Monday, December 10, 2007

The LA Difference

The Greening of LA has, unfortunately, little to do with the Green Party. Oh, sure, there are a lot of individual Greens who are working hard to make things better. However, I am no ashamed of referring to Antonio Villaraigosa as the Mayor of LaLa Land. He seems to epitomize everything the rest of us think about Los Angeles; all surface, a suit and smiling face with no more real substance than a Saturday AM cartoon rerun.

Maybe I should take that all back, though, as it was his Million Trees Campaign, however misguided as I believe it to be, that brought together the thousands of students who walked past Lisa Taylor's table.

Further exploration leads me to conclude that there is a disconnect between the citizens of LA and the political leadership, one that may have serious environmental consequences. The LA Times has recently reported on Villaraigosa's attempts to encourage water conservation. It is clear that he may have talked but that no one was listening.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's call six months ago for voluntary water conservation in a record dry year has failed to persuade Los Angeles residents and businesses to rein in water use substantially, city records show.
The groups that are trying to convince the smiling mayor to do something substantive, loosely identified by the Times as "evironmentalist" have formed a coalition called Green LA. The members of this coalition are what you would generally call the usual suspects: Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, Heal the Bay. There are also very local, active organizations like the Bellona Wetlands Land Trust (Green Party members in leadership) and the South Central Farmers for which Linda Piera-Avila has so effectively advocated.

I was more intrigued by the name of an organization called Global Green USA. Now this is not Global Greens (plural) as we might think of it, but rather the United States affiliate of Green Cross International, founded by Mikhail Gorbachev.

It would seem that in LA, the Green organizations getting press are not the Green Party, even though you would never know it by the name. It is almost as ironic as Global Green USA being so closely associated with a one time Soviet leader. You never know from a name what you are going to get. We go from Green LA to Global Grenn USA and never manage to identify this party. We have lost the "brand" or the identification with leadership on environmental issues.

Global Green USA has a lot to say about the importance of water as a Global Issue. That does not get down the the pipes and pumps of water in California. The environmentalists meeting with the Mayor are asking for more leadership.
"More than anything, I want a commitment from the mayor to work toward a more sustainable future and to reduce water use in Los Angeles," said Miriam Torres of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, who was among those at the meeting. "People in Los Angeles have to think of water as a precious resource and not a commodity."
I think that they are asking for active involvement in dealing with the issue and not to just treat this as a photo op. The Mayor has gotten enough negative press and it might do him good to be seen as actively involved in assuring LA's future. The idea that he would just now turn to substantive action illustrates that it was never really important.
Villaraigosa followed up Nov. 13 by resurrecting the Drought Busters program last used during the early 1990s. Six DWP employees are driving around the city in Toyota Prius hybrids, responding to more than 400 complaints about leaking sprinklers, missing sprinkler heads and other water waste.
I would encourage all So Cal Greens to follow up on their endorsement of Cal-WIN's Sustainability Principles with a campaign of letter writing, City Council calling, activism.


Lisa said...

Thanks, Wes for your coverage. It was quite an energizing day at the LA Youth Environmental Conference. This was one event where we really were in our element, no Democratic or PDA table; the Green Party was the only political party exhibiting.

Btw, friends tell me our Green Party banner was briefly seen on the extensive local news coverage of this event. So hoorah!

I kept emphasizing, in our planning for this event, that there would be the usual hundreds of nonpartisan, nonprofit groups giving out the lifestyle advice and that the Green Party could contribute significantly by adding the political advice on how youth can affect climate change.

I think we made a good stab at it. If anyone wants to see the flyer we used, email me .
lisa at

I think our tips are more thorough than those the city listed on their website.
maybe I'll send them our tips for the next conference!

Lisa said...

And the young adult flyer I mentioned is posted here: