The Arroyo Seco is a tributary of the Los Angeles River that runs through northeast Los Angeles, past my neighborhood. The ecological communities that existed on this ground prior to intensive human alterations are very distant memories, completely alienated from one’s lived experience of this site. The ground here, however, manifests a whole host of issues, many of which are points of conflict both locally and in the ongoing struggle to define humans’ relationship to their environment. These include water, urbanism (the river, a major freeway, and a bike path all share the same canyon), and economics (the crisis of poverty and homelessness is abundantly evident in Los Angeles’ parks and greenways).
If we ask what is displaced, replaced, or altered when we use the ground, we ask not only what has been materially changed, but what kind of cultural ideas those changes represent. And when we ask what it would look like to effect repair, we should be engaging at the intersection of ecology, history, and politics, asking ourselves what our relationship to our environment has been, and what it should be.
Submitted to the Approaches of Repair symposium featuring Mauro Baracco, Louise Wright (Baracco+Wright Architects), and Linda Tegg (curators) in conversation with Nina Bassoli, part of the Meetings on Architecture program of the 2018 Venice Biennale.