Poet Lewis Macadams is well-known to river afficionados thanks to his visionary work to respect and restore the Los Angeles River. Founder of the NGO Friends of the Los Angeles River, MacAdams was instrumental in putting the river ‘on the map’ for the public, and ‘on the radar’ of the political life of Los Angeles, leading to the City’s River Master Plan in 1991 and the River Revitalization Master Plan in 2007. MacAdams passed away last April at 75, but the news of his loss was largely eclipsed at the time by the chaos created by the COVID pandemic and economic dislocation. An essay Shall We Gather at the River? published by the Poetry Foundation provides a fascinating biography of MacAdams, tracing his earlier years in New York, Buffalo, and Bolinas, before moving to Los Angeles four decades ago and adopting the river. MacAdams’ book-length poem, The River, is out of print but is worth seeking out from the library until it is reissued.
MacAdams was a featured speaker at (and a key inspiration for) the conference The Future of the Concrete Channel convened by the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning in November 2013, organized by Matt Kondolf and Raymond Wong. The conference program featured these topics and speakers:
Policy background Scott Nicholson USACE HQ, Rethinking flood control 23 years later Phil Williams PWA-ESA, Overview of concrete channels around the SF Bay Raymond Wong, UCB, A historical perspective Bill Kier, Kier Associates, Contra Costa County Mike Carlson CCCFC, Santa Clara County Jim Fiedler, SCVWD, Menomonee River David Fowler, Milwaukee MSD, Resonance in contemporary culture Chip Sullivan, UCB, David Fletcher, California College of the Arts, A 50-year plan for Contra Costa Streams Mitch Avalon, CCCFC, The Ala Wai Canal project feasibility study Scott Nicholson, Replacing aging concrete channels David Fowler, MMSD, Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Project Carol Armstrong, City of Los Angeles, Evolving concepts of restoration Lewis MacAdams, FOLAR, Overcoming barriers to reinventing concrete channels Jeff Haltiner, UCB & ESA-PWA, Kathy Schaefer, FEMA, Louise Mozingo, UC Berkeley, Mitch Avalon, CCCFC; Ralph Johnson, Alameda County.