turned out to be an exhausting (and warm!) adventure through downtown, we regrouped at the library and Raphe Sonenshein led us through a lively conversation on politics in Los Angeles – the coalitions, histories, and thoughts about student engagement in today’s political landscape.
We returned to the Huntington Library on Wednesday to consider Los Angeles and water. Our teams of students estimated water usage of the different portions of the Huntington’s gardens and then we welcomed John Folsom, the head gardener at the Huntington, to talk about conversation, re-landscaping and re-designing irrigation in the face of drought, and his construction and repairs on the wells that deliver water to the grounds. After thinking about water usage in our immediate surroundings, Bill led Jeffrey Kightlinger, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), in a discussion of water broadly – from the sources Los Angeles draws on to future plans given drought and expanding possibilities for opportunities for recycled water. After lunch, we bused to the massive and impressive MWD water treatment facility in LaVerne. Thanks to the MWD for allowing us this glimpse into where the water that flows from our taps is cleaned and tested. We toured both the chemistry facility (in protective plastic glasses!) and the 1941 Art Deco building. From the roof, we took in the skyline, the progress of the construction of new ozone treatment building, the solar panels that feed electricity into the grid, as well as the pools of water entering from the Colorado River and being treated.
On Thursday, we rested and then kayaked the LA River on Friday! We are excited about continuing our explorations of LA in September. See you then!