On Wednesday night, Juan, our friends Becca and Katie, and I attended "Walking In LA", one of the panels that accompanied Diane Meyer's "100 Car-Free Angelenos" photo exhibit over at the 18 Street Art Center in Santa Monica.

We rallied to attend since the panel included a professor of ours, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, from the UCLA Department of Urban Planning.

As of late, Anastasia has positioned herself as a sidewalk scholar. She talked about how surprised she was by the dearth of life, and activity, on the sidewalks here in LA, and around the US, when she moved here from Athens, Greece. In her talk, Anastasia talked about how she learned that sidewalks in the US used to be busy and vibrant, and hustling places for activity and retail and socializing, as well as serving a transportation function. But the regulation of sidewalk activity changed that.

"Walking in LA" also featured several other professors and author DJ Waldie. Nigel Raab, an LMU history professor, talked about walking from Westchester to San Bernardino in four days. (Don't worry, he stayed at a number of Motel 6s on the way. Note: They seem to ask for your vehicle's license plate number as a matter of course.)

LMU math professor Herbert Molina talked about these long walks he has organized for his students and colleagues to the Promenade, the Getty and  the La Brea Tar Pits. Another LMU professor, art historian Damon Walick, compared and contrasted LA from a car versus on foot.

I wish I could tell you what DJ Waldie talked about, especially since I think he is awesome, but after 50 minutes on the floor, I was ready to go home.

As for the photo exhibit, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I can see that Ms. Meyer did a lot of work. It takes a lot of time to chase after that many people and conduct lengthy interviews.

But on the other hand, I was struck by how few people will ever actually see this exhibit. The venue hosting the exhibit, the 18th Street Art Center, is only open from 11am–5:30pm during the week. (Luckily, the panel was on a national holiday at night. Otherwise I never would have gotten to go.) And the venue itself is kind of a hassle to find if you're a 1st time visitor on foot, as there are a lot of dead-ends in this section of Santa Monica.

Eventually I'd like this to be a moving exhibit which gets installed in different locations throughout LA, including, say, the Central Library in downtown LA. It's really important that the exhibit is not only in Santa Monica; I mean, that's like preaching to the choir. The exhibit needs to be in libraries, which have better hours, and other parts of the city which don't always get these kinds of exhibits.


Next time you can see this exhibit outside of the 9-5:  November 14, 2pm

“Transportation and the Future of Los Angeles”
a panel discussion with:
Browne Molyneux, Journalist and Blogger, Shame Train LA
Claude Willey, Artist, Urbanist and Educator, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, California State University, Northridge
Others to be confirmed