Sunday, March 29, 2015

LA River Walk #2 with Liz

After a night with the Glass family, which included Orange Chicken. And many glasses over water. I got up early and caught the Metrolink back to LA. I cabbed home and landed back in Koreatown in time to see my dearest friend, Lara for lunch. We talked boys. How I hoped that a break dancer who has amazing taste in books and movies would want to smooch me when I got back. :) And I met Tiny Taco Lara's new dog. Lara walked with me in LA and we spoke about the project and how I would like to travel the project to Europe.

I was nervous for my second walk. I was nervous because I was walking with someone I didn't know. Liz, an attorney, who works with the Waterkeeper Alliance . And because it was going to be in the middle of the afternoon and I don't handle heat well.

So I met Liz at the Ed P Reyes Greenway.
Lara dropped me off there. I wasn't sure where to enter as I saw a huge green fence. I then realized the side door was open. There is a mulching area across the street that was active with people making mulch and picking up mulch. Otherwise the area is industrial and pretty quiet. Liz arrived. I nervously explained that we would hold hands. She said no problem but she is sick. I jumped in and thought I would just make sure to wash my hands afterwards.

Reyes Greenway is not very large but it is a really interesting. This park is a Stormwater Park. Water is naturally filtered through the plants and land here before going into the LA River. Just days before an article about California only having a year's worth of water left. I was looking at a way that LA can at least clean the little water they get before it goes into the ocean. The thing is this is the only natural water filtration system on the river. There are 17 other storm drains that could become natural filtration systems. I sure hope they do become them.

Liz' words were succinct. Not so much about the walk itself but about her feelings about the river:
"Walking around the ed Reyes Stormwater Park-where pollution from industry and streets is naturally treated before meeting the Los Angeles River- if only we could green our community more extensively- we could change the landscape, protect the river, and transform our neighborhoods."

Which I will add from my notes,
"Big dreams start one storm drain at a time."

Liz is a passionate kind person and it was nice to hold her hand and hear her talk about water and LA. Her plans to go to Palm Springs right after our walk. She then spoke about how she had been a part of Play the LA River but she wasn't an "artist." That this project was a way to do something creative with the river. That made me so happy and proves my point when I say Liz is an artist. She is a creative person thinking about solutions for the LA River and for her own life. I hope she continues to find her creative voice. Cause she was super brave to come hold my hand. At the end she asked "How did you find me?" She wasn't even sure how I had gotten her email and she had come down to the river and held my hand!
Wonderful walk. We took the loop twice because it was so short. We wrote in the sun and then Liz dashed off to the desert and I dashed off to K-town to rest before Lisa would come pick me up. Though I sure was sweaty and tired afterwards.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

LA and Walk #1 Michelle at the Headwaters

It was tough to get started on my LA River Walk with Me walks. I had to admit I had left LA and had returned to Minnesota. But let's go back and start at the first walk.

I had flown into LA the day before and as I was using my vacation time to do my art project. I let me do a few vacation type things. One being going to a dance class led by Kara Masters. She had run a open improv class in culver City when I lived in LA and for 2 hours I was able to let down my dance hair and not care what anyone thought of my moves. I was lucky enough to be in town when she subbed for a woman in the place I used to take her class. I ubered from K-town over to her class and had a moving experience. As she had dj-ed in a few songs about holding hands and about rivers for this project.

My friend, Michelle picked me up from class and away we drove to the Headwaters. We stopped in Topanga for lunch as I was starving. After a huge egg salad sandwich with avocado. We were off to the Headwaters of the LA River.

The Headwaters are right behind Canoga (pronounced in a way that mystifies me- CAH-Hung-Ah) Park High School. I am from Minnesota. The Mississippi is a icon of freedom and adventure. Wild abandon. Death. Power. The LA River starts as two concrete waterways converge. With a slim layer of water and algae slim to call it it's beginning. I hear there is a water reclamation above one of it's streams and that is why there isn't much water.

I performed a short personal ceremony at the Headwaters. I was coming to the river and I was asking it to wash away the shame, hurt, and trials I had faced the past year. Rivers are powerful channels of spiritual...spiritual ritual. So I let it go into the river. Picked some sage and poured some water into the river.

Michelle and I then started our Walk with Me walk. Michelle is a social practice artist, an arts educator, and was my surrogate mother when I lived in LA (and still now.) Only difference is she is always telling me to smooch the boys unlike my own mother. :P We started on the newly laid path down the river. And it abruptly ended less than a half mile down. We made our way to the other side of the river and walked under the river past trucks taking their break in the only shade in the valley...under the bridge of the river.

Michelle became agitated upset slowly but throughout the whole walk. Why was this park here? Why wasn't the money being spent on a park that was more accessible to the kids of the Valley? Michelle had lived in the Valley when here own child was a baby and she just couldn't understand why so much money was going into the river walk. She felt guilty for feeling this way. She had imagined a walk where we would be in NATURE and it would be RELAXING and instead we had spent our half hour talking about access and who DECIDES what money is spent on WHAT.

Michelle also doesn't like to hold hands but well she is one of my dearest friends and I wasn't letting her out of that part. It felt so natural to hold Michelle's hand. And like no time had past since the time I saw her three months ago. Here we were in this well groomed park walking as we looked out at a bed frame and other random trash that lived on the sidewalk right outside the park.

