Monday, May 1, 2017

FOLAR Cleanup 2017

Well in all honesty, I underestimated how fun the cleanup would be. If you were to look at the state of my room, you would immediately know that I am not the kind of person that enjoys picking up after myself, much less other people. But as it turns out picking up trash with other people is rather enjoyable. Maybe it was the people, I'm not entirely sure, it could just be that the river had much more interesting trash than my room, but overall I did find the experience rather enjoyable, something I would willingly give up my free time to do.

The cleanup lasted around two hours and with the blistering heat, the dust rising everywhere making you cough, and the stench, you'd think that it would seem like an eternity. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. I made plenty of friends at the river cleanup and with people joking, racing with shopping carts that they had dug up, and competing in contests of strength and speed, time seems to fly. The river itself was surprisingly dirty, with plastic bags melded to the trees, clothes and shopping carts buried under the sand, and chip bags flying everywhere. I found fence pickets, window shutters, tires, tire flaps, and so much more. It made me realize how little we think of trash and how it all serves to damage the environment. Permanently. Those plastic bags aren't coming out of the trees, and there are likely many more shopping carts buried under the sand. Once trash gets into the environment, it really does not want to come out.

I myself have resolved to watch my waste with more caution, and though I am no environmental preservation crackpot, I have never found it more necessary in my life to make sure that we take care of our planet as best we can. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the beautiful Earth bestowed upon us. By no means will we be environmentally perfect, by no means will we be able to negate the harms that we have done unto our land, but that is no excuse to not try.

Folar Cleanup

Going into the FOLAR cleanup, my expectations were completely different from what it was actually like. Through our various pre-cleanup discussions and my knowledge from having done a couple of beach cleanups before, I was expecting the stereotypical vibe. However, it was much different than one might believe. Rather than the river being an actual river, there was hardly any water. There was, however, a ton of sand and rocks that made navigating through the area extemely difficult. But the biggest shock to me was that rather than there being lots of trash along the river ready to be picked up, you could barely see any trash at a glance because it was all buried and hidden. I honestly found this to be a bit discouraging, and it was difficult for me to collect a lot of trash simce a lot of it required lots of strength to pull it out of the ground, which I do not have. Nevertheless, the trash I was capable of collecting also shocked me; I was expecting the commonly known soda cans and chip bags, but instead I came across things like electronic accessories, computer parts, and lot and lots of clothes. The overall atmosphere was pleasing, and there was a lot more people and groups than I expected. I genuinely enjoyed the feeling of contributing to the community's cleanliness with others from the community, and I hope to participate again next year.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Trash in the Los Angeles River: Water We Doing Wrong?

As the great philosopher of this generation, Katy Perry, once inquired, "Do you ever feel / like a plastic bag / drifting through the wind / wanting to start again?" After pondering this philosophical question, if you feel like you agree, you may not want to go near the Los Angeles River. There's already too many plastic bags there already.

Going into the FOLAR event, I didn't exactly know what to expect-- but it definitely was not what I saw. I've been to a clean-up before, but it was not nearly as littered with trash as the LA River was last Saturday. Of course there was the typical litter everywhere: chip bags, bottle caps, scraps of paper all around the dirt and rocks. Even weird items that would actually make you laugh when you find them were scattered around, like a full-sized rug or a Scooby-Doo toy. But don't get me wrong, the filth was absolutely disgusting; at some point I even found a used (albeit washed by the river, at least) condom among the rocks. Fun.

Pollution in the River was so bad that the waste became intertwined with the nature. Countless strands of police tape, ripped clothes, and plastic bags twisting around the branches of the foliage, dancing with the wind, pretending they were leaves themselves. At one point I found a shopping cart joined almost symbiotically with a bush such that not only the branches, but also the actual roots of the bush grew in and out of the gaps of the cart, making it impossible to remove it without hurting the plant.

The River was so heavily polluted that after the event was over, I completely changed how I viewed plastic bags. Growing up, we always saved plastic bags to reuse them, and I thought this act in and of itself was just fine. However, after this event, I've come to learn that I absolutely despise plastic bags. Attempting to pick up a half-buried-in-the-sand plastic bag is an absolutely fruitless effort. Once you grab a piece, the bag will tear, giving you only a fraction of what you originally planned to pick up. Now, after this event, I refuse to use a plastic bag whenever avoidable.

As much as I wish I could tell you that the FOLAR event reversed the state of the LA River and give you a handshake or a high-five-- and trust me, I do wish this were the case-- it would simply be dishonest. Even though the River is still trash-ridden after the event, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to participate in cleaning it up. I realize now, how much I take this aspect of my life for granted. Every piece of plastic I throw away. Every recyclable I toss in the trash rather than the recycle bin. I don't take the time to consider where my trash goes or what effects it has. I wish I could single-handedly fix this pollution issue. And in a sense I can... Sort of. After being a part of the FOLAR event, I'm working on how to fix the way I treat my trash-disposal, and plan to volunteer again in the future. Given how many people I saw giving their time and effort into cleaning up a river that many Los Angeles citizens don't know exists makes me a lot more hopeful that through effort and dedication, this issue is one that will be given the attention it deserves and be changed for the better.

