21 Dec Reliving the joy of our Community Celebration Policy Talk
Reliving the joy of our Community Celebration Policy at the River
We love hosting our Policy at the River Talks. They serve as a great reason to convene and address upcoming and ongoing issues on the River. They also serve a crucial role in our ability to meet one on one with other River Stewards and activists who are looking for new ways to engage with the River’s future. After conducting six events in the past year and a half we’ve learned a few things – including that our attendees bring thoughtful questions and their own unique perspectives. When our River community presents its collective perspective to experts and policymakers we are doing our part together to “speak for the River”.
For our end of the year event we tried something new – taking our Policy Talk out of the River Center and hosting it in a public place to encourage holiday merriment and to say thanks to the volunteers, partners, and supporters who keep the River in their hearts. We invited attendees to participate in a listening and storytelling session.
There is no replacement for one on one interactions to build capacity for our shared River Movement.
In addition to engaging with our donation station (our year end appeal for 2018 is still underway!), attendees shared their stories and well-wishes for the LA River on a festive tree, leaving thoughts, hopes, aspirations, visions and prayers on paper leaves and birds before placing them on the tree. These community stories pay homage to our earliest knowledge of the River, which was formed by firsthand oral accounts collected from families in NELA by engineers who gathered information on the historic floodplain of the LA River.
We were thrilled to host our celebration at Frogtown Brewery, who made space for our event amidst a busy month. With craft beers and crafting underway, our activation stations incorporated stories from many attendees.
Some brave participants stepped up to the open microphone to express their initial experience on the River, the public office they represent, or the community organization they work for. Some of the stories they shared were incredibly touching – one long time River Steward shared how his mother could always tell when he and his friends would play in the River because of how they smelled when they came home. Our friend Paola at Mujeres de la Tierra shared how she wishes for LA to restore its River to serve as a trendsetter and example for Central and South American urban waterways also to undergo a transformation. The inestimable Tom LaBonge closed out the evening by reminding us the LA River has always been the nexus between water and relationships, and remains vital to our City’s ability to provide life and meaningful connection to one another.