All this angst about choice and public projects had been rumbling around in Michelle and while she had wished for a nature retreat of a walk. This walk resolved her desire to think more about public access and the communities it affects. In her writing she put it perfectly, "You wake up as you are confronted by cars zooming by, who asked anyone else to com out and play? Even if they did they would have no where to go." This path didn't connect to any larger path. It was 15 minutes of walking to no where. As I took one last pic of the signs that showed it's name. We watched high school students avoid entering the park. And we wondered if a fenced in path wasn't a prime place for a gang to hold court. Or why else would the kids avoid this path? With it's lovely plants and the budding evidences of nature, birds and crickets etc.

It was a startling start to have all of this come up right away. It was also lovely to hold a friend's hand and be in the hot Valley sun.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

On the Road Again

Clear Spring Water of the Mississippi from the Central Ave Bridge in Minneapolis
Wow, well I apologize for my long delay in blogging. The long and short of it is. I was in a relationship that took over my life a bit. In good and in unhealthy ways. i am now out of that relationship. And during that time, had no time to blog. :) I learned A LOT about relationships and how I can take on, support a whole relationship without having the partner in sed relationship really be present. I didn't even ask the other person to support me as I should be. And well I learned that isn't so great of a way to do things. :) I will keep that which is not art, private. But i learned alot about how another person can mirror you and your shortcomings and your greatest strengths. And that sometimes you meat people that mirror someone you used to be 5 years before all the hard work was done.

SPEAKING of which. I have been blessed with an offer to have "Walk with Me" along the LA River. I am doing this by invitation, through the Play the LA River project I decided I wanted to make it to the river for the Spring Equinox. A powerful time of year, where we all are shedding our winter blankets and stretching out and re-entering the world. Well, at least us bears in Minnesota. I didn't do much hibernating with producing a telethon and all...but there was fatty foods and lots of sleepy nights. With the equinox I wanted to go to the headwaters of the river. I wanted to go to points along the way and make it to the mouth of the LA River in Long Beach.

Learning from last travel trip, I wanted to take enough walks per day to feel good but not burnt out (about 2-3). And it seems I have hit a sweet spot so far with planning. The hard part is not driving and going all around LA. Magically though, there is a budget for some of that. And I can get reimbursed for Uber. MAGIC.

There have been some big thoughts on my mind. Which of course relate to "Walk with Me." And as those who have read the blog know, this is a personal and a political project. Holding hands is about my romantic life and about my life as a feminist. Which of course...well of course are in many ways one in the same. I have started to go to a liberal church. A Unitarian church. I grew up Lutheran. So this going to a Unitarian, meaning they believe in God but not the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), is a new experience. Unitarians that I have interacted with are VERY inclusive for the LGBTQ community and for well everyone. Even a single 33 year old with a yearning for a community while feeling to be outside the norm. While sitting at church with my friend Kevin last Sunday at the 11am, which is a bit more rowdy compared to my 9am I try to get to, I thought about anger. Cause if anything brought me to the place I am today, a very happy contented spot, it was anger. I was ANGRY for being bullied at work. I was ANGRY that people didn't love and accept me just the way I was. I was ANGRY that my best was not good enough for others.

I was thinking about anger because I have shunned anger as a healthy emotion. Still. Even after this big life's journey of "Walk with Me." I am very comfortable fighting for others rights from the safe distance of calm. The safe distance where I can stay neutral. But if we talk about women's rights, or I think about moments in my life where my art career has been slowed cause I am not a white male...I get furious. That shove it under the rug so this guy will like me, kind of anger. Even with all the noise I make...I realized I still shy away from what is MOST important to me cause it makes me ANGRY and I don't like that feeling. I can't always see the growth of being angry. I see inner work as CALM. I see myself on the zazen cushion CALMLY working through all my problems and steeling myself with calm to face the day. Well, that just isn't life and it is protecting me from fully connecting to life.

The great thing is, unlike the last "Walk with Me" tour, I have a foundation to return to. The night before my ruminating at church. I had finished reading a book in my artist loft in Minnesota, and the thought just popped into my head.

"I love my life."

There it is. All the struggle, hard work, fun nights, friends, family, Skypeing with my nephew, laughs with my co-workers, hopes for my romantic future, and all of the books I devour add up to one hell of a great life. Still filled with anger about how the world works, still much calmer than 5 years ago, still the happy friendly easy to get along with woman who adores art, wellness, fiction, and performance.

So, as I face this week in LA. I know it isn't all going to go just as I planned. And I know I could be more prepared if I wasn't working 10 hour days so I can afford to leave my day job. But I sat in church and I walk home thinking, WOW, I started this project 3 years ago. And it still has merit for me. And I get to speak to more people's humanity by holding their hand and walking with them. And I don't know where it is taking me. But I am glad that I can transgress the every day. Fly to LA. Hold some hands. And tell you all about it.

If interested in the images in real time. I will be tweeting and instagraming at @sustainartpaige
My time in LA is form March 19-25, 2015

I am asking for people to send me their favorite poem, song, etc. about water for this project. Feel free to comment with those inspiring quotes or videos.