Sand Gets Everywhere, But So Does Trash

Somewhere between the beginning of the HNRS 1200 course and the first week of April, I forgot exactly when we would attend the very much discussed FOLAR clean-up event. I had my heart set on potentially attending the March for Science and somehow managed to consistently disregard both the date set on the syllabus for the clean-up and the proposed date for the March for Science. And so it happened that sometime during the beginning of April, I realized that one of the two would have to go. Given that the two events fell on Earth Day, it made sense to me that I should pick the one that would allow me to more actively help the environment. I prepared for the event with great excitement, though a little nervous for what was to come and rather unsure of what to expect.

Upon arriving, the site was nothing like what I had expected. I thought that the area would be more green, but the shrubbery was incredibly underwhelming. What welcomed me instead was dry dirt and sand, plenty of which was kicked up into the air as we walked around. Nor was the river quite as small as I thought it would be prior to the event. Looking down at the river, my fear of heights kicked in and I nearly resigned myself to a fate of picking up the trash along the path while my friends had fun picking up trash together before I finally figured out a way to slowly make my way down to the river. I picked up trash with as much enthusiasm as anyone there--well, I tried to. It definitely did not help that so many pieces of trash were stuck deep in the sand and that the plastic bags caught in the bushes broke off easily, but I gave it my best effort.

After two long hours of navigating unsteady rocks, picking up trash with my friends, and avoiding the occasional wasp, it was finally time to leave. I felt relieved to be out of the hot sun, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy cleaning up the river. In spite of some of the difficulties I encountered, the clean-up was actually quite fun, and it was exhilarating just knowing that I was doing something to directly contribute to a much larger effort to save our river, rather than simply marching. Lungs full of dust, I headed home, exhausted but feeling good about doing something to make the L.A. River just a little cleaner.

Earth Day

Although I was unable to participate in the river clean up on Earth day, I did contribute by running a promotion at my work. I work at Starbucks, and realizing that we are, unfortunately, one of the contributors to littering due to our cups ending up on the side of the road instead of trashcans, we gave out reusable cups to celebrate Earth day.
It is always so disappointing to see Starbucks cups or straw wrappers on the side of the road. It is even more disappointing because as a company, Starbucks takes great responsibility at ethically using resources. This is why our cup sleeves and napkins are made out of recycled material. Knowing that my work does their part to minimize waste is very satisfying. Also satisfying was being able to give out the cups to our customers, and even more so when they bring their cups back to use.

FOLAR clean-up

I went into this river clean-up expecting one thing and found another.
I thought that I was going to be going to one of the more nature part of the L.A. river to clean up the bed of the river where the water meets the dirt, or to go pick up trash on a nice scenic walkway that runs parallel to the river with lots of people and bikers on the trail... This was not what I walked into.
I went to a less nature area of the river where there was hardly any water in the river at all. I was not expecting to be able to literally walk in the river, it was very sandy.
Despite the change in expectation of location I enjoy the FOLAR river clean-up. It was a great experience that I am glad I was able to participate in.
There were a lot more people there than I expected to be, and quite a large range in age that I was definitely not expecting, there was even a baby strapped to its father's chest.
The actually cleaning of the river was a very dusty job due to the amount of sand from the lack of water in the river. Good thing I wore my black shoes :). A lot of the trash was actually embedded into the river, which I was not expecting. I expected a lot of the trash to be laid out on top as if someone had just thrown the trash there. The embedded trash cause for a lot of digging and pulling to get the trash. I was quite shocked at some of the items found, for example I never would guess that a shopping cart would be buried into the river, thrown on the side next to the river sure, but not buried in it. Or pieces to a computer of car charger. When I think of trash inn a river these pieces are not what comes to my mind. Which makes it quiet shocking and sad to me that people just throw this stuff on the place we live on.
Overall this experiencing was great and unexpected. It was unexpected in the location, the people there and the trash that was found.


Before the 22nd, I'd never gone to any sort of clean-up ever. I'd done other volunteer work (at a daycare with two- to five-year-old children), but I'd never done something like this. Like everyone else, I expected the trash to be simply lying along the edge of the river. I definitely didn't expect the trash to be embedded within the dirt and mud at the edge of the river and in the bushes, as much of a part of the landscape as the river itself. This made picking up trash much more difficult than I thought it would be. Picking up a piece of trash meant having to dig into the dirt or untangle it from a branch. At one point, we found a huge blanket that we had to pull from under the dirt. It was probably the hardest workout of my life. It didn't help that it was a hot day.

Though picking up trash certainly wasn't easy, it wasn't miserable. In fact, it was pretty fun. I enjoyed doing something good and spending time with friends. The free shirts were certainly a plus. The highlight of my day, however, was seeing a slice of cheese pizza floating in the river, following the current. I don't know how that pizza got there, but seeing it float like a boat sure made my day.

FOLAR clean up

I was not expecting an experience that I actually got when I participated in FOLAR. I was very excited to help clean up the LA river by participating in this event. When I heard that we were going to be at a pretty and more nature oriented location, what I imagined was not the reality of it. I pictured an area where there was no cement incline leading into the river, where the water met the bank of the river, and there was perhaps a grove of trees that ran along the river bank. I don't know if a place like this exists for the LA river, but if it does, it was not what we went to. Another surprise for me was the fact that I had to dig to pick up trash. I was expecting to walk along the river bank that I had imagined and pick up plastic bags, water bottles, water bottle lids, and general trash like that. I couldn't have been more wrong. What I got was a mission to dig up cables, plastic, software, shopping carts, and the list goes on. While the experience was nothing that I imagined it to be, I did enjoy myself and loved the fact that I was helping clean u the environment and save some animals from a horrible death.

