Our Place Los Angeles – New Year 2019!

Over the Winter Break, Biocitizen Los Angeles had 18 students for their New Year’s classes! Lead Teacher Michael Galano welcomed students grades K-5 for a three day session. Read about what the Biocitizen students’ learned on their walks in Michael’s Field Notes below:

“This group of Biocitizens was unique and energetic! We had 5 first-time students, which always adds a great dynamic. We were also joined by first-time assistant teacher Nicholas Hess. Nicholas is a high school junior who last summer interned with the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy of the San Gabriel Mountains. Nick really impressed us all with his foraging for insects, reptiles, and amphibians. Thanks to his skills in the field, we were treated to close encounters with the Diabolic Ironclad Beetle, California Slender Salamander, and the Jerusalem Cricket (Potato Bug).

On Monday, Biocitizens started at our homeroom class – Echo Park Lake. We talked about the meaning of the word “biocitizen,” focusing on the Greek root bios. We noticed the different kinds of life that surrounded us in the urban oasis and spent some time noting the subtle interspecies differences between closely related flora. We learned about the lake’s historical arroyo tributaries and the original industrialization of the lake as a source of hydropower for a downtown wool mill.

To downtown via the 704 bus to Union Station, we stopped to consider the important role that the train station played in the growth and development of Los Angeles during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yes, there was a Los Angeles before LAX!

At Olvera Street, we visited the statue of El Rey Carlos III as we took time to appreciate that this land was once Spanish, was once Mexican, was once Tongva, and undeveloped and natural. But, why did people choose this location?

The answer had to wait until Day 2 when we would scale up into the heights of Elysian Park. In this historic plot of land, first people and later settlers established their homes to avoid the high waters of the sporadic but reliable floods of the Los Angeles River. High above the flood plains, the class discussed the ignorance of the later European settlers of the 19th century who were unaware of the potential power that was hiding in the river’s typically docile waters. Such potential that docile often turned deadly, and after too many American deaths in 1938, led to the ultimate concretization of the river to protect the encroaching communities.

So down to the river we descended to explore the soft-bottom Glendale Narrows – a section of the river that, despite the best attempts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was too lush to fully suppress and concretize. There we were jolted by the stark contrasts we found. Flowing water and green trees surrounded by steep concrete banks. Osprey swirling overhead, hunting for their dinner as they fought off bombarding Ravens.

We embraced the river’s unique beauty amongst the trash that had washed down to the riverbed in force after recent rains. We reflected on our impact and imagined, hoped, for a cleaner future for Our Place on the LA River.

On Friday, Biocitizen students learned the meaning of geology and how the Earth is composed of massive floating puzzle pieces. We thought of these puzzle pieces as extremely slow motion bumper cars that collide to create mountains. Then we headed up the mountain. The main takeaway for the day was the importance of pushing through difficult situations that we might not be comfortable with because by persevering, we succeed.

Friday’s reward was a stunning panoramic view of Los Angeles atop the 1,600-ft peak of Mount Hollywood. We were treated to a beautifully clear day and saw all of the previous days’ classrooms: from downtown’s skyline to the waters of the Los Angeles River, running parallel and disturbingly adjacent to Interstate-5.  To complete the fantastic visuals was the ability to spot two snow-capped mountains out to our southeast (Mt. Baldy and San Gorgonio Mountain) and the shimmering Pacific Ocean to our northwest.

What a wonderful week, immersed in the city’s ecology and energized by the communal appreciation for our environments and the enthusiastic sharing of knowledge. The year 2019 is off to a promising start for Biocitizen with such mindful, unique, and engaged students. They truly are inspiring and if they are any indicator – the future is bright!

Special thank you to our Field Docents – Daniela Zepeda and Jennifer Lessnau!!! Our students are having amazing experiences that would not be possible without your guidance at every crosswalk, slippery slope, steep climb, or sunblock application. Thank you, thank you for your amazing help!”

We cannot wait for our upcoming Spring Break Classes! If you are interested in having your student attend, please:

Register Here!

About the author

Subscribe to Biocitizen Banter

Biocitizen Blogs

RSS Westhampton, MA

  • The River and the Machine: A Biocultural History of Holyoke Dam February 11, 2021
    WHAT IS BIOCITIZEN? The word “biocitizen” is a contraction of “biotic citizen,” a term and idea conceived by Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) who is widely celebrated for conceiving the “land ethic.” A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. A […]
  • Biocitizen MA Welcomes Charlie Schine, FEP teacher! December 31, 2020
    Charlie is a recent graduate from Wesleyan University who is just beginning to get his footing in the big wide world and figure out where he’s going. Although he majored in music, his studies always seemed to circle around environmentalism and the more-than-human world, a cross pollination which began the summer after his freshman year […]

RSS Los Angeles, CA

  • CLAWS BLOG: Wind Wolves Preserve – Camping | Hiking | Stewardship December 1, 2021
    Wind Wolves Preserve Camping | Hiking | Native Plant Stewardship FRIDAY Our second CLAWS trip of the fall kicked off at our normal meeting point Bette Davis Park. Folks were excited to get things going, so after an opening circle, with introductions, a gear check, and the plan for the evening we officially started our […]
  • Fear, Growth, and Success! A story of overcoming challenges with Biocitizen LA October 24, 2021
    Lead Teacher Azucena shares her journey reclaiming her narrative through her  field notes recap emails By: Azucena Quinones When I first began working at Biocitizen I was super excited for all of the amazing experiences I would have, from camping, exploring new trails, to working with amazing kids. I knew there would be challenges that […]

RSS New York, NY

  • Biocitizen welcomes Samantha Sanson, Field Environmental Philosophy Teacher May 10, 2022
    Biocitizen NY is pleased to welcome Samantha as a Field Environmental Philosophy teacher! She’ll be co-leading Our Place Summerschool with Yubitza Bermudez! Sam grew up hiking, snowboarding, and biking through the mountains in her home state of Colorado. Along the way, she grew to appreciate natural spaces and developed a desire to protect them. Sam […]
  • Biocitizen NY Summer 2022 Internship – Apply Now! January 12, 2022
    Biocitizen NY Summer 2022 Internship Program What is Biocitizen? Biocitizen is the only educational institution in the world devoted to teaching Field Environmental Philosophy (FEP). Our Brooklyn-based Our Place Summer School is designed to bring children into direct contact with the creatures, geologies, hydrologies, and infrastructures of the Canarsee Biome and the Hudson River Estuary. […]

RSS Concon, Chile

  • ¿POR QUÉ AMO EL CAJON DEL MAIPO? March 22, 2022
    Lugar son historias en las que vivimos. Y algunos lugares nos gustan más que otros. ¿Por qué? Ricardo Rozzi  nos cuenta una historia sobre un lugar que ama. —secundo de […]
  • Me encanta Palmar Ocoa del Parque nacional La Campana March 12, 2022
    Lugar son historias en las que vivimos. Y algunos lugares nos gustan más que otros. ¿Por qué? Yubitza Bermúdez nos cuenta una historia sobre un lugar que ama. —primero de […]