Urban Nature: From Frogtown to the Future

March left like a lamb.  We had perfect weather for our LASA gathering at the end of the month.  We began at The Huntington, where Bill Deverell gave us a “mini college lecture” on the history of the Los Angeles River.  Temperamental, tiny, and sometimes ferocious, the little river ran dry most summers but could flood in winter rains and rage.  We learned about the gargantuan project to pave it, and we learned to think of the river as “an environmental canary in the coal mine of Los Angeles.”  In other words, we learned to look to the river to see the very nature of the metropolis’s relationship with, well, nature.

From the classroom, we then gathered at the river itself.  Over in Frogtown, we saw the river and a lot of what was going up and going around near it.  Speculative capital is finding — has found — the river and its banks, and things look to be changing every day. Over at Elysian, David Thorne told us about the Clockshop/Elysian partnership made of arts, politics, community, and food, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely at this special place.  Sean Woods of California State Parks met us there, and he told us about the ways in which State Parks partners across the community, drawing ties between urban nature and creative expression and access to open space.  Sean took us to the Cornfield, soon to be Los Angeles State Historic Park, and guided us on a fabulous walking tour of this amazing open space at the north end of Chinatown.  Fabian Wagmister joined us, and he shared stories of the neighborhood with us (and how rapidly it is changing).

It was a great day — a mix of nature, arts expression and arts organization, public and park entities, and time spent with generous and creative people.  Thank you to all from all.