Our Student Producers have spent the past week traveling throughout the city conducting and filming interviews about the L.A. River, and have certainly met a diverse group of people, each with unique associations to the river. They took vans during the school days and even carpooled/caravanned in parents' cars on weekends. In West San Fernando Valley, they interviewed Captain White from Swift Water Rescue (a branch of the Los Angeles Fire Department) who is trained to rescue people who may be in danger from drowning in the river. The students also interviewed graffiti artist, Leo Limon, one of the only artists in Los Angeles who is licensed by the city to paint portraits of cats on the L.A. River storm drain caps.
It seems like our students are really enjoying the experience of exploring places outside the classroom as they travel to a variety of locations and investigate some of the cultural and safety issues associated with the river. The issues have given students an opportunity to learn about the river's recreational amenities, its policies and how it may affect them. The people they've interviewed have unique and specific points of view and the challenge has been for our students to prepare engaging questions that will provide informative and relevant responses. Our students have really responded to the challenges and are developing some serious multimedia production skills in the process. It's been great to see their development and progress over the semester, but instead of recapping the various shoots, I defer to the reflective observations and perspectives the students have made in their blog entries.
Swift Water Rescue by Geovanni Cali
We visited one of the four Swift Water Rescue teams in Los Angeles. The four rescue teams are scattered throughout the city of Los Angeles in a strategic manner in order to optimize efficiency. They are not only a city asset but a state asset. This means that whenever they are needed they will be there. The Swift Water Rescue teams were deployed in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina, in Texas during Hurricane Ike, in New York during 9/11 and many other natural disasters that have thrown the US into a state of emergency. The Swift Water rig consists of two jet skis and one inflatable rescue boat. These are used wherever they are needed.
In Los Angeles, Swift Water Rescue makes sure that no one drowns in the LA River or any of its tributaries during heavy rains. They feel that the river can be a very dangerous place where the water current can be misleading and people can very easily get swept away. Captain White talked about how he feels that people should stay away from the river and avoid life threatening situations. Captain White and his team have done many rescues throughout their career as firemen and are true heroes.
Leo Limon by Chris Lagunas
The man Leo Limon, or just known as "Leo" is a very interesting man. What he does is he spray paints pictures of cats on storm drains in the L.A. River. Leo told us that he grew up in Cypress Park and knew about growing up around gangs. As we heard this we all knew what he was going through because we ourselves have experienced the events he told us about. He told us about how he used to come down to the river everyday to do some artwork on the walls. As he grew up he eventually got a permit from the city of Los Angeles to do cats on storm drains. Now he does them all over the Los Angeles River from Pasadena to Burbank.
Leo also talked about how he thinks Los Angeles should fund about 8 million dollars for kids all over Los Angeles to do their artwork on the river instead of them getting arrested for doing their work and being sent to jail. Leo then ends our interview with painting a kitten on a storm drain. Ending our interview, Leo let Geo, Arthur, Angel, and me draw a couple of baby cats next to his masterpiece of an artwork. He also didn't use all the spray cans we gave him and took them home for his own use. >:(
Next week, we continue with our intense production schedule where will be visiting The Great Wall of Los Angeles, River Activist George Wolfe, Councilman Ed Reyes, and City Preservationist Edgar Garcia.