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LA River PSA Challenge

Burroughs High School


Students will create a public service announcement (PSA) to shed light on an issue plaguing the Los Angeles River today. Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) is seeking videos that accurately portray the current state of the River and issues that the are relevant to the community. We are connecting with students to produce these videos to share with the public as a voice of the community and youth.

Friends of the LA River PSA


We would like to showcase the most effective, well-executed videos on FoLAR’s social media:, Facebook, Twitter, and possibly in a weekly email that reaches 10,000+ constituents. The video may also be used to teach other students about the River.

The video will represent FoLAR and must meet our professional standards.



(1). The structure should be as follows:

  1. Introduce the issue
  2. How the issue is significant to the LA River today
  3. Your suggested solution to the issue/call to action

Video length: no longer than 3 minutes

(2). The video is effective:

It should have a passionate tone and content must be based on facts. Spoken word, graphics, and text are permitted.  We want the video to have a positive perspective of the River – how can we help the River?


(3). The video is not biased / slanted:

FoLAR does not want to issue blame; we would like to present the issues to the public without infusing opinion.

Unbiased: The River was covered in concrete beginning in the 1930s.

Biased: The Army Corps did not care about the River.


(4). The video is legal:

We cannot use media that is copyrighted. PSAs that use copyrighted footage or music will not be chosen.

  • Do not plagiarize; put ideas into your own words. Remember, this may go on the FoLAR website and social media to reach more than 10,000 people!
  •  FoLAR/Burroughs Photo ReleaseIf public people are included in your PSA, they must sign. Keep the waivers for reference.
    • Burroughs students do not need to sign waivers.



Resources for Research and Inspiration

Visit for links to news articles, information, and current events:

FoLAR River Blog                        FoLAR Media Center                  FoLAR Community Links

Like us on Facebook for updates

The Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan


LA River Revitalization Master Plan

Home Page

Table of Contents

Informational Powerpoints

Revitalize the River (Recommended)

Reading: Summary of River Revitalization plans



Garden Bridge resized top image

Plans for the Garden Bridge on the River Thames in London.

Get Inspired with these River Restoration Projects from Around the World

Some of the projects are years away from implementation, while some have been partly financed and are ready to start prototype testing. The LA River project is estimated to cost over $1 billion. The city and Army Corps are currently fighting over cost distribution.  FoLAR is advocating for a 50/50 split.  The involvement of Frank Gehry, renowned architect, could delay the plans for years.





The site of the new Los Angeles State Historic Park. Corn “cleaned” the soil contaminated by chemicals from its use as a train yard.





The Cornfields in Los Angeles State Historic Park, Chinatown

Learn about a biofiltration, an eco-friendly solution to clean polluted soil.  Can this method be used to clean other brownfields?  Also, see Taylor Yard in Glassell Park.





Forward Thinking Architects in the 1930s : Olmstead Brothers


Los Angeles is ranked in the bottom 1/3 of cities for its lack of urban park space in a 2010 Trust for Public Land survey. (LA Times)

Olmstead Brothers proposed plans for the River in the 1930s as an alternative to concrete. These plans are similar to the Revitalization plans today:

Reading LA: The Olmsted Brothers plan and what might have been

The Dry Garden: ‘New Park Design in Los Angeles’ exhibit dreams of a city turning back the clock



This crude-oil train derailment March 5 near Galena, Ill., was one of four in North America in the last month. (Mike Burley / Associated Press)

Oil Trains Running Through Los Angeles: Crude-oil train wrecks raise questions about safety claims

Resolution against crude oil trains running through Los Angeles neighborhoods and along the River.



Social justice thought: what types of neighborhoods will the trains run through? Will it run through Beverly Hills? Support your answer!


The Toxic Saga Behind Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Nuclear reactor site at Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). In 1959, a nuclear reactor meltdown occurred at Santa Susana Field Laboratory in California.