Cleaning the Forgotten River

On April 22nd, I attended a FOLAR cleanup along with my HNRS 1200 class; there was a huge group of people, and a huge amount of trash. Although the L.A. river is an integral part of the city in terms of its significance to the management of floodwater and irrigation, the various species of birds, fish, and other animals that it sustains (or has the capacity to sustain, were it not so polluted), and its significance to the history and continuously evolving culture of the city, it is often forgotten or thought of as a completely man-made entity, to be treated with the same regard as any other sewer pipe running underneath the city. Walking across the sandy banks of the river, I noticed that most of the debris in the river was not large pieces of trash, or even things like syringes or knives or other such objects that a person might want to get rid of discreetly; there was a large range of types, age, and size of trash; the only real constant was the amount of discarded material that was uniformly integrated with the natural space.

Before attending the cleanup, our class read a paper by Adam Davis entitled "What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Civic Service," which cautioned against performing civic service or engaging in service learning without undertaking sufficient reflection on motivation. It discussed the dangers of jumping into actions with the potential for continuing effects on a social environment without contemplating how one's motive will shape those effects. The lack of intention behind action, the lack of reflection on plans before they are implemented, is what led to a large amount of the trash the FOLAR group encountered ending up in the river in the first place; in the past, I had approached civic service (and particularly environmentally oriented campaigns like FOLAR's) thinking that the best thing I could do -- and indeed, the best thing to be done -- was to increase efforts to clean up trash, increase participation in civic service. I realize after participating in the FOLAR cleanup that an equally if not more important way to approach these large-scale environmental and civic problems is to promote large-scale awareness and reflection.

Friday, April 28, 2017

FoLAR Clean-up

Hello my name is Andrew Plascencia and I am a second year at Cal State LA. On April 22, which was earth day, my English 2030 class went to the Los Angeles River to do a clean up. Before attending the FoLar event, I did not expect to see any types of metals such as broken shopping carts, a cooking grid, and other weird looking metals. Once I saw these pieces of metals, I started to think to myself, "Wow these are the things that go into the ocean". I had the idea of only plastic bottles and plastic bag go into the ocean. So after finding these pieces of metals, I knew that I had to remove them from the river before they can make it to the ocean. Another item that I did not expect to see in the river was clothing. But after seeing all the homeless camps by the river, it made sense of why there was that amount of clothing in the river. So that was also taken out to clean the riverbed. Throughout those two and half hours, it was fun actually picking all the waste. If i had a chance to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate say yes.

One of the many bags that filled up trucks.

Would you like some river with that plastic?

John Muir once said that "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks". Obviously, he loved nature. Even more obviously, he must have been inspired by the L.A River. The L.A River that, when I went to last Saturday expecting to pick up a couple pieces of trash littered along the bank, instead offered up a treasure trove of plastic and debris that seemed to have grown like weeds among the once flourishing plants and bushes. The plastic was so abundant that it quite literally had become a part of the landscape; there were strips of the stuff so fully intertwined with some of the tree branches there that to take the strips out would require breaking off the very branches they wrapped around. Very symbolic. Overall, however, despite the heat and the traffic and the wobbly rocks that I could never quite balance on, I felt that the experience was a good one. The goal of our class was to engage in some sort of service learning, and this opportunity of cleaning the river allowed us to physically do so while prompting us to reflect further upon greater ways that we might help the community. Personally, I enjoyed the event because I was able to participate in community service that I wouldn't normally consider - but that is clearly very important. In doing so, I was able to witness firsthand the consequences of a way of life that I take for granted, and as a result have begun to consider other ways of doing daily life that don't require using so much plastic.

LA River Clean Up On Earth Day

          Hello my name is Kevin Perez; I am currently going to Cal State Los Angeles University taking ENGL 1005B with Professor Ximena Hernandez. For the first time I was able to participate on the LA River clean up. It was a really nice experience, and the first time to step on the LA River. There I was able to see a problem; the natural environment was all covered with trash. I didn’t think that the LA would have nature like this river, which seems to be home for species such as birds, ducks, fish, and frogs. Due to the accumulation of trash, most trees were covered with plastic bags. Once I got there I knew there was a lot to clean, as I was picking up the trash I realized two things. One due to the tons of trash there no that many animals lived in the River, the first animal I saw was a female duck, the water was not that clean, but I was able to see a couple tiny fishes. Furthermore, later on I realized that there was a lot of nature in LA, but man did not care about taking care the environment, to the point where almost everywhere was contaminated. Also, one of the things that cough my attention was to see things like a shopping carts, car parts, rubber and pieces of metal all around the river. As I continued cleaning up, I found a huge frog, he was underwater and by himself just like the duck, alone with no other similar species. These two animals made think that people have destructed their home, a natural environment where many species disappeared because of trash and contamination. Also, I found different types of trees, one of them was full of fruit which were food for the animals around there. Another thing that caught my attention was the crops of corn that were planted to reduce pollution. The best part of this clean up in the LA River was that many people were actually participating, there were people cleaning up from different ages, even kids were all around collecting trash. It seems that people need to be more conscious that we are responsible of polluting the environment killing many species. So, we need to work hard in order to reverse it and save not only the river but the environment and many species living there. Overall it was a really nice experience, I feel glad that I was able to help clean the river, and reduce trash in the environment.

