How Do You Envision a Riverfront District?: Joe Ibarra

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

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: Joe Ibarra
Occupation: Special Education Assistant, LAUSD

What has been your experience with the L.A. River?

I live up the block so I enjoy walking over here and taking my dog for a walk after school. I started noticing the river was here because of my dog. I listen to the birds, I listen to the water, and "wow this is so relaxing," I sit there for maybe five, 10 minutes, sometimes 15 minutes. It just takes all this daily stress out of me. And I'm able to enjoy it. I do it everyday. I listen to different bird sounds. Sometimes I get to feed ducks, egrets, fish -- sometimes they pop out. It's amazing how it's so alive, so vivid.

How would you envision a Riverfront District in Northeast L.A.?

One of the things I was curious to see here when it's not raining, when the flow of the water is very slow, I was curious to see if it would be possible to create a chinampas, like Aztec floating gardens. I know it was designed on a lake where the water doesn't move, but here, although it moves, it doesn't move very rapidly. So I was thinking it would be a good opportunity to explore how they were created, and how there can be floating gardens on the river. That's one of the things I thought about.

Also having maybe learn more science, and using the environment to learn about it on field trips with children. I would envision something where you can have an open area where there would be access for a class to sit in, and have an instructor teach about night time astronomy or it was to do with science, about the ecosystem and environment, anywhere from grade-level years, elementary, junior high, high school.

How do you think these changes in the L.A. River will affect the community?

I think it would be a positive outcome because there's a lot of trash [right now]. Just having a lot of people care for the river, knowing that it's here, that it exists, that you can actually walk along the bicycle path. I think it would be spreading awareness of this large body of water that's here. And it's been overlooked I think.

Fill in the blank: "I want my L.A. River to be..."

I want my L.A. River to be appreciated and taken advantage of in a positive way, and spread awareness of how important it is to release our stress and come and enjoy it, embrace it and clean it.

Tell us your vision for a Riverfront District using the form below. Click here to see more interviews.

How would you envision a Riverfront District?


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