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What Made Us Stop and Think about L.A.

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This year gave us plenty of things to reckon with about the nature of Los Angeles, and it came packaged in different ways; sometimes it came in the shape of an idea, or a place; other times, in the bravery of our elders and the materials of our environment. These thoughts and musings cycled through our production offices this year helping us make sense to what bind us to this place.

We thought it would be appropriate to share with you what made us stop and think and consider L.A as it is and what it could be.


1. The Rocks of the Arroyo and the Alisal
After a long walk from Boston to Los Angeles, Charles Lummis settled in Highland Park and built his home--El Alisal--over a twelve-year period. The entire structure was constructed with Lummis' own hands using stones gathered from the Arroyo Seco.

Franz Bischoff
Franz Bischoff

2. The York Bridge Before and After
Looking at early paintings of the Arroyo Seco specially those of Plein Air artist Franz Bischoff one has to wonder, what if the Arroyo and the Los Angeles River had not been channelized?

3. Freeways as Parks?
Just as the Highline in New York City was re-purposed as a city park once it had outlived its usefulness, infrastructures such as the Arroyo Seco Parkway could potentially be re-imagined to respond to changing needs and behaviors in the city.

4. Contested Patterns of Land Use
Eric Avila: "The built environment of neighborhoods like Highland Park, register contested patterns of land use and development in Los Angeles. For Mexican-Americans, that process is a loaded with history, specially with the dispossession and territorial conquest that Mexico faced during the westward expansion."

5. When Public Media Served a Public
In the 1970s, KCET Television was a hotbed of community minded media with local shows reflecting the rise of black and brown power in Los Angeles. Filmmaker Jesus Treviño created a weekly half-hour series called AHORA (NOW) reporting from the streets of Eastlos about the plight, life and pride of the Latino community. While at the station, Treviño also created the Chicano seminal films, Yo Soy Chicano and Tropical America.

6. Claiming the Walls
According to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Victor Valle, "Highland Park and its murals was one stop on the journey to reclaim, at least imaginarily, the whole city as a Latino domain, or as Luis Valdez puts it in his play and movie Zoot Suit, "the brown metropolis of los see."


7. Arts and Crafts Revisited?
The Arts and Craft and Plein Air movements of early 20th century were born against the backdrop of rapid but often misguided industrialization. Against the backdrop of our current digital-mediated culture, a similar return to nature, craft and material is occurring, this time expressed through the DIY sensibilities of a new generation of artists and cultural producers.

8. Ed Reyes: The Third Rail
Hearing Councilmember Ed Reyes speak about the development and creation of the Gold Line - linking the east, to the north east and Pasadena - is a breath of fresh air when it comes to politics as usual in Los Angeles.

9. Food as Place: the Good Girl Dinette
Our relationship to food has become so impersonal and practical, that we've forgotten where it comes from and what's its for. Thankfully for us, there are joints out there that are slowly dipping and claiming back their role in our community. Good Girl Dinette is one of them. Her social and culinary practices reflect history and place in humble and delicious ways.



10. Maps as Memory
We've been mapping the cultural history of Los Angeles for a few years now, so we decided to ask our fans and audiences to draw their own, personal and subjective map of Los Angeles. The results were amazing. There are a million cities out there, is this is prove of it.
11. Change is Coming
A group of students from the Los Angeles Leadership Academy who where participating in our Youth Voices program were selected as part of the Corrido of LA program - an event sponsored by LACMA and Ozomatli celebrating Mexican Independence - to perform their winning rap-corrido with Ozo in front of a full house of people and fans. Their chorus - change is coming, city of Angels - keeps running through my head. Is it?

We hope to find answers in 2012.

Stay Tuned and Happy New Year.

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