Riverbeds are the best thrift stores

     Last Saturday, April 22nd, I had the oppurtunity to participate in the Friends of the Los Angeles River cleanup. I was not expecting anywhere near the ammount of pollution I encountered that morning. Most prominent were the plastic bags strewn and woven into the undergrowth. Less apparent but just as frequent were the various articles of clothing and fabric in general wedged into the riverbed. I spent a good deal of time removing these large articles from under the ground. I didn't encounter anything particularly dangerous or too difficult but the river was a challenge unlike any I'd undetaken before. I've cleaned beaches and parks fairly often but the terrain made this one the most difficult to alone. I'd like to do this again next year. I'd have pictures to post if I hadn't been so winded after hunting trash all morning. Until next earth day.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A rotten vein bleeding in our oceans

     My name is Ramy Azer; as part of my critical writing for Engineers course taken with Dr. Ximena Hernandez, I had the opportunity to experience the detrimental effects our society has on the environment that sustains us. Shocked, to say the least, at how much toxic and dangerous trash was tossed in the only river of Los Angeles. My experience was at the mid-river where we spent 3 hours cleaning up the dried up river bed from a litany of waste. As I began to work, I noticed a lot of trash had already been accumulated and ready to be picked up and discarded properly; a chance to see what is coming my way when I begin doing my part of the clean-up. Plastic, was the predominant material present in the trash. The sad thing to see is how much stuff seemed to be actually functional and still useful. The trash had a lot of useful and usable items, like hairbrushes, perfectly intact plastic bags and a mirror! How does this end up in the middle of a river and where does it end up? The answer to this question is a reflection on who we are as a society.
    Our culture is that of a throw-away mentality; if you don't like it, if it is too old or if it is slightly not functional, then throw it away. One must remember that it is not just getting thrown away, but the items are being thrown away in an irresponsible manner that uncovers the lack of respect we have for our fragile ecosystem. People literally throw away what they don't like right in the streets. Storm gutters channel the trash along with water into the LA river. Trash accumulates in the river and goes right into our oceans. In the documentary, “Plastic Paradise The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, I was shown where our trash ends up; the ocean, the recipient of all our throwaways. The documentary discussed some of the extents of where the trash ends up once it is in the ocean. Sadly, a majority of birds like seagulls fly out to the ocean garbage patch and they feed their babies the trash. The documentary showed multiple types of skeletons of birds filled with plastics that eventually killed them.
     It is scary to see how trash can layer over nature and completely change the way a plant or an animal grows. The trash is everywhere, and it seems like there is no end in sight with it. I was surprised to find medication discarded by and in the river. Full bottles of Vicodin and aspirin were just laying around. Full sized mattresses were tossed into the river! To say this is ridiculous, is to say the least. It is a river, a place where nature can grow and prosper; but people are choosing to use it as a trash channel instead. The unfortunate fact is that most people know that where tossing the trash in the street ends up. Yet people throw away so much right into the river without a second guess. This problem is big and terrifying, and it is getting bigger. We continue to manufacture plastic products, sell them at cheaper prices and more of them get tossed out. This issue is not going to stop without making some serious government enforced consequence to tossing out trash improperly. As this problem continues, we reach critical points of danger to our environment; we might not be able to reverse the damage and stopping our bad habits is not going to be enough. We need to change and fix the already done damage. What I witnessed, shocked me.
     Shrubbery, bushes and trees entangled in plastic everywhere you look. Massive pieces of metal laying in the middle of the riverbed, covered in rust and releasing the rust right into water. Plastic contaminating the water and when the river dries up, the plastic gets exposed to high heat from sun exposure which makes them release more carcinogenic substance into the river which goes to the ocean and hurts all the fish and birds that live in and off of the ocean. There was no spot anywhere in the river that did not look dirty and contaminated. Sharp items too which can hurt animals around the river. So much trash, it never felt so real until I experienced it first hand and it left me in shock and confusion. I would suggest a solution if I can really come up with a realistic one but unfortunately I can't think of one. I do hope that this changes and more people do their duty of cleaning up the LA river so we may limit the damage. All in all, the experience was sobering and scary; I believe everyone should experience this first hand as well.

Me at the end of the clean-up next to one of many piles of gathered trash

FoLAR: Earth Day Clean Up

Has it ever crossed your mind on where the trash that is not gathered by your cities waste management goes? I mean the filthy trash that accumulates on the streets instead of the trash cans. Well what if I said that the trash, especially in the streets, will eventually travel to the ocean and has caused countless issues with the health of our planet which will not have a solution to fix. Hello, my name Christian Flores and I am a first year at Cal State University Los Angeles learning about environmental issues that have arose due several reasons like pollution, overpopulation, etc. I have
spent quality time researching on the effects of pollution, particularly trash, and have participated in many a few non-profit organizations to gain a better understanding of the issue and to help prevent these issues.

I recently participated in the FOLAR River Clean Up; This was an organized cleanup for the L.A. River and was so surprised to see the turnout of people who contributed their time for the River. This is really important to me because I live near this River and bike down its bike path; I get so upset to see it filthy with other people’s garbage so always wanted to contribute to cleaning it up. I highly recommend participating in events like this to keep a cleaner community and to prevent any pollution from harming our natural resources.

