A Possible River
Featuring: Roberto “Bear” Guerra
The Los Angeles Times
Following the Los Angeles River from source to sea, A Possible River is a portrait of Southern California’s most poignant symbol of human efforts to dominate the natural environment in the pursuit of development.
By 1960, after decades of devastating floods, the 51-mile-long waterway was channelized and transformed into the concrete scar that winds its way across the city. Surprisingly few Angelenos realize that the massive ditch they see from the highway is an actual river, or that there are stretches river where plants and animals thrive.
A major river revitalization plan now in the works hopes to bring back some of the lost ecosystems and encourage public use. But many people fear that property development will increase once the river project is completed.
In this project, I am pondering nature in one of the most congested places in the world and exploring the inherent need for the wild in our lives, despite our often unsuccessful efforts to tame it.
This is a meditation on the resiliency of the natural world and of the greater river that might be possible — if we can learn from the mistakes of the not-too-distant past.
A Possible River was published in Emergence Magazine, Summer, 2018
Roberto “Bear” Guerra is a photographer whose work explores the impact of globalization, development, and social and environmental justice issues on individuals and communities often underrepresented in the media.
His images, photo essays, and multimedia stories have been published by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Le Monde, BBC, NPR, Orion Magazine, High Country News, and the University of Texas Press. Bear’s work has been exhibited widely.
He has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award in Photojournalism, a Blue Earth Alliance project photographer, and a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Bear is also a member of the award-winning, nonprofit journalism collaborative, Homelands Productions.
Currently based in Los Angeles, CA, Bear also creates in-depth, multi-media storytelling projects with his wife and frequent collaborator, journalist Ruxandra Guidi, as Fonografia Collective. In recent years, they have been working with media outlets, nonprofit and art organizations, city and county offices/agencies to create in-depth, multi-platform storytelling projects about the greater L.A. community.