On Friday February 5, around 7 am, a couple of friends and I rode our bikes alongside the Los Angeles River by Long Beach. It was a nice day, not too hot or cold, and the river looked nice. Whenever we would look over or stop to take a break, we noticed this great blue expanse of water. It seemed to never end, although it was definitely much narrower in some parts, and a lot more wider in others. However, for being a public river, the parts of this long river we got to see didn’t seem as polluted as we thought it’d be. Doing this bike ride was more than just a nice workout with my friends though. It was so relatable after having watched the “Rock the Boat” documentary for an honors event like Mr. Smith recommended.
Although I initially wanted to go only for extra credit and to complete one of my three required honors events (kill two birds with one stone), I ended up really liking this documentary. I learned a lot, like how the Native Americans used it for water and food (they usually settled around rivers), before the Spanish came and conquered. In the end, it became White Man’s Land by means of what we’ve been learning about in class. Then, in the 1800’s there was a huge flood, so engineers in the army had to build a barrier around it. After that, it was under their supervision, and not open to the public or funded by the government as a river that needed to be conserved. As such, someone made a documentary of a man who illegally kayaked the entire river to prove that it was navigable. Once he did this, it opened up more of the river to the public, and it started getting funded by the government, leading to a much cleaner river. After watching the documentary, the creator and the man who led the expedition with his friends had a Q&A session. They seemed like really cool people, and it took a little while to appreciate what they’d done. Los Angeles uses this river for so much, especially now that these two people helped open it up more to the public for things like boating, and a cleaner water source. With this current drought, we could really use all the water we need. After all, we can’t steal ALL of our water from NOCal (Shh! Don’t tell anyone). These people taught me that you truly can make a difference in society for the better.
Why is this significant? Well, if anything, this river is one of the only things that LA has always had. In the past, California had to invent a lot of its appealing factors like advertising a Spanish fantasy, or over-exaggerating how great citrus is. However, the river has always been there, and thus one of the only original things that brought people to LA. If we don’t take care of it, who knows what would happen? It’s kind of crazy that I, and many others who have lived in LA, didn’t really know that we even had a river.