The NELA River Collaborative project builds upon the growing momentum of efforts already underway to transform the Los Angeles River into a "riverfront district" and to create a focal point of community revitalization. For more information visit www.mylariver.org
KCET Departures is the media partner of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative.
On April 27, 2013, the Northeast L.A. Riverfront Collaborative hosted the River Bike + Walk Spectacular at Marsh Park in Elysian Valley. During the festivities, community members and visitors shared their stories and experiences of the river as part of the KCET Departures StoryShare event. Here are their stories.
Name: Andrea Martinez
Occupation: Landscape Contractor
What has been your experience with the L.A. River?
My experience personally involves taking bike paths up the river once a month. I lead a group called the Bodacious Bike Babes and we are on the river path at least once a month. Recently we've also been going to Long Beach, so we utilize every part of the L.A. River. It's just such a great place. It connects the city. Being in L.A. right now, I mean, just as we were riding over here me and my friend were saying, we're watching the transformation of the L.A. River, we're going to tell our kids "I was there, we saw it when no one was there and people just turned their backs on it and now we see the transformation of it becoming an amazing space." The public space that it should have always been.
How would you envision a "Riverfront District" in Northeast L.A.?
Oh my gosh, well, it would be popping! If there was a riverfront district, first of all, it would be so populated, I mean you would have to turn people away. It's totally what L.A. needs. Even at an event such as Ciclavia you see how many people want to be out in nature enjoying Los Angeles for all the little hidden things. I don't want the L.A. River to be hidden anymore, it's large enough for everybody. The river district would have cafe's, sporting events, kites and people just lounging in an amazing park. Something that's not just a destination but an amazing park to be used everyday.
If there was one place in Northeast L.A. that you would change, where would it be and how would you change it?
Well, there isn't exactly one location along the river for me that stand out, but as a cyclist it's really easy to get up and down the whole path, and I would love to see the whole thing just generated, activated, I want to see people along the whole path. But not just on area.
How do you think the transformation of the L.A. River will affect your community?
Really I only see positive change coming out of the development along the L.A. River. A lot of people are resistant to change at first and that's just natural. People being afraid saying, "Who's going to be in my backyard? This is my private space." But I think in the end it's going to effect the community positively. Bridging the communities from both sides of the river, I mean just to begin with. A lot of people on this side just say oh that's the east side. I think both communities need to explore each other and meet with each other and there's not better place to do it than in open space in our city. I mean that's Ciclavia. Everyone coming out from all of the different communities and the open space. "Hey you live on the West side and I live on the East side, you're like me kind of..." L.A. and what not.
Fill in the blank: "I want my L.A. River to be..."
Andrea: I want my L.A. River to be active, I want my L.A. River to be available, I want my L.A. River to be open, I want my L.A. River to be full of people.