So how did all this trash end up in the river in the first place? Well it is mainly due to the trash in the street, which gets blown or washed down into the sewer drains, and it is also just tossed by some careless people that don’t believe disposing of trash in the proper areas is necessary. This Creates an issue not only because of have a trashy L.A. River but also because it travels to the ocean. After reading articles from the non-profit organization Heal the Bay, I learned that all trash on the streets and not picked up will eventually find its way to the ocean. This is where the trash becomes really devastating to the environment.


                               (Someone could have ate that orange.)

     Hello, my name is Cameron Haynes and I am a sophomore at Cal State LA taking Professor Hernandez's ENGL 2030 course. On April 22nd I went to the LA River to help FoLAR(Friends of the LA River) pick up the trash scattered across the river. This was my first time attending such an event so I had little to no idea of what to expect, except the fact that there was going to be a lot of trash. When walking down the path to the river, I saw exactly that.
     The photo above was just a portion of what was picked up. Some common items people found were clothes, scraps of metal, and plastic bags(excluding the ones used to pick up trash). I didn't have any amazing finds myself, but to see old carts and mattresses piled along with what should be your everyday disposable items was very surprising. When I started to pick up the trash around the river, I noticed something strange about one of the bushes.
A bush with small flowers growing out of it.
     This is another one of the few things that surprised me about the LA River. I knew it was filled with trash but I didn't expect to see any kind of vegetation.With so many things around like the rocks, metal, and plastic within the soil I assumed it wouldn't be all that possible. It was still nice to see though.

More plastic by the river
As I got closer to the river, the concentration of plastic grew. In the picture to the left you can see there are many scraps of plastic in the soil.The difference between the amount of plastic by the rocks and the open soil was significantly high. This was also much harder to remove, since the plastic was lodged in pretty well.

We often hear about how littering and not recycling are harming our planet however not much attention is given to the issue. I was somewhat aware of the problem but to actually get a glimpse of what was going on made me wonder why people were still throwing their trash out so irresponsibly. I suppose it's because we don't see the consequences of our actions in person. If anyone were to see how much trash was lying around the river, I believe that they would be more conscious of their decisions. All in all this was an interesting experience. Seeing so many people take the time out of their day to improve their community was very inspiring.

FOLAR Cleanup

Overall, I really enjoyed this event. There is something oddly satisfying about getting your hands dirty for the good of the community. I had never participated in community service project that required volunteers to pick up trash so I was glad that I could come out and help.  
Many people who know me are aware that I am a very spoiled child who prefers everything to be clean. So even though the cleanup was a good experience, it was also a very gross one. 
The river smelled very questionable. Then again, I have been a city girl all my life so perhaps that is just how rivers smell in general and I had no idea about this 'natural river scent'. There were so many different pieces of trash embedded within the river bank. There was one instance where I attempted to pull up a wheel sticking out of the sand but was unable to because it was a shopping cart completely buried the sand. There were also many plastic bags within the trees and other foliage and they were meshed into the plant itself. 
My professor actually stated that this had been the dirtiest she had ever seen the river after many years of going to FOLAR cleanups due to the increased rainfall this past year. This event really made me think about where trash goes after someone just dumps it onto the streets. Stuffed animals, golf balls, CD's, charger cables, and computer RAMs were all found scattered across this river. Why weren't people deposing of their trash properly? Why did they think their littering didn't affect that environment? Why isn't there more events like this to help improve the city? Then I thought about myself and all of the one use plastic bottles I use, how many things I do not recycle, how many plastic bags I use so asked myself: why aren't I doing something to make a difference?
I felt very bad about this as I saw so many different people working to help make the LA River look like an actual river instead of a dump site. After an hour I returned to the original spot where I started to clean when I had first arrived only to find that there was barely any trash to pick up. The hard work and dedication of FOLAR and all of the volunteers made the city of Los Angeles that much more great and made me really happy that I went to this event.

LA River Clean up

Hello, my name is Caroline Pinheiro, I am a freshman taking Ximena Hernandez's 2030 English class. On April 22 of 2017, I, along with the rest of the class, helped pick up trash near the LA river in my home town of Glendale. Now when we first arrived, the river is not in sight, nor was it the objective of our clean up. We were tasked to clean up the area around the river rather than the water itself. I was not particularly surprised about the amount of trash and plastic we found, but was still frustrated at the lightweight and tangle-prone nature of the trash. Most of which was bits of plastic bags that caught onto snags on tree branches and weighed it down, which would eventually lead to the plant's demise. 

It's enough to say how surprisingly inspiring it was to see many people gathering to clean up the river, many of which without having a classroom assignment to motivate them. Others suggested to have these clean ups more often, so that there would be less trash to harm out wildlife, however I disagree. More clean ups with not mean more cleaning up, but less people showing up. It takes away from the special moment that is the flash clean up and instead introduces environmental concern as a regular chore that many would resent enough to not go.
One thing that I feel this assignment failed to address, not through any fault of the professor or the assignment but rather due to lack of practical solution, was the water. I failed to get a picture of it, but on the edge of the water where it meets the bank, there was a built up of tan foam. Who knows what was actually in it but it reminded me of another river I know from my stay in Sao Paulo Brazil, where at the end of the river, the process of cleaning the water disturbed the surface so much that the pollutant foam would build up to 4 feet high. Yet again I was reminded of this river when students in class claimed they passed over the LA river without paying any mind or notice to it, but this time I was reminded of how that is exactly not the life in Sao Paulo. Our river, Rio Tiete, runs through the middle of our city and is regarded as Open Sewer, and falling into it was joked, but not altogether disproven, as certain death.
Image result for rio tietĂȘ sao paulo

This foamy, trash ridden river that everyone can smell from literally a mile away if what I fear will happen to the LA river. And as it stands, there is no reason as to why it won't. Without some TLC, our LA river is ripe to become the flowing trash convener out into the ocean. However is FOLAR, Friends of the LA River, continue to do their work, along with the help of some change in government policy, I believe we can undo the damage done on the river and the environment around it. I believe the key is to prevent the pollutants and trash from even getting to the river in the first place. Americans, not only those in LA, should be made aware of how our country removes it's trash from the public eye. Once the general public is informed, and thus feeling more than a little guilty, then they can begin to accept that change must be had for the sake of not only the planet, but for ourselves as well.

