I'll never forget the first time my Mom came to visit us here in L.A. and we pointed out the L.A. RIver to her. She laughed (she still does chuckle when we drive past it) and remarked that "THAT is not a river."
But it is, it's our river, paved as it is, at times scenic with a mud bottom, fulll and verdant with animal life, at other bends catastrophic, dirty and polluted. In the same way that I find the City of Los Angeles to be a buzzing hive of contradictions, so too is it's river.
It's incredible to me, to even begin to contemplate the history of the river and the impact humanity has had on it. The river was the central reason people settled and lived here. The L.A. River provides home and habitat to over 250 species of bird as it runs 51 miles long. A series of devastating and deadly floods are what led to the call for the L.A. River to be paved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930's and 40's.
I feel like I've learnt so much since connecting with Friends of The Los Angeles RIver, yet it's only the tip of the ice berg! What I think stays with me the most about the river is....the possibilities. Imagine a clean(er) and more accessible river. Imagine a luscious and flourishing wildlife habitat, in the middle of the countries 2nd biggest urban center. Imagine citizens using the river with respect, kayaking, paddling, strolling it's banks. Where once there was concrete, imagine greenery. Where once there were vacant industrial lots, imagine parks.
And it's this vision, this glimpse of what a possible future of the river could be, that has drawn me to get involved. I'm so excited to be teaching a By-Donation Fundraiser yoga class this weekend, with all monies gathered being directly donated to Friends of The Los Angeles River. The class will be held at Yoga Blend in Burbank from 4:30pm - 6pm with the suggested donation on a sliding scale between $10-$20, payable by cash or check (checks may be made out to Friends of the Los Angeles River).
In many ways, things we saw at the river today, are totally analogies for the yoga practice. While it may not be pristine, did you know that the water quality at the "living" areas of the river is substantially better than at the paved or "dead" areas of the river? Our lies may not be "perfect" or pristine" but when we get to our mat, things get clearer, cleaner. I think that's what yoga does, it makes us feel more alive, it enriches our quality of life, no matter where we are or what we're surrounded by. We can't all live on top of a mountain, in quiet contemplation; This life is messy, noisy sometimes, we have bills to pay and jobs to work. But if we can find peace, some solace, some sanctuary, in the midst of it all, maybe even while we're surrounded by freeways and trash.....that is something. There is a power in that. And there is a power in standing up, taking action and working towards creating a bit more of that "life" in our community.
While I'm excited about the class I'll be teaching, I'm even more excited about actually participating in the Great L.A. River clean-up, Saturday May 18th from 9am-12noon. I'm organizing a group of volunteers from Yoga Blend to go participate at the clan-up site at the Bette Davis Picnic Area. I truly hope you'll join us, or find out about a clean-up site in your neighborhood (there's sites all over the city! Check out FoLAR's website for more info!).
I hope you enjoy these photos from our river walk. All of the photos were taken by the fantastic and talented Felicia Wong. I hope these images inspire you to go check out the river for yourself - you can walk, or bike, or even ride horses along the paths!
Namaste and A-O River!