Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2023

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)



First Advisor

Patricia J. Lopez


The Los Angeles River, what Tongva people call paayme paxaayt, birthed the city of Los Angeles. Yet today, this dynamic, living, body of water, is enclosed by concrete walls, and concealed by freeways, polluting industries, and high-rise buildings that drain her power and silence her voice. Scholars have traced how capital and power have catastrophically transformed the L.A. River and addressed tensions underpinning river restoration efforts, advocating for more innovative approaches that attend to ecological and social inequities. However, little scholarship exists on the contentious relations between power and the local knowledge of marginalized urban communities, who reside near and continuously care for the river, and who remain historically excluded from planning processes. My research, based on my participation with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), addresses this gap by asking: how is urban river restoration being practiced in Southeast Los Angeles (SELA)? By conducting participant observation, semi-structured interviews, archival and literary research, and environmental kin study, I argue that SELA cultural repertoires and a creatively promiscuous organizing strategy are fundamental to building abundant futures for human and other-than-human residents. Situating the L.A. River as a site of theory, history, and speculation, this project explores the multiplicity of worlds that the river produces, with and through East Yard members and staff who labor against myriad forms of state-sanctioned violence towards the sustaining of local lifeways, protecting community, and imagining paths towards livable futures centered on care.

Available for download on Wednesday, June 11, 2025