Hey there! My name is Sebastian Cabrera and I participated in the FOLAR River Cleanup this past Saturday the 22nd. I am currently a second-year student at Cal State LA and attended this service under the supervision of English Professor Ximena Hernandez. Although I have participated in multiple clean up services before, this was my first time attending a service regarding the LA river and thus I was quite excited. Upon arrival I was directed to acquire a trash collection bag and gloves. Almost immediately after, the cleanup commenced and we were directed towards where we could enter the river and begin collecting the trash below. Trash was littered all over the river, which wasn't surprising since it looked exactly how I imagined. Although there were various types of trash from broken cell phones, to ragged and torn articles of clothing, I was more focused on picking up anything that was plastic. Reason being that in my class, Professor Hernandez had us read an article discussing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In short, its a massive "island" of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that seems to only grow bigger every year. It is sort of depressing considering not much can be done about the decomposition of plastic. This moved me to focus on removing every piece of plastic I could find from that littered river. I found plastic covered trees that had more plastic bags than leaves. Ironically my group that I was with uncovered a plastic bag that read "Don't Trash California". So much for keeping California clean if trash like that ends up being cleaned up by people who want to prevent something like that. The service lasted roughly about 2 hours and we managed to leave that place cleaner than we found it which was quite enlightening yet saddening at the same time. However, I will not let the sadness aspect of it take over. Instead this service really opened my eyes to be more conservative and limit the trash output I can in every way. Hopefully everyone else can have the same realization and we can all contribute to the reduction of trash from this littered world so we can all live happier lives.


Hello, my name is Ricardo Medina, and I am currently a student at Cal State LA. This past weekend was earth day, and I participated in cleaning up a section of the LA River. It was the first time that I had been part of an event like this. I was astonished about all the people that showed up and supported and took part in the project. There were people of all ages and cultures. Furthermore, it was an un forgetful because I personally was able to see for myself the impact that we make to the earth. in my cleanup expedition, I found various types of plastics and metals. To me it was quite the experience because it brought me face to face with what we have discussed in Professor X. Hernandez's lecture; the impact that we have done with development of certain materials like plastic and actually observing it in our local river makes one aware of the actual problem not being miles away because truth is it's not out of sigh, so we can't necessarily put it out of mind. Previously, I had not quite made the assessment regardless of the material and videos we viewed in class, but after participating in this event, I have changed the way I shop. It is not a drastic change, but it is a start. Here I am with an item that I removed from the river, and also, a picture of all the people that were in the river helping clean the river as well.

FOLAR LA River Clean Up

Hello everyone my name is Tamarah Marin. This is my second year at California State University, Los Angeles. On April 22, 2017 I had the honor to help out FOLAR with the LA River Clean up. In class we were learning about how to fix something or how to reuse something we thought could be thrown away. We also learned a little bit about the river before we went to go and clean up and it has changed a lot over the years.  Once I got to the river I was surprised how many people where already there helping.  Right away I went to turn in my waiver to help out. They gave us gloves and a shirts. I had my cousin come along with me because she thought it was a good opportunity for her to come and see what this program does to help out the community. There was so much trash everywhere. There was a lot of thing you didn't think would be there. For example there was a three full of raspberries, which i found very surprising. There was a lot of trash stuck on the trees. It was also hard to take anything out of the trees because they were either wrapped around the trees where you couldn't pull it off or they had a lot of dirt to the point where it was heavy to pull out. I have never done anything like this before, so I didn't know what to expect. Saturday morning was really hot. Also with Saturday being Earth day it was something special that everyone there helping with cleaning the river was a way as a community coming together.


FoLAR La River Clean-Up

The Concrete River

Hello, my name is David Navarro and I will be discussing my experiences during the FoLar La river clean up, for my English 2030 class with professor Hernandez. Although this was not my first volunteer clean-up project, but with the rugged terrain of the concrete leftovers of the rivers forced redirection, it was not the easiest of clean-ups.
Roaming the concrete desert of this “river,” there was plenty of camp communities built by the less fortunate individuals, there was an intense feel in the air, as if the very aroma of this abandoned landmark was tickling my nose.
Although the river is seen by thousands a day there is no concern for it, whether it is polluted or not is never in the mind of the people of Los Angeles. Now that I am here experiencing the garbage infested landmark of ours first hand I can say without hesitation something has to be done to change the rivers current conditions. There are countless plastic bags, intensely rusted clumps of metal pipes already molded around certain grounds of the river, and even pieces of lost e-waste. 

Although the river seems beyond saving, with is full shopping cart trash, and even hundreds of pounds of metal pipes, and thousands of miles of plastic pollution, but it can still be done. Events like this are the only way word can spread and actions can finally begin to save our concrete river. I would gladly volunteer again for this cause.

