Oil Fields north of LA, towards Sequoia Park. LA has active oil fields too, on Baldwin Hills, in the middle of town. When you drive up La Cienega the black heads seem to be gently bowing to the earth. It's a beautiful, rythmic sight. It's hard to admit that something so ugly can look so terrific. Baldwin Hills is a much disputed area, appointed to become one of LA's largest public parks, if negotiations work out– the lobby against the reclaiming of the oil fields is a hard-headed one. The Integrated Learning program of Otis, directed by Richard Shelton, will host a seminar on this explosive topic this fall. An environmental studio is currently researching "art and design interventions that rethink the relationship between public and private open space" with the aim to address "sustainability, environmental stewardship and blue-sky project development for a historically significant LA landscape". The studio is a collaboration project with Los Angeles Urban Rangers.
The Los Angeles Urban Rangers identity mimicks well-known government funded nature institutions. I met visual artist Sara Deleiden, one of the rangers in disguise, last week. Sara: "Because we look so much like them at first sight, this gives us instant credit." The Urban Rangers are steadily gaining recognition and terrain; their critical investigation of the city's "natural" qualities has made them a valuable partner in on-going discussions of urban renewal.
The Rangers' take on nature in the city is a lot more ambiguous and subversive than the national one, as their brochure reveals. Urban Rangers Tours include a toxic tour of polluted areas, a back alley tour including "grafitti, tagging, trash and wildlife", or a hunting and gathering tour of LA based on economies of barter and re-use in food cycles. Jenny Price, writer and Ranger (tours among others the LA river, check out next dates!), has posted her manifest on urban nature Here.
An afilliated activist collective is Centre of Land Use Interpretation on Venice Blvd. I will meet them this Thursday. More about their perspective then!
First thing I was told: drive up to the roofs of parking lots to have the best views of LA. Not one view has disappointed me so far. Another great habit to bring home with me.