Christensen & Gold

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Jon Christensen and Mark Gold keep an eye on the environment and environmental science, politics, and culture in Los Angeles, and how environmental stories connect us to California and the world. Christensen has been an environmental journalist and science writer for more than 30 years, writing for the New York Times, Nature, High Country News, and many other newspapers, magazines, journals, radio, and television programs. A former Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford and Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State, he is now an adjunct assistant professor, senior researcher, and journalist-in-residence at UCLA, and editor of Boom: A Journal of California, published by the University of California Press. Gold led Heal the Bay—an environmental group dedicated to making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds safe, healthy and clean—for nearly 20 years. His research, education and activism has focused on water quality, coastal resource conservation, integrated water management, and urban sustainability. In 2012, he was appointed associate director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, where he is also an adjunct professor and director of the Coastal Center.

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Two tales of a city
LA mayor Eric Garcetti has a narrative problem. The two stories he is telling about Los Angeles don't line up. Winning an Olympic bid could provide the deus ex machina the city needs in the absence of a heroic storyline.
Columns archive
Dear President Clinton and Mayor Garcetti: Can we make a deal?
Former President Bill Clinton brought his Clinton Global Initiative to LA for a workshop on "21st Century Infrastructure and Innovation for a Resilient Economy." Good, important stuff, but big questions remain about how to finance the investments we need urgently.
Can a Marine general transform California State Parks?
Major General Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret) may be the perfect leader to modernize the quasi-military corps of California State Parks, but can he transform the hidebound agency into an organization focused on understanding and satisfying its customers?
A peek behind the Machado Lake restoration story
An LA Times story, about one of city's most important environmental restoration projects ever, missed the backstory. Here it is.
Bringing 'la noria' back to the LA River
Artist Lauren Bon has won approval from the LA City Council to build an enormous water wheel on the LA River near downtown. Bon will be discussing the project in a public conversation on March 22, World Water Day, in Lincoln Heights.
The reckoning after the storm
What are we doing with our dishes turned upside down when it's raining money in LA? And note to surfers: you may want to forego those awesome storm-driven waves this week if you don't want to end up with a nasty stomach bug from the crap the rain washed into the ocean.
City and river without end
The talk was billed as "L.A. Stories: Gary Snyder." And it brought a crowd to the LA Public Library late Friday afternoon to hear the grand old man of the Beat generation. But the real showstopper was our own Lewis MacAdams, the poet laureate of the LA River.
Oh, to live in Eric Garcetti's LA
The mayor and LA Times architecture and urban design critic Christopher Hawthorne shared their visions for LA in a conversation at Occidental College. It was a valentine to a city that could win our hearts in time.
Climate urbanism
Cities are where it's at for action on climate change. LA's sustainability czar just got back from a global summit of cities in Johannesburg. And an Obama task force is coming to LA this week. The message from cities? "Get out of the way." And, oh, yeah, "send money, please."
Welcoming Marcie Edwards back to the LADWP and getting back to the garden with Emily Green
Mayor Eric Garcetti makes what arguably could be his most important hire to date. And Emily Green shows us two front yards that demonstrate the choices facing LA in the face of a historic drought.
LA's sustainable city plan and a nomination for LADWP chief
The mayor's office unveiled its framework for a sustainable city plan last week to general approval from LA's environmental community. And could the mayor look to Las Vegas for a new leader at the LADWP?
On the nature of LA in 'Her' and a new 'Green room' at the bay aquarium
There's something missing from LA's future in best picture nominee "Her." And there's a new "Green room" at the Santa Monica Bay Aquarium honoring our past.
Greening the state budget and LADWP's cry for help
Governor Jerry Brown's 2014 budget proposal is good news for the environment. Meanwhile, are those cries for help we hear coming from LADWP headquarters?
A sober look at the environment in 2014
After an idyllic holiday week of beautiful beach weather at the end of December and New Year's festivities, we'd like to think that 2014 could be a great year for the environment. But after getting back to work, here's a more sober look at what we'd like to see--and what we predict will actually happen.
Dear Mayor: Have an awesome trip Down Under!
Having traveled around Australia, our columnists have some recommendations for Mayor Eric Garcetti on his end-of-year vacation. Mostly fun stuff, but a few work related green things to keep an eye on.
A crucial week for water in California
Mark the calendar. This week will go down as a crucial week in California's water history. The draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and associated Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) was filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday and the public comment period begins this week. We've got big decisions to make about our water future.
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
"Wherever you go, there you are," says Buckaroo Banzai. Jon Christensen reads the new book "Trees in Paradise: A California History" on the long flight from LAX to Melbourne and reflects on what we can learn from history in a cosmopolitan era in which local diversity--biological and cultural--may be increasing rapidly, while the differences between places continue to shrink.
LADWP controversies put environmental reforms at risk
With public trust of the DWP at such a low point, will the public, the city council, and mayor Garcetti support the long-term rate increases that will be needed to transform LA's water system for the future?
Sustainable LA: Now there's a grand challenge
Last week, UCLA announced a grand challenge--a major research initiative throwing the full weight of the university behind an effort to wean LA completely of imported water and become fully reliant on renewable energy by 2050, while preserving biodiversity and improving the quality of life in the city. Can we get it done?
Make no little plans
True. We need big plans to guide LA toward environmental sustainability. But we need lots of little plans and action too.
"There it is. Take it." Or not?
The LA Aqueduct centennial is this week. When a peace agreement is finally signed at Owens Lake, we'll really have cause for celebration.
The next 100 years, and the next eight
The fact that the centenary of the LA Aqueduct coincides with a new mayoral administration in Los Angeles adds real politics to the symbolism.
What could Sydney teach LA?
Sydney's audacious sustainability plan provides a surprisingly pragmatic blueprint for how to achieve energy and water sustainability in other cities, such as Los Angeles.
Fire and rain
Los Angeles is home to more single-family residences exposed to wildfire risk that any city in the American West And we can't get city plan checks to let people use rain barrels the way they were intended?
These guys have water on the brain
"The guy's got water on the brain," Jake Gittes's assistant Walsh says of Hollis Mulwray in "Chinatown." And, yes, we suffer the same affliction these days.


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