Los Angeles—the place without a sense of place, famous for sprawl and overdevelopment and defined by its car-clogged freeways—might seem inhospitable to efforts to connect with nature and community. But in Reinventing Los Angeles, educator and activist Robert Gottlieb describes how imaginative and innovative social movements have coalesced around the issues of water development, cars and freeways, and land use, to create a more livable and sustainable city.
Gottlieb traces the emergence of Los Angeles as a global city in the twentieth century and describes its continuing evolution today. He examines the powerful influences of immigration and economic globalization as they intersect with changes in the politics of water, transportation, and land use, and illustrates each of these core concerns with an account of grass roots and activist responses: efforts to reenvision the concrete-bound, fenced-off Los Angeles River as a natural resource; "Arroyofest," the closing of the Pasadena Freeway for a Sunday of walking and bike riding; and immigrants’ initiatives to create urban gardens and connect with their countries of origin.
Reinventing Los Angeles is a unique blend of personal narrative (Gottlieb himself participated in several of the grass roots actions described in the book) and historical and theoretical discussion. It provides a road map for a new environmentalism of everyday life, demonstrating the opportunities for renewal in a global city.
About the Author
Robert Gottlieb is Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He is the author of Environmentalism Unbound: Exploring New Pathways for Change (2001), and Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City (2007), both published by the MIT Press, and other books.
"No complaining diatribe, this book proffers solutions and heralds successful programs already in place...Gottlieb dissects and discusses origins, failures, successes, and future ramifications of nature, community, water, transportation, migration, and globalization in the city in a way that is neither preachy nor accusatory, but informative and—I dare say—inspiring."—Society & Architectural Historians News
"[Gottlieb's] richly informative book is really about flow—of resources, people, history—and about how we all need to put our hands into that urban stream as participants directing community, a word he sensibly makes very nearly synonymous with environment."—Orion
"With his trenchant examination of the politics of nature and theenvironment in the global city of Los Angeles, Robert Gottlieb has doneus a tremendous service. He demonstrates how determined groups ofcitizens have been able to refashion Los Angeles' natural environmentin innovative ways that not only preserve but expand our core values ofconservation and environmental justice. This is a brilliant map chartingthe green future of our increasingly urban world."
—Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles
"Robert Gottlieb has long been a pioneer in redefining environmentalism,turning ideas into action, and forging coalitions in the often murkyatmosphere of Los Angeles. This book offers a timely account of thepromising work in the City of Angels to forge a political movement thatintegrates social, economic, and environmental health."
—Jennifer Price, author of Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in ModernAmerica
"Robert Gottlieb reminds us that cities, and the political actors within them, can and do change. Los Angeles came of age by shoving nature around. But in these early years of the 21st century, grassroots and community action hint that the environmental future of the city and region may not be so dire. Written by a scholar/activist who has been at the center of much of the recent excitement, this book is a scholarly report, a celebration, and a further call to action."
—William Deverell, Department of History and Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, University of Southern California
"Bob Gottlieb is an organizer extraordinaire, a practical visionary, and atactical genius. When Friends of the Los Angeles River partnered withOccidental College for a year's worth of collaborative events, one of thegreat pleasures for me was working with Bob, who has an astonishing abilityto work not just a system but all kinds of systems for the public good. Alot of people make fun of the idealism of the late 60's, but Gottlieb is oneof those whose idealism has only been sharpened and refined by the ensuingyears and made more effective. Everybody who reads this book will beinspired to make their community, their city and the world into a betterplace, I promise."
—Lewis MacAdams, Friends of the Los Angeles River