CNS | Concrete Jungle: The Quest to Make the LA River Wild Again

The main source of water in the Los Angeles River – including in this segment located near Dodger Stadium – comes from treatment plants, such as the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, California. (Martin Macias, Jr. / CNS)

September 19, 2019 – LOS ANGELES, CA (Link to article)

A dozen kayakers paddled down the tree-lined, sandy-bottomed Los Angeles River in late August, running their hands through sycamore and willow leaves and gliding over carp and steelhead trout as traffic noise from the nearby 405 Freeway buzzed overhead.

Park ranger Fernando Gomez led students and wildlife advocates down the river in the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve, a flood basin and park also called “the symphony of sounds” for its proximity to city infrastructure.

As kayakers passed homeless encampments and piles of trash lining the riverbank, a Cooper’s hawk darted out of a tree and lunged at a night heron with its talons.

Some kayakers removed phones from plastic bags to photograph the scene. Others shifted attention to a spider wrapping a trapped dragonfly in its web.

“It’s like we’re in a National Geographic documentary,” a student said.

Another student asked Gomez – chief ranger with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) – whether alligators lurk in the waters.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Gomez. “If I found an alligator in here, you’d never find me on the water again.”

For many LA County residents, up-close encounters with wildlife on the river – much less a kayaking trip – feel out of reach if not impossible in the traffic-heavy clatter of the concrete jungle.


Globalizing the Struggle, From Ferguson to Colombia: State Violence and Racialized Oppression Know No Borders – Truthout – Nov 6, 2014


These Chicago Activists Are Making Soccer More Inclusive For POC and LGBTQ Athletes – Remezcla – May 10, 2017

Social Movements

Puerto Rico’s Longest-Held Political Prisoner Just Walked Out of U.S. Prison – In These Times – May 22, 2017

Women’s March: Why They Marched – Chicago Magazine – January 22, 2017

With the “Robin Hood Tax,” a Grassroots Movement Seeks to Bring Wall Street to Heel – Truthout – Nov 6, 2015

How a Maine Food Co-op Could Push Local Food to the Next Level – Truthout –  Dec 19, 2015

City / National Politics

Chicago Youth Help Decide Where Public Funds Go – Next City – May 30, 2017

Chicagoans Have Learned to Navigate the Politics of Parks – Next City – April 27, 2017

City Leaders Propose Initiatives To Support “Black Futures” – Columbia Chronicle – February 15, 2016

Latino Voters Say Their Community’s Needs Are Tied To The Election – Columbia Chronicle – March 14, 2016

Columbia College Undergrad’s Site A Place Where Millenials Can Discuss 2016 Election (Audio) – Columbia Blogs – March 2016

2008 Democratic National Convention: Hope Is The New Rebellion (AUDIO) – National Public Radio – August 28, 2008

Racial Justice

Black Activists Need Black-Only Spaces. Here’s Why We Should Respect That – Yes Magazine – December 18, 2015

Chicago activists explain why black space matters – Chicago Reader – November 30, 2015

Mental Health

The Artist’s Way to Self Care – Colorlines – June 13, 2017

Chicago Teens Host Town Hall On Mental Health – Chicago Talks – November 23, 2015

Atrapado en una red de dolor e injusticia – Contratiempo – June 2015

OP-ED: For families of people living with mental illness, police “support” is not the solution –  Truthout – June 28, 2015

OP-ED: On disability justice and power dynamics in journalism – Social Justice News Nexus – February 2, 2015

Environment / Conservation

Shutting Down Chicago’s Coal Plants: The (Clean) Power Of The People Don’t Stop – Gapers Block – February 11, 2011

Having a Say About the Salton Sea: Residents Insist on Taking Part in Decisions About the Dying Lake’s Future—Despite Significant Obstacles – Coachella Valley Indepedent – Dec 19, 2017

Health / Self Care

(AUDIO) Healing Justice practices with Sage Healing Collective – WRTE Radio Arte 90.5fm – November 2011