Share Your LA River Stories

by Joyce Amaro

When I was student at Monterey Highlands Elementary School, my 5th grade class took a field trip to the Los Angeles Zoo. The experience I remember most about the day was driving up the Golden State Freeway on a slow-moving, yellow dinosaur-sized school bus and seeing, for the first time, all the painted cat faces peering out at me from the river’s storm drain outlets. As a budding animal lover, I remember excitedly recounting the portraits to my parents. At the time, I knew nothing about the Los Angeles River, but those larger-than-life paintings of cat faces sure made an impression on me! Little did I know that 30 years later, I would be working with the City of Los Angeles on programs that would help with the renaissance of the Los Angeles River, one of LA’s most iconic natural resources.

The Departures LA River StoryShare Initiative is looking for stories just like mine. Led by Los Angeles Councilmember Ed Reyes and KCET, this project “will be a series of community recording events leveraged with other community activities aimed at capturing the stories of individuals who have strong personal memories and history with the Los Angeles River, creating a collective narrative cartography of the river by exposing the subjective history and use of the river through the eyes of community members.”

If you have a story about the Los Angeles River, I invite you to tell it. There are two ways you can participate:

  1. Come to the first recording event, scheduled for Saturday, December 4, 2010 at Crystal Park, Crystal Street at Fletcher Drive from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Each recording will run approximately 20 minutes. Sign up at This recording event will coincide with the opening celebration of the Elysian Valley Pedestrian / Bikeway along the Los Angeles River.
  2. Upload your personal river story at the community hub of the Departures web site at for public viewing and sharing.

So, come and share your memories about the Los Angeles River and be a part of creating the river’s story. Using your voice, you’ll help create the story of the LA River – a narrative that spans centuries and generations, and, like so many rivers, will keep on flowing.

About the author:

Joyce Amaro is the public education manager for the City of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Program. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 3-year old son, volunteering with an animal rescue group and restoring their Alhambra 1912 Arts and Crafts-styled home.


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