Renovating playgrounds for L.A. toddlers

We are super proud of local resident Dore Burry for the work he’s been accomplishing with the L.A. Conservation Corps. Their Tot Parks and Trails program upgrades dilapidated spaces and underused sections of existing parks, focusing on the needs of zero-to-five year olds.   This article celebrates the opening of their 6th park in L.A. County at Bellflower’s Thompson Park.  Way to go Dore!

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Rock the Boat Film Screening This Friday

The critics are raving about Rock the Boat!
 Now playing 7:30pm Friday May 21st at L.A. Eco-Village!

“Wet and Wild”
Landscape Architects Anonymous

“Spectacular … best movie we’ve seen in a long time”
Concrete Contractors Association Newsletter

“Towards a fishable, swimmable, boatable Los Angeles River”
Friends of the Los Angeles River

“Great coverage of some of our favorite viaducts of yesteryear”
American Bridgebuilder

“Indicate the design flow rate of the treatment plant (i.e., the wastewater flow rate that the plant was built to handle). Also provide the
average daily flow rate and maximum daily flow rate for each of the last three years.”
Southern California Regional Water Quality Control Board

“Who signed off on that filming permit?!?!”
United States Army Corps of Engineers

Kayakers Descend the Mighty Los Angeles - photo: LAist

Watch the Preview
More info about Friday’s Screening at L.A. Creek Freak or Facebook

 

Upcoming benefits: Streetsblog April 9th, Rock the Boat May *21st

L.A. Eco-Village frequently hosts speakers, workshops, and, yes, benefits to help raise funds for causes that eco-villagers get involved in. Here’s a quick preview of  two benefit events coming up soon. More details closer to the events:

6pm Friday April 9th 2010
Fundraiser for L.A. Streetsblog
at L.A. Eco-Village, 117 Bimini Place, L.A. 90004
Come support streetsblog – a phenomenal local resource for news on transportation and livability issues for Los Angeles, California and the nation.  Some more details and flier here… more information to come.

7pm Saturday May 8th 2010RESCHEDULED to 7:30pm Friday May 21st!
Fundraiser Screening for Rock the Boat
at L.A. Eco-Village, 117 Bimini Place, L.A. 90004
Come support the completion of the documentary Rock the Boat – a chronicle of a 2008 kayaking trip down the Los Angeles River. A dozen boaters took a three day trip down the 50 miles of the river to prove that it is navigable and that it deserves protection under the federal Clean Water Act. Eco-Villager Joe Linton was one of the kayakers – to read his account of the trip, check out L.A. Creek Freak.
Come watch a 30+minute rough cut of the feature documentary (preview above), and contribute to its completion. More details soon!

Comments about Joe’s Play

To my new river to see a play
June 2009

My friend Joe Linton hasn’t been coming to our weekly potlucks and meetings for the last few months because he has been in rehearsal for a play. Since he’s not an actor, this has been an interesting development and he always sounds a bit scared about the whole thing. But last night a bunch of us carpooled and biked to a performance.

Even the box office was outdoors

Even the box office was outdoors

some of us biked

some of us biked

Joe is a river hero around here. He is incredibly knowledgable about the LA River ecosystem and wrote a highly respected book on the subject. He has actually kayaked the entire length, proving it is navigable. A longtime volunteer/staffer of Friends of the LA River (FOLAR), he is an artist. And gardener. And cook. But not an actor! (He did fine, was glad to see us.)

When we got there we saw some strange stuff at the end of the road.

two art installations for the river

two art installations for the river

A bunch of us got there an hour early to do an educational walk along the river. This section does have the usual concrete banks, but the bottom is natural because the water table is so high here they can’t get concrete to stay put. There are bike trails on both banks. My neighbor Randy is a bike messenger and rides here several times a week, especially likes it as a place to have lunch.

This section of the river is called Taylor Yard. Lots of water – it comes from a sewer reclamation plant upstream. “Toilet to tap” was such bad PR that they just dump the nice clean water in the river.

Taylor Yard

Taylor Yard

Access is awful, you can live close by, but have to drive miles and miles to get to the river. This is changing. We heard a lot about the plans to reclaim the river from its concrete straitjacket. And that’s sort of what the play was addressing. Characters included radicals with jackhammers, locals who did not want their neighborhoods changed by construction. (Plans call for hundreds of little feeder streets to direct foot traffic to the riverbank.) I was not allowed to take pictures of the performance.

Just before the walk ended I saw a great blue heron in the river. Then a heron was one of the first characters in the play. Notice how the bank drops off right behind the stage area to the right of KwanWu. They used the hidden bank as a backstage area. They even used the opposite bank of the river in one scene. But mostly they just used the road as the stage, in the area under the lights.

This salvaged car was part of the set

This salvaged car was part of the set

All the scenery and set design elements had been pulled out of the river, including the old car. Same with elements of the costumes. My favorite was a marvelous sea turtle whose carapace was covered with squashed beer cans.

The river takes center stage

The river takes center stage

These were used to make a house, too, as you see here, next to the band.

The most interesting element of set design was the river, which was in every scene. Almost everyone walked in it. Some characters swam or kayaked in it. It was the star of the play. The character who did not walk in it was in an electric wheelchair (Mallard). But she pulled an invisible monofilament string so her ducklings swam in it as they followed her.

Critters like Mallard, Ridley (turtle), Heron, etc. were all played by people, believably, except this excellent puppet played a river spirit and she was so fine! There was plenty of humor – one character was named Cachoo so every time she was introduced, the response was “God bless you.” Joe’s character was modelled on Joe.

A wonderful puppet had a role

A wonderful puppet had a role

Can’t describe the whole plot for you, but I can tell you how the play ends. The character called “Roger Vadim!” who opened the play admits that he’s not the famous director, drops his exaggerated French accent and his jackhammer and his radical ways. He pulls a photo out of his pocket and displays the Seine – a beautiful dramatic urban scene in Paris, with plenty of greenery, steps going down into the water, boats, fishermen, birds, tall buildings, walkers, streets. The idea that we could have a beautiful human-scale riverscape here in the great city of Los Angeles comes to life in a whole new way.

Wade, fish, swim, kayak in this river

Wade, fish, swim, kayak in this river

I found that there were tears running down my cheek. The entire performance was moving and thrilling and discreetly educational, rewarding and entertaining and heartwarming and alarming and something of a call to arms.

We were mostly freezing, even though the temp was around sixty, as the weather is quite damp (they call it the “June Gloom,” but the gardens benefit)… for an hour or so we were so engrossed we forgot the chill and the discomfort.

The Elizabeth will always feel like my home river, but it’s a thrill to encounter this same spirit of can-do must-do river restoration three thousand miles away, with hard work and a big heart and an intuitive feel for what it really takes to heal a river.

–Kathy Hill