19 Sep September Message from FoLAR Executive Director
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Marissa Christiansen
We have watched with heavy hearts as swaths of the Southeast and Northwest have been devastated by unprecedented hurricane and wildfire damage. Right here in Los Angeles the La Tuna fire was the largest our city has ever had to combat. As our country galvanizes to care for those impacted, we should all reflect on the urgency to build a more climate resilient region.
Our Los Angeles River presents the region with a massive opportunity in ensuring climate resilience and equitable access to open space and nature. Friends of the Los Angeles River has been hard at work advocating and advancing our opportunities to invest in the River as the region’s single largest opportunity to make considerable progress in public health and environmental restoration. Together – with you – we are strengthening our community to withstand the impacts of climate change by building a future for the Los Angeles River that features parks, floodplains, natural habitat, greenscapes and permeable surfaces.
To that end, I am proud to share the singular rallying cry that summarizes the aspirational vision that drives our work at FoLAR as we advocate for a more equitable and biologically diverse Los Angeles via restoration of our River – Crack the Concrete! More than a rallying cry, it’s also the name of a new campaign to educate, engage and empower the River community to advocate for concrete removal where possible along the banks of the Los Angeles River. For those of you who have wondered what’s next for FoLAR, this is just part of it…and it’s going to take all of you.
This campaign starts with a series of tools that provide transparency and a step-by-step guide in becoming your own River advocate. One such tool is the River Certification development criteria we launched last month. Our first opportunity to utilize that criteria was in the evaluation of the Lincoln Height Jail proposals. We followed through on our promise to prioritize public access to the River, restoration of ecological habitats and the delivery of community needs by officially supporting the most equitable proposal for developing the Lincoln Heights Jail. You can read more on our website and learn how the WORKS proposal transforms this blighted structure along the River to fertile ground that provides economic opportunity, affordable housing, access to the River and our human connection to nature. You can expect more tools and opportunities to activate as a part of Crack the Concrete in the coming weeks.
This month also brings us the happy news that SB 5 (de León) passed at the very last minutes of the state legislative session. Friends of the Los Angeles River worked ardently with many community partners and coalition members to support to passage of this bill, which – if signed by the Governor – will land a $4B parks and water bond on the 2018 ballot. Not only will investing in our water infrastructure improve our storm resiliency, but spending on our parks expand open space will aide in improving the health and quality of life of some of California’s most vulnerable and underserved communities. With that capping off a full year of considerable River-centric leadership we could not be more pleased to be honoring California Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León at our October 7th gala.
Help support our work and mission by attending our Noches del Rio programs. We have a Gala and a Concert to join!
To ensure all members of our River community can participate in our annual celebrations, we’re hosting two consecutive events that offer a little something for everyone. October 14th (the Saturday after our gala) Ozomatli is playing a benefit concert at the Frog Spot. These events help FoLAR continue to build a community of River stewards. In the interest of serving our local community first, we have discounted tickets to our neighbors in 90065, 90031, and 90039. Find out more about both events online by visiting our website.
In times like these when we wonder how to take meaningful action for the benefit of the health of our planet I implore you to join me and Friends of the Los Angeles River where you can make the biggest impact locally. Our Los Angeles River presents the perfect opportunity in its challenge to all of us to imagine how environmental stewardship can make us both more sensitive to our local ecosystem and stronger in the face of the storm.
Friends of the Los Angeles River is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission since 1986 has been to ensure a publicly accessible and ecologically sustainable Los Angeles River by inspiring River stewardship through community engagement, education, advocacy, and thought leadership. FOLAR is a leading powerful force guiding policy and connecting communities to the River, nationally respected as a leader in urban river revitalization with a membership of 35,000.