Events
  • Public-Library is a cross-disciplinary design studio in Los Angeles. They construct identities, concepts and experiences for brands through the practice of reduction using fundamental typographic theory and experimentation with space and form.

    Ramón Coronado and Marshall Rake met as design students at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After studying, working, and exhibiting independently for many years—both stateside and internationally—their design philosophy and approach brought them back together as Public-Library in 2011.

  • Sandra Lim

    Mar 29| Lectures
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    Sandra Lim is the author of two collections of poetry, Loveliest Grotesque and The Wilderness, winner of the 2013 Barnard Women Poets Prize, selected by Louise Glück. Her work is also included in the anthologies Gurlesque, The Racial Imaginary, and Among Margins: An Anthology on Aesthetics. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Getty Research Institute.

  • Intern Recruitment Day

    Mar 30| Special Event
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    Continental breakfast will be from 8:00 – 8:45, interviews will take place from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. Otis welcomes companies that are recruiting for Summer internships in the following areas: Architecture/Landscape/Interiors, Digital Media, Communications Arts, Fashion Design, Fine Arts, Product Design, Toy Design.
  • A limited number of tickets are available to FUN HOME, an emotionally charged and poignant family drama, inspired by the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel, in which she explores her coming out and the suicide of her domineering father Bruce. Sign up in the Office of Student Activities located in the Student Life Center Room 150E.

  • Edgar Arceneaux was born in Los Angeles in 1972. He investigates historical patterns through drawings, installations, and multimedia events, such as the reenactment of Ben Vereen’s tragically misunderstood blackface performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Inaugural Gala.

  • The Architecture/Landscape/Interiors Department at Otis College of Art and Design is pleased to announce the George H. Scanlon Foundation Lecture REDUX.5 by Michiel Riedijk at MOCA.

     

    Michiel Riedijk regularly lectures at universities, cultural institutions and symposia worldwide. His theories and writings on architecture have gained international recognition from fellow architects and scholars. The work of Neutelings Riedijk Architects has received worldwide appreciation through numerous publications, international awards and exhibitions around the world. - Neutelings Riedijk Architects

O-Tube

LEWIS MACADAMS

May 13, 2014
Spotlight Category: Faculty

From Confrontation to Cooperation

Lewis Macadams, Senior Lecturer, Graduate Writing

 

In the late 1930s, in response to a pair of deadly floods, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors called in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to control the unruly L.A. River. The mission was to get the water to the ocean as fast as possible. The idea that it might make sense, in a city that gets less than 15 inches of rain a year on average, to conserve some of those hundreds of millions of gallons of freshwater seems to have never occurred to the Army Corps.

It took many years, thousands of workers, and some 3 million barrels of concrete to bring the river to heel. By some measures, the project was a triumph: floodwaters have not topped the river levees since. But it was also an ecological holocaust.

Within a very few years, important native species were largely gone. Yellow-billed cuckoos and least bell's vireo no longer sang in the watershed. Red-legged frogs, which hibernated by burrowing into the river bottom’s mud, couldn‘t penetrate the concrete.

For half a century after the work was finished, the river was little more than a concrete scar, separated from the city by chain-link fences topped with razor wire and signs warning visitors to keep out or face fines and/or jail.

In 1986, Roger Wong, Pat Patterson and I borrowed some wire cutters, snipped the fence that separated the river from the city, and declared the river open. We asked the river if we could speak for it in the human realm. We didn't hear it say no, and Friends of the L.A. River was born. FoLAR began life as a performance piece in a basement theater on Skid Row as a "40-year artwork to bring the river back to life." I donned a white suit and painted myself green as if i were the ghost of William Mulholland.

In the mid-1980s, a lawsuit by Heal the Bay forced L.A. to build a water reclamation plant that would ultimately send millions of gallons a year of reclaimed water through the Glendale Narrows. For the first time since the last Ice Age, the river was year-round. Willows and sycamore trees began to reappear.
In preparation for a predicted El Niño, the County and the Army Corps decided to bulldoze everything growing in the river's natural bottom. Standing in front of the machines, I nearly got myself killed. But the action got FoLAR its first meeting with the head of the L.A. County Department of Public Works. Every time he said the words "flood control channel," I interrupted him and said "river." I had planted the linguistic seeds. Today nearly everybody calls it a river.

In recent years, more and more Angelenos have discovered the river. FoLAR's annual Gran Limpieza, the Great Los Angeles River Cleanup, has grown from 10 people to several thousand. Two former railroad yards are now state parks, half a dozen riverfront pocket parks were created, and a bike path continues to grow.

Every one of these victories was the result of patience, willpower, and perseverance. Yet none of them opened up the channel itself. In 2010 it was still a crime to stick your toe in the river. Then, this fall, after seven years of work and almost $10 million, the Army Corps released a study with a range of alternatives for the river's future.

It was a stunning development. FoLAR could now work hand in hand with the Army Corps to restore miles of habitat, eliminate miles of concrete, restore wetlands, and reconnect the main stem of the river to the mountains.

As I look back on a lifetime of poetry and politics, on 27 years of working on the river, I see a journey from confrontation to cooperation. It has created a wider and deeper community not just of humans but of flying, swimming, and four-legged creatures as well.

 

 

Editor’s Note:
A longer version of this Op Ed piece appeared in the Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2013.

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