The poet who championed the L.A. River turns over leadership of advocacy group


Lewis MacAdams, who raised awareness and support to restore the Los Angeles River, is stepping down as president of the Friends of the Los Angeles River, the advocacy group he co-founded three decades ago, reports the L.A. Times. “It’s time for a new generation of idealists to guide her future for the next 30 years,” he told the Times.

The leadership change includes new board chairman Michael-Kevin O’Connell , the managing director of a private equity company, and executive director Marissa Christiansen, 35. The new generation of leaders take over amid tension between FOLAR and  the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp., which was created to stimulate development as well as preservation projects along the river.

The 73-year-old MacAdams, who is recovering from a stroke, took up the cause of the river by chance. Said the Times:

“He found his calling one day in 1986, when he and a few friends, fortified by coffee and brandy, used wire cutters to snip a hole in the fence that separated the concrete flood control channel from the city. Walking along a stretch of the L.A. River just north of downtown, they asked it for permission to speak on its behalf, McAdams recalls, adding: ‘We didn’t hear no.’ Friends of the River launched as a piece of performance art, staged in a skid row basement. MacAdams donned a white suit and painted himself green to hearken the ghost of William Mulholland, chief engineer of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Props included a massive totem pole made of junk found along the river.”

Read the full story in the L.A. Times.

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  1. What a great backstory!

  2. Thanks to Lewis MacAdams for his deep listening to the River, for his vision for the River, and for speaking its truth for all these years.

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