Special Project | 2021

LENS.cast Season 1: Environmental Justice in LA

Season 1 of LENS.cast features two episodes about environmental justice in Los Angeles. In episode 1, we explore the history and future of Los Angeles’s remarkable trees. California is more than palm trees: it is, according to University of Pennsylvania historian Jared Farmer, an incredible arboretum—a collection of species from all over the world—and an “heirloom of conquest.” Trees record the history of colonial destruction in California, but they could also be an important part of a more just, resilient future as LA faces the realities of climate change. We speak with Farmer, with Rachel Malarich, LA’s first City Tree Officer, and with Maria Adame and Miguel Vargas of the nonprofit group TreePeople, about the many meanings of LA’s trees. Listen to episode 1 below!



In episode 2, we hear from activists in LA’s Little Tokyo working to ensure that their community has a voice in building a sustainable future. Investment in green infrastructure is an increasingly significant strategy for achieving sustainability goals, but without community involvement it can also lead to gentrification, displacement, and cultural erasure. In this episode, Scott Oshima, Grant Sunoo, and traci kato-kiriyama, along with Paul Ong of the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, discuss how “sustainability” can be redefined to include a focus on justice and to draw on the cultural histories of neighborhoods like Little Tokyo. Listen to episode 2 here!