SILVER LAKE: WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FACILITATE A NEW PARK BEYOND THE MEADOW AND WALKING PATH?
(together we might dream a comprehensive, magical new public space into existence)
Full Moon, July 2013
My neighbor & friend Charles Herman-Wurmfeld wrote an inspired, eloquent, and visionary piece (below) imagining the future of the Silver Lake Reservoir and I can only hope that it inspires further conversation, collaboration, co-creation & possibility. For all who live, work, play, or in other ways grow & thrive in this vibrant community centered around this historic & celebrated body of water, I ask you to give some attention to our neighborhood namesake ~ the Silver Lake Reservoir ~ and turn some thought and vision to how you see yourself and others interacting with her in the future as her function and role in our community transforms. Use your imagination, and dare to dream!
What does the Silver Lake Reservoir mean to you and what do you see for her future?
How would Silver Lake ideally look to you if you were given the ability to help imagine its future potential? How would it remain the same? How would it be different?
What is vital to you in the current landscape that you believe needs to be preserved? What elements are missing from the current reservoir complex and surrounding areas that you would like to see added? Close your eyes, imagine the body of water that is the Silver Lake Reservoir, and imagine it to be a few years from now. How does this sacred space appear in your mind’s eye? What sounds do you hear coming from the lake? How does it feel to you to be there? What activities are taking place there? How does the ground feel beneath your feet as you circumnavigate the water, and do you feel the water itself? What is that sensation like for you? Who is with you, or are you alone, and what needs are you able to have met by this space, and how? Find a way to translate the images, sensations, feelings and ideas that come up for you to your friends, neighbors, and potential allies in language that is evocative, inspiring, tangible, and accessible.
In addition, for your consideration, how do we continue to go about re-imagining and re-visioning this space while making sure to take into balanced consideration the feelings and needs of the environment, wildlife, neighbors, visitors and more? How do we better reach out to strangers who are also potential allies & co-creators? How do we take these conversations to the next level? How do we increase visibility, community engagement, constructive dialogue, sharing resources? Most importantly, how do we do so in a way that is transparent, open, inclusive, and honors a wide variety of ideas, feelings, needs, visions and becomes truly representative of the community and her people?
Feel free to continue this conversation with anyone else in the community, by using any contact information listed above, by starting your own groups, posts, lists, communication, or dialogues and/or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
Thank you for opening your mind and heart and joining with us to collectively dream our community into a stronger, more cohesive whole.
Artist, Musician, Creatrix
Silver Lake Resident, Silver Lake NC Board Member*, Silver Lake Neighborhood Assembly
MAAT Music, ScorpFaery Productions, Gaia Grove http://www.gaiagrove.org
* this article represents my view points alone and in no way represents the SLNC, any SLNC committees or SLNC policies in any way/shape/or form.
DREAMING GREEN SPACE: FUTURE SILVER LAKE RESERVOIR by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, July 2013
After the Department of Water and Power temporarily drains the Silver Lake Reservoir to accomplish the work necessary to take the lake off active duty as a Los Angeles water source, the property will be turned over to the city. This means a cohesive and collectively vetted vision of what comes next needs to emerge from the Silver Lake community & surrounding neighborhoods. With this practical pipeline work in the final stages of planning – and the new headworks reservoir nearly complete – certainly the time is now to re-envision the possibilities for the public and ecological space we could create there at the Silver Lake Reservoir Park.
With public park space in Los Angeles at a disgraceful low, and obesity in children creating a city wide health crises of major proportions (and untold future costs); with our collective mental health & stress levels a growing priority; and with ecology and water systems management & education at the forefront of the effort to save ourselves from planetary toxicity and global warming weather patterns, it would seem the time is now for such an effort. This article is a call to initiate a conversation that invents a new paradigm for a public, educational and ecologically forward space at what we now still call the reservoir. If you love the meadow and the walking path, read on.