LA river clean up


         My name is Jesus Ramirez. I participated in the FOLAR clean up of the LA river on April 22, 2017. This was done due to an assignment in my English 2030 class. The minute we discussed the assignment I quickly was interested in helping in the clean up. My first thought was that it wouldn't be so bad. Once I arrived that thought changed. There was a lot of trash everywhere. I couldn't believe how much trash was collecting there.  The main place where I collected my trash was within the trees. This area was hard to move around in, but I did my best to help make the LA river clean. I noticed a lot of groceries bags tangled within the branches of the trees. it seemed to me that bags were the most popular among the different kinds of trash found. I remembered how in class in a documentary we saw there was a man filled with bags. That was his costume to created awareness to how many bags are thrown away. Therefore me finding a lot of bags made me see why that man was using that costume made out of bags. Also, I found a lot of pieces of rusty medal. Most of it was deep inside the ground. I had to move rocks and dig around it to let me have access in pulling it out. While I was under a tree I saw a piece of medal sticking out of the ground as I tried to pull it out of the ground I felt that it was heavy and I needed to put in more strength in getting it out. Once I started to dig around it I noticed that it was a shopping cart. It took me some time to be able to finally pull it out. It was a great experience for me. I recommend everyone to try this out. It will benefit you and your environment.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LA River Clean-Up

Hello, everyone my name is Kevin Vega. I am a second year attending at California State University Los Angeles. On April 22, 2017, I participated in a clean-up held by an organization called FOLAR. The event took place at the Los Angeles River where my English 2030 class went to a clean-up at the river to keep our cities clean from pollution. This event was my first FOLAR Clean-Up I attended, and it was a great experience helping out my community to keep our river clean. I have biked it around the river lot of times with friends, and I never thought that the river would have some much trash. During the clean-up, I didn't expect to see some much trash such as a shopping cart, clothes, wires, plastics, phones, etc. My professor said that someone found a 100 dollar bill in the river. Who knows what else is burn in the river beside the trash we found on Earth Day. It sucks that most of LA's dirty water ends up in the river. In the future, the city of Los Angeles has a proposal about a revitalization of the Los Angeles River. This master plan would take about 20 years to complete. Hopefully one day, people could visit the river without seeing any trash but fishes, the beautiful waters and the parks around the area. The LA river doesn't even look like a river, but hopefully, this master plan would revive the river again. During the clean-up, we see some much trash. Most of the garbage I found was plastic bags and clothes. The sad part of the day was that it was hot to clean the river. The trash in the river has been there for years or more. The trash was burned deep in the sand, and the plastic bag was in stuck in the trees and plants. I enjoy seeing other people clean-up the river because I enjoy biking around the river because it is peaceful and nice to bike with my friends.
The wire suck in the dirt
The best thing like about the community service project was the amount of work put into cleaning the river. It wasn't only our group cleaning, but other organizations were cleaning the river. We only cleaned a section of the River while other groups cleaned another part of the river. The cool part was that my friends and I found a broken shopping cart and we added a seat to it.
We fill up about six trash bags. I never thought that there would be some much trash in one section of the Los Angeles River. It was surprising seeing so many people care so much about the environment to take time out of their days to clean up the river and rather not go to work. People would spend the day cleaning the river rather than goes to the beach or the park to enjoy their day. It was a great experience to be part of the FOLAR Los Angles clean-up event at the LA river. I would recommend everyone to go because you will meet new people and enjoy your day helping mother nature.

LA River Clean Up

Hello everyone, my name is Gustavo Medel. On this years earth day, April 22nd, I participated in the LA river clean up.

In class we are learning about the effects of pollution in our oceans. The plastic waste in society is all carried over to the ocean and is creating a large soup like consistency in the ocean which is endangering the marine wildlife. The river clean up is supposed to give us an idea of how much trash can pile up in a certain geographical area in an extended period of time.

I learned that we really can make a difference in the cleanliness in our society. A little help here and there really does go a long way over time. Each member of our class grabbed a bag for the trash we were to pick up and scoured the lake for any signs of waste. What we found were multiple items, such as: clothing, baseball cards, cans, chairs, the list goes on and on. I filled up a bag within an hour or so and helped out with a stand the rest of the time. The experience was enjoyable, but not at the same time. I did not like being in the hot sun on a Saturday morning picking up trash that did not belong to me, but in the back of my head I know I was helping a greater cause and that made it better in the end.

EarthDay/ foLAR

LA River Clean Up

Hello my name is Diana Barcenas I am in Professor Hernandez 1005B-82 English class this semester 
we are learning about the LA River, and how we can reduce our carbon foot print in a way. Last semester we did service learning for Heal the Bay, we went to Santa Monica Beach to clean up the trash that doesn't make it to the trash bins. The reasons why I went to the beach clean up was to prevent more trash from being pulled into the ocean. Now the LA River clean up was something similar in the way that we still needed to pick up trash. It is upsetting knowing how much trash was inside the river especially caught in between plants and trees. 
I arrived at the foLAR a bit but once I got there I was trying to look for the professor I bumped into some of my classmates I followed them to go meet up with the professor, after we met up where the professor was located I went to go pick up trash and take pictures. I started looking for trash and all I found was plastic bags and blue plastic tents that were destroyed. I with another classmate looking for trash and he found a huge frog sitting by the water and we tried looking for more but that seemed to be the only frog there. Being there at the river made me realize that we need to have more people involved in their community for future generations to enjoy. If we don't take care of our environment then who will? It is all up to us to make our little world a better place as long as we are around.
This was an amazing learning experience for me to know how our LA River is doing, which is not so great. At least we have great people doing great things for the environment, I could only imagine what our world can look like in a few more year if it weren't for these environmental programs that bring people together as one big community that is concerned with the well being of a small part of our planet. I hope to continue in this journey and find myself going to more environmental movements like this one.

