Marching for Water
March 23, 2009 § 3 Comments
I had a good time at yesterday’s March for Water. The event was inspired by marches held in various parts of the world in support of the human right to water (including marches shown in the documentary film Flow.) Here’s an event recap and photo essay (apologies again for the blurry cell phone photos!)
My eco-village neighbor and friend Bobby Gadda and I bicycled over to Los Angeles State Historic Park (aka the Cornfields) in a light rain. The rain is great for my garden, and for our creeks and streams, but I was a little worried that it might mean a small turnout at the march.
We arrived at the park and lots of other folks had also braved the rains to participate. Umbrellas and makeshift trash-bag ponchos were the order of the day.
I checked in and caught up with friends, until Raul Macias drew together the families he organizes through the Anahuak Youth Sports Association. He thanked them for braving the elements and attending
The youth were excited and ready to start marching.
A large circle formed around the Aztec dancers and drummers. They gave an invocation to the four directions and commenced to dance, which they would continue as they lead the march. The intermittent light rain ceased.
The circle parted and the march headed northward along the edge of the cornfields. In the lead are photographers walking backwards, then dancers, then the mass of the march. The clouds part and the sun begins to shine.
The mass continues along the vivid purples and yellows of the cornfield’s wildflowers in bloom.
As the procession leaves the park and enters the street, Aztec dancers follow the police escort.
Dancing for water.
The march made a left onto Spring Street, then crossed the Los Angeles River on the beautiful historic (but threatened) 1927 North Spring Street Bridge, proceeding into Lincoln Heights. Organizers did a good job of keeping the front moving relatively slowly, so that the stragglers in the back could keep up.
Many marchers carried buckets of water. This showed symbolic solidarity with folk in many parts of the world who have to travel by foot each day to get water for their families.
The march continued as Spring turns into Broadway and through 5-Points onto Avenue 26. These youth were carrying the banner for Boyle Heights Chivas, whose goalkeeper and I became friends. (I used to be a goalie a long time ago, when I played water polo.)
I was happy to run into some of the youth that Jessica and I accompanied on our state water tour last summer. In the foreground of this photo (in the dark blue sweatshirt, looking over her shoulder) is one of these youth: Melissa Castro. She goes to High School in Palmdale, and is a bright and fun person, and an excellent soccer player too. She mentioned that her feet were a little tired from marching, but that it wasn’t too bad.
The entire event was free from bottled water. Yaaaayyyy! This is no small feat… and really good for the environment. Organizers provided re-usable metal bottles. Along the 3-mile route there were several tap-water filling stations provided by the LA Department of Water and Power. Thanks, LADWP!
Participants carried handmade signs. I especially liked this slogan “Capture Rainwater Not Wildlife” as I capture rainwater in my garden.
Here’s another shot of the front of the march, with banners and signs. I was able to bike out ahead of the march as do a count as it headed up Figueroa and turned left onto Cypress Avenue. It was a quick count, probably not all that accurate, but I counted about 750 marchers.
The march ultimately turned left and made its way into the new Rio De Los Angeles State Park at Taylor Yard, the first 40-acres of a planned 100+acre Los Angeles River park there.
While things were getting set up (and blown down) I got a chance to ride around the park. The bright colors of the wildflowers at Rio De Los Angeles Park…
…matched the bright colors of the jerseys of the folks there playing soccer.
The many excellent speakers at the end included Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes, State Senator Fran Pavley, Department of Water and Power General Manager David Nahai, City Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels and representatives from the Winnemem Wintu, who came down from Northern California to join us (which makes plenty of sense, because that’s where we import a lot of our water from.) Organizations presenting included Urban Semillas, Anahuak Youth Sports Organization, the Southern California Watershed Alliance, Food and Water Watch, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Green LA Coalition, Friends of the Los Angeles River, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. Speakers tied together various topics including water conservation, global warming, reconnecting our communities with our rivers, and organizing and involving our youth. Winnemum Wintu elder Calleen Sisk-Franco invoked our relationship with our wild salmon, stating “without them, there won’t be us.”
The weather became windier and cloudier as the Irish-Mexican music of Ollin rounded out the program.
Bobby and I rode home with Alex Kenefick and Ramona Marks on the access road along Taylor Yard, enjoying the windy sunny weather and the herons, cormorants and coots in the L.A. River.
Kudos to all of the folks who played big roles in making this event a great success. Here are a few that I actually got decent photos of:
and the inimitable Miguel Luna!