The Santa Susana Field Lab was developed in the late 1940s for rocket-engine tests and nuclear energy research by private-sector and government scientists from Rocketdyne, the Department of Energy and NASA, among others. But it also left contamination in the soil and groundwater that has long been blamed for health problems in the local communities, including higher rates of cancer. Site owners and environmental regulators still don’t know the full extent of the soil and groundwater contamination. (From LA Daily News)

Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition

Feds conspire to gut Santa Susana Field Lab cleanup

LA’s Nuclear Secret (NBC) Sept. 2015

Interesting connection between biofiltration and SSFL: LA Conservation Corps spent 8 weeks working on a “garden” Santa Susana Field Lab (work was paid for by Boeing/SSFL)

Letter from William Preston Bowling (ACME) about the “garden.” No response was received from the organization.


More Ideas

1.  What are specific sources of major of pollution in the River (point-source pollution)? Sources of non-point source pollution?

2.  Should Frank Gehry (renowned architect) design new plans for the revitalization of the River?

Architect Frank Gehry is helping LA with its Los Angeles River master plan, but secrecy troubles some

3.  Should the city be allowed to build the Olympic Village beside the River?

Lewis MacAdams: Give the L.A. River a seat at the Olympic negotiating table

Revealed For the 2024 Olympic Village That Could Permanently Change the Face of the LA River

4.  Recreation in the River – does kayaking, biking, hiking harm the habitat?

Kayaking the LA River 

5.  Should non-native plants and animals be exterminated from the habitat? (Arundo, carp, Canadian geese…)

6.  What are more eco-friendly methods to flood control? (Concrete channelization)

The Law that Killed the LA River : KCET article on channelization of the River beginning in the 1930s. (optional)

Army Corps promotional PSA on channelization

7.  Why should youth and the community be educated about the LA River?

Learn about the education program that you are participating in right now!

8.  Should developers be allowed to buy land and build housing and businesses on the River?

Gentrification comes to the LA River

9.  How can we use biofilitration to clean the LA River?

Example: North East Trees’ biofiltration project

10.  How can we save water using the River? (revitalization plans, porous ground, reclaimed water, aquifers)

11.  Get Inspired with these River Restoration Projects from Around the World

12.  Who should be able to create art on the LA River?

Getting Up, Staying Up: The History of Graffiti in the LA River

Learn more with FoLAR’s Watershed Wonders

You are not limited to these websites, but be sure to reference credible sources.



What River sites should I visit?

Sunny Nook Park, Verdugo Wash (Burbank) North Atwater Park (site of field trip): Students are encouraged to focus on the site of the field trip, as they will be able to film on the day of the field trip. These sites can be found on FoLAR’s Glendale Narrows map.


What can I expect over the next weeks?

Throughout the program, students should collect information to use as support (facts) for the PSA.

Students will receive feedback on their plans on the day of presentations.


Lesson 1: Students will learn about the past of the River as a base to understanding the River today and its  potential in the future.

Date:Sept. 21-22

Lesson 1 Powerpoint         Lesson 1 Background Information


Lesson 2: The Los Angeles River Rover will visit the school-site to conduct the second lesson.

Date: Sept. 24


Lesson 3: Students will be introduced to the Army Corps of Engineer’s plans for revitalization of the LA River.

Students will create a pitch to sell their idea to Ariel, professionals in the film industry, and FoLAR policy specialists.

Date: (in-class)

Lesson 3 webpage

Presentations: Students will present a professional pitch and receive feedback. Students should incorporate the feedback into their production of the video. Students are encouraged to film B-roll independently at the River. Bring your worksheet and notes.

Date: TBD


Field Trip to North Atwater Park: Students will experience the River hands-on through macroinvertebrate (insect) collection, biodiversity nature walk, and experiments. Time to film before/after the field trip will be limited, so students should arrive to the park with a storyboard/planned shots.

Date: TBD


Deadline for submission to Friends of the Los Angeles River: To be determined


source 2 sea UPDATE