LASA Welcomes our Class of 2017-18

Wednesday, August 9

LASA Class of 2017-18

LASA welcomed its 2017-2018 class on Wednesday. This first day LASA considered the underlying natural environment of Los Angeles, starting a discussion on water and thinking about the plates underneath us.

LASA worked together in teams to map LA in creative and innovative ways. Check out some of the maps we created.

After introductions and mapping, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Jeffrey Kightlinger spoke to LASA about the vast water infrastructure and history in Southern California.

LASA Student Mia reflected, “Listening to Jeffrey Kightlinger, I was reminded how vital water is to our existence along with the colossal amount of water and energy we go through each year. This reawakened my desire to enlighten more people about wastefulness and the preciousness of nature around us. Which will inspire more to be environmentally conscious in their everyday lives.”

After sharing lunch with Mr. Kightlinger, we welcomed Dr. Robert de Groot of USGS. Through maps, cookies, and pasta, LASA considered the shifting plates below us and scouted the fault that runs near the Huntington’s rose garden. Mia noted, “It is hard to believe that the ground we stand and live on is mobile; a thin layer of skin that can be easily broken and molded. . .I learned a lot and was reminded of the value of earth’s resources as well as the impermanent nature of earth’s surface.”

Thursday, August 10

After coffee and snacks, LASA boarded the bus for the first site visit of the year – to MWD’s Weymouth Water Treatment and water testing facility in La Verne.

Grateful for this unique opportunity, LASA watched a slide presentation that reinforced the history LASA learned from Mr. Kightlinger. And then, LASA toured the facility and looked down at all the plant accomplishes from the roof – including the new ozone treatment spaces.

LASA Student Lenny shared, “After that we went to the lab. . .to observe parts of the processes that filter water and make it usable. An interesting note from that lesson was that human tasters of the water were far more accurate and useful than machines. Also, regular coal is a far better filtration device than metal which supposedly is supposed to be more efficient.”

After sharing lunch, LASA welcomed the Huntington’s Head Gardener, Jim Folsom. Lenny wrote about how Mr. Folsom taught LASA “about climate and its relation to the people of LA. As he put it, we have the same day as everyone on the 34 degree north latitude line around the globe.” With quite a lot to think about, LASA adjourned for the day.

Friday, August 11

LASA conveyed at the downtown branch of the Los Angeles Public Library on Friday and set off to consider water and politics in and around downtown. Hiking down to the Metro Station, LASA traveled through Union Station to Chinatown and then walked to Metabolic Studio, home of the work of Lauren Bon and her team.

LASA Student Amanda wrote, “When we first arrived at the Metabolic Studio. . ., I was a bit surprised to learn that an art studio had undertaken an urban project concerning the water of the L.A. River. I thought ‘What experience do these artists have creating public works?’, ‘What is their goal?’, and ‘Why are they doing this?’ After learning from our gracious guide, Lou Pesce, and thoroughly researching the studio, I soon came to understand the purpose of the project. Not only does the team of Bending the River Back Into the City wish to clean the water to potable standards, but they also strive to revisit the 19th century L.A. River water wheels.”

Amanda continued, “What most impressed me about this project was the combining of a public work and the usage of art. Prior to the visit to Metabolic Studio, I hadn’t thought much about the aesthetics of dams, reservoirs, or water wheels. In addition to serving the community, the structure represents a historical monument, a macrocosm of a 19th century water wheel one could easily find along the Los Angeles River mid-1800s. To see such creativity, dedication, and collaboration among the team at Metabolic Studio was most inspiring to me. I can only imagine what a project like this requires: patience (the team had to obtain nearly 90 permits to merely start the project), teamwork, and perseverance.”

LASA returned to the library and greeted Prof. Raphael Sonenshein of California State University, Los Angeles. Prof. Sonenshein shared his experience with LA politics and LASA students walked away with some strategies they will use to solve issues they identify in their neighborhoods.

Before leaving for the day, Principal Librarian of the Central Library Joyce Cooper shared with LASA the goals and work of the downtown branch of the library to serve the surrounding community in new ways. She invited LASA back to consider the forthcoming mural and LASA plans to take her up on that offer.

Saturday, August 12

Bright and early Saturday morning, LASA met to kayak and learn more about the LA River with Paddle the LA River.

LASA Student Francis observed, “Of all the days of our LASA intensive week, it was Saturday that we were allowed the chance to appreciate the water of LA in its most natural, raw form. [G]etting the chance to kayak the LA River has shown me the potential that the City of Angels has to renew its character. The millions of us that call LA our home are all bound by our need for a natural element as simple as water.”

He continued, “The whole day, I felt as if LA was on the cusp of something amazing, and our LASA class should be very grateful for being able to peer over the edge of that cusp. The river transported us over that edge and we felt as if we were in a beautiful, foreign oasis. I am glad that the future of the city is in our young hands and that, through the river, we can transport the millions of other Angelinos to that beautiful paradise that our LASA class experienced.”

After sharing lunch in the park and reflecting on the summer session, LASA concluded for August and we look forward to thinking about HighTech LA in September.

Images courtesy John Lee, Victoria Bernal, Taryn Haydostian, and Bill Deverell