FOLAR Clean Up

Greetings, my name is Peter Maldonado, and today I'll be delving into my experience helping clean the LA river with FOLAR on Saturday, April 22, 2017. To begin, I had never done any type of community service of this sort so this was all a new experience for me. I arrived around 9 am with one of my best friends and colleagues who was participating in the same event, and immediately we were off to work. We were handed gloves and bags, and we ventured into the dirty river. I searched around for a nice shady spot and went to work. Clothes, paper, trash, etc. You name it, we found it. There was so much trash, it was almost unbelievable. I managed to clean up two bags worth of trash by the end of the day, and while it was very intensive due to blazing hot sun and grueling work, it was definitely fulfilling. I enjoyed the feeling of helping clean my community and giving back. For this reason, I would definitely partake in a similar event, given the opportunity.

FoLAR Experience

Hello my name is Jerome Pineda. I am currently taking English 2030 with Professor Hernandez. I participated on the FoLAR clean up  on Saturday April 22, 2017. I arrived on the site at 7:13 in the morning due to complications for a carpool ride. I helped out with the setup of the banners for the cleanup. After my group and I volunteered to help handing out the trash bags for the incoming people. Once the crowd died down my group and I decided to go help out the cleanup. The things that we found were a bit surprising. For the majority of things that we collected was simply scraps of plastic bags scattered across the river. I found a 7-up can embedded underneath the ground. One of our group members found a motherboard for what we believe was an iPhone. The most surprising and strenuous part of the cleanup was finding a copper wire embedded under the rocks. My group and I strained ourselves to get the copper wire free. We pushed rocks aside, dig through the dirt, kept pulling the wire until we plucked it out. Although the morning was grueling the whole event was fun and I hope to join it again next year.

Helping out at basecamp
Copper wire that was buried in the ground
Hello my name is Cesar Becerra, I attended the L.A. River clean up on Saturday April 22, 2017. Having attended last semesters service learning cleaning (Heal the Bay), I know what was coming my way, but over all it was different experience from Heal the Bay. At first when I arrived to the location where the event was being hosted I thought that the river was clean, but only realized that it was filled with trash once I got down too see it up close. The trash that  I found in the river was pretty much anything you can think of, but it seemed that plastic was growing in and around the plants.
When I started to pick up trash I found myself picking up plastic bag that would fall apart when I pulled them off of trees or from under some dirt. The picture above looks like the was growing plastic, but in reality the plastic is just stuck to the tree. Other than plastic I saw things like shopping carts, tires, rusted out metal and cloths. Most of those items looked like they have been their for a while because they had so many things on top of them and that made them hard to get. In the short time that I was there, I saw tons of bags filled with trash. See so many people coming out to clean a place that is know to be one of the dirtiest place in L.A. was cool, it was not only college students but their were also family's, High school student, and other organizations out their helping to improve an important place for the L.A. county. Over all I really liked this service learning cleaning because I have lived near the L.A. river my whole life and it wasn't till this day that I saw trees and other life in the river I'm use to seeing concert and trash in the river.
Hello, my name is Kimberly Zepeda. I attended the L.A River cleanup on Saturday, April 22, 2017. It was a very hot day but we went out there to do what we had to do. It was a great experience and was glad to be part of it. Last semester I wasn't able to participate at the beach cleanup but I enjoined this one. I was amazed of all the trash I seen that day which was market carts, clothes, and food consumers buy and how there wasn't too many cigarettes. I pass by a part the L.A River everyday coming to school and I never noticed how much trash there is. I was also amazed of how many people went that day and even little kids were helping. It made me feel sad/mad that many people litter without thinking of the future and the next generation. I saw homeless people living there, I saw one with three cats. Experiencing nature this kind of way made me realize that I haven't experience it as much as I would before. I can't imagine how the L.A River would look if we (Families or Friends) wouldn't be involved cleaning up.

 Not only did I see trash but I was able to see two ducks in the water. It's sad to think that animals like the ducks to suffer from all this trash that is being litter from people. It wasn't even half an hour that we started, and I was almost done filling up a bag of trash. I would definitely do it because I am helping my community to stay clean. In the reading, "A Life of the Senses" by Richard Louv, he said "As we grow more separate from nature, we continue to separate from one another physically." This cleanup was an experience for me of nature because instead of staying home laying down or doing something unproductive I was outside helping out at the Friend of the L.A River.
My name is Gregorio Rubalcava and I like to keep my place clean. I decided to go to the L.A. river cleanup, because I think that the river are one of the most important sources of water in our planet. I learned that everything we trow in the streets and in the rivers, it ends in our oceans. It was an experience that I will never forget. My classmates and I collected one full bag of trash and some other big thinks. For example tires, dvd players, and shopping cars. This is an experience that I recommend to everybody, is something that will help our planet and it will make the ocean less contaminated.