What I Learned While Floating Down The LA River

Jasmine in a bright orange kayak holding a double-sided oar and floating down the LA River

 

I ventured out on to the actual LA River this past weekend with the group, Black Girls Trekkin, and had fun kayaking and meeting our tour guide and four-time Naked and Afraid contestant from LA River Expeditions, Gary Golding. He took his time instructing everyone on how to navigate our watercraft and he really made the outing fun. However, my favorite part of the entire kayaking trip was the time he took to speak about the river’s history and how it wasn’t even considered a river at first.

 

I had briefly heard about the documentary that he mentioned before, Rock the Boat, where local satirical writer, George Wolfe, boated down the fenced-in waterway, hoping to have the EPA declare the river navigable. Wolfe was hoping that it could gain protection under the Clean Water Act if he took the time to film himself kayaking down the river. He was, obviously, successful and I also enjoyed floating down the river as a result of his environmentalism, but I also couldn’t help but notice that there was still trash in the river.

 

I wrote a poem with the LA River in mind, but I also drew parallels between the river and the highways that weave in and around Los Angeles. This week alone, I witnessed three people on three separate highways throw trash out onto the road. Cups, a whole take away bag from In-n-Out, and— cigarettes. I’ve witnessed so many cigarettes thrown out of the window that I no longer find it surprising why California has so many brush fires along the side of the roads. I thought about how hard people, including me, work to clean hiking trails and the LA River, but it pains me to see people throwing their trash out on the road.

 

Yes, the river still needs a little more cleaning, but I also know that we can aid in the cleanup by first reducing the amount of trash that ends up outside in the first place. It’s not one person’s job or responsibility to do this, but as a group of mindful people, if we all at least make sure we throw away our own trash in designated trash receptacles, then we can make Los Angeles and California a better place.

 

 

The LA River

 

I was floating down the LA River

in a boat that weighed a ton

and I couldn’t help but notice

all the trash that lined the wet highway.

Rusted shopping carts

and plastic bags

clogged the pathways

and rising smog

sat between me

and the LA skyline.

There were people causing traffic

and accidents along the way,

and traveling several feet ahead

took what seemed like a lifetime.

 

We traveled with the current

and didn’t move very far

and I swear that 20 miles

shouldn’t seem that long.

Tent cities lined the river

and clothes hung off of bushes.

A man smoking a cigarette

nodded in my direction as I drifted by

and I couldn’t help but notice

the trash near his living space

while I floated down the LA River

in a boat that weighed a ton.

Poetry For The 21st Century | The Ocean’s Greetings

I was greeted by the warm rays that rained down from the summer sun
And felt the cool kisses quickly land on my cheek from the ocean’s salty breeze.
I looked for the usual crowd of people relaxing on the sand but found none
And left the quiet beach alone to do as she pleased.

I wandered off into town and stumbled on to the Spanish Father’s mission,
An old building for church service long before there stood a town.
I walked along the waterway listening to the sound of rushing water in repetition
And walked across the wooden bridge while trying to avoid looking down. Continue reading “Poetry For The 21st Century | The Ocean’s Greetings”

A Run Through MOCA In LA And The Standard

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Instagram | jasminedlowe

There’s something about getting lost in the rows of paint, clay, and metal that are hung on the walls and that populate the formerly empty spaces of an art gallery or museum. Within a glance, I can feel the emotions that had flowed through the bodies of artists and can learn the histories of other eras through the stories those artists tell through various mediums.

I spent one of the past weekends, as I usually do, in a half-filled Southern Californian art museum. It was during this time that I was able to hear the stories of African Americans spanning nearly half a century from artist Kerry James Marshall’s exhibition, Mastry.

Continue reading “A Run Through MOCA In LA And The Standard”