Posted on 22. Jun, 2012 by pamela in Build Habitat, Donald L. Dear West Basin Headquarters, G3 Blog, G3 Community, G3 Partners, Green Infrastructure, Los Angeles/South Bay, Surfrider Foundation, Watershed Notes, Watershed Wise Landscape
As an activist you know you’re making progress when people are willing to share their opinions with you. It’s when they respond with a blank stare that you realize you’re probably slightly ahead of the curve, and have more outreach and education to do around your issue.
Thus, it was with great excitement that G3 Managing Member, Pamela Berstler, participated in a Surfrider Los Angeles Chapter Ocean Friendly Gardens Subcommittee meeting with LA Native, the community-based organization advocating for an ecofriendly future for Los Angeles MTA and Expo Authority light rail stations, creating an ECO-expo corridor, particularly on Phase two of the Expo Line that slices through Palms Neighborhood on its way to Santa Monica and the beach.
G3 is submitting its own letter of support to the coalition: G3 LA Native Support 062212 in large part because the leaders understand the necessary evolution of their cause. While this coalition is called LA Native, and was originally conceived as an advocacy effort for a native planting along the rail lines, the reality is that LA Native is morphing to mean something bigger, more organic, and certainly more relevant to the future of Los Angeles. If you read no further, Click Here to Sign The LA Native Petition.
Native plants themelves are the most easily comprehended symbol of change in this urban setting. But advocating for changing the plant palette alone indicates a charming naivete about watersheds, ecosystem rejuvenation, and the relationship of native habitat with the urban environment. It’s a great beginning, and it requires the rest of the puzzle. That’s where Ocean Friendly Gardens and G3′s Watershed Wise Landscape principles comes in. As the coalition absorbs the knowledge and influence of urban watershed practitioners, the discussion shifts from WHY use native plants (habitat benefit, lower resource consumption, sense of place) to HOW to build the landscape that supports native plants. Then LA Native becomes not just LA native Plants, but LA native Landscape – water and resource conserving, pollution preventing, green waste reducing, wildlife habitat supporting, beautiful, climate-appropriate landscaping.
Some prominent voices have warned that utilizing native plants (to date an only moderately successful endeavor along Los Angeles thoroughfares) will result in failure because the expectations for the plants’ performance cannot be met in an urban environment. These voices point to trash build-up, mortality of creatures along the expo, uneducated maintenance allowing encroachment on the right-of-way, etc. The concerns are valid. Of course the planters should be wider, and designed with both plants and people in mind. True; a local native planting scheme will be difficult to pull off if the landscape architect (Marina Landscape of Anaheim, CA) is uninitiated in the living communities or tactical urbanism movements, or has limited experienced conceiving of and implementing tiny urban residential gardens. If native landscapes were the norm, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. According to Lisa Novick of the Theodore Payne Foundation in the Huffington Post, “the design division of Marina Landscape does not typically work with natives and their plant suppliers don’t primarily grow natives”. Huh? Find some new growers — the Grow Native Nursery is right here in West LA. Maybe this is a point of advocacy too — public projects need LA Native (local) landscape designers with demonstrated experience designing projects in urban settings with native landscaping purchasing plant material from local sources. For the past three years, G3 has been designing just such projects at commerical, public, and residential sites.
Check out West Basin MWD Donald L. Dear Headquarters — Sure the maintenance people have to pick up trash from the planter beds, and the traffic blows dust and toxic residue on the plant material, but the landscape is still 90% natives, and as they are adapted to super dry, tough conditions, they are looking fine when put to the test.
The Expo Line is a highly visible opportunity for the native plant palette to fail — and that is why we must advocate strongly for the LA Native Landscape. Such a landscape includes the native plants AND incorporates the necessary Best Management Practices for designing, installing, and maintaining them. If the coalition walks its talk and supports proper soil remediation, rainwater infiltration, drip irrigation, live mulching, chop-and-drop maintenance, activated aerobic compost tea applications, maintenance by a newly trained veteran workforce, plants grown locally by Grow Native Nursery, bird and insect counts by Audubon Society, tours and outreach by Theodore Payne Society and California Native Plants Society, rainwater retention education by Surfrider Foundation….you get the picture.
This a NEW urban community landscape model that could be piloted along the historic expo line as it connects downtown Los Angeles to the ocean. In fact, maybe that’s the big demonstration — just as we are connecting each other through travel to the ocean, so too is EVERY landscape in Los Angeles connected to the ocean. The Expo Line Phase 2 is a great place to start the EXPONENTIAL expansion of LA Native Landscapes. First the Expo Phase 2, then we advocate for EVERY PUBLIC SPACE in Los Angeles to become LA NATIVE.
Kudos to Charles Miller of the Palms Neighborhood Council and Niku Ward for getting out of the station. Now it’s up to us Angelenos to keep the movement on track!