Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Jamie S Helberg
This thesis speaks to how historical and on-going colonization of the river has consistently traumatized the relationship disadvantaged communities have had with the Los Angeles River. By historicizing those relationships, I argue that current use of human-centered market-based strategies to revitalize the river only furthers serial displacement of disadvantaged communities and will not adequately achieve sustainability. Using Frogtown as a case study, I also explore methods of resiliency to “green gentrification," an agent of neocolonialism along the river. In studying the placemaking practices implemented in Frogtown, I problematize notions of gentrification as “natural” and "necessary" for river revitalization. Elements of my thesis are auto ethnographic as they speak to a personal human-river relationship growing up near the river and working for river-advocacy nonprofit. Charles Sepulveda’s “Our Sacred Waters: Theorizing Kuuyam as a Decolonial Possibility” acts as part of the theoretical framework for this thesis. Sepulveda (2018) speaks to the destruction of the Santa Ana River and presents approaches to restoring the river by abolishing settler colonialism and centering Native knowledge systems. By analyzing the river’s history through this lens, I ultimately conclude that imagining a similar decolonial possibility can prevent gentrification and displacement while sufficiently revitalizing the Los Angeles river.
Helberg, Jamie Sophia, "Urban Renewal or Urban Legend? Re-Historicizing Human-River Relationships Disrupted by Displacement Before and Now in Los Angeles" (2020). Pitzer Senior Theses. 109.