I left the press conference renewed and ready to help with my small internet efforts but as the hours ticked away the order of magnitude of this announcement kept growing in my universe. Thoughts kept growing, things that were said kept echoing in the back of my head. There is something else that needs to be acknowledged. It's not the river, it's not what's going to happen to the river, but it's about the hardworking people that got the river to this point. These unsung heroes that are saving our river, it is them that is stuck in my head. It's their hard work that I need to write about.
When I became aware of the river movement back in late 2010, there was a certain attitude surrounding the river. This is my opinion based on my experiences as an outsider looking in. It was like there was a fracture between activists, environmentalists and politicos of the time. Even then I wasn't sure what side the Army Corps was on. Was it a river or was it not? But over this short period of time there has been a great shift in attitude and desire on all sides. There is more cohesion to a central goal of a revitalized river.
To step back and look at this from the outside, it is incredible. I tried to pinpoint an exact moment or an exact action that created the shift, but I can't find it. Maybe it's due to the tireless efforts of Lewis Macadams to restore the river, or from his team at Friends of the Los Angeles river. For instance Karin Flores works endlessly on setting up river clean-ups and function after function, promoting and promoting the river, or maybe it is Shelly Backlar's successful efforts of getting river education to the schools and teachers. Then again maybe it was the change in the command at the Army Corps with Commander Toy and now Commander Colloton. Or maybe it's the City of LA's Carol Armstrong's continuous work with the Army Corps and every other river entity to getting the river revitalized. I don't know, then again, maybe the actions of Heather Wylie reaching out to George Wolfe who had a great kayak trip down the river to save it. Then there is the movie "Rock the Boat", filmed by Thea Mercouffer, of George's great kayak race that won awards and made headlines, maybe this was a moment. But then again there is activist Jenny Price taking 100s of Angelenos on walks on the river and educating them about the Master Plan and the current status of the river. Maybe it was her actions that created this great shift, but then again there is Omar Brownson and the LA River Revitalization Corp, the new kids on the block making splashes with the vision of getting a private donor to build a great new bridge across the river connecting Atwater / Glendale to Griffith Park. And then there was the million dollar donation by Miss Me Jeans to the Army Corps to help finance the continuation of the ARBOR study where the recommendation of Alt 20 comes from.
Oh and there is Mayor Garcetti's persistent lobbying for the river in DC that got the recommendation. And I can't leave out council member Tom LaBonge and his enthusiasm or council member Ed Reyes who has a lifetime connection to the river. Maybe one of these are the exact cause for the shift I am looking for, but the more I look, it becomes very clear it's not just one moment or one person, it's all these moments and all these special people and more people who I don't know their names and have yet to meet. It's all these great people and I Congratulate all of you! Thank you for impacting my life and the lives of all Angelenos for generations to come and thank you for the unbridled generosity of your time working towards a better river.