March 6th, 2016

Postcard from the Ballona Creek Watershed

By Nicole Lawson

Table of Contents: Place and Resilience in Sustainability Education, April 2016



Growing up in Los Angeles, I never saw it as a place where nature lived—I spent most of my time at home with my family. When I moved away, I would tell people it was a concrete wasteland—season-less, ugly palm trees, a sad concrete river, endless cars and freeways, smog. My only sense of place is that it was somewhere I didn’t want to live. Fast-forward ten years, I am back and rediscovering this city, thanks in great part to my dissertation research that got me out into places like Kenneth Hahn. Following schools tours in the park, I too became a student, learning the difference between native and invasive plants, how to spot hawks with binoculars, and how to use a compass to locate myself in this broader landscape of geology, oil, water, and people. With the students, I learned to see see myself as part of the Ballona Creek Watershed, and how my actions in this place mattered. Through my research, and very much like the students of these environmental education programs I studied, seeing and experiencing the interconnected human and non-human lives and geographies in this urban wild place gave me a sense of place, belonging, and responsibility to Los Angeles I never knew I could have. 

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