In 2008, Departures set out on foot trekking through dozens of neighborhoods that overlap and touch the river - from Encino through Glendale, from Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach. We viewed the river from overpasses, climbed through holes in fences,
walked along--and sometimes in--the riverbed.
We started out with a list of about 30-to-40 people we wanted to interview, but that list quickly doubled as each one shared another person with another perspective on this remarkable river. We ran into new people on foot, such as the homeless and fishermen, heard about people we should talk to by by word-of-mouth, such as Tongva Indians Mark Acuña and Anthony "Red Blood" Morales, and some were simply famous (or is that notorious) such as Patt Morrison and Sabre One. But even with that rich cast of characters there were many people left out, questions left unanswered and issues to be addressed.
Google Earth captured the Departures Youth team as they return from exploring the downtown bridges over the L.A. River
In just the two years since our original visit, though, much has changed. We have seen the EPA declare the river navigable by motor boat or kayak, in effect finally applying the Clean Water Act. A conflict between California's plans for high speed rail and the need to develop parks and schools along the river is heating up. And new efforts to revitalize the river are in the works since we last visited, including Piggyback Yard.
Today we began Departures' eighth installment, but our first redux: The Los Angeles River. We visited a part of the river we never explored (and never knew existed) off of Willow Street and the 710. There we found thousands of birds, cattails, a sycamore -even a tomato plant.
A huge thank you to Dan Cooper, who we interviewed today about the bird life along the river.
As we move along the river, we'll keep you updated here!