Ecopoetics Along Shorelines


Reading alongside Luis J. Rodriguez’s The Concrete River

April 8, 2019

This year we’re having students do most of their work outside of this site, but we’ll share some prompts and resources here.


In “An inventory of loss on the Los Angeles River” Robert “Bear” Guerra photographs and annotates collections of species from the Western Foundation for Vertebrate Zoology and the LA County Natural History Museum, species which are now locally extirpated or extinct. Check out the photos in High Country News.

This week in class, we’re reading Esther G. Kim’s “Bring on the Yuppies and the Guppies! Green Gentrification, Environmental Justice, and the Politics of Place in Frogtown, L.A.”, published in Just Green Enough.

Also the author of an amazing dissertation on the L. A. River’s environmental politics, Esther shares the following sources on the river’s contemporary and historical dimensions:

Works looking at LA River restoration as environmental regulation in the form of ecological modernization:
Browne and Keil, 2000, Planning Ecology: The Discourse of Environmental Policy Making in Los Angeles, Organization & Environment;
Desfor and Keil, 2000, Every River Tells a Story: The Don River and the Los Angeles River as Articulating Landscapes, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning;
Gandy, 2014, The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination (has a chapter on the L.A. River);
Desfor and Keil, 2004, Nature and the City: Making Environmental Policy in Toronto and Los Angeles (has several sections on the L.A. River).
Master’s Theses Works:
Emily Marsh, “A Concrete Reality: Spatial Justice and the Los Angeles River”, MSc for Department of Geography at London School of Economics and Political Science. August 2012;
John Arroyo, “Culture in Concrete: Art and the Re-imagination of the Los Angeles River as Civic Space”, Master in Urban Planning for MIT, 2010.
Historical Takes on River, Water, and Race:
Torres-Rouff, 2006, Water Use, Ethnic Conflict, and Infrastructure in Nineteenth-Century Los Angeles, Pacific Historical Review;
Deverell, W. 2004. Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past. (Chapter 3 “Remembering a River”);
Valle and Torres, 2000, Latino Metropolis, Chapter Five “Significant Space: Public Areas in the Greater Eastside” (this is more about Whittier Narrows, which connects the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers).
Parks and EJ:
Kibel, 2004, Los Angeles’ Cornfield: An Old Blueprint for New Greenspace, Stanford Environmental Law Journal.
Barnett, 2001, The Chinatown Cornfields: Including Environmental Benefits in Environmental Justice Struggles, Critical Planning.
Carter, 2016, Environmental Justice 2.0: New Latino Environmentalism in Los Angeles, Local Environment. (covers LA River in certain areas of article).
Hopefully this should be good enough. If you’re looking for non-academic work, there is also a lot of stuff produced by The City Project on parks, EJ, and the LA River, as well as writing by Jenny Price.

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