In this new paradigm there might be space at the Silver Lake Park for birds, for wildlife and native ecosystems, for swimming and swim instruction, for water purification and collection, LA RIVER connectivity and storage, community gardens, orchards and food forests, fish-farming, flowing streams for children and adults to scramble up, paths to get lost on, majestic outlooks, alternative power generation, serene spots for contemplation & prayer, and lots of opportunities to get wet and enjoy and learn from the wisdom of the water. I am inspired by the newly remodeled space at echo park lake and the amazing collaboration among so many city agencies it represents; the phenomenal ongoing work of the Santa Monica mountains land trust, and all the neighbors that helped this to happen (including those who may have opposed the process). Tickled by water lilies at echo park, I am inspired to suggest we go this far and further towards creating a complete environment at silver lake park – a space that finally erases barbed wire, chain link fences, and barriers from our consciousness. Let’s create a space that uses ALL the available land to maximize human and ecological/environmental benefit.
For example, as suggested Dion Neutra and others at a recent community meeting at the Micheltorena School auditorium hosted by the DWP, we might want to transform the perimeter of the lake into something softer and more accessible to human beings now that she is no longer an active community drinking water source needing military scale protection. The pending draining of the lake/construction would be the ideal moment to simultaneously address this major element of our new park-lands possibilities. The perimeter at the moment, much like the LA RIVER, is corseted by brutal 20thcentury concrete, blockaded from access and an eye-sore for all. If we wanted to create a more natural, varied perimeter we might investigate using some of that concrete to raise the bottom of the lake, soften the banks of the lake, and create equal access for all neighbors. Equal access to me means we can all get ourselves wet.
To be sure, much work has been done over the years to champion this Silver Lake Park, and the amazing foot traffic and joy emanating daily from the meadow and walking path are evident to any who care to step onto the path and walk through with empathic, open hearts. Now is the moment to stand on the shoulders of these incredible accomplishments and leap into the future together, daring to get soaked in it if necessary.
In the spirit of going further, this post is a call for open, transparent, inclusive system-wide review, revision and re-invention of these plans simultaneous with the upcoming plan for draining the lake and pipeline construction. The Silver Lake neighborhood council & CD4 and 13 can help facilitate a sharing, open, evolving plan of forward action in park development by hosting a series of collaborative, open meetings where all can be heard and ideas can constructively evolve. My hope is to take part in a new visioning and review process immediately that will help make this conversation a bi-council district, inter-neighborhood collaboration with the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy, the SLNC Reservoir Complex Committee & all related city offices including the state & federal government. This will take years. All of us will need to pitch in to make this happen on the grand scale.
This conversation can happen publicly, through the input of hundreds if not thousands of neighbors who live nearby. To do this we will need to use outreach on a scale as never before: door-to-door, town meetings (run horizontally to truly hear one another); and through the unifying forces of the inter-wire and social media. Together, we might assess our needs (the need for peace, for exercise, for natural wonder, for clean natural ecosystems, for play, for relaxation, etc) and then understand how we’re feeling based on those human needs being met or unmet.
Once we understand the way we are feeling we might create a set of criteria for the new space that helps fulfill the most needs for the most people. We might use these criteria to measure our current plans & to outreach to international park designers and visionaries for additional design input and inspiration. Any current designs already developed could be held up element by element in an evaluation process where we choose our favorite plans in open forum & let the people who live across Silver Lake and the nearby neighborhoods choose. Together we might dream a magical new public space into existence.
My hope is that this blog post will inspire folks across the neighborhood to step into the conversation. Each of us will have to do something and persist in our efforts. You can begin by writing to your city councilmen Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell as well as to related city agencies and urge all involved to help in facilitation of large public conversations on the topic. You can also send me an email (subject: dreaming about a new park) & let me know you are on board for the conversation and what you are dreaming about. My email address (Charles Herman-Wurmfeld) is email@example.com The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy – perhaps a valuable ally – is found online at http://smmc.ca.gov/ You can further email your thoughts to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council* at Board@silverlakenc.org – asking all committees how to be involved in the dialogue, the SLNC Arts & Culture Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org ), email@example.com for CD 4; firstname.lastname@example.org for CD 13; & email@example.com & Marcel Porras Marcel.Porras@lacity.org for the Mayor’s office; & firstname.lastname@example.org for the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy. Please feel free to use any part of this blog post in your communications – consider it yours.
Thanks ~ Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, Silver Lake neighbor* this article represents my view points alone (and perhaps those of many who voted for me to represent them on the SLNC) and in no way represents the SLNC, or SLNC policies in any way/shape/or form.