Wednesday, February 08, 2006

LA Urban Rangers

L.A.-based geographers, environmental and art historians, artists, curators, architects, and others – who aim, with both wit and a healthy dose of sincerity, to facilitate creative, critical, head-on, oblique, and crisscrossed investigations into our sprawling metropolis and its various ecologies. Fashioned as a mobile and site-specific interpretive force, and appropriating the figure of the stereotypic park service ranger, we offer educational campfire programs and guided hikes throughout Los Angeles.

Emily Scott / Chief Ranger

Emily Scott is an art historian and park ranger/naturalist. In both academia and national parks, her work addresses visual culture and nature, with an emphasis on post-1945 art, media, and architecture that critically engages landscape and/or ecology. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in contemporary art and theory at UCLA, with plans to begin a dissertation this summer on land art and wasteland aesthetics.

Sara Daleiden / Senior Ranger

Sara Daleiden is an artist, curator and administrator who focuses on viewer experience through the creation of installations, exhibition systems and interventions within the city. Previous projects, stemming primarily from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, include Rust Spot, Wearable Sculpture Fashion Show and Travelling Wearables. She currently works as the Senior Programs Coordinator for the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles.

Therese Kelly / Senior Ranger

Therese Kelly is an architect, author, and editor. Her work explores the intersection of our natural and urban environments, conceptions of nature, and public space. She has edited numerous books and articles on architecture and design for ANY Magazine and Princeton Architectural Press, written for several design publications, and serves on the board of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. Therese holds degrees in architecture from Princeton University and UCLA, and is currently practicing architecture in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Price / Senior Ranger

Jennifer Price, a freelance writer and environmental historian, is the author of Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (1999). She has published in the anthologies Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature and The Nature of Nature: New Essays from America's Finest Writers on Nature, and in the L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Times, American Scholar, and New York Times. She has a Ph.D. in history from Yale University, and is currently living on Venice Beach and writing a new book about nature in Los Angeles.

the GardenLAb experiment

"Thoreau Goes to Los Angeles"

How can we write about nature in L.A.? Why have nature writers shunned this megalopolis? Why should L.A. in fact be a mecca for nature writing? Why would an interest in cities save nature writing from being so terribly boring? Ranger Jenny Price explores these questions and more as she surveys a wide range of urban nature stories that this literary genre has entirely ignored. Join her as she describes our connections to nature in L.A. through such topics as mango body whips, murdered chihuahuas, the social geography of L.A.’s air, and the saga of the L.A. River – which is arguably the most important L.A. nature story of all.

"End Landscaping: Los Angeles Freeway Gardens"

Everyday, countless Angelenos whiz along the freeway at many miles per hour without noticing the landscaping at their side. Join Ranger Emily Scott to learn more about who manages these edgy green spaces, which plants cover the more than 8,000 acres of sinewy freeway “gardens” in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, why various flora are chosen for their ornamental value and/or abilities to endure drought, buffer sound, control erosion, resist weeds, and even counterbalance auto emissions. Discover, also, the wonderful world of “transportation art,” intended for maximum community pleasure and minimum driver distraction. Finally, consider how and why these areas – first pitched as ideal picnic stops for leisurely Sunday afternoon excursions – are now almost entirely access controlled, or off-limits to embodied exploration and occupation.

"Los Angeles and the Nature of Time"

How we experience time in Los Angeles is structured by everything from cell-phones, which seek to minimize it, to movies featuring natural disasters in town, which seek to maximize it. Both are examples, however, of living only in the present. Ranger Bill Fox will help us rediscover time across a longer spectrum in Los Angeles – from the La Brea Tar Pits to the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks to the Mt. Wilson Observatory. Along the way we’ll detour into the human neurophysiology of time, how to make lava for Hollywood, and why Los Angeles has the largest collection of faux classical Italian sculpture in its gardens.

"Hunting and Gathering in the Big City"

Often when we think of hunting and gathering, ancient or “traditional” cultures come to mind. In many of America’s greatest cities, however, the urban poor still forage for wild and domestic food simply to meet their daily caloric needs. These resources are not just limited to discarded trash, but include wild and feral urban animals such as birds, cats and dogs, fish, and rodents. In cities like Los Angeles, those without daily food security may also be forced to trespass onto private property in order to collect fruits, nuts, and other edible plants. Join Ranger Pete Alagona as he explores L.A.’s networks for finding, collecting, sharing, and preparing these urban foods. How do these foraging activities change traditional notions of human ecology, hunting and gathering, and ecological resources? And what do these practices – and our reactions to them – say about urban America today?

"Toxic Tourism in Los Angeles"

Ranger Donna Houston explores the toxic history of Los Angeles from the perspective of environmental justice. Participants will learn about the history and politics of environmental justice activism in Los Angeles as well as become acquainted with some important sites of environmental struggle via a virtual toxic tour of the city. Toxic touring is a way of reclaiming landscapes blighted by industrial pollutants and wastes as places of community and cultural memory. Toxic touring involves developing different strategies for ‘walking in the city’ in order to recover histories suppressed through the often violent reorderings of L.A.’s urban